In the GSAS Research Scholar Initiative post-baccalaureate program, Research Scholars work with a Harvard faculty member as a research assistant, participate in professional development seminars, and receive GRE preparation support. In addition, scholars may take undergraduate and/or graduate coursework in preparation for doctoral studies. While GSAS cannot guarantee admission to Harvard or peer doctoral programs, the goal of the initiative is to enhance scholars’ competitiveness when applying to a doctoral program.

Admissions decisions are made in March and April, and the program begins in July. Only US citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply. If you are interested in applying, please contact contact Molly Lockwood, the program coordinator, for application instructions. 

Research Scholars in Economics

According to a recent National Science Foundation survey of earned doctorates, less than 5 percent of PhD recipients in economics or related fields are underrepresented minorities. The changing demographic of the US and the growing demand for economists in various sectors highlight the importance of remedying this issue. The Research Scholar Initiative strongly encourages applications from underrepresented minorities.

As a Research Scholar in Economics, you will:

  • Serve as a part-time research assistant for a Harvard faculty member 
  • Take undergraduate and/or graduate coursework in economics or related fields
  • Participate in Harvard Department of Economics workshops
  • Have access to Harvard University resources, including faculty, libraries, tutoring, and professional development seminars
  • Receive full funding, including a stipend, health insurance, and tuition
  • Receive individual or group GRE preparation

The Research Scholar Initiative in Economics is generously funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Research Scholars in Life Sciences

As it has become critical to increase the diversity of applicants pursuing PhDs in the life sciences, the Research Scholar Initiative strongly encourages applications from underrepresented minorities.

As a Research Scholar in Life Sciences, you will:

  • Serve as a research assistant in a Harvard faculty member lab
  • Participate in weekly academic/professional development sessions
  • Take undergraduate/graduate coursework as needed
  • Have access to Harvard University resources, including faculty, libraries, software, and tutoring
  • Receive full funding, including a stipend, health insurance, and tuition
  • Receive individual or group GRE preparation

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Research Scholar Initiative?
The Research Scholar Initiative helps Scholars build skills, gain experience, and/or undertake coursework in order to enhance their competitiveness and preparation for a doctoral program.

Am I eligible to apply for the program?
In order to apply for the program, you must have completed your bachelor's degree by the start date of the program (July) and be a US citizen or permanent resident. Currently, we are able to accept Scholars interested in Life Sciences or Economics.

Is there a minimum GPA required to apply for the program?
No, there is no minimum GPA requirement.

When will the application be available?
The application will be available in early fall.

How do I apply?
You must request an application from the program coordinator, Molly Lockwood. She will e-mail you the application and detailed application instructions at that time.

When are admissions decisions made?
Admissions decisions are made in March/April.

When does the program begin?
The program begins in July. This provides time to settle in, to consult with the program director(s) to determine your individualized plan for the academic year, to take part in summer "bootcamps" that build technical skills, and to begin your work as a research assistant.

How many Scholars are admitted into the program each year?
We typically admit 3-4 Life Science Scholars and 3-4 Economics Scholars each year. 

Will I receive funding if I am admitted into the program?
Most of our Scholars are awarded a monthly stipend, health insurance, GRE preparation, and a one-time relocation fee. If you take courses, tuition for one to two classes per semester is also covered.

How long will I be in the program?
Each Scholar spends one to two years in the program. This is determined in consultation with the program director(s) and your faculty mentor. 

How will my time be spent in the program?
The program is meant to build skills that will enhance your competitiveness in applying to top PhD programs in your field. Scholars will be paired with a faculty mentor and work as a research assistant, and some will also enroll in courses. 

In addition to working as a research assistant and potentially enrolling in courses, Life Science Scholars meet as a group once per week for paper reading sessions, meet-the-professor events, and other skill-building workshops. Economics Scholars typically join one of the many weekly workshops put on by the Department of Economics. 

There will also be social activities to periodically bring the group together.

Other questions?
Please e-mail the program coordinator Molly Lockwood if you have further questions.

Research Scholar Initiative Alumni

Research Scholar Initiative alumni have joined PhD programs at top universities including Harvard University, University of Chicago, NYU, UC Berkeley, UT Southwestern, University of Pennsylvania, and UC San Francisco. Read what some of them say about their experiences:


Eric Leron McLean
Graduate Student, University of Chicago

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"When I first applied to graduate school, I focused on programs exclusively dedicated to immunology. During the graduate admissions interview process, I came to the realization that immunology was not the field of study I wanted to pursue. I decided to join Harvard's Research Scholar Initiative because of the flexibility that it provides to each scholar. My confidence as a scientist was greatly enhanced by my two years in the program. Being able to perform and discuss science at Harvard made me believe that I could be a competitive applicant to the top universities in the country. The RSI program provided excellent resources for applying to graduate school, including GRE preparation and mock interviews."

 


Janice M. NIeves-Bonilla
Graduate Student, Harvard University

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"The RSI program has immensely influenced my career as a research scientist! I was fortunate enough to be part of a program that provided me a personalized plan and structure to prepare for graduate school, the reason for my choosing it. Coming from a small college with little experience of full-time research, I was able to gain the needed confidence to develop my own research project, whilst preparing for graduate school applications. Having access to great mentors and advisors, I had the opportunity to work and develop many skills I needed in order to be prepared for graduate school, such as reading and discussing scientific articles, networking, refining my presentation skills, communicating with advisors, and learning to develop research questions. The most significant part of my experience as a Research Scholar was that I got an early taste of what it is like to be a graduate student at one of the best research universitites in the world. Now, as a graduate student at Harvard, I feel confident that I have chosen the right career path and program for me, that I will thrive as a graduate student, and that I will become a great research scientist; and all of that is due to my participation in this program. Thank you, RSI!"

 


Francheska López Rivera
Graduate Student, Harvard University

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"The Research Scholar Initiative was my bridge from undergraduate study to graduate school. As an architecture major with a second concentration in biology, I felt I was not prepared to compete with top graduate school applicants who had multiple summers of scientific research experience. Having completed my undergraduate degree in Puerto Rico, I also knew that I needed more exposure to the English speaking system. The Research Scholar Initiative gave me that and more. As a Research Scholar, I had an individualized plan that was tailored to my needs. I received two full years of research experiences in an awesome lab that focused on my field of interest. I also received a lot of mentoring from my advisor, the program director, and other faculty members. I was able to interact with current graduate students who gave me insight about life as a graduate student. During my time in RSI, I participated in two conferences for minority students and even won my first scientific research award! I also took a core course with my fellow Research Scholars, in which we discussed papers, presented data, and developed writing skills. RSI also provided me with funding for a GRE prep course, and I received a lot of advice while completing my graduate school applications. I even got the chance to practice for graduate school interviews with Harvard faculty. Finally, the Research Scholar Initiative gave me the chance to explore what Harvard has to offer, and I discovered that it is the perfect place for me to complete my graduate studies."