Skip to main content


The Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has its roots in the Graduate Department, which was created in January 1872 by action of the Governing Boards.

1872 marked the first year of new requirements for graduate study at Harvard University, creating what was then known as the Graduate Department, enrolling 28 students. Now known as the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School has grown to include nearly 5,000 students studying in 57 graduate programs across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, marking 150 years in 2023. 

Our students forge connections with every Harvard School whether they are studying toward a master’s degree or PhD, engaging in the JD/PhD program with Harvard Law School, or serving as a graduate student fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Our alumni have quite literally changed the world through their creation of new knowledge, in the process winning Nobel Prizes, MacArthur “genius” Fellowships, Pulitzers, and many other awards and accolades. 

When the Graduate Department was first proposed to the College Faculty in 1872, many opposed its creation on the grounds that it would harm the education of undergraduates by siphoning off much-needed funding. Harvard President Charles Eliot disagreed. “It will strengthen the College,” he said.  Indeed, graduate students have strengthened the University in multiple ways over 150 years: They are the lifeblood of Harvard’s knowledge ecosystem, generating novel ideas and advancing innovative research while connecting with undergraduates and faculty alike. Learn more about the expansion, excellence, and influence at Harvard Griffin GSAS and the challenge—and opportunity—of inclusion for the next 150 years


Events Calendar