Not quite ready to apply for a PhD, but curious?
Welcome! You may still benefit from reviewing the information on this page. A helpful exercise you can engage in is to review the CV/work history of researchers you admire to see what their training path looked like. This can give you insight into the predoctoral training expectations and training programs that could prepare you for the work that you eventually want to pursue.
Dr. Sherri Rose maintains a list of summer programs that introduce undergraduate students to biostatistics and health services research.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents from underrepresented backgrounds (defined by your family’s socioeconomic status, your disability status, and/or your race/ethnicity) may be candidates for an NIH diversity supplement. This supplement could help fund predoctoral research experiences for high school, undergraduate, and postbaccaluareate-level trainees. My colleagues have created a guide to these supplements that you may find useful.
Resources to learn more about the program and admissions process
The program's website has information about faculty, our curricula, student dissertation topics, the jobs alumni currently hold, and more information about the admissions process. Note that our doctoral program is an interfaculty program that spans six Harvard schools (Medicine, Business, Public Health, etc.) and it is therefore not affiliated with a single department.
We host info sessions during each admissions cycle. Info sessions help to ensure that all prospective applicants have access to the same information so that they can prepare the best application possible. We encourage all applicants to attend a live virtual info session or watch the recordings to verify that our program is a good fit for your goals. [2021-2022 recording] [2022-2023 recording]
The Decision Sciences concentration also hosts a track-specific info session during each admissions cycle. We encourage all applicants to attend a live virtual info session (where you'll have an opportunity to ask questions) or watch the recordings to verify that our program is a good fit for your goals. [2021-2022 recording] [2022-2023 recording]
I manage a Twitter list of program faculty, students, alumni, and associated groups. Following this list may provide some insight into the topics in which our affiliates are interested.
Program faculty member Dr. Laura Hatfield has compiled a webpage with tips for prospective students considering our program. This guide is another way to learn about how our doctoral program operates.
The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers an application fee waiver to those for whom payment of the application fee would be financially challenging.
Prospective students frequently ask about scholarships and funding. This information can be found on the FAQ and is discussed during the info sessions. U.S. citizens and permanent residents from underrepresented backgrounds (defined by your family’s socioeconomic status, your disability status, and/or your race/ethnicity) may be candidates for an NIH diversity supplement. This supplement could help fund research experiences for Master's and doctoral students. My colleagues have created a guide to these supplements that you may find useful.
The hidden curriculum
There is a hidden curriculum to graduate school admissions that can negatively impact equity in the admissions process. I believe that all applicants should have access to the same information to level the playing field, so to speak. Given the wealth of resources that have been provided to demystify the admissions process for our program, my personal policy this year is that I will not take individual meetings or review CVs of prospective students. However, considering the interdisciplinary nature and interfaculty structure of our program, I will respond to inquiries about whether there are faculty at Harvard whose research interests align with yours.
Faculty advisors in our program are determined after admission to the program and we do not admit students to sit in a particular "lab" or to work with a specific faculty member. Collaborations between faculty and students develop during the first two years of study based on mutual areas of interest. Where can you find us? While many Decision Sciences faculty, research scientists, and students sit in the Center for Health Decision Science at the Harvard T.H, Chan School of Public Health, decision scientists can be found across the University including at the Harvard Kennedy School, Massachusetts General Hospital (e.g. Health Decision Sciences Center, Institute for Technology Assessment), the Department of Population Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, and many of Harvard Medical School's other affiliate hospitals. Finally, students in our concentration are not limited to working with Decision Sciences faculty for their dissertations or as a research assistant.
If you still have questions about who at Harvard does research on a particular topic and where they are based after reviewing the aforementioned links, please contact me via email. Please do not send a request to connect via LinkedIn for this purpose.
Other graduate programs
There are many excellent programs beyond Harvard at other universities that offer comprehensive training in Health Policy, Decision Sciences, Health Economics, Health Services Research, Population Health, and adjacent fields. Each program has different attributes, and whether a particular attribute of a program is a strength or weakness can be subjective and may vary from candidate to candidate. I would encourage you to explore multiple programs so that you can identify which program attributes you value. These Twitter threads [2021, 2022, 2023] and the AcademyHealth list of health services research training programs may offer insight into other programs that might be a good fit for your research interests. These resources are not comprehensive, however, and may exclude programs based in schools of Pharmacy (e.g., Pharmaceutical Policy, Pharmaceutical Economics, Pharmacoeconomics), Population Health programs, and schools outside of the US.
I hope these resources answer your questions. If you still have outstanding questions, feel free to reach out to our program staff.
If you decide to pursue further graduate training, I hope you find the option that is the best fit for you personally and professionally. If you feel like the Harvard program is a good fit for you, we hope you apply!
Good luck with your professional journey!