Each year, eight outstanding 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.

As a GSAS PhD candidate, Harvard Horizons is a powerful opportunity for you to:

  • Hone your research ideas in ways that powerfully assist dissertation work
  • Improve your presentation skills to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely
  • Build community with peers across fields in GSAS
  • Receive mentoring from 1–2 of the Harvard Horizons Faculty Fellows
  • Receive up to $1000 in professional development funds

How to Apply

Applications to Harvard Horizons close at noon on Friday, October 14, 2016.

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 cross-disciplinary committee, reviews applications looking for the best scholarship across disciplines. They then select 15 finalists for a round of interviews and choose the eight 2016 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
  • A 500-word written synopsis of your work, targeted toward an audience outside your field of study
  • A one-minute video of you presenting your work, targeted toward an audience outside your field of study (it is not necessary for this video to be professionally edited or crafted)

Mentoring & Coaching

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. Horizons 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 more opportunities to enhance your communications skills, check out the graduate student programs offered to all GSAS students by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

This year's Faculty Fellows are:

  • Rebecca Betensky, Professor of Biostatistics
  • Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities
  • Mary Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology
  • David Cardozo, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology
  • Catherine Dulac, Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Laura Frahm, Assistant Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies
  • Gerald Gabrielse, George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics
  • Claudine Gay, Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government and of African and African American Studies
  • Gonzalo Giribet, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, on leave spring term
  • Evelynn Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies
  • Jay Harris, Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies
  • James Hogle, Edward S. Harkness Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
  • Alison Johnson, Professor of History
  • Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History
  • Bridget Long, Saris Professor of Education and Economics
  • Brendan Manning, Professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases
  • Robb Moss, Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies
  • Andrew Murray, Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics
  • Michael Puett, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History, on leave
  • Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music
  • James Robson, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • Dimitar Sasselov, Phillips Professor of Astronomy
  • W. James Simpson, Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English
  • Jesse Snedeker, Professor of Psychology
  • Robert Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government
  • Karen Thornber, Professor of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • David Van Vactor, Professor of Cell Biology

About the Harvard Horizons Symposium

At the end of the mentoring program, the eight Harvard Horizons Scholars present their research at a symposium, which will be held in spring 2017. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Watch videos of past symposia:

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, associate director for professional and scholarly 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 Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Smith, Harvard University Provost Alan Garber, and Harvard University President Drew Faust.

GSAS is grateful to Stephen Blyth, who earned a PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1992, for establishing a Dean's Innovation Fund that supports 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.