Admissions Checklist—Special Students and Visiting Fellows

In your application, you should demonstrate strong educational reasons for studying at GSAS, providing evidence of academic strength, personal integrity, and your level of academic preparation, demonstrated in your statement of purpose or research proposal. Please note that 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.

For best results, please use a desktop or laptop computer; we do not recommend applying via a tablet or mobile device.

Prepare your Statement of Purpose or Research Proposal

The statement of purpose for special students or the research proposal for visiting fellows is very important to the admissions committee when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement or proposal should be focused, informative, concise, and convey your research interests and qualifications. It 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.

Confirm Letters of Recommendation

Applicants for special student status are required to submit the e-mail addresses of three faculty members who are qualified to evaluate their potential for study and agree to submit letters of recommendation. Visiting fellow applicants are required to submit information for one recommender. You may not use a recommendation dossier service.

GSAS requires recommenders to use the online recommendation process.

While applications must be submitted by the deadline, the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office will accept letters of recommendation up to two weeks later.

Demonstrate English Proficiency

Non-native English speakers who attended a university full-time or participated in a year-long program in which English is the language of instruction will have demonstrated English proficiency. If you do not have this experience, you will need to take the Internet based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and request that ETS send an official score report to the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office at the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (using Code 3478).

Alternatively, you may submit results of the International English Language Testing System test (the minimum accepted score is 7) or the Pearson Test of English results (the minimum accepted score is 70).

If you feel that you meet this prerequisite in another way, please explain why in your application. Please note that if you require a J-1 visa and you have not taken the iBT TOEFL nor have attended an English speaking institution, then you may be required to demonstrate adequate English proficiency by means of an official interview before acceptance into the program.

Upload Your Transcripts

GSAS requires that you upload a copy of your transcript from each college or university you attended to your online application, as well as transcripts of any previous work done at Harvard or from institutions from which the applicant has received credit for courses taken (whether for a degree or not). If you are reapplying within three years of your original application, you do not need to submit another set of transcripts, but you must add a transcript noting any courses taken for credit as a special student. For Harvard University Division of Continuing Education degree-seeking students, the most recent transcripts should also be requested.

If your institution does not provide transcripts for current students, request an official letter confirming your current standing with the institution to upload to your application. If you are admitted, you will need to request that the institution send an official copy to GSAS.

Foreign transcripts—records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and conferrals of degrees—must be in English. If records are not available in English, original records must be uploaded with certified English translations. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.

If you are accepted as a special student or visiting fellow, you must request that your academic institution send official transcripts to the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office prior to registration:

Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350
Cambridge, MA 02138
USA

Please note that materials must be submitted to the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office and not to the GSAS degree-seeking Office of Admissions; materials will not be forwarded.

Submit Supporting Materials

If you have supporting materials that cannot be included in the online application, mail them to:

Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350
Cambridge, MA 02138
USA