When you are ready to apply, access our online application by clicking the apply button on the apply page (please note that there is no paper application). All supporting materials must be submitted electronically through the online application system.

If you are applying to a program that is part of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences  (HILS) federation, please review these additional instructions.

If your program's admissions committee determines that another graduate program is well-matched to your academic interests, it may forward your application to that program for consideration.

The application for admission, including all supporting materials, becomes the property of GSAS. No materials will be returned to the applicant or forwarded to other schools or agencies.

Required Application Materials

A complete application consists of:

GSAS may request additional academic documents, as needed.

*GSAS is committed to ensuring that our application fee does not create a financial obstacle for prospective applicants. Application fee waivers are available to those for whom payment of the application fee would be financially challenging. Applicants can determine eligibility for a fee waiver by completing a series of questions in the Application Fee section of the application. Once these questions have been completed, the application system will provide an immediate response regarding fee waiver eligibility.


Applicants are required to upload scans or PDFs of official transcripts from each college/university they attended into our online application system: official hard copy/paper transcripts are not required at the time of application. 

Please note that transcripts from international institutions—records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and confirmation of degree conferral—must be in English. If records are not available in English, original records must be accompanied by certified English translations. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.

Applicants currently enrolled in a college or university may be required to submit fall grades: Visit your program of interest in Degree Programs for more information. Should you wish to update your submitted application with fall grades, you may do so using the Fall Grade Report section of the online application.

Letters of Recommendation

Before applying, confirm that three faculty members or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study have agreed to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf. At least one letter should be from a faculty member at the school where you earned your most recent degree, unless you have been out of school for more than five years.

You must provide the email addresses of three recommenders when you apply. GSAS requires your recommenders to submit their letters via an online recommendation system. By law, enrolled students have the right to view their letters of recommendation, unless they indicate otherwise at the time of application. Please note on your application whether you are waiving your right to see these letters. Learn more about your right to inspect letters of recommendation.

We regret that we are unable to accept letters submitted through a recommendation dossier service. All letters of recommendation are due by the application deadline.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should provide a vivid picture of your intellectual profile: how you formulate research topics, how you pursue them, and how you articulate any interesting findings. As you convey this information, it is important to emphasize how these experiences have influenced both your decision to undertake graduate study and your goals within a graduate program.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Many GSAS programs require that prospective students present scores of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Scores from either the computer-delivered, the paper-delivered test, or the GRE At-Home are acceptable. Many programs also require GRE Subject Tests. Visit your program of interest in Degree Programs for more information.

It is essential that you arrange to take the GRE in sufficient time for score reports to reach us by the application deadline. GRE scores are valid for five years (i.e. scores must be from no earlier than September 1, 2015, for fall 2021 admission). If you have personal score reports available from tests taken within the last five years, you can upload them to your online application for consideration by the admissions committee. However, you will still need to ensure that Educational Testing Service (ETS) sends an official score report. Be sure to register for the tests well before the application deadline and request that your scores be sent to Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using ETS code 3451 (department code is not required).

Demonstrate English Proficiency, Where Required

Adequate command of spoken and written English is essential to success in graduate study at Harvard. Applicants who are non-native English speakers can demonstrate English proficiency in one of three ways:

*Special note for applicants with an undergraduate degree from a US institution where English was not the primary language of instruction:  if a portion of your program was conducted in English, you may petition for a waiver of the TOEFL/IELTS requirement. Contact admiss@fas.harvard.edu for details.

Some programs may require a higher score on either the TOEFL or IELTS. Applicants who took tests more than two years ago (i.e. before September 1, 2019, for fall 2021 admission) must retake them. No test other than the iBT TOEFL, TOEFL Home Edition, the IELTS Academic or IELTS Indicator will be accepted as proof of English proficiency; a master’s degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency.

NOTE: GSAS is aware that due to pandemic-related restrictions, not all applicants will be able to provide IELTS or TOEFL scores at the time of application. Students in this situation should submit the application for admission without test scores and provide the scores as soon as it is feasible to do so. Admissions committees are able review applications and make offers of admission without these scores, but admitted students must have official scores on file with the GSAS Office of Admissions prior to beginning their programs. Please note that even though the online application system may indicate that your application is incomplete, it will still be reviewed by the appropriate admissions committee.

For those students planning to submit TOEFL scores, please arrange to have an official score report sent to the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using ETS code 3451 (department code is not required). If you have a copy of your Score Confirmation Report, you can upload it to your online application for consideration by the admissions committee. However, you will still need to ensure that Educational Testing Service sends an official score report.

For those students planning to submit IELTS scores, please note that we will only accept official IELTS Academic scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center via the E-Delivery service. Scores from the IELTS General Training module are not accepted. At the time of test-taking, please specify Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a score recipient. We do not accept IELTS paper Test Report Forms nor do we verify Test Report Forms (TRFs).

Applicants with scores from other English proficiency examinations may upload them in the Additional Materials section of the application for consideration by the Admissions Committee, but admitted students will still be required to submit official scores from one of the required examinations prior to beginning their programs.