JD/MPH students may count a limited number of credits toward both their JD and their MPH degree. This Appendix explains the rules for counting credits.
Credits are described as “Harvard Chan School credits” and “HLS credits” because the two schools do not count credits in the same way. Typically, HLS credits are transferred to Harvard Chan School credits as follows:
|HLS Credits||Harvard Chan School Credits|
However, some courses may transfer differently due to the amount of coursework involved. To confirm the number of credits that will be applied, JD/MPH students are strongly encouraged to consult the Registrars of the respective schools early in the semester in which they plan to request that credits be counted across schools.
Q: How many credits can I count toward both degrees?
A: Students may double-count up to 10 credits toward both degrees. Students may double-count credits in any or all of the following three ways:
- Up to 5 Harvard Chan School credits from classes taught at HLS (on any subject) may be counted toward the MPH degree.
Example: Jim Student registers at HLS for an Administrative Law class for 4 HLS credits and asks the Harvard Chan School Registrar to apply this as 5 credits toward his MPH degree.
- In addition, up to 10 HLS credits from classes taught at Harvard Chan School may be counted toward the “non-classroom credit” requirement for the JD degree.
Example: Jim registers at Harvard Chan School for courses in Society and Health, Justice and Resource Allocation, Payment Systems in Health Care, and Political Analysis for US Health Policy for a total of 12.5 Harvard Chan School credits and asks the HLS Registrar to apply them as 10 credits toward his JD degree.
- In addition, up to 4 HLS credits (5 Harvard Chan School credits) from an approved list of health law classes may be counted toward the requirements for both degrees. If students earn additional credits in these courses beyond that number, they may count those credits toward the requirements for one degree, but not both. Because the courses may have overlapping content, students must obtain approval from their Harvard Chan School faculty advisor for the credits/courses they intend to count toward both degrees. Course offerings vary from year to year; the list of eligible health law courses are available in July of the preceding summer. For the 2022-2023 academic year, the eligible health law courses include (but are not limited to) the courses listed below.
- Drug Product Liability Litigation
- Food and Drug Law
- Food Law and Policy
- Health Law, Policy, Bioethics, and Biotechnology Workshop
- Health Care Rights in the Twenty-First Century
- Public Health Law and Policy
For other health law courses not on this list, students must obtain approval from the faculty co-directors. Students should consult the HLS Course Catalog for the meeting times of the eligible health law courses.
Example: Jim receives permission from his Harvard Chan School advisor to count Health Law and Regulation as 5 MPH credits in addition to the 4 credits he will receive at HLS. Jim registers for this course at HLS. Since Jim also plans to apply the 5 credits from his Administrative Law class toward his MPH, his Harvard Chan School transcript at the time of graduation will need to show (at a minimum) 35 credits taken at the Harvard Chan School.
Q: I read in the Harvard Chan School Handbook that Harvard Chan School students can count up to 10 cross-registration credits toward their MPH. Does this rule apply to JD/MPH students?
A: No, a special rule concerning cross-registration credits applies to JD/MPH students. They receive the 5 Harvard Chan School credits for HLS classes under Rule A.1. above and may count 5 additional cross-registration credits toward their MPH degree only if they do not intend to double-count any of the health law courses listed above under Rule A.3. If health law courses are double-counted, the 5 additional possible cross-registration credits are proportionately reduced.
Example: Jim becomes interested in a class on Science, Technology and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. This course is equivalent to 5 Harvard Chan School credits. If Jim had not been planning to double-count any of the eligible HLS health law classes, he could apply the Kennedy School course credits fully toward his MPH. However, Jim’s plan is to apply the 5 credits from Health Law as well as the 5 credits from his Administrative Law class toward his MPH. This brings him to 10 credits from courses taught outside Harvard Chan School, so the Kennedy School class cannot also count toward his MPH. Jim decides not to ask the Harvard Chan School Registrar to count the 5 credits from the Health Law class toward his MPH, and instead plans to count the 5 credits from the Kennedy School course. Health Law will still count toward his Law School classroom credit requirement.
Q. Can I cross-register for courses at other Harvard schools (e.g., Harvard Kennedy School) and apply those credits toward my JD?
A. You may cross-register for a limited number of courses outside the Law School, but these credits cannot count toward the JD degree requirements. Some state bars require that no more than 10 credits from courses taken in another school in the university be counted toward the JD degree. Because JD/MPH students already get 10 credits of their MPH coursework counted toward the JD, you cannot also count other cross-registration credits. You will register for these 10 credits as Harvard Chan School students, rather than cross-registering.