All students take the full-year core course in their first year, which serves as an introduction to health policy. Overseen by the Committee on Higher Degrees in Health Policy, the core course is a survey course that meets for four hours per week. It has eight modules, each supervised by a faculty member. Within a module, each class is generally given by a different Harvard faculty member, although some faculty give multiple sessions. The supervising faculty member, who attends each session within a module, provides continuity across those sessions; the numerous faculty giving sessions within each module expose the students in their first year to the many faculty they may consider working with during the dissertation stage.
The specific modules, with the supervising faculty in parentheses, include: Introduction (Joe Newhouse); Politics (Bob Blendon); Health Decision Science (Ankur Pandya); Ethics (David Jones); Quality (Zirui Song); Specific Populations (Richard Frank); Research Design and Methods (Alan Zaslavsky); and Economics (Joe Newhouse). The Research Design and Economics modules are deliberately placed in the second semester to allow students to have taken one semester of statistics and intermediate (or higher) microeconomics. The final assignment for the Core Course involves writing a research proposal, which in several cases has become a paper in the dissertation.