Through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, prospective students apply for doctoral and master’s degree study at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). These programs lie at the interfaces of engineering, the applied sciences (from biology to physics), and technology. Graduate students work toward a degree in one of six subjects—Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Computational Science & Engineering, Computer Science, Design Engineering,* and Engineering Sciences, which includes bioengineering, electrical engineering, environmental science and engineering, and materials science & mechanical engineering. PhD students are enrolled in and receive their degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, even though they may study primarily with SEAS faculty.
SEAS faculty members, nearly 30 percent of whom have joint appointments in other research areas, have close ties with the science departments (especially physics, the biological sciences, chemistry, and Earth and planetary sciences) in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and with Harvard’s professional schools (including Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Kennedy School). Programs that include work in one or more science departments are common. Students may pursue collaborative options through the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) program, which is part of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), and supplement their studies by cross-registering in other Harvard graduate schools or at MIT.
*Prospective students who are interested in the master's in design engineering degree program apply through the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Students with bachelor’s degrees in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering are invited to apply for admission.
Harvard College students with advanced standing may work toward one-year master’s programs in applied math, applied physics, computational science and engineering, computer science, and engineering sciences by contacting the Harvard College advanced standing advisor.
When applying, select “Engineering and Applied Sciences” as your program choice and your degree and area of interest in the Area of Study menu. You must complete the Supplemental SEAS Application Form as part of the online application process. Please read the form carefully and indicate your specific interests only in the area to which you are applying.
Those interested in learning more about specific program requirements should consult the GSAS Student Handbook.
Special Instructions for Medical Engineering and Medical Physics
If you are also applying to the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics program, please review their admissions instructions. By December 15, you must send either a PDF of your completed GSAS application to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a copy to:
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
DEGREE OFFERED: PHD
Applied mathematics focuses on the creation and study of mathematical and computational tools broadly applicable in science and engineering, and on their use in solving challenging problems in these and related fields. From ecological modeling to electromagnetic theory, from robotics to meteorology, areas of investigation in applied mathematics are diverse.
Graduate students in applied mathematics work with faculty researching:
- Control theory and stochastic systems
- Economics and computation
- Modeling physical/biological phenomena and systems
- Theory of computation
DEGREE OFFERED: PHD
Research in applied physics covers the interfaces of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. A large portion of research involves condensed matter physics.
Graduate students in applied physics work with faculty researching:
Small-scale and nanoscale “systems” fabrication and construction
Condensed matter/materials science
Degree offered: SM, ME
Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) is a rapidly evolving field that exploits the power of computation as an approach to major challenges on the frontiers of natural and social science and all engineering fields. In keeping with Harvard’s emphasis on foundational knowledge, CSE degree programs focus on cross-cutting mathematical and computational principles important across disciplines.
Students who complete the program will acquire mastery of approaches, including mathematical techniques for modeling and simulation of complex systems; parallel programming and collaborative software development; and efficient methods for organizing, exploring, visualizing, processing and analyzing very large data sets.
Graduate programs in CSE include the master of science and master of engineering degree programs and a secondary field program for PhD students.
DEGREES OFFERED: PhD
Computer science is a dynamic, versatile field, full of open problems and opportunities for creative invention. Computer science at Harvard is outward-facing, connecting with research throughout SEAS and to the rest of the University, including the social sciences, humanities, and sciences, as well as Harvard's professional schools.
We are pursuing ground-breaking work in a wide range of areas including theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, developments at the interface of economics and computer science, adaptive and trustworthy systems, intelligent interfaces, computer graphics, computational linguistics, privacy and security, robotics, data-management systems, networks, energy-efficient architectures, program languages, and machine learning and visualization.
Four variants of the engineering sciences degree are offered.
DEGREES OFFERED: PhD
The overarching intellectual goal of bioengineering is to apply quantitative engineering analysis to understand the operation of living systems and design novel systems to satisfy unmet needs. Bioengineers apply the fundamental engineering disciplines (thermodynamics, fluid mechanics); sciences (physics, biology, chemistry); and mathematics (statistics, differential equations) to solve problems. The bioengineering area complements the scientific goals of knowledge discovery embodied in the other life science areas.
Bioengineering at SEAS focuses on research in a number of areas including: cell and tissue engineering, biomaterials, drug delivery, robotics, imaging, biomechanics, and neuroengineering.
DEGREES OFFERED: SM, ME, PhD
Electrical Engineering (EE) covers a range of research areas from devices (such as lasers and robotics) to systems (such as computer architecture and the human brain). The emphasis on practice infused with fundamental science and mathematics offers ample research opportunities, both theoretical and experimental, at the forefront of the field and its interdisciplinary applications.
EE is closely tied with Harvard's efforts in applied mathematics, applied physics, computer science, and bioengineering.
Interdisciplinary research efforts include:
Optimal NMR spectroscopy using quantum control
Signal processing for fast nanopore DNA sequencing
Ultrafast silicon transceivers design using stochastic resonance
Casimir force generation using MEMS devices
Quantum circuits design
Environmental Science and Engineering
DEGREES OFFERED: PhD
Human influence on the natural world’s ecosystems and resources has never been more prominent or problematic than it is today. In order to better understand and address environmental challenges, environmental scientists and engineers provide technical solutions and advance innovations in environmental measurements, modeling, and control through the application of scientific and engineering principles. Students in environmental science and engineering study the fundamental processes and technologies underlying environmental systems, including natural and polluted waters and soils, the atmosphere, climate, and energy, and learn to apply these principles to develop solutions to complex environmental problems and to mitigate human impacts on the environment.
Materials Science & Mechanical Engineering
Degrees offered: PhD
Materials science & mechanical engineering research ranges from fundamental work in solid and fluid mechanics to diverse studies in materials, mechanical systems, and biomechanics.
Characterizing the performance of such systems often depends on understanding behavior at several scales, requiring, for example, the mechanics of dislocations and other imperfections, grain boundaries, interfaces, and material heterogeneity.
Key areas of investigation include:
- investigating the mechanics of materials structures
- exploring geophysical and biological systems involved phenomena such as elasticity, plasticity, buckling, fracture, and wave motion
- understanding biological control, or the self-organizing behavior of living systems, in particular the brain, to develop novel control strategies and biologically-inspired machines
- developing biomedical instrumentation, teleoperated robots, and intelligent sensors
Mechanical engineering covers a wide range of activities, including research in dynamics, fluids, materials, solids, and thermodynamics. Research is strongly interdisciplinary, with many connections to applied mathematics, applied physics, Earth and planetary sciences, and chemistry and chemical biology.
Note about Materials Science: Prospective students interested in materials science may choose from two tracks: Applied physics or materials science & mechanical engineering. Applicants should apply to the track that is most appropriate for them based on their interests.