Founded in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and named for its first donor, the Reverend John Harvard, who left his personal library and half his estate (about 800£) to the new institution, Harvard College was born into the Puritan tradition. The University today is still governed under its original charter granted by the Colony in 1650. This, with amendments and John Adams’ further definition in the fifth chapter of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, is the authority under which Harvard operates.

The earliest visible Harvard, despite almost a century of previous existence under the close scrutiny of the clergy and magistrates of the Bay Colony, is an eighteenth-century institution. In the College Yard stand Harvard’s oldest buildings, plain and in the best sense homely with their brick exteriors, straightforward appearance, and unassuming design. Massachusetts Hall (1720), Wadsworth House (1726), and Holden Chapel (1744) are the earliest. Hollis Hall, built at the expense of the Colony, dates from 1763. Harvard Hall (1766) stands on the site of a seventeenth-century building of the same name. It burned down one wintry night in 1764, destroying the 5,000-volume college library (then the largest in North America) and the scientific laboratory and apparatus. This was the Harvard of the well-known Burgis and Revere engravings—except for old Stoughton College, which suffered so much damage from occupation by Continental troops during the Revolution that it had to be torn down in 1781. A new Stoughton Hall (1805), Holworthy Hall (1812), and Charles Bulfinch’s famous University Hall (1815) form the outline of the original Yard.

For its first 200 years of existence, Harvard was relatively small, proudly provincial, ambitiously intellectual, but still a college with a conservative, set curriculum emphasizing rhetorical principles, rote learning, and constant drilling. The faculty was very small and the president did a little of everything, including teaching, assisted by junior faculty like the remarkable Henry Flynt (1676–1760), tutor and disciplinarian who spent fifty-five years as a Harvard tutor and sixty years as a fellow of the Corporation. Particularly outstanding among the faculty was Professor John Winthrop, AB 1732, who held the Hollis Professorship and taught mathematics and science (then called “natural and experimental philosophy”) from 1738 to 1779. Next to Benjamin Franklin, Winthrop was probably the greatest man of science of the colonial era. Another distinguished early figure was the Jewish scholar Judah Monis, AM Hon. 1720, who taught Hebrew from 1722 to 1760.

During the first 230 years of its existence, Harvard College retained its old framework as an English college modeled on Oxford and Cambridge, though with some developments of its own. In time, many of the faculty members who had pursued postgraduate work at German universities saw shortcomings in the English model. One of the most important developments was the establishment of professorships in the undergraduate department, which was an innovation on the English idea of a college. The greatest departure from the English precedents, and a long step towards the foundation of a real university, was the establishment of the three professional schools of Divinity, Medicine, and Law. Medical studies began in 1782, and law and divinity became graduate departments in 1816 and 1817, respectively. Even so, the College did not start to take on the aspect of a true university until mid-century, when a library building (1841), an observatory (1846), a scientific school (1847), a chemistry laboratory (1857), and a natural history museum (1860) were built. From 1820 until 1872 the University consisted of the College and the three professional schools, with the later additions of the Dental School, the Scientific School, and the Bussey School of Agriculture. The gap in this constitution was that there was no equivalent of the German Faculty of Philosophy (i.e., of the Arts and Sciences) at the graduate level. One of President Charles William Eliot’s great innovations was the establishment of a Graduate Department.

The Graduate Department was created in January 1872 by action of the Governing Boards. The Academic Council was appointed to administer and recommend candidates for the degrees of master of arts, master of science, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of science. When the establishment of a Graduate Department was first put before the College faculty, there was much opposition. It was said that the University had insufficient funds to teach undergraduates properly, and the Graduate Department would weaken the College. To which President Eliot replied, as Professor Palmer remembers, “It will strengthen the College. As long as the main duty of the faculty is to teach boys, professors need never pursue their subjects beyond a certain point. With graduate students to teach, they will regard their subjects as infinite, and will keep up that constant investigation which is so necessary for the best teaching.” In 1872, Harvard boldly announced that the new degrees of PhD and SD would be given to properly qualified graduates on examination after certain periods of residence at the University; and that the degree of AM would henceforth be given to any graduate of any respectable college on an examination upon a single year’s study. This announcement was unprecedented in this country, and it was an omen of great promise for the future. As the Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison described it:

Up to that time there were no facilities at Harvard for the training of men in the liberal arts after taking their first degree, although advanced instruction in the natural sciences had been given in the Lawrence Scientific School for over twenty years, without a degree to reward the students’ efforts. Harvard men who wished to be trained as scholars in the humanities and the social sciences had to study abroad. It was now provided that the MA should be given in the future for not less than a year’s postgraduate study in approved subjects, and after examination; the class of 1869 was the last whose members were allowed to take the MA for ‘keeping out of jail five years and paying five dollars,’ as the saying was. The PhD was to be conferred after a more advanced examination and the acceptance of a dissertation deemed a ‘contribution to knowledge’. William E. Byerly (AB 1871) took the first Harvard PhD, in mathematics, in 1873 (Byerly Hall, headquarters of the Graduate School, is named for him) and James O. Averill (AB Amherst 1870) took the first MA of the new dispensation the following year.

In 1871–72, the list of seventy-four courses open to graduates was made up from the regular courses of study offered to undergraduates. The elective system, established five years earlier in 1867, made it possible for the regular College courses to offer material for graduate study. Before that date almost all of the work of the College had comprised required courses, and nearly the whole time of professors was given to hearing lessons recited. The development of the elective system, encouraged by President Eliot, called for a great increase in the number of teachers of all grades; this made it possible for the professors to offer advanced courses for the better students.

When the Graduate Department was founded, there was no distinction between undergraduate and graduate studies; and no hard-and-fast line has ever been drawn between them. Graduate students simply took elective studies that they had been unable to take in the College. In 1875–76, courses primarily for graduates made their first appearance in the catalogue. A very significant departure was made in 1877–78. “Besides the regular courses of instruction,” states the catalogue, “graduates may often make arrangements to obtain advice or direction and in some cases special instruction, in the pursuit of higher studies, from professors or other competent persons.” This “special instruction” by professors began to appear in the catalogues after 1885.

In 1872, twenty-eight students were attracted to the new program. No fewer than thirteen of the first twenty-eight graduate students were officers of the University, consisting of one professor, one assistant professor, ten tutors or instructors, and one proctor. The quality of the early doctors in arts and sciences (1873–78) is indicated by such names as John Trowbridge, William K. Brooks, William Everett, N. S. Shaler, Henry Cabot Lodge, J. Walter Fewkes, Frank A. Gooch, and Charles Sedgwick Minot. In the second year, 1873–74, thirty-five candidates enrolled for the higher degrees, and in 1874– 75, forty candidates enrolled; in this year five students received income from the Harris, Kirkland, and Parker Fellowships, the last paying a stipend of $1,000 a year.

Professors C. L. Jackson, Farlow, Child, and Goodwin were among the early members of the faculty most interested in promoting graduate studies. However, to no one excepting President Eliot is the Graduate School so indebted as to Professor of Astronomy and Mathematics James Mills Peirce, who, as secretary of the Academic Council from 1872 to 1890 and dean of the school to 1895, devoted himself to the promotion of graduate instruction. From the administrative reorganization of 1890 the Graduate Department emerged as the Graduate School of Harvard University, under the new Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but with administrative officers of its own. In 1905 the name was changed to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in order to distinguish it more clearly from the professional schools.

Professor Peirce was succeeded as dean by John Henry Wright, professor of Greek, who served from 1895 until 1908, when the number of students had increased to 406. The succeeding deans were Professor of Medieval History Charles Homer Haskins (1908–24), and Professor of English John L. Lowes (1924–25). By 1929, under the deanship of Professor of Classical Archaeology George Henry Chase (1925–39), the number of students in the school had grown to roughly 1,000 and the Administrative Board of the Graduate School deliberated over the report of the Committee on Further Restriction of Entrance to the Graduate School. Dean Chase reported the Committee was unanimous in recommending restrictions on admission and wrote, “The members feel that the purpose of any restrictions should be to improve the quality of students who resort to the school rather than to attempt to set a definite number of students whether in the whole school or in the several divisions and departments.” The reasons that most affected the Committee’s decision were that the Harvard professional schools and other graduate schools, notably Yale and Princeton, had become more restrictive, and several candidates had entered the Graduate School after being refused admission by these other schools. Another concern was that the number of students put a serious strain upon those who directed research.

In the early 1930s, enrollments continued to increase, then dropped significantly in 1935 to 765 students and increased again to a high of 1,113 students in 1939. Chemistry Professor Arthur Becket Lamb held the deanship during 1940–43 and Howard Mumford Jones, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Humanities, was appointed dean during 1943–44 when elaborate plans for the postwar period were undertaken. The vital importance of the work of the Graduate School in postwar years was emphasized in President James Bryant Conant’s statement, “The recruiting of the nation’s ranks of highly-trained scholars and specialists, after the hiatus of the war years, will be one of the very vital tasks confronting American universities when the day of peace arrives.” The question of admission to the Graduate School became paramount in the course of 1945–46 as former servicemen, encouraged by financial assistance from the government, began to make applications in vast numbers. In contrast to the years before 1940 when the school received about 800 applications on the average, the year 1945–46 saw more than 4,000 applications. To keep the school within manageable limits, a large proportion had to be denied, and inevitably the standards for admission had to be raised. While no rigid quotas were set, the departments set upper limits on the number of new students they could accommodate. Beginning in 1945, all applicants were asked to submit letters of recommendation, which had been required previously only of fellowship applicants.

Though the school had been reduced to 393 students in 1943–44, new applications and review procedures were put into place, and by 1946–47 there were 1,969 students enrolled. Serving as dean from 1946–49, Professor of Government Payson S. Wild, Jr. assessed the situation, “So far, veterans have performed as well if not better scholastically than nonveterans and the problems of readjustment, so dreaded in advance, have not materialized to any great extent.” He concluded that the G.I. Bill had helped to “democratize the PhD,” but he was much concerned about what to do after the federal subsidies were gone. Dean Wild was followed by Francis M. Rogers, professor of the Languages and Literatures of Portugal (1949–55). Serving as dean from 1955 to 1971, Professor of Greek and Latin John Peterson Elder saw the Graduate School into an era of new relations with the federal government and the admission of women to the Graduate School in 1962. Prior to 1962, women graduate students had been enrolled in the Radcliffe Graduate School.

The Harvard Annex was formed in 1879 to provide women with the opportunity to study with Harvard professors. From the beginning, graduate education was integral to Radcliffe’s mission. Among the first twenty-seven students to enroll in September 1879 were two graduates (one from Smith and one from Vassar). In 1882, the Harvard Annex was incorporated as the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women. As Arthur Gilman, the secretary of the College wrote in the 1891 report: “We have no higher duty to advanced specialists and to graduates coming from other institutions than giving them the advantages which Harvard College offers so liberally to our whole body. These students come to our classes in yearly increasing numbers and they are very welcome.” The first AM certificate was granted in 1890. In 1894, Radcliffe was chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a degree-granting institution and the AB and AM degrees were awarded. The PhD was first awarded in 1902. Radcliffe diplomas were signed by the presidents of Harvard and Radcliffe, sealed with both seals and were in every way equivalent to the Harvard degree. The Harvard Board of Overseers resolved that Radcliffe graduate students should be admitted to any courses of instruction designed for Harvard graduates, and in the fall of 1894, fifty-one courses (marked with a double dagger††) were listed in the Harvard catalogue and opened to graduate women.

The Radcliffe Graduate School grew from these informal beginnings to be the largest graduate school among the women’s colleges by 1930. The school was reorganized in 1934 when the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School was created. Bernice Brown Cronkhite (PhD 1920), who had served as dean of both undergraduates and graduates (1923–34), was appointed dean of the Graduate School and served until 1960. To many, Dean Cronkhite personified the Graduate School. She counseled students, administered the school, raised funds for scholarships, and was the driving force behind the construction of the Cronkhite Graduate Center (named in her honor in 1971), the residence for graduate women. She was succeeded by Wilma Kerby-Miller (1960–62).

The school graduated 784 PhDs, 3,284 AMs and SMs, and 976 MATs between 1890 and 1962. The holder of a Radcliffe PhD, according to the report Graduate Education for Women: The Radcliffe PhD (1951) was, typically, a professor at a women’s college or a state or municipal university, since appointments at major private universities, such as Harvard, were largely closed to women. The school attracted students from all over the world. Graduates before 1917 tended to earn their degrees in classical philology, history, or philosophy. The first doctorate in science was awarded in zoology in 1910. Mary S. Locke was the first African American to receive an AM, in 1893, and Eva B. Dykes was one of the first African Americans to receive her PhD, in 1921. Other notable holders of the Radcliffe PhD are: the late philosopher Suzanne Knauth Langer; astronomer Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, the second woman to receive tenure in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Hanna Holborn Gray, former president of the University of Chicago; geophysicist Margaret Kivelson; and Rulan Chao Pian, who recently retired as professor of East Asian languages and civilizations and professor of music. In 1962, the Radcliffe Graduate School ceased to admit women or to grant degrees. Women thereafter were admitted directly to and enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

In 1969, a review of graduate education was conducted by a faculty committee chaired by History Professor Robert Lee Wolff. The committee considered the implications of the recent rapid rise in the number of students admitted to the Graduate School, the resulting demands on the resources of the faculty, and other aspects of graduate students’ careers. The Wolff Report confronted the decrease in public and private fellowships and shrinking job opportunities and recommended that the size of the Graduate School be reduced from its 1969 total of over 3,000 students by at least twenty percent, with the goal of 2,400 students in five years’ time. The report also foreshadowed the initiation of a need-based financial aid plan, based on the premise that all students who are admitted must have adequate support.

Richard Victor Jones, professor of applied physics, served as dean (1971–72), followed by Philosophy Professor Burton Spencer Dreben (1973–76) and Edward Louis Keenan, professor of history (1977–84). In 1977–78, Dean Keenan reported that the previous trends of the early and mid-seventies persisted: the numbers of applications and first-time enrollments continued to decline slowly; and attrition, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, remained at levels higher than those of earlier years. In 1984, the final year of his term, Dean Keenan reported that while the increasingly gloomy projections about the job market for PhD recipients were accurate, the effect of the narrowing opportunities had been somewhat mitigated by several forms of institutional and individual response. In 1982–83, first-year enrollments increased for the first time since 1978.

In 1985, the Committee to Study the Graduate School, chaired by Professor of Physics Karl Strauch, addressed issues such as the organizational structure of the Graduate School and the relationship between the GSAS organization and the academic departments. The Strauch Report generally endorsed the continuation of the GSAS policy of admitting only students with adequate financial support, and suggested improvements in teaching fellow appointment policies and procedures. Citing indications from several departments that they would like to be able to admit more students, the report recommended a modest increase in the size of the Graduate School and gave highest priority to increased funding for graduate student support.

With the reorganization of the Graduate School in 1985, Sally Falk Moore, professor of anthropology, was appointed as the fourteenth dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and John B. Fox, Jr., who had previously served as dean of Harvard College (1976–85), became the administrative dean. An effort was made to streamline the functions of the Graduate School and to make it more responsive to the needs of students and faculty. Substantial new funding for graduate students was made available from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Brendan A. Maher, Edward C. Henderson Professor of the Psychology of Personality, became dean of the Graduate School in 1989. Dean Maher focused on the circumstances of graduate students themselves—the length of time it takes them to complete their degrees, the support they receive from the faculty, and how financial aid can be most effectively used in aiding them to completion of their degrees. Consideration was also given to how Harvard can best respond to changing national trends in graduate education.

Christoph Wolff, William Powell Mason Professor of Music, provided leadership to the Graduate School as dean from 1992 to 2000. A number of successful initiatives began during his tenure. While continuing to give attention to many of the issues addressed by Dean Maher, Dean Wolff undertook a broad review of the academic programs in the Graduate School, establishing closer links with all FAS graduate programs. Focusing on shortening the time it takes for students to complete the PhD degree, Dean Wolff, in 1993–94, established a policy, according to which students ordinarily will not be permitted to register beyond their tenth year in the Graduate School. By limiting time to degree, GSAS was able to make better use of its limited resources and encourage students to make efficient use of their time. GSAS continued its involvement with the Mellon Foundation Graduate Education Program that began in 1991 to improve graduate student time to degree and established an important new program of in-house humanities and social science fellowships, including the Harvard Graduate Society, the Eliot, and the Packard. With the assistance of Ford Foundation funding, in 1994, Dean Wolff established a program of interdisciplinary faculty/student research workshops in the social sciences and humanities that allowed the participants to discuss shared scholarly interests and individual student works-in-progress. Founded in 1991 as the Graduate Student Center, Dudley House continued, with Dean Wolff’s support, to develop as the principal place for students from different departments and programs to interact. Dudley House, as a center for the graduate community, is a resounding success.

Dean Wolff’s interest in improving the financial aid for graduate students led to the implementation of a report issued in May 1998 by the Faculty Committee on Graduate Student Support, chaired by Professor Peter T. Ellison. As a result of the report, FAS Dean Jeremy Knowles approved increases to the Graduate School financial aid budget. These funds facilitated the initiation in 1999 of a new cohort-based financial aid plan for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The plan has allowed GSAS to increase the amount and duration of GSAS financial aid awards.

Margot N. Gill succeeded John Fox in 1994 as administrative dean of the Graduate School. Dean Gill had served as the GSAS Dean for Student Affairs from 1986 to 1993.

Peter T. Ellison (PhD 1983, Anthropology), the John Cowles Professor of Anthropology, served as dean of the Graduate School from 2000 to 2005. During his term, Ellison oversaw a massive increase in financial aid to incoming students, an improvement to dissertation-completion funding for incoming students in the humanities and social sciences, the addition of new housing for graduate students, the creation of several new interdisciplinary and interfaculty PhD programs, the formation of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences Program, and a summer language program for incoming international students.

Theda Skocpol (PhD 1975, Sociology), the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, served as dean of the Graduate School from 2005 to 2008. One of her first initiatives was the establishment of the Graduate Policy Committee through which faculty from FAS and interfaculty PhD programs advise GSAS on policy issues and review graduate programs on a regular cycle. During her tenure, Skocpol enhanced the data-gathering and analytic capacities of GSAS that inform new policies to improve students’ time to degree and optimal job placements. She launched an annual prize to honor program innovations in PhD education and a seed fund to help departments improve their programs of mentoring, training, and placement. Like her predecessors, Skocpol raised new funds for fellowships and research grants.

Allan M. Brandt, the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine and professor of the history of science, served as dean of the Graduate School from 2008 to 2012. During his term, Brandt shepherded the Graduate School through a period of fiscal downturn, focusing resources on increasing the graduate student stipend, improving the admission and recruitment of underrepresented minorities, and improving the advising and mentoring structure for PhD students. The transformation in admissions practices that Brandt led, including the appointment of an assistant dean for diversity and minority affairs, resulted in the enrollment of a record number of minority students. He initiated a new approach to curricular development with the launch of the Graduate Seminars in General Education, directly involving graduate students in the development of Harvard College’s new undergraduate curriculum. Brandt also prioritized the creation of programs that help graduate students navigate a challenging academic job market, helping to develop pathways for PhDs in industry and policymaking as well as the academy. He was instrumental in increasing support for and recognition of graduate student teaching, endorsing innovative projects for the training of teaching fellows at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Such programs have helped GSAS students fulfill and expand their critical roles in sustaining Harvard’s academic excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Xiao-Li Meng (PhD 1990, Statistics), the Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Statistics, became dean of the Graduate School August 15, 2012.


Drew Gilpin Faust, BA, MA, PhD, president of Harvard University
Michael D. Smith, BS, MS, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Xiao-Li Meng, BS, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Margot N. Gill, BA, MA, PhD, administrative dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Russell E. Berg, BS, MA, dean for admissions and financial aid
Garth O. McCavana, BA, MA, PhD, dean for student affairs
Emily Burns, BS, admissions and financial aid officer for the Social Sciences
Robert Byrne, manager of GSAS residence halls and FAS facilities
Eileen Doherty, BA, MBA, assistant dean for finance and budget
Josephine M. Ferraro, AB, coordinator for financial aid, senior admissions and financial aid officer for the Natural Sciences
Ellen L. Fox, BA, MA, director of student services
Winnie Keung, BS, director of information systems/analyst
Robert LaPointe, BS, senior admissions and financial aid officer for the Humanities
Liz Moss Levine, BS, senior financial analyst
John McNally, BA, MBA, assistant dean, Harvard Integrated Life Sciences
Judy Mehrmann, BA, MA, senior admissions and financial aid officer for the Social Sciences
Robert Moss, BA, MA, MBA, senior analyst
Tracey Newman, BA, MA, admissions and financial aid officer for the Natural Sciences
Jon Petitt, director of publications and alumni relations
TBA, special students and visiting fellows officer
Stephanie A. Parsons, BA, assistant director of diversity and minority recruitment
Rosemary Schulze, BA, administrative officer
Patrick O’Brien, BA, MEd, assistant dean of student affairs
Lisa Simpson, admissions and financial aid officer for the Humanities
Christine Sumner, AA, director of admissions
Sheila Thomas, BA, PhD, assistant dean for diversity and minority affairs
Cynthia Verba, BA, MA, PhD, director of fellowships
Bari Walsh, BA, writer/editor
Susan Zawalich, BA, MA, administrator of Dudley House
James Hogle, BS, PhD, professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, professor of biophysics, Master of Dudley House
Doreen Hogle, BS, JD, Co-Master of Dudley House


The Administrative Board of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is appointed annually by the president and fellows of Harvard College with the consent of the Board of Overseers upon the recommendation of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Faculty members are appointed in the fall. Student members are appointed, if necessary.

The President of the University, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, ex officio
Xiao-Li Meng, dean (chair)
Margot N. Gill, administrative dean
Patrick O’Brien, assistant dean of student affairs (secretary)
Michael Burke, registrar, FAS
Russell E. Berg, dean for admissions and financial aid
Garth McCavana, dean for student affairs


The Committee on Graduate Education is responsible for considering all matters concerning graduate education that might come before the Faculty Council or the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences and for advising the Dean of the Faculty and the Deans of the Graduate School on matters pertaining to graduate education.

The faculty members of the Committee are selected from the Faculty Council in the fall. The President of the Graduate Student Council serves ex officio, and other student members are named in the fall. The administrative members who sit with the Committee are:

Xiao-Li Meng, dean (chair)
Margot N. Gill, administrative dean
Michael Burke, registrar, FAS
Leslie Kress (secretary)
Russell E. Berg, dean for admissions and financial aid
Garth McCavana, dean for student affairs
James Hogle, Master of Dudley House


The Graduate Policy Committee (GPC) addresses key issues such as time to degree, mentoring, and the training of graduate students for teaching. Representing the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, the committee brings a broad perspective to analyzing major policy changes. Departments have the opportunity to discuss with the GPC topics of interest including modifying curriculum, changing requirements, and setting future goals. The committee comprises approximately ten faculty members from a variety of departments and programs, both within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the interfaculty programs.

Michael D. Smith, dean, FAS, ex officio
Xiao-Li Meng, dean, GSAS (chair)
Margot N. Gill, administrative dean, GSAS
TBA, dean, Harvard College
Richard Born, Professor of Neurobiology
Catherine Dulac, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Mark Elliott, Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History
Laura Frahm, Assistant Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies
Gerald Gabrielse, George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics
Gonzalo Giribet, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Jerry Green, David A. Wells Professor of Political Economy
Daniel Jacob, Vasco McCoy Family Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering
Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History
Jeffrey Schapp, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
John Stauffer, Professor of English and American Literature and Language and Professor of African and African American Studies
Mary Steedly, Professor of Anthropology
Karen Thornber, Professor of Comparative Literature
Christopher Winship, Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology


The Academic Council for Inter-Faculty PhD Programs is composed of the several deans responsible for PhD programs offered jointly by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculties of Medicine, Public Health, Design, Business, Divinity, and the Harvard Kennedy School. The Council coordinates and oversees these programs, makes recommendations for improvements, and evaluates proposed new programs.


Degree programs are administered by divisions, departments, and committees, as authorized by votes of the faculty. References to “departments” in the following sections are meant to indicate any degree-granting unit, as appropriate.

The degree programs are listed in the following table and are described in detail on the website, www.gsas.harvard.edu. Information is also available from the departments. Degree candidates should be thoroughly familiar with the program description for their department. The degrees offered are the AM, Master of Arts; SM, Master of Science; ME, Master of Engineering; MFS, Master of Forest Science; PhD, Doctor of Philosophy. Degree Requirements are described in chapter III and on the website, www.gsas.harvard.edu.



Department, Division or Committee Degree Subject Degrees Offered
African and African American Studies African Studies PhD (AM)
  African American Studies AM, PhD
American Studies American Studies PhD
Anthropology  Anthropology AM, PhD
Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning Architecture

PhD (AM)

  Landscape Architecture PhD (AM)
  Urban Planning PhD (AM)
Astronomy Astronomy and Astrophysics PhD (AM)
Biological Sciences in Dental Medicine  Biological Sciences in Dental Medicine  PhD
Biological Sciences in Public Health  Biological Sciences in Public Health  PhD 
Biology: Medical Sciences, Division of  Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD*
  Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology PhD*
  Cell and Developmental Biology±  
  Cell Biology PhD*
  Developmental and Regenerative Biology PhD
  Genetics± PhD* 
  Genetics and Genomics  
  Human Biology and Translational Medicine PhD*
  Immunology  PhD*
  Microbiology and Immunobiology  
  Microbiology and Molecular Genetics± PhD*
  Neurobiology  PhD*
  Pathology PhD*
  Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology PhD*
  Virology  PhD*
Biology, Molecular and Cellular  Biology  PhD (AM) 
  Biochemistry  PhD 
Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary  Biology  PhD (AM)
Biophysics  Biophysics PhD
Biostatistics Biostatistics PhD (AM)
Business Economics  Business Economics PhD (AM)
Business Studies  Organizational Behavior  PhD
Celtic Languages and Literatures  Celtic Languages and Literatures AM, PhD 
Chemical Biology  Chemical Biology PhD*
Chemical Physics  Chemical Physics PhD
Chemistry and Chemical Biology  Chemistry PhD (AM)
Classics  Ancient History PhD (AM)
  Byzantine Greek  PhD(AM)
  Classical Archaeology PhD (AM)
  Classical Philology  PhD(AM)
  Classical Philosophy PhD (AM)
  Medieval Latin  PhD(AM)
  Modern Greek PhD (AM)
Comparative Literature  Comparative Literature PhD (AM)
Earth and Planetary Sciences Earth and Planetary Sciences  PhD (AM)
East Asian Languages and Civilizations  East Asian Languages and Civilizations  PhD (AM) 
  History and East Asian Languages PhD (AM)
Economics  Economics PhD (AM)
Education Education PhD§
Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of  Applied Mathematics SM, ME§, PhD 
  Applied Physics  SM, ME, PhD 
  Computational Science and Engineering SM, ME
  Computer Science  SM, ME, PhD 
  Engineering Sciences SM, ME, PhD 
English English PhD (AM) 
Forestry Forest Science MFS
Germanic Languages and Literatures  Germanic Languages and Literatures AM, PhD
Government  Political Science PhD (AM)
Health Policy  Health Policy PhD
History History PhD (AM)
History of Art and Architecture  History of Art and Architecture PhD (AM)
History of Science  History of Science AM, PhD
Human Evolutionary Biology Human Evolutionary Biology PhD
Inner Asian and Altaic Studies  Inner Asian and Altaic Studies PhD
Linguistics  Linguistics PhD (AM)
Mathematics  Mathematics PhD (AM)
Medical Science, see Biology    
Middle Eastern Studies  Regional Studies—Middle East  AM
  Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies PhD
  History of Art and Architecture and Middle Eastern Studies PhD 
  History and Middle Eastern Studies PhD
Music  Music PhD (AM)
  Performance Practice AM
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations AM, PhD
Philosophy  Classical Philosophy  PhD (AM)
  Philosophy  PhD (AM)
Physics  Physics PhD (AM)
Political Economy and Government  Political Economy and Government PhD (AM) 
Psychology  Psychology PhD (AM)
Public Policy  Public Policy PhD
Regional Studies—East Asia  Regional Studies—East Asia AM
Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia  AM
Religion  The Study of Religion PhD (AM)
Romance Languages and Literatures  Romance Languages and Literatures PhD (AM)
Slavic Languages and Literatures Slavic Languages and Literatures  PhD (AM)
Social Policy Sociology and Social Policy  PhD
  Government and Social Policy  PhD
Sociology  Sociology PhD (AM)
South Asian Studies South Asian Studies AM, PhD
Statistics  Statistics AM, PhD
Systems Biology Systems Biology PhD*
Visual and Environmental Studies Film and Visual Studies PhD (AM)


The AM in parentheses indicates that the degree is awarded only in the course of study for the PhD.

* A terminal AM degree may be awarded to a student not continuing for the PhD degree; the student must complete the AM degree requirements as specified by his or her program.

‡ Please note that the program in Forestry is not accepting applications for the 2013–2014 year.

± Students admitted as of 2012–2013 are not eligible to select these subjects.

§ This program will admit students beginning in 2014–2015.


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, usually the home department and an additional department. 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 on three occasions during the year. Ordinarily, 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 make an appointment to speak to Patrick O’Brien, the assistant dean of student affairs, and should file an intra-Faculty of Arts and Sciences transfer application and an ad hoc program of study form, available from the Dean’s Office in Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center.

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. (See GSAS ad hoc web page for steps to forming an ad hoc program.)


Harvard College students with advanced standing may apply to be admitted by certain departments to work toward one-year master’s programs administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students pursuing this degree remain registered in Harvard College and bracket courses on the undergraduate transcript to count toward the AM or SM. The advanced standing adviser for Harvard College is located in the Office of Undergraduate Education, University Hall, First Floor North and is available to advise students on the process for bracketing courses. The requirements for the master’s degree are set by the department. If the master’s requirements are met at the end of the fourth year in the College, the student will be eligible to receive the AB and the AM or SM simultaneously. Students who receive the master’s degree at that time are considered to have completed their first year of graduate school. Graduate transcripts are established for these students, and if admitted to a PhD program in GSAS they are for all purposes, including tuition charges, considered second-year graduate students.

Further information about the AB/AM program is available here.

To apply for admission to a PhD degree program while enrolled in an AB-AM or AB-SM program, students must submit an application for an intra-Faculty of Arts and Sciences transfer using the online Harvard GSAS Application. (For more information, see Chapter V, Variations in Program)

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