Each year, eight PhD candidates are chosen to receive in-depth, personalized mentoring and coaching designed to enhance their presentation skills. The program culminates in a symposium of brief, compelling talks where these scholars present their research from the Sanders Theatre stage. Scholars also participate in Expanded Horizons, a virtual conversation about their research with a global audience of alumni and friends.
As a GSAS PhD candidate, Harvard Horizons is a powerful opportunity for you to:
- Hone your research ideas in ways that contribute to your dissertation
- Improve your presentation skills to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely
- Build community with peers across fields in GSAS
- Benefit from the mentoring of the Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows
- Receive up to $1,000 in professional development funds
You're welcome to apply if you are a Harvard PhD student and have passed your general examinations or the equivalent. You should have a promising line of research that you are able to share with the public.
The Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows, a committee drawn from across the disciplines at Harvard, reviews applications looking for the most compelling scholarship. They then select 15 finalists for a round of interviews and choose the eight Harvard Horizons scholars.
Your goal in the application is to demonstrate the scholarly importance of your work, highlighting its intellectual rigor and merit. If you are selected as a Harvard Horizons scholar, you will have the opportunity to craft a more polished narrative of your work for the symposium.
All 15 finalists may access up to $1,000 of professional development funds.
- Your CV
- The name of an advisor or faculty mentor willing to submit a letter of endorsement. When you submit your application, your advisor will receive an email with instructions on uploading a letter of endorsement;
- A 500-word written synopsis of your work targeted toward an interdisciplinary faculty committee, which demonstrates the scholarly rigor of your work and the nature of its contribution to your field;
- A one-minute video of you presenting your work. It is not necessary for this video to be professionally edited or crafted.
The Harvard Horizons mentoring program will take place in person and in accordance with Harvard’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The Harvard Horizons mentoring program, run by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, will help you learn how to convey the essence of your dissertation research in five-minute talks aimed at a non-specialist audience. Mentoring sessions cover the fundamentals of storytelling, visuals, and voice.
Beginning in the spring term, the Harvard Horizons scholars meet in groups and individually on Friday afternoons, weekly or bi-weekly, as they prepare for the Harvard Horizons symposium. Several afternoon-long rehearsals are planned. Scholars also meet individually with one or two Faculty Fellows, who offer scholarly guidance and advice as you develop your symposium presentation.
An essential component of the mentoring program is the relationships that the Harvard Horizons scholars develop with one another. Scholars report that the opportunity to connect with and learn from peers across disciplines is one of the most rewarding aspects of the program.
For other opportunities to enhance your communications skills, check out the Bok Seminars related to professional and scholarly communication. Learn more about the Bok Seminars and other graduate student programming at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.
The Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows committee, drawn from across the disciplines at Harvard, reviews applications looking for the most compelling scholarship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to apply for Harvard Horizons?
GSAS PhD students who have passed general examinations or the equivalent are encouraged to apply. It is best to be at the dissertation stage or far enough along with your work to have results or to be able to demonstrate that you have a promising line of research. In years past, successful candidates have tended to be in upper G-years and close to the defense stage. Your work should be able to be shared with the public. November degree candidates are not eligible to apply.
I would like to speak to someone about my application.
Pamela Pollock, director of professional development at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, is available to meet with interested students about their application idea. Set up an appointment.
Why should I apply?
Harvard Horizons is an opportunity for you to hone your research ideas in ways that contribute to your dissertation work while improving your presentation skills to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. During the mentoring process, you have the opportunity to learn from experts on the essentials of communication, build community with peers across fields in GSAS, and receive mentoring from one to two of the Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows.
What is the search committee looking for?
The search committee is looking for the most compelling scholarship conducted by PhD students across all fields. Your goal in the application is to convince the committee that you are doing important work in your discipline.
I’m having a problem with my application.
If you are having a problem with any part of the application process, email Harvard Horizons for assistance.
Does my application video need to look professional?
The application video is intended to provide the search committee with a brief understanding of your scholarship and why it is important. It serves to give the committee a sense of how you talk about your work, in contrast with the written summary. It is not necessary for the video to be professionally edited or crafted.
Does my advisor or faculty mentor have to upload their recommendation by the application deadline?
No, recommendation letters may be submitted up to one week after the application close date.
If I am selected, what is the time commitment?
Beginning in the spring term, the Harvard Horizons scholars meet in groups and individually on Friday afternoons, weekly or bi-weekly, as they prepare for the Harvard Horizons symposium. Several afternoon-long rehearsals are planned. Scholars also meet individually with faculty mentors; how often is determined by the scholar and mentor.
How can I learn more?
Questions about applying? Email Harvard Horizons.
I'd like to work on communicating my research, but I'm not sure Harvard Horizons is right for me. How else can I build these skills?
In addition to the Harvard Horizons mentoring program, the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning offers a range of Bok Seminars related to professional and scholarly communication. Learn more about Bok Seminars and other work on the Bok Center website.
About the Program
Launched in 2013, the Harvard Horizons program recognizes the ideas and innovations of Harvard's accomplished PhD students. Scholars participate in an intensive, targeted series of mentoring activities under the leadership of Pamela Pollock, director of professional development at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. They are also paired with one or two members of the Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows, a committee of professors representing a broad range of disciplines, who offer guidance and advice as scholars develop their Harvard Horizons Symposium presentations. These mentoring activities enrich the scholars' professional development and help them prepare for the Harvard Horizons Symposium, where each scholar delivers a five-minute talk from the stage of Sanders Theatre.
These scholars make up the Society of Horizons Scholars, a fellowship cohort that offers continuing opportunities for community, mentorship, and professional growth.
Through the program, Horizons scholars master the communications skills that graduate students need to describe their topic to funders, hiring committees, interviewers, and the general public—building on the training and tools available to all students through GSAS, in academic departments, and at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.
Harvard Horizons was conceived by Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. The endeavor is supported by the GSAS, under the leadership of Dean Xiao-Li Meng. Harvard Horizons benefits from the support and encouragement of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the President.
GSAS is grateful to Stephen Blyth, who earned a PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1992, for establishing a Dean's Innovation Fund that provided support for Harvard Horizons; to the staff of the Derek Bok Center, who have generously committed the time and resources that make Harvard Horizons a successful program; and for the commitment of the Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows, who play a critical role in selecting the Harvard Horizons scholars each year.