Applying to the SMS PhD

Admissions Requirements

PhD applicants must complete a statement of academic purpose that:

  • indicates the discipline in which they intend to concentrate (anthropology, history, psychology, political science, or sociology);
  • articulates the questions they hope explore at the intersection of that discipline and public health;
  • discusses how that area of prospective scholarship will advance knowledge in the discipline and answer critical public health questions, and
  • Notes the faculty members, both in SMS and in the relevant disciplinary department in Arts and Sciences, with whom they would like to work.

In the review process, we seek to identify applicants who have a demonstrated capacity for academic excellence and the ability to ask innovative and important questions at the juncture of their discipline of choice and public health. We also consider carefully whether prospective students will find faculty mentorship that is a good match for the student’s research interests.

The Schools of Public Health (SOPHAS) common application contains a number of questions on public health work experience and public health leadership aspirations. These questions are not weighted heavily in the admissions process for the PhD.

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit an official transcript from each prior institution, a statement of academic purpose*, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.) of not more than 15 pages, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources. All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS scores.

Deadline for Fall Admission

December 1

Deadline for Spring Admission

No spring admission



Statement of Purpose

Yes (maximum 500 words)

TOEFL for International Applicants

Yes (minimum required TOEFL IBT score is 100 or 600 paper based)

Writing Sample

Yes (no more than 10-15 pages)

GRE General


GRE Subject


*Applicants seeking support from the Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health must note their interest in gender and sexuality and briefly outline a prospective area of research for their doctoral dissertation in their statement of academic purpose. Similarly, applicants seeking support from the HIV Training Program in the Criminal Justice System should indicate and discuss this in their personal statement.