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Completing Your Application

Prospective applicants to the Visiting Students Program should carefully prepare the components of the application.

In your Visiting Students Program application, you should demonstrate strong educational reasons for studying at Harvard Griffin GSAS, providing evidence of academic strength, personal integrity, and your level of academic preparation, demonstrated in your statement of purpose or research proposal. The GRE is not required. Please note that the application for admission, including all supporting materials, becomes the property of Harvard Griffin GSAS. 

If you are denied admission, you may reapply, but you must submit a new application for admission and pay an additional application fee. Please be aware that Harvard Griffin GSAS will not accept more than three unsuccessful applications from any individual during the course of their academic career.

Please note that participants of the Visiting Students Program are responsible for finding their own housing. Admitted students are eligible to apply for limited campus housing at the Cronkhite Graduate Center or in the Harvard Griffin GSAS residence halls, though married couples and other family members cannot be accommodated.

Statement of Purpose or Research Proposal



Your statement or proposal should be focused, informative, and 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.

Letters of Recommendation



Harvard Griffin GSAS requires recommenders to use the online recommendation process. Applicants provide the names and emails of faculty members willing to provide letters of recommendation. The recommender will then be prompted to submit their recommendation letter and answer questions about the applicant via an online form. Applicants may not use a recommendation dossier service.

For special student applications, at least two of the three recommendations should come from teachers or professors who recently taught you in academic subjects. If you have not attended school recently, you may ask employers, colleagues, or other individuals who know you well to write your recommendations. You may consider enrolling in some demanding college courses before applying. Your success in those courses will help demonstrate your academic ability and enable you to achieve the strong academic recommendations that Harvard prefers.

English Proficiency


Non-native English speakers must demonstrate their English language proficiency to be accepted. 

Applicants who have attended a university full-time or have participated in a year-long program in which English is the language of instruction do not need to provide test scores.

All other non-native English speakers must provide official test scores from one of the following two tests:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – Request that ETS send an official score report to the Visiting Students Program Office at the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using code 3478 (a department code is not required). Applicants must receive a minimum score of 80; some programs may require a higher score.
  • The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test (the minimum accepted score is 7).

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 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.



Harvard Griffin GSAS requires that you upload an unofficial 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. You do not need to provide transcripts from high school (secondary school).

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 transcript to Harvard Griffin 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 Visiting Students Program Office prior to registration:

Visiting Students Program Office     
The Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences     
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center     
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350     
Cambridge, MA 02138     

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

Application Fee

The application fee is $105 payable by credit card. 

Supporting Materials

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

Visiting Students Program     
The Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center     
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350     
Cambridge, MA 02138     

No materials will be returned to the applicant or forwarded to other schools or agencies.

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