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History of Science

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The Department of the History of Science has long welcomed students from other disciplines into its seminars and colloquia. Students choosing to deepen their engagement with history of science by pursuing a secondary field will achieve an understanding of the role of science and associated fields, be encouraged to enrich their perspective on current affairs and the development of the past, and be granted flexibility in following their particular interests in departmental coursework. The department offers such students access to a lively, engaged, and diverse scholarly community.


PhD students may apply to the Department of the History of Science to do a secondary field after completing one term of study at Harvard. Interested students should meet with the departmental director of graduate studies (DGS) to discuss making a formal application to the department and to draw up a tentative plan of coursework to fulfill the secondary field requirements.

The application consists of:

  1. A statement of interest in the history of science, discussing any background in the discipline and addressing what the student hopes to achieve with the secondary field. This statement may take the form of an email to the History of Science DGS with a cc to the HoS graduate coordinator.
  2. An emailed statement of recommendation/endorsement from a faculty member in the student’s home department.
  3. An emailed statement of support from the DGS in the student’s home department (in situations when the DGS serves as the student’s advisor, one email endorsement is sufficient). 


Requirements for the secondary field are:

  1. Completion of HISTSCI 3003A, Historiography of the History of Science
  2. Three additional courses in the department, at least two of which must be at the graduate level. One independent study (HISTSCI 3001) with a departmental faculty member may count toward this total. Only courses approved by the history of science DGS count toward the secondary field requirements. All courses must be completed with a grade of B+ or higher.
  3. Students should meet at least once each academic year with the HoS DGS to review progress.

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