How to Apply

When does the application become available?
Applications become available in early September.

What are the application deadlines?
Applications, including all supporting documents, are due in early December, mid-December, and early January. Check the Programs of Study for the relevant deadline.

Do you offer spring admissions?
Offers of admissions are made for the fall only.

How many times can I apply to GSAS?
An individual may submit up to three applications during the course of his or her academic career, but only two applications in a single year. Submission of additional applications may result in the withdrawal of the application. Application fees are not refundable.

Can I defer my admission offer?
Requests for deferred admission will be considered by a program only after an offer of admission has been made and accepted. If a deferral is granted, the applicant may not apply to any other program within GSAS or to any other graduate school.

Can I still apply after the deadline?
Application deadlines are strictly enforced. Applications and supporting documentation must be received by the appropriate deadline. Supporting documentation received after the deadline may not be considered.

What is the status of my application?
You can log in to the application system to check on the status of your application.

When are admittance decisions made?
Applicants will be notified by email when a decision is available, normally by March 15.

Selecting a Program

How many different programs do you offer? What are they?
GSAS offers graduate degrees in 58 programs. While most programs restrict admission to PhD candidates, some offer terminal master’s degrees. Refer to Programs of Study for details.

What if I don’t see the program I want to study or if my academic interests span multiple disciplines?
While all students are admitted through one of our existing programs, after one year of study, a PhD student may petition to pursue a customized Program of Study, known as an ad hoc program. When applying to GSAS, choose the program that most closely aligns with your academic interests.

What is the difference between a degree program and an area of study?

GSAS offers PhD and master's degrees in specific programs of study. Within those degree programs, a student may concentrate in an area of study. For example, PhD students in Population Health Sciences may select an area of study in Environmental Health, Epidemiology, etc.

Can I apply to more than one department/degree program?
If you are applying to HILS affiliated programs, please refer to the HILS application instructions.

If you wish to be considered for admission into two separate departments/degree programs, you may submit two applications in a single year. Each application must be unique, containing a separate statement of purpose, transcripts, recommendations, and test scores; each application also requires a separate application fee.

While many of our programs offer multiple areas of study, you may not apply to that department/degree program more than once in a single year, noting a different area of study in each application. You may only submit up to three applications during the course of your academic career.

Submission of more than one application to a single degree program in the same year will result in the withdrawal of the second application; application fees are not refundable.

Can I enroll in one or two courses, rather than a degree program?
While all GSAS degree programs are full time, GSAS provides options for non-degree study through our Special Student and Visiting Fellow programs.

Does GSAS offer combined degree programs with other schools at Harvard?
GSAS does not offer combined degree programs with other Harvard schools; students may only enroll in one degree program at a time. Nonetheless, it is possible for PhD students to pursue an MD or a JD consecutively; see the Harvard-MIT MD/PhD program and the Coordinated JD/PhD Program for more information.

Application Materials

Do I need to send transcripts in with my application?
Applicants are required to upload transcript copies into our online application system: official hard copy/paper transcripts are not required at the time of application. However, prior to matriculation, admitted students will be required to have official, hard copy transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions by their prior academic institutions.

What test is needed for admission?
Many programs require that students take the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), though some programs may permit applicants to substitute scores from the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Refer to Programs of Study for more information. 

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Applicants who are non-native English speakers and who received their undergraduate degree from a non-English speaking institution must take either the Internet based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System Academic Test (IELTS). No tests other than the iBT TOEFL or IELTS Academic will be accepted as proof of English proficiency; a master’s degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency.

Applicants must receive a minimum score of 80 for the TOEFL, and it is not common for applicants to be admitted with TOEFL scores below 90. The minimum IELTS Academic score is 6.5 Some programs may require higher scores; refer to Programs of Study for details.

How long are GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS scores valid?
GRE scores are valid for five years from the test date (i.e. taken no earlier than September 1, 2014, for fall 2020 admission). TOEFL and IELTS Academic scores are valid for two years from test date (i.e. taken no earlier than September 1, 2018, for fall 2020 admission). Applicants must order scores and have them sent to the Office of Admissions before the scores expire.

What is the GSAS ETS code for the GRE and the TOEFL?
When requesting that your scores be sent to GSAS, use code 3451. A department code is NOT required.

Is there a paper version of the application available?
Prospective students apply to GSAS online. We do not offer a hard copy version of the application.

How much is the application fee?
The non-refundable application fee is $105, payable by credit card only. All applications received by the appropriate deadline with the correct application fee are guaranteed full consideration by the program admissions committee. For those prospective applicants for whom the application fee would be a financial hardship, we offer need-based fee waivers. Email to request a fee waiver request form. Please note that no application for admission can be considered before the application fee has been paid or a fee waiver request has been approved.

Applicants must submit their completed fee waiver request forms by:

  • November 25 for applicants to programs with a December 1 deadline
  • December 12 for applicants to programs with a December 15 deadline
  • December 19 for applicants to programs with a January 2 deadline

Will GSAS consider my application if I have been charged with or incarcerated for a crime?
The GSAS application does not ask prospective students to disclose whether or not they have been convicted of a crime. Program admissions committees review all applicants in a comprehensive way, considering their past educational attainments and the contributions they can make to the academic community and to their field of study. Applicants will not be denied admission based on their disclosure of conviction and should not be discouraged from applying.

Can an offer of acceptance be rescinded?
By accepting the offer of admission, students join a community ideally characterized by free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change, and they thereby agree to abide by the GSAS Codes of Conduct noted in GSAS Policies. For example, academic dishonesty, sexual and racial harassment, the use of physical violence, or lying to an officer of the University are violations of the principles on which the University is founded and may result in disciplinary action.

If an admitted candidate for admission has made misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate statements, submitted false material in connection with the application, or has been found to have engaged in academic or personal conduct that is inconsistent with the preceding paragraph, Harvard University will take appropriate action, which could include rescinding an offer of admission or revoking a degree. Newly admitted candidates are expected to inform the Office of Admissions of any past or present conduct that is inconsistent with these standards.