Harvard Law School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
The Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health (JD/MPH) program is offered jointly by Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan School). 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 Harvard Chan School. Students will enroll in either the 45-credit Health Policy or 45-credit Global Health field of study, and pursue a focused study track in their MPH coursework. The Health Policy field of study prepares students to apply economic, legal, and political analysis to the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care and public health policies in the United States or other countries with high-income economies. The Global Health field of study is intended to prepare health professionals with prior relevant global health experience for leadership and management roles in global health at subnational, national, or international levels. 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.
Individuals interested in the joint JD/MPH program apply separately to the JD and MPH programs at Harvard Law School and Harvard Chan School. Each school independently reviews and accepts applicants. In order to enroll in the joint program, students must apply and be accepted to the Harvard Chan School MPH program during their first year at Harvard Law School. Questions relating to the admissions process at each school should be addressed directly to the admissions office of that school.
When to Apply
Students may only apply to the Harvard Chan School MPH program to participate in the JD/MPH joint degree program during their 1L year at Harvard Law School 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.
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.
This intensive course of study is completed in three academic years. Students spend their first academic year solely at HLS taking the standard first-year Law School curriculum. During the second and third years of the program, joint degree students are enrolled in, and take courses at, both schools. 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; the international and comparative law upper-level course requirement; 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.
Course and Credit Requirements
Joint degree students enroll first in the Law School and complete the HLS first-year curriculum.
In the second and third years of the program, students take courses at both schools. Students may choose to spend one 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 Harvard Chan School if they choose this option, but should inform Alison Hardy (email@example.com) 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 Harvard Chan School credits. This will allow students to achieve an “immersion” experience at Harvard Chan School 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.
Upper-Level Course and Credit Requirements
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, Harvard Chan School 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.
Harvard Chan School
At least 45 credits are required for the MPH degree, including satisfaction of several core course requirements. The credits earned during the Harvard Chan School summer session are included in this credit total. At least 32.5 ordinarily-graded credits must appear on the Harvard Chan School transcript (meaning, students must take at least 32.5 credits of Harvard Chan School courses for a letter grade). Joint degree students are not expected to enroll in Harvard Chan School courses during the Harvard Chan School Winter Session.
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.
Students may petition to complete the HLS JD Written Work Requirement and the Harvard Chan School 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.
Double Counting Credits
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.
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. JD/MPH students should contact the Law School’s Student Financial Services office during the Spring semester of their 1L year to arrange a meeting to discuss the joint enrollment tuition breakdown. For more information, students may contact Tony Curcio in the Student Financial Services office at HLS.
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 Harvard Chan School. 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is available to assist in the application process as well.
Learn more about the joint degree program and the Health Policy concentration of the MPH program.
For programmatic questions about the JD/MPH program, contact Anne Occhipinti, Assistant Dean for Professional Education at Harvard Chan School, at (617) 432-0090 (email@example.com) or April Pettit, Associate Director of Academic Affairs at the Law School, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admitted students: For information about course registration and transferring credits across schools, please contact Alison Hardy in the Harvard Chan School Registrar’s Office at 617-432-4463, email@example.com and Samantha Fitzgerald at HLS.