Harvard University
Share |

Harvard University

Social Science/Humanities PhD Field Supported:

Anthropology, Economics, Health Policy, History of Science, Philosophy, Sociology, Statistics (contact the MD-PhD Program office at mdphd@hms.harvard.edu to discuss other fields)

Description of Program:

The Program provides support for students pursuing cross-disciplinary training in the social sciences and medicine by offering strong mentoring, fostering an intellectual community through programmatic activities, and providing funding support on a competitive basis. Students receive their MD from Harvard Medical School and their PhD from one of the relevant social sciences or humanities departments at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS). The program seeks to educate students to apply social science perspectives and methods to health and health care delivery.

Structure of Program:

Students typically spend the first two years enrolled at HMS. For most students, at the beginning of their third year, they begin doctoral work in their respective social science departments. Although timing varies depending on discipline and dissertation research, students generally spend 3-5 years on their doctoral studies before returning to HMS to complete the final two years of medical school. Though this is the most common course of study, there is some flexibility. Faculty from HMS and the appropriate graduate program are available for mentorship about future goals and research interests.

Size of incoming joint MD/PhD class:


Number of students in the social sciences or humanities:

1-2/year matriculating as Cycle I students.

Number of graduates from the Social Science MD/PhD program (2001-2013):


Current number of students in the SSH MD/PhD Program:


Application Process:

The applicant must complete his or her application with the required transcripts and MCAT scores to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) indicating that he or she is applying to Harvard Medical School's MD/PhD and specifying the field of graduate study. The standard HMS secondary application and interview process must also be completed. To be considered for the PhD program of interest, the applicant must also complete all of the steps of the standard application process for that program including separate application, essays, recommendations, and relevant standardized test scores (i.e., the MCAT score cannot be submitted in lieu of the GRE score). If the applicant is accepted separately to both programs, he or she will be considered for acceptance into the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program. Students may also decide to apply to a doctoral program after their first or second year at HMS.


Effective during the 2013 admissions season, social science students compete for fully funded slots for the medical school portion of their joint degree program. As with students pursuing joint MD-PhD training in basic and translational sciences, separate funding is available from the school or department of graduate study during the student's years as a PhD student. Funding for graduate study at the Harvard GSAS is consistent with other graduate students in the corresponding doctoral program who are not pursuing joint degrees at the medical school. It usually includes tuition and stipend. Students applying after their first or second year at HMS may compete for available funding, usually when they reenter HMS for their final years.

Contact information:

Anne E. Becker, M.D., Ph.D., S.M.

Senior Associate Director
Harvard/MIT M.D.-Ph.D. Program

Harvard Medical School

MD-PhD Office
Daniel C. Tosteson
Medical Education Center

260 Longwood Avenue, Suite 168 

Boston, MA 02115 

Phone: 617.432.0991

Fax: 617.432.2791