Degree Programs and Requirements

To complete a degree program successfully, each student must satisfy both academic and financial requirements. Financial degree requirements can be found by program in the  Harvard Chan School Billing Policy.

Academic Requirements

All Harvard Chan School degree candidates have course load requirements to ensure the successful completion of their designated degree program by the date of graduation. The following table shows the number of credits required to graduate for each degree program offered at the Harvard Chan School, as well as the breakdown of the number of ordinal credits required and the number of cross-registered credits permitted.

Note that exceptions to the ordinal credit requirement for graduation have been made for students enrolled in spring 2020 through spring 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions. Students should contact their department or program director for details.

Minimum Number of Credits Required to Graduate, by Degree Program

 80-Credit SM 
Total Program Credits  42.5 42.5 45 60 65 80
Ordinal Credits  30 42.5 32.5 45 47.5 60
Cross-Registered Credits Permitted No more than half of total credits of degree program.
Students in the MHCM, summer-focused, and summer-only degree programs are not eligible to cross-register.

Students in the MPH-EPI and MPH-GEN degree programs are permitted to cross-register into online courses offered by the Harvard Medical School.

 Other Requirements Check with you academic advisor for departmental/program requirements.

To maintain satisfactory academic progress in a degree program, students are required to take an appropriate number of credits each term to meet the expected graduation date defined in each student’s letter of admission.

Master’s Degree Academic Requirements
All Master’s degree students are required to complete an Introduction to Public Health course. Students should refer to their department’s/program’s student manual for requirement details.

Consecutive Programs
Students accepted into two consecutive degree programs must fulfill the first program requirements before beginning the second program. Credits may not be carried over from the first program into the second. Harvard Chan School students are not permitted to be enrolled in concurrent degree programs unless those programs are approved joint-degree programs.

Joint, Concurrent, and Combined Degree Information
Harvard Chan School students may enroll in joint or combined degree programs, or concurrent degree programs, as defined by the School. Participation in these programs requires acceptance into both Harvard institutions.

Change in Degree, Department or Environmental Health Concentration
Currently enrolled students wishing to make a change to their degree or department must complete and submit required materials to the Registrar’s Office. Students must secure the approval of their current department before beginning this process.

Students switching between biostatistics, health data science, and computational biology and quantitative genetics:

  • Applications will be reviewed in early January for students applying for transfer for the spring semester.
  • Applications will be reviewed in late May for students applying for transfer after the spring semester.
  • More information can be found in their respective program handbooks.

Academic Standing
In addition to meeting course load requirements and distributions, Harvard Chan School students must remain in good academic standing, must complete department/program requirements within the designated time to degree, and must meet the following academic conditions:

  • All students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.70 or above.
    • Some departments and programs require students to maintain an average above the 2.70 minimum.
  • DrPH students must receive a B- or better in all courses proposed in the Prospective/Final Program (the plan in which students indicate the formal coursework they are taking to support their degree), must adhere to the doctoral student timetables, and must successfully meet other specified departmental/program requirements. The Doctor of Public Health section of this handbook contain more information.

Failure to Meet Academic Requirements
Students may be deemed not to be making satisfactory academic progress for any of the following:

  • failing to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.70 and/or maintain the standards of the department
  • failing to adhere to the doctoral timetable or other doctoral requirements specified by the Committee on Admissions and Degrees (CAD), or
  • failing to complete courses/credits that delay completion of the degree by designated degree date.

Students determined to be making unsatisfactory academic progress will be withdrawn from degree candidacy or will be permitted to register for the subsequent term under academic probation and subject to specific academic conditions, which, if not fulfilled by the specified time, may result in the termination of degree candidacy.

“A student who is permitted to register conditionally for a subsequent term following notification of unsatisfactory academic progress in a prior term will be on academic probation until specific academic conditions are fulfilled or until he/she is required to withdraw for failure to fulfill conditions.” (CAD 1/89)

The academic review process begins with notification to the department/program director and adviser that the student is on academic probation. The department/program reviews the student’s status and may recommend that the student be allowed to register for courses during the following term. The CAD reviews the student’s academic progress and the department’s/program’s recommendations. Additional policies and procedures regarding unsatisfactory academic performance appear in Academic Standards and Integrity.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Federal regulations require that federal student aid recipients maintain satisfactory academic progress. In addition to the qualitative component (CGPA 2.7) required, a quantitative component to satisfactory academic progress states that a student cannot receive federal student aid for more than 150% of the length of time required to complete the program of study. For more information, please refer to the Office of Financial Aid’s webpage.

Waving Degree Requirements
Students should consult their program/department administrator for procedures regarding waiving a degree requirement.