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Applying to Degree Programs

Information to help you apply to a degree program

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If you are interested in applying to a degree program, you will be considered for admittance based on your potential to make contributions through your scholarship to your chosen field, whether in academia or in a nonacademic career. The Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Harvard Griffin GSAS) welcomes applications for admission from individuals who have or will have by the time of matriculation a BA, BS, or equivalent undergraduate degree (for prospective international students, a three- or four-year undergraduate degree from an institution of recognized standing) and actively seeks applicants from groups historically underrepresented in graduate schools. All degree candidates are admitted for full-time study beginning in the fall term. 

Completing Your Application

Instructions on completing your degree program application

Applications become available in September and are submitted through the Applicant Portal. Admission is for the fall term only. Please note all supporting materials and required components must be submitted electronically as part of the application. Harvard Griffin GSAS does not accept any mailed materials. 

Deadlines vary by graduate program and are noted on graduate program pages. All materials must be submitted by the deadline. The School may request additional academic documents, as needed. 

Applications are reviewed by the admissions committee based on the program you applied to. 

Please note all supporting materials and required components become the property of Harvard Griffin GSAS. No materials will be returned to the applicant or forwarded to other schools or agencies.  

The Application 


The application fee is $105 payable by credit card. Harvard Griffin GSAS is committed to ensuring that our fee does not create a financial obstacle. 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. The application fee is not refundable.  

Components and Requirements 

  • application and application fee 
  • transcripts 
  • three letters of recommendation 
  • statement of purpose 
  • personal statement
  • demonstration of English proficiency 
  • writing samples, for select programs 
  • GRE, for select programs.

All written parts of the application including the statement of purpose, supplemental data, additional materials (if applicable), short answers, resume/CV, and employment history must be authored solely by the applicant and not by a third party nor created by generative artificial intelligence or machine learning software. The use of a third party or generative artificial intelligence or machine learning software to develop an applicant’s work, as opposed to assisting their application to suggest minor edits or to identify grammatical errors, is forbidden.

Credit for Completed Graduate Work 

PhD students may be eligible to receive credit for graduate work that they completed while enrolled in a graduate program at other Harvard Schools or institutions. Review the Credit for Completed Graduate Work policy for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How many times can I apply to Harvard Griffin GSAS? 

You may apply to Harvard Griffin GSAS three times only. Submitting additional applications may result in withdrawal of the application. Application fees are not refundable. Please note that applications to programs affiliated with the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences count toward this limit. 

How can I apply for financial aid? 

Consideration for financial aid, if available, is part of the application for admission. Information about funding your degree can be found on the Financial Support section of the School's website.  

If I applied to Harvard Griffin GSAS in a previous year, do I need to complete a new application? 

Yes. You must submit a new application, application fee, updated letters of recommendation, as well as upload transcripts and supporting documents. 

Where can I upload a note/document/information for the selection committee? 

You may upload a document in the Additional Materials section of the application. 

I want to apply to more than one program. How can I start my second application? 

Once you have created your first application, select “Home” in the application navigation panel. At the bottom of “Your Applications,” you will find a link to “Start New Application.” 

If I already hold a PhD or advanced doctoral degree, or if I am an advanced doctoral student at another institution, can I apply to a PhD program at Harvard? 

You may apply to a program in an unrelated field of study; however, preference for admissions and financial aid will be given to those who have not yet pursued a doctoral degree at Harvard or elsewhere. You may also consider non-degree study through our Visiting Students Program. 

What visa documentation should I submit? 

Visa documentation is not required at the time of application. Information about visa requirements will be provided to admitted students. 

Will my application be considered if I have been charged with or incarcerated for a crime? 

The application does not ask prospective students to disclose if 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. 

Are alternate payment methods accepted for the application fee? 

Application fees can only be paid with a credit card (debit cards may not be used). Harvard Griffin GSAS does not accept any other method of payment. 

Does Harvard Griffin GSAS offer joint degree programs with other Schools at Harvard? 

Harvard Griffin GSAS offers opportunities to pursue multiple degrees with other Harvard Schools. Visit combined degrees for more information. 

Accommodations for applicants impacted by extenuating circumstances 

We realize that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, recent natural disasters, and other extenuating circumstances may have significant impacts on applicants’ academic and personal lives, including the ability to provide all required application materials prior to our stated deadlines. We understand that these impacts may extend to recommenders and offices at institutions previously attended. 

If any of these conditions apply to you, we encourage you to apply even if required materials are missing. Our application form includes a section for you to let us know about any of your materials that may be unavailable. This information will be shared with the appropriate admissions committee and your admissions decision will be based on the materials available at the time of review. 

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. If your application is incomplete and you are denied admission, Harvard Griffin GSAS will not count it toward our lifetime limit of three total applications that an individual may submit. 

Consent regarding Sensitive Personal Data 

Certain kinds of personal data are regarded by some laws as sensitive and deserving of special protection (“Sensitive Personal Data”). For example, in Europe, Sensitive Personal Data can include personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership; genetic or biometric data; data concerning health; data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation; and personal data relating to criminal convictions and offenses. 

During the application process, you and others (such as recommenders) may provide Harvard Griffin GSAS at Harvard University with certain kinds of personal data about you that is regarded as Sensitive Personal Data. By submitting an application, you consent to Harvard’s processing of Sensitive Personal Data about you in order to evaluate your application for admission and your eligibility for financial aid, if applicable. Sensitive Personal Data about you also may be processed for other purposes permitted by applicable law. 

Additional EEA Privacy Disclosures provides further information about how Harvard Griffin GSAS uses personal data of individuals in Europe in the admissions process. 


Email the admissions team at or call the hotline at 617-496-6100.

Phone Hours

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to noon, Eastern Time  
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., Eastern Time

Degree program questions

If you still have questions after carefully reviewing your degree program of interest, reach out to the contact noted on the program’s page.

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