The Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health (JD/MPH) program is offered jointly by the Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). The objective of the program is to support and encourage individuals with an interest in public health studies in the development of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in preparation for a career in health law, public health policy, or a related field.
Students in the program fulfill all requirements necessary to earn a JD from HLS and an MPH from HSPH. Students enroll in the Law and Public Health Program of the MPH, and pursue a focused study track in their MPH coursework. The usual requirement that applicants to the MPH program obtain a JD prior to matriculation at the School of Public Health is waived. Upon successful completion of the program, joint degree students will be awarded both a JD and an MPH from the respective Harvard schools.
The Law and Public Health concentration is designed to train leaders in the field of public health law. Graduates are prepared for positions in a variety of settings, including work in a health law or environmental section of a law firm; positions in local, state, and federal government; research or advocacy jobs in nongovernmental organizations; or posts in academia.
Individuals interested in the joint JD/MPH program apply separately to the JD and MPH programs at the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Each school independently reviews and accepts applicants. Students must be accepted by both programs in order to enroll in the joint program. Questions relating to the admissions process at each school should be addressed directly to that school.
When to Apply
Students may apply to HSPH and the joint degree program at either of two points:
- Concurrently with their application to Harvard Law School. Students will not be formally admitted to HSPH until they have received an offer of admission to HLS.
- In the fall of their first year at HLS. The application deadline is December 15.
Unless the applicant’s choice of law school is contingent upon admission to the JD/MPH joint degree program, it is recommended that the application to HPSH and the joint degree program be made in the first semester of law school. This gives the applicant additional time to acquire health-related experience, which improves the chances of admission to the program. At this time, students will also have a better understanding of the demands of their legal studies and whether they would be able to manage the additional workload involved in pursuing joint degrees.
The MPH application and admission process is separate from the Law School application and admissions process. Candidates who are applying to both programs must complete both applications.
Information on the Law School’s admissions process can be found on the JD Admissions website.
Application to the MPH program is made through the centralized electronic application system for schools of public health (SOPHAS, www.sophas.org). The application asks joint-degree applicants to indicate that they are applying for the JD/MPH joint program. Additional information about the MPH application process is available on the MPH Admissions website.
All JD/MPH applicants should adhere to the following special guidelines for the personal statement on the MPH application:
Statement of Objectives and Plans
Instructions for JD/MPH Joint Degree Applicants
Please submit an essay: typed, double-spaced and up to 750 words in length. There is no prescribed format for the essay, but it should include information about the following:
- Your focused interest within the field of public health
- Your previous academic, professional, and/or extracurricular experiences that demonstrate your interest in public health or health-related issues
- Your reasons for wanting to enroll in the joint JD/MPH degree program
- Your career plans upon completion of the joint degree program
Please do not underestimate the importance of this statement. It is your opportunity to inform the reviewers of your qualifications, motivation, and potential to make a contribution to the fields of public health and law. The essay should persuasively establish (1) your preparation to undertake this intense course of study, (2) your understanding of the MPH curriculum, and (3) a good fit between the curriculum and your interests and goals.
Either the GRE (taken within 5 years of the application date) or the LSAT is acceptable to fulfill the test score requirement for the MPH application. If both are available, applicants are encouraged to submit both. The Law School requires the LSAT.
Admissions Criteria for JD/MPH applicants to HSPH
A number of factors are considered for admission to the HSPH and the joint JD/MPH program. Ordinarily, no single factor will eliminate an otherwise strong candidate; admissions decisions are based on an assessment of the “whole candidate.” Key considerations are the degree of fit between the program curriculum and the applicant’s interests and goals, and the applicant’s level of preparation for the proposed course of study.
Particular admissions criteria include the following:
1. Academic background
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent and acceptance at Harvard Law School prior to matriculation at HSPH.
- Strong academic record in undergraduate work and any graduate study undertaken to date.
- Evidence of aptitude and success in prior coursework in mathematics and quantitative methods, and a comfort level with quantitative methods sufficient to undertake graduate-level study of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in an intensive summer course.
- Evidence of prior academic exposure to concepts in science and medicine.
- Strong performance on the GRE and/or LSAT examination.
- Proficiency in English.
A demonstrated commitment to public health interests through participation in relevant internships, volunteer experiences, research, and/or student and community activities.
The applicant’s Personal Statement should:
- Show an understanding of the field of public health and the work the applicant has in mind. Career objectives should be well articulated.
- Establish a link between past training and experience, future goals, and the proposed program of study.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the orientation and substance of the Law & Public Health concentration and confirm a commitment to acquiring the skills and knowledge that form the core of the MPH program.
- Articulate a focused interest within public health (for example, U.S. health care policy, international health and human rights, environmental health, health technology assessment).
4. Potential contribution to the program
- Sincere commitment to the field of public health, including both an existing focused interest within the field and a curiosity about other areas of possible exploration.
- Extensive or unusual work experience or interesting personal background is a plus.
- Personal maturity and ability to work well with colleagues and contribute positively to a learning/working environment, as evidenced by letters of recommendation.
Structure of Coursework
This intensive course of study is completed in three academic years plus one summer semester. Students spend their first academic year solely at HLS taking the standard first-year Law School curriculum. Following the first year, students must enroll full-time in both of the HSPH summer sessions, which collectively run from early July through mid-August. During the second and third years of the program, joint degree students are enrolled in, and take courses at, both schools. No coursework is required during the second-year summer, which is typically used to pursue health-law-related work experience of the student’s choice. Students receive both degrees in May of the third year.
The required HLS curriculum for joint degree students includes the following: the standard first-year curriculum including an HLS spring elective; a minimum of 52 upper-level credits; a professional responsibility course; and the J.D. Written Work Requirement and the Pro Bono Requirement. Joint degree students, like other JD students, are permitted to select their upper-level law courses from the Law School’s wide array of offerings. The MPH curriculum for joint degree students is highly structured and suitable for those with a preexisting focused interest within public health, rather than a general desire to explore the field.
Joint degree students enroll first in the Law School and complete the HLS first-year curriculum. During the first-year summer, joint degree students enroll at HSPH for an overall total of 12.5 credits chosen from among the courses listed in the grid below. If EPI 500: Fundamentals of Epidemiology is not taken over the summer, it must be taken in the fall of the second law school year.
Requires and Elective Courses for Summer Session 2014
Bold = Registration for this course is required.
* = Course satisfies an MPH Core Requirement
BIO 202 and 203 Labs do not carry any additional credits.
In the second and third years of the program, students take courses at both schools. Students may choose to spend ton semester entirely at HLS in order to accommodate the demands of particular activities (e.g., clinical work, job search). Students need not take a formal leave of absence from HSPH if they choose this option, but should inform Alison Hardy (firstname.lastname@example.org) of their plans before the semester starts.
Students are encouraged to structure one upper-level semester in which at least half of their course load consists of HSPH credits. This will allow students to achieve an “immersion” experience at HSPH while promoting the flexibility to register in required or desired courses at each school.
In the third year, students complete the MPH program’s Practicum requirement and the Law School’s J.D. Written Work Requirement. Joint degree students must also satisfy the Law School’s Pro Bono Requirement of a minimum of 40 hours of public service.
Course and Credit Requirements
Law School requirements for the second and third years include the following, in addition to credits earned during the first year:
- At least 36 Law School classroom credits (a category that includes courses, seminars, and reading groups given at HLS but not clinical or writing credits)
- At least 16 additional credits, which may be earned through the Law School’s written work requirement, HSPH courses, written work or clinical courses at the Law School, or other Law School courses, subject to the requirements set out in the HLS Handbook of Academic Policies
In accumulating these upper-level credits, it is recommended that students enroll in at least 6 Law School classroom credits each semester and in at least 18 Law School classroom credits each year. All joint students must enroll in the Law School Winter Term during each upper-level year.
Public Health School
At least 42.5 credits are required for the MPH degree, including satisfaction of several core course requirements. The credits earned during the HSPH summer session are included in this credit total. At least 32.5 ordinarily-graded credits must appear on the HSPH transcript (meaning, students must take at least 32.5 credits of HSPH courses for a letter grade). Joint degree students are not expected to enroll in HSPH courses during the HSPH WinterSession.
Joint degree students are permitted to satisfy their degree requirements by counting a limited number of course credits toward both degrees. The rules for double-counting credits are set forth in JD/MPH Credit Requirements.
Core Program Requirements
For the JD degree, students must complete Option 1 or Option 2 of the Law School’s J.D. Written Work Requirement. For the MPH degree, a 5-credit Practicum is required in the spring semester of the student’s final year. The Practicum requirement is satisfied by enrolling in a classroom-based courses (ID261, Section 2) and completing an independent field experience. Joint degree students may choose to integrate the Practicum work with their legal work in one of two ways: (1) by designing an Integrated Written Project as described below, or (2) by selecting a job experience for the summer after their second year in which they will do work that meets the requirements for a Practicum internship as set forth in the Guide to the LPH Practicum.
Students may petition to complete the HLS JD Written Work Requirement and the HSPH Practicum requirement in one integrated project culminating in a written work. Integrated projects must involve both a substantial writing component and a substantial experiential component. The amount of time required to complete an integrated project will approximate the amount of time that would be required to satisfy the two requirements separately.
Proposals for integrated projects must be approved by a faculty member at each school prior to undertaking the work, and must satisfy the criteria for both the HLS J.D. Written Work Requirement and the MPH Practicum requirements. Students must still enroll in ID261.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Pursuing the JD and MPH through the joint degree program results in some tuition savings, compared to pursuing the two degrees separately. Tuition is paid as follows:
|HLS Tuition Paid||HSPH Tuition Paid|
|Year 1 Academic||Full||None|
|Year 1 Summer||None||Full (2 summer sessions)|
|Years 2 & 3 Academic||75% of full||25% of full|
Financial Aid Determinations
Joint degree applicants should apply for financial aid through HLS only for the three academic years of the program; no financial aid application should be submitted to HSPH. All financial aid determinations for these semesters are made through Harvard Law School under its standard policies. Applicants should inform HLS Student Financial Services (SFS) that they are applying to the joint program, and should let the office know when they have been accepted to the program. For further information about HLS financial aid policies, see the SFS website.
No grant or scholarship aid is available through HSPH or HLS for the first-year summer session at HSPH. Students interested in non-federal loans ONLY during the HSPH summer may contact HSPH Student Financial Services for information. Also, HLS may waive the summer earnings expectation for aid-eligible students for this summer.
JD/MPH applicants are eligible for aid specifically for the MPH portion of their studies through the Zuckerman Fellows Program. The program provides generous support for joint-degree students interested in public service. Students must make a special application to the Zuckerman program. Historically, applications have been required at the time of applying to the MPH program. The Zuckerman program administrator can provide up-to-date advice about the optimal timing of the application. Judith Murciano, Associate Director and Director of Fellowships in the HLS Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (email@example.com) is available to assist in the application process as well.
For information about application procedures, contact the admissions offices of HLS and HSPH (HLS JD Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org and the School of Public Health Admissions Office at (617) 432-1867, email@example.com).
For programmatic questions about the JD/MPH program, contact Roberta Gianfortoni, Assistant Dean for Professional Education at the School of Public Health, at (617) 432-0090 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jessica L. Soban, Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer at the Law School at (617) 495-3189. (email@example.com).
Admitted students: For information about course registration and transferring credits across schools, please contact Alison Hardy in the HSPH Registrar’s Office at 617-432-4463, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jessica Soban at HLS.