Harvard University (predoctoral), Boston

Institutional Training Programs

AHRQ funds 18 institutions which recruit and train predoctoral and/or postdoctoral health services researchers. Details on characteristics of the Harvard University program and its self-identified areas of research interest are described.

Harvard Medical School


Joseph Newhouse, Ph.D.
Program Director, Harvard Ph.D. Program in Health Policy
Harvard Medical School
180 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Deborah Whitney
Executive Director, Interfaculty Initiative in Health Policy
14 Story Street, 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-496-5506
Email: Deborah_whitney@harvard.edu

Web site: http://www.healthpolicy.fas.harvard.edu  

Program Description & Content Areas

The Harvard PhD in Health Policy, awarded by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is a collaborative program among six Harvard University faculties: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health.

The aim of the PhD Program in Health Policy is to train individuals for research and teaching careers in health policy and health services research. While the program is interdisciplinary in nature, students specialize in one of six concentrations:  decision sciences, economics, ethics, evaluative science and statistics, management, or political analysis.  In their dissertations, students apply knowledge gained from their area of concentration to health policy issues in one of four areas: global health, health care services, mental health, or public health.

Approximately 125 faculty members from schools within the University are involved with the program, and students are free to take classes throughout the University. A hallmark of the program is the accessibility of faculty members to students and the commitment of faculty to students enrolled in the program.

The program started in 1992, and there are 160 graduates and 63 students currently enrolled. Approximately 70% of program graduates work in academic institutions while approximately 30% work in research institutes, the government, non-profits, and private industry.

The average time to completion of degree is five years. During their training, students meet the following requirements:

  • Two years (generally) of coursework, including a full-year Core course.
  • Concentration in one academic discipline (decision sciences, economics, ethics, evaluative science and statistics, management, or political analysis) and specialization at the dissertation stage in one policy area (healthcare services, global health, mental health, or public health).
  • Three one-term courses, chosen from three concentrations outside a student's field of concentration. The statistics requirement (noted below) may be used to satisfy one of the three requirements, except for students concentrating in evaluative science and statistics.
  • Two one-term courses in statistics.
  • One course in epidemiology.
  • A weekly research seminar starting in the third year.
  • Written general and concentration examinations following the two years of coursework; the general examination contains an oral component.
  • A dissertation prospectus and oral examination. 
  • A dissertation based on original research and a dissertation defense.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created August 2008
Internet Citation: Harvard University (predoctoral), Boston. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/training-grants/grants/active/t32/T32-harv1.html