Prospective Students


Welcome to the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences!  We invite you to get to know our Department by exploring our website and reading through a list of frequently asked questions. Should you have any questions after reading the FAQs below, please email us at We look forward to hearing from you!


How do you evaluate applications?  What do you look for in applicants?

We look at the application holistically.  GRE scores, grades, experience, letters of recommendation and the statement of purpose are all weighed in the review process. We recommend spending time to craft your statement to reflect your interest of study and address the following questions:  Why public health?  Why Harvard?  Why Social and Behavioral Sciences?  How will this degree help you get to where you want to go?

What’s the difference between the SM1 and MPH degrees?

The SM1 is a one-year research degree designed for established researchers and investigators or practitioners with a prior advanced degree and significant experience in the social or behavioral sciences.  This degree provides training for careers in public health research.  The MPH is a professional degree program that trains individuals for careers in public health practice.

What’s the difference between the MPH-HSB 45 and MPH-HSB 65?

The MPH-HSB 45 is for individuals who already hold a graduate degree, are current medical or dental students who have completed their primary clinical year, or have at least five years of relevant work experience in public health or a related field. You may also pursue the MPH-45 as part of a dual degree in Nursing with Simmons University. In most cases, you can complete the MPH-45 in two semesters.

The MPH-HSB 65 is for individuals with a minimum of two years of post-baccalaureate work experience in a relevant public health field. You can complete this full-time program in three semesters with a summer practicum experience between the second and third semesters. This degree prepares those early in their careers to work in diverse spheres, including federal, state, and local government; advocacy groups; voluntary health organizations; and community-based primary care settings in the United States and other countries.

You can also learn more about our degree programs here:

Can I take other courses at other schools?

HSPH students may enroll in courses offered by the cross-registration consortium. This includes Harvard facultiesMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

When do I get an advisor?

Advisors are assigned prior to the Fall semester, however you are not expected to meet with your advisor until Orientation.

Master’s Students: How do I apply for financial aid?  Do I qualify?

In order to be considered for all forms of funding, you must fill out the HSPH financial aid application. If you are a US citizen or permanent resident you should also fill out the FAFSA.  Some forms of financial aid are merit-based and some are need-based.

For more information about financial processes, visit the Office of Financial Aid website:

Where have MPH-65 students done practicums?

Practicums students have done in the past can be found by clicking on “Health & Social Behavior,” and then “MPH-65 Program Practice sites.” Please visit

For information on practicum guidelines, visit

What types of jobs do students take upon graduating?

Some examples of jobs taken by doctoral students include postdoctoral positions, tenure-track faculty, and management/research positions at government agencies. For master’s students, some examples include research analysts at consulting firms, program coordinators at community-based organizations, and project directors at city, state and federal health commissions.  Some have even started their own non-profit organizations.

Where can I find out more information on the research in the SBS department?

You can get some information on faculty research by viewing their profiles on the department website. You can read about the research areas of current students here:

I’m interested in the Population Health Sciences PhD program, where can I find more information?

You can learn more about the PhD-PHS program by visiting the PHS website here:, or by clicking on the following links: |