Application Components and Requirements

Application

Applications are submitted through the GSAS Applicant Portal. You can access the application by clicking the apply button on the apply page. Please note all supporting materials and required components must be submitted electronically as part of the application.

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. GSAS may request additional academic documents, as needed.

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.

Application Fee: $105

GSAS is committed to ensuring that our application fee does not create a financial obstacle for prospective applicants. 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 answered, the application system will provide an immediate response regarding fee waiver eligibility.

Transcripts

Applicants are required to upload transcripts from each institution attended as part of their application. We do not accept mailed or email transcripts during the application submission and review process. Any transcripts sent during this time will be discarded.

Official transcripts are only required from those who have been admitted and accepted the offer of admission. Instructions for submitting official transcripts will be provided in spring/summer prior to enrollment.

Transcripts from international institutions must be in English or be accompanied by a certified English translation. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records. International transcripts should include:

  • Courses, seminars, and examinations taken
  • Grades, scores, and grading scales
  • Confirmation of degree conferral and date

Fall Grades: 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 in the GSAS Applicant Portal.

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.

Letters of recommendation must be submitted by the application deadline. Your recommenders must submit their letters through the recommender portal:  GSAS does not accept letters submitted via email, mail, or a dossier service.   

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.

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 describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your degree program of interest may have specific guidance or requirements for the statement of purpose, so be sure to review the degree program page for more information. Unless otherwise noted, your statement should not exceed 1,000 words.

GRE

Your degree program will note one of three options regarding submission of scores for the GRE General Test (GSAS also accepts scores from the GRE General Test at Home).

  • Required: You must submit GRE General Test results.
  • Optional: You may submit GRE General Test results if you wish.
  • Not Accepted: Do not submit GRE General Test results. GRE General Test scores will not be considered when applications are reviewed.

Sending GRE Scores
When taking the GRE, you will have an opportunity to request that your scores be sent to your academic institutions of choice.  Be sure to select Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as each Harvard admissions office has its own ETS school code. GRE score reports must be sent to GSAS by the application deadline.

  • Use ETS code 3451 to send GRE scores to Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (department code is not required).
  • GRE scores are valid for five years (scores must be from no earlier than September 1, 2016, for fall 2022 admission).
  • An official score report from Educational Testing Service (ETS) is required, however, if you have personal score reports available from tests taken within the last five years, you can upload them to your application.

Some degree programs also require GRE Subject Tests. Visit your degree program page of interest for more information.

Demonstration of English Proficiency

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:

A master’s degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency.

*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 degree programs may require a higher score on either the TOEFL or IELTS. Visit your degree program page of interest for more information.

Sending TOEFL/IELTS Scores
When taking the TOEFL or IELTS, you will have an opportunity to request that your scores be sent to your academic institutions of choice.  Be sure to select Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as each Harvard admissions office has its own identification or school code. Score reports must be sent to GSAS by the application deadline.

  • Use ETS code 3451 to send TOEFL scores to Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (if a department code is required, use code 99).
  • Send IELTS scores to Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences via the IELTS Test Center E-Delivery service.
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores are valid for two years (scores must be from no earlier than September 1, 2020, for fall 2022 admission).
  • GSAS accepts scores from iBT TOEFL, TOEFL Home Edition, IELTS Academic, or IELTS Indicator.
  • An official TOEFL score report from Educational Testing Service (ETS) is required, however, if you have personal score reports available from tests taken within the last two years, you can upload them to your application.

Writing Sample

Your degree program of interest will note if a writing sample is required and if there are any specific requirements regarding format, topic, or length.

Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) Applicants

While prospective students are encouraged to carefully choose the HILS program that best fits their academic goals, interested applicants may apply to up to three programs and pay only one application fee. If you elect to apply to three programs, only two may be programs in the Department of Medical Sciences (these programs are Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Immunology, Neuroscience, Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology, and Virology). The fee waiver for additional applications is ONLY available for those applying to multiple programs in the HILS federation. For more information please consult the HILS page. See Completing Your Application for information about fee waivers related to financial hardship.