Ad hoc Degrees

Ad hoc degrees

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has authorized the establishment of special ad hoc PhD programs when a student's approved program extends beyond the academic discipline of a single department.

Each ad hoc committee ordinarily consists of four members, three of whom must be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and represent at least two established departments or committees. The chair of an ad hoc committee must be a full-time, resident, teaching member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The proposed program of study and the membership of the committee must be approved by the GSAS Administrative Board.

Ad hoc applications will be reviewed throughout the year, but primarily on three occasions during the year: the deadlines for the ad hoc applications are September 1, January 1, or May 1. A student must have completed a full year of graduate study and achieved an outstanding academic record in an established PhD degree program in order to apply to transfer to an ad hoc PhD program.

A student interested in an ad hoc program should first make an appointment to speak to Patrick O'Brien, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. Ordinarily, when a student transfers to an ad hoc degree program the original department retains financial responsibility for the student.

Master's degrees are not awarded in ad hoc subjects.

Steps in preparing an ad hoc proposal:

1. Carefully consider the research project you would like to pursue; and then

2. Determine the faculty members to be on your Ad Hoc Committee (3 must be members of FAS. Additional members may be from Harvard faculty or from other institutions).

3. Choose the two FAS departments most appropriate for your research project.

4. Determine with your potential committee your timeline:  

* Course work - will any additional courses be necessary?
* Language requirements - will there be a requirement?
* Generals - format and date to be administered.
* Dissertation prospectus - due date.
* Prospectus defense or oral presentation - will there be either?
* Dissertatoin defense.

5. Prepare a draft of your statement of purpose. Consider the following issues in your statement of purpose:
 
* Is this a viable proposal?
* Have you allotted enough time to complete the requirements as listed in the timeline
* Why is this research project interdisciplinary - why would it be impossible to accomplish in only one FAS department?
* Outline the research project. What are the goals of the project?
* Place the project in its academic context - how does it relate to an existing body of knowledge?
* Explain your background and the appropriateness of this background for your research project.
* Why are you interested in this area of research

6. If you will need funding while completing your PhD, discuss possible funding sources with your potential committee members and make reference to these in your proposal.

7. Prepare a draft proposal to show your potential committee members and to submit to Patrick O'Brien so that he and Garth McCavana, Dean for Student Affairs, can review it and make suggested changes if necessary.

8. Obtain letters of recommendation. The faculty writing these should first read your proposal. In their letters, the faculty members should indicate why they think the proposal is viable and how it relates to an existing body of knowledge. They also should explain the interdisciplinary nature of the project. If they are familiar with your academic work, these faculty members should comment on your ability to achieve the goals you have indicated in your statement.

9. Once all of the above are in order, complete the transfer application and ad hoc form, available in the GSAS Dean's Office, and submit these with an FAS transcript, a transcript from schools where you have taken additional courses if you have left GSAS, and your recommendations to Patrick O'Brien, GSAS Dean's Office, Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center 350, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Patrick O'Brien at 617-495-1814 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.