The Harvard PhD Program in Health Policy trains students for research and teaching careers in health policy. The interdisciplinary and interfaculty nature of the program results from the philosophy that most graduates will carry out much of their research as part of multidisciplinary research teams rather than as isolated scholars. For this reason, the program trains students in the specialized skills of a single discipline, but also develops their ability to understand the conceptual frameworks contributed to the field by researchers from other disciplines. Students specialize in one of five concentrations: decision sciences; economics; management; methods for policy research; or political analysis.

The program involves six Harvard University Faculties—the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health—which provides students with access to more than 100 faculty members, and students are able to take classes throughout the University. Students in the Harvard PhD Program in Health Policy are enrolled in and receive a PhD from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, even though they may work with faculty throughout the University.


Students choose a concentration and meet specific curriculum requirements in one of five disciplines:  Decision Sciences, Economics, Management, Methods for Policy Research, and Political Analysis. 

Policy Areas

In addition to choosing a concentration, students specialize in one of four areas of policy interest:  Global Health, Health Care Services, Mental Health, and Public Health. 

Admissions Requirements

All applicants must apply to a specific concentration of the program and must indicate this choice in their statement of purpose. Up to two concentration areas may be specified. Additionally, applicants should indicate policy areas that are of interest.

Applications are reviewed by faculty from the relevant concentration and by a general admissions committee, which is comprised of faculty from multiple concentrations. All applicants to the PhD Program in Health Policy must include the following in the application:

  • Statement of Purpose that includes the concentration(s) and policy area(s) of interest
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE general test or GMAT scores (GRE scores are preferred)*
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores (if necessary)**
  • Official transcripts for all college/university degrees and courses
  • CV
  • Fall term grades should be sent when available if attending school while applying to the program (prospective students may add this information to the Fall Grade Report section of the online application after they have submitted their application).

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, standardized test scores are optional for the 2020-2021 application cycle (which is for students applying to start in fall 2021). Applicants who would like to submit their GRE or GMAT scores will have the results evaluated as part of their application. Applicants who do not submit scores will not be penalized as this information is not required for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

**Please note that GSAS does not accept scores from the TOEFL ITP Plus examination.  Applicants unable to take the TOEFL IBT or IELTS exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic may apply without these scores, and if recommended for admission, their admission will be provisional until they provide scores from one of the accepted tests that demonstrate the required level of English proficiency.

Those interested in earning an MD/PhD in Health Policy apply through the American Medical College Application Service. Once enrolled, MD/PhD students submit application materials to GSAS prior to beginning their PhD studies.

For the coordinated JD/PhD, applicants must apply separately to each program and indicate in the application to the PhD Program in Health Policy that a concurrent application has been submitted to Harvard Law School.

Consult the Harvard PhD Program in Health Policy for answers to FAQs and GSAS Policies

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Health Policy

Health Policy Faculty