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Application Requirements

We look forward to learning about you through your application.

Here you'll find a detailed explanation of each admission application requirement. Most of the information here applies to both first-year and transfer applicants, and requirements are the same for domestic and international applicants.  

Don't forget to reference our Application Tips for guidance on filling out the Common Application.


We accept the Common Application  and the Coalition Application by Scoir . Both are treated equally by the Admissions Committee. Complete and submit your materials as soon as possible to ensure full and timely consideration of your application. Your portions of the application are due by the application deadlines (November 1 for Restrictive Early Action and January 1 for Regular Decision); high school counselors are given an additional week to submit materials on your behalf. 

If you use the Common Application , you must submit your application before your supporting materials (Secondary School Report, Teacher Recommendations, etc.) can be released to a college. Until you submit your own application sections, no part of your application will be transmitted to the Harvard Admissions Office.

If you use the Coalition Application , remember you must submit the separate Harvard supplement in addition to the application by the application deadline for your application to be considered complete. 

Submitting Your Application

Receiving confirmation of your application.

After you submit your application, we will send an email confirmation with a PIN to access the Applicant Portal. We begin sending these daily application confirmation emails in mid-September each year. Most applicant receive their confirmation email the day after they submit their application online. Applications sent in the mail will take up to two weeks to process.

If you have not received your confirmation email, please check your spam/junk folder for messages from [email protected] or [email protected]

If have searched your inbox and still cannot find your confirmation email, we encourage you to check the application system you used and ensure you clicked "Submit" and not just "Save".

If you still cannot locate your application confirmation email, please contact us . Choose the category “Admissions” and then the subject “Applicant Questions (if you've already submitted your application)” in the drop-down menu, or call 617-495-1551.

Paying the application fee or requesting a fee waiver

You may pay your application fee online with a credit card via the Common Application or Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir websites.

You may also send a check or money order to Harvard College Admissions, 86 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Please include the applicant’s name with the payment.

Fee waivers: We are committed to making the application process accessible for all students. If the admissions application fee presents a hardship for you or your family and you plan on applying for financial aid, the fee will be waived. Please follow these instructions to request your fee waiver . Requesting a fee waiver will not disadvantage your application in any way.

Completing the Harvard supplement questions

Complete the Harvard Questions with the Common Application or Coalition Application, Powered by Scoir*. This includes the following five required short-answer questions, each with a 200 word limit. 

  • Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard?
  • Briefly describe an intellectual experience that was important to you. 
  • Briefly describe any of your extracurricular activities, employment experience, travel, or family responsibilities that have shaped who you are.
  • How do you hope to use your Harvard education in the future?
  • Top 3 things your roommates might like to know about you. 

*Please note that the Harvard supplement is separate for the Coalition Application, so you must submit both the application AND supplement for your application to be considered complete. 

Additional application questions

What if i am homeschooled.

Each applicant to Harvard College is considered with great care and homeschooled applicants are treated the same as all other applicants. There is no special process, but all relevant information about your educational and personal background is welcome. In addition to the application, all applicants are required to submit a transcript (which can be created by the family member or agency overseeing your schooling), and recommendations. If the application fee presents a hardship for your family,  simply request a fee waiver .

Hear from Harvard students who were homeschooled, in the Harvard Gazette article ‘ Homeschooled en route to Harvard .’

What if I need to make updates to my application after I submit it?

Do not resend your application in order to make updates. If you need to update your identification or contact information, or send updates, additional information, or corrections, please do so via the  Applicant Portal .

Misrepresentation of Credentials

Be completely accurate in your application materials. If we discover a misrepresentation during the admissions process, you will be denied admission. If you have already been admitted, your offer will typically be withdrawn. If you have already registered, your admission will normally be revoked, and we will require you to leave the College. Harvard rescinds degrees if misrepresentations in application materials are discovered.

The determination that an application is inaccurate or contains misrepresentations rests solely with the Admissions Office and will be resolved outside the student disciplinary process.

School Reports and Teacher Recommendations

Secondary school report.

The secondary school report is a required form that is submitted by your school counselor or another school leader. This form gives an overview of the student's academic record. It includes the applicant's academic transcript(s), a letter of recommendation, and a school profile (if available). If a counselor is unable to submit a letter of recommendation for the applicant, another teacher or school leader may submit an additional recommendation letter. 

Midyear School Report

When you apply, your school counselor will often send your transcript with few or no senior year course grades included. That is why the midyear school report is required - to allow us to review your performance in the first half of your senior year coursework .  The midyear school report must be completed by your school counselor or other school official. Please request that the midyear school report is completed and returned to our office as soon as possible. 

Midyear School Report FAQs

What if i'm applying restrictive early action and i don't have my midyear grades yet.

Restrictive Early Action applicants are not required to submit the midyear report by the November 1 deadline. If you applied Restrictive Early Action and are deferred to Regular Decision, please submit the midyear report and transcript in February, or as soon as your midyear grades are available.

I'm an international student and my academic year is different. Do I still need to submit the midyear report?

If you study the IB curriculum or the A-level curriculum, then we expect that your school will send predicted grades, based on your current classroom work and the results of any internal or mock exams you have taken up to that point. If your school does not issue official or predicted midyear grades for your final year of school, then you do not need to submit the midyear report form, although the item may remain on your checklist.

What if I have already graduated from high school?

If you have already graduated from high school, you should ignore the midyear report requirement (though the item may remain on your Checklist in the Applicant Portal) and simply ask your school to send a final school report if you have not already done so.

Teacher Evaluations

Ask two teachers in different academic subjects who know you well to complete the Teacher Recommendation forms (which includes an evaluation form and a letter of recommendation). If you wish to submit additional letters of recommendation, you can do so after you submit your application. In your application confirmation email, there will be a personalized link to send to your recommenders.

What courses should I take to prepare for applying to Harvard?

There is no “one size fits all” rule about which curriculum to study during secondary school years. Students should challenge themselves by taking courses deemed appropriate by their teachers and counselors. But some students believe that “more is always better” when it comes to AP, IB or other advanced courses.

While some students prosper academically and personally by taking large numbers of such courses, others benefit from a more balanced approach that allows them additional time for extracurricular and personal development. Even the best students can be negatively affected by taking too many courses at once, and might benefit instead from writing, reading or research projects on subjects of great interest to them.

To learn more, read our Guide to Preparing for College. To avoid the “burnout” often seen among secondary school students, please refer to our article, Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation .

Is there a specific math requirement?

Applicants to Harvard should excel in a challenging high school math sequence corresponding to their educational interests and aspirations. We recommend that applicants take four years of math courses in high school. Ideally, these math courses will focus on conceptual understanding, promote higher-order thinking, and encourage students to use mathematical reasoning to critically examine the world. Examples include rigorous and relevant courses in computer science, statistics and its subfields, mathematical modeling, calculus, and other advanced math subjects.

Students’ math records are viewed holistically, and no specific course is required. Specifically, calculus is not a requirement for admission to Harvard. We understand that applicants do not have the same opportunities and course offerings in their high schools. Moreover, many programs of study at Harvard do not require knowledge of calculus. We encourage applicants to take the courses that are available to them and aligned with their interests and goals.

Students intending to study engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics, statistics or other fields where calculus is needed may benefit from taking calculus in high school. However, students at Harvard can still pursue such fields by starting with one of our introductory calculus classes that has no high school calculus prerequisite. On balance, we encourage all students to master foundational mathematical material instead of rushing through any of the more advanced courses.

Final School Report and Transcripts

All admitted students who choose to enroll are required to send a Final School Report and transcript as soon as their final grades become available – no later than July 1. The Final School Report and transcript should be completed and sent by a school counselor or other school official through Parchment/Docufide or Scrip-Safe International, if your school has access to these submission options.

IB students should send their final results as soon as they are released in mid-July. We will expect to see final A levels results by mid-August.

Standardized Test Scores

For the College Classes of 2027-2030, students may apply for admission without standardized test scores. Please read our announcement for more details on the application changes for the upcoming cycles. 

If you choose to submit standardized tests, you may submit the SAT or ACT (with or without the writing component). While the College Board no longer offers Subject Tests and they are not a requirement for applying, you may submit Subject Tests taken in the last 5 years. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful.

Standardized Testing FAQs

How do i let harvard know whether i would like my application reviewed with or without test scores.

When you apply for admission, you can choose whether or not our review of your application will include your standardized test scores (SAT and ACT).

  • If your scores already are on file before you apply and you choose at the time of your application to proceed without scores, we will not consider those scores. 
  • If you initially chose an application review without scores and would now like to include scores in your file, you may make this request by submitting the "Change to consideration of test scores" form on your Applicant Portal. 
  • If you ask that our review includes your scores, either at the time of application or after you apply by submitting the form in the Applicant Portal, they will be part of your application throughout the admissions process.

Can I self-report my test scores?

Yes. Applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, IB, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.

How do I send my test scores?

You are free to use the College Board Score Choice option or the similar option offered by the ACT. Our official codes are 3434 for the College Board SAT Reasoning Tests and 1840 for the ACT if you are submitting official test scores as part of your application.

  • How to send your SAT scores
  • How to send your ACT scores

Are there test score "cutoffs"?

There are no score cutoffs, and we do not admit “by the numbers.” For the ACT, we will evaluate your highest composite score and any other scores you choose to share with us. We take into account your educational background when reviewing your scores.

Should I prepare for standardized tests?

Opportunities to prepare for standardized tests vary greatly for students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Research indicates that short term test preparation usually has little effect, but the free “test prep” now offered by the SAT and the ACT might make a significant difference for students who follow their programs for extended periods of time. Such free programs could help to level the playing field for students from under-resourced schools by providing the academic skills that will serve them well on standardized tests and also in college. Students can also do well by studying widely and deeply over a long period of time on their own with the help of family, school, or community organizations.

What do standardized tests and grades indicate about academic preparation for college?

Standardized tests provide a rough yardstick of what a student has learned over time and how that student might perform academically in college - but they are only one of many factors considered. High school grades in a rigorous academic program can also be helpful in assessing readiness for college courses, but the thousands of secondary schools around the country and the world employ various high school curricula and a wide range of grading systems - and some have no grades at all. Other students have been homeschooled or prepared for college by taking part in multiple schooling opportunities both in person and electronic.

Given the wide variation in how students prepare for Harvard – as well as the fact that most applicants and admitted students have outstanding academic records – it is difficult for high school grades to differentiate individual applications. That does not mean that high school grades are unimportant. Students who come to Harvard have done well day to day in their high school studies, providing a crucial foundation for academic success in college, including a 97% - 98% graduation rate.

SAT and ACT tests are better predictors of Harvard grades than high school grades, but this can vary greatly for any individual. Students who have not attended well-resourced schools throughout their lives, who come from modest economic backgrounds or first-generation college families have generally had fewer opportunities to prepare for standardized tests. Each application to Harvard is read with great care, keeping in mind that talent is everywhere, but opportunity and access are not.

Does Harvard accept SAT Subject Test scores?

As announced by the College Board, Subject Tests and the essay portion of the SAT have been terminated, except in certain special circumstances. See the  College Board's announcement for more details. Harvard admission officers review all material that an applicant submits, so if you have already taken Subject Tests or the essay portion of the SAT, you may still submit it along with your other application materials.

How do I choose whether to submit my standardized test score?

Choosing whether or not to submit test scores is a personal decision for every applicant. There are many reasons why students do not submit test scores, including expense. In general, though, anything that might give a more complete or positive picture of an applicant can be helpful. Even if you feel your test scores do not fully represent your strengths, perhaps because of a lack of resources at your school or limited opportunities to prepare for or take the tests, you could note this fact in your application to provide context. There are no score cutoffs and we do not admit “by the numbers.”

Why can't I view my standardized test scores in the Common Application?

Since Harvard College is not requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores for the 2022-2026 application cycles , your standardized scores will not display in the Common Application PDF preview, even if you have chosen to submit them. However, if you entered your test score information and would like it to be considered, that data will still be transmitted to us with your application and we will review it. You can verify this by viewing the Application Checklist in your Applicant Portal. You will see a green check mark if we have received your standardized test scores.

How will Harvard evaluate the new digital SAT?

The College Board's shift to a digital delivery of the SAT will not impact the way in which Harvard reviews test scores within applications. For the College Classes of 2027-2030, students may apply for admission without standardized test scores. Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process. Please  visit the College Board FAQs  for more information.  

Supplemental Materials

Our standard application materials typically give us ample information for making admission decisions. However, we recognize you may have truly exceptional talents or achievements you wish to share, and we want you to have every opportunity to best represent yourself.

At the discretion of the Admissions Committee, supplementary materials—such as music recordings, artwork, or selected samples of academic work—may be evaluated by faculty. These materials are entirely optional.

Material Types

How to submit documents and articles.

Scholarly articles, research, creative writing or other documents of which you are the primary author should be submitted in the Upload Materials section of the Applicant Portal . This is the most efficient and direct method of submitting these materials, because they will be added directly to your official application. All submissions should include a list of any individuals with whom you collaborated in the production of the work. If appropriate, please identify your research sponsor, mentor, and/or laboratory or research group leader and provide a short description of your particular contribution to the work.

How to submit media (video, audio, or images)

You may submit optional supplementary media materials (e.g. videos, audio recordings, or images) electronically via Slideroom . Details for submissions in art, dance or choreography, musical performance or composition, will be found on the Slideroom website. There is a small submission fee, but if this fee causes you economic hardship, you may request a fee waiver at the point of submission. You may also contact us to request a fee waiver.

If you encounter technical difficulties on Slideroom, you may submit a document via your portal with YouTube video links. Our team may follow up to request a Slideroom submission at a later time. 

Should I submit other academic materials?

Harvard accepts other standardized tests or other academic credentials if you choose to submit them. In any admissions process, additional information can be helpful. For example, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-levels, national leaving examinations, national or international contests, early high school assessment scores such as the PSAT or pre-ACT, or courses taken outside your school during the school year or summer are just some examples of information that could be submitted. Subject Tests and the essay portion of the SAT have been terminated, except in certain special circumstances. Harvard admission officers review all materials that an applicant submits, so if you’ve already taken Subject Tests or the essay portion of the SAT, you may still submit them along with your other application materials.

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First-Year Applicants

Here's everything you need to know about applying to Harvard College as a first-year applicant.

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  • Program Requirements: Ph.D.

Below is an overview of degree requirements for the PhD in History of Science. The requirements may also be found in the History of Science section of the GSAS Policies web site.

Current students may also consult the HoS Graduate Program Canvas Site for information and resources.

Advising and Progress

For more information on advising expectations, please see the History of Science PhD Program Advising Best Practices Document .

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) serves as the primary advisor to all first-year PhD students. In addition first-year students are also strongly encouraged to seek guidance about their academic and course plans from other faculty whose research interests correspond to their own. Students are encouraged to take courses with faculty they might ask to serve on their General Examination committee.

During the second year, students are jointly advised by the DGS and the chair of the student’s General Exam Committee.

First and second-year students meet with the DGS at the start of each semester for the first two years to discuss their plan of study. Students also meet with the graduate program coordinator at the beginning of each semester, submitting a completed  History of Science Department PhD Degree Requirements Worksheet.  This is to ensure that students are fulfilling the necessary requirements.

The formal advisor during the third year is the Chair of the student’s Prospectus Committee. Upon acceptance of the Prospectus, the chair of the Dissertation Committee becomes the student’s primary advisor.

Starting in the G3 year, students and advisors both complete an annual progress report (due in April) and meet to discuss progress and academic plans. ( This form is available on the HoS Graduate Program website .) All students’ progress is reviewed each year by the department at a May faculty meeting in which a determination is made of students’ qualification for continuing graduate work in light of both departmental and GSAS requirements.

The DGS and the Department Chair are always available to provide support and advice at any stage of the graduate program. Students are encouraged to seek help from either of these individuals if any part of the advising process seems not to be working as it should.

For more information about advising procedures and resources, see the HoS Advising Timeline and the HoS Advising Best Practices documents available on the HoS Graduate Program website.

First and Second Year of Graduate Study

Students must be in residence for minimum of two years of full-time study. While in residence, students are expected to attend the department seminar.

Coursework and Research Papers

Course Requirements

Sixteen four-credit courses or the equivalent, plus a two-credit course, Colloquium on Teaching Practices, normally taken in the fall of the G3 year, including:

  • Two seminars: Historiography in History of Science (HISTSCI 303A) and Research Methods in the History of Science (HISTSCI 303B)
  • Four must be offered by DHS.
  • At least one must focus substantially on pre-1800 topics and one must focus substantially on post-1800 topics. (See the DHS Graduate Student Program Website for more details.)
  • One must be taken outside DHS.
  • Eight electives, of which up to five may be graduate-level reading courses in the history of science or other divisions, departments, or committees
  • The Colloquium on Teaching Practices (two credits) taken in the first year of employment as a Teaching Fellow (normally the G3 year)

Note: The four graduate seminars in DHS may include courses taught in other departments by faculty in the Department of the History of Science, courses cross-listed as HISTSCI, and graduate courses in Science, Technology, and Society offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . (A maximum of three courses may be taken at MIT). All other courses count as outside the department. Graduate reading courses or independent studies do not fulfill the graduate seminar requirement.

Note: The department does not accept transfer credits. However, students who matriculate into the doctoral program after receiving an AM degree in History of Science or who take graduate courses as Special Students in the department are eligible to transfer up to eight four-unit courses.

Research Papers

In the first two years of graduate study, students must write two research papers, at least one for a departmental course. Papers must be between 7500 and 10,500 words (exclusive of notes and bibliography); each must earn a grade of at least A-. At least one must display serious engagement with archival or other primary sources (which may include printed and/or digital materials and objects); the other may be based on fieldwork observation (e.g., ethnographic, participant-observer) or involve media production (e.g., interactive web, audio, video/photographic, museum exhibition).

One of these essays may be an independent work not connected to a course, but it is expected that the essay will have been substantially written and researched during the course of enrollment in the PhD Program. In this case, the DGS will designate a faculty member to grade the essay.

The first paper should be submitted by 1 June of the G1 year to the Graduate Program Coordinator, CC’ing the course instructor. Ordinarily this essay is written in the context of the required Research Methods course.

The second paper should be submitted by 1 April of the G2 year to the Graduate Program Coordinator. Ordinarily this is written in the context of a departmental or external graduate seminar.

By the end of first semester of the G2 year, one of these papers should be shared and discussed with one of the student’s advisor (normally the Chair of the student’s General Exam Committee).

Grades and Assessment

Eight four-credit courses must be passed at a grade level of B or above in the first year of study.

The grade of Incomplete (INC) is given in extraordinary circumstances. The decision to give an Incomplete is at the discretion of each faculty member. Students with more than one INC on their record at the end of a semester will receive a letter of warning from the department and are at risk of being placed into “unsatisfactory status.”

GSAS policy requires that academic work must be completed, and the grade converted to a letter grade before the end of the next registration period (for example coursework for an incomplete received in the fall of 2022 must be completed before the first day of registration for the fall of 2023). A petition for an extension of time for incomplete work signed by the course instructor and director of graduate studies must be submitted to the GSAS Dean of Student Affairs Office for any course work completed after the end of the next registration period.

All courses must be graded before a student is permitted to teach. Students with outstanding course requirements (excluding the Teaching Colloquium normally taken in G3 year) are not permitted to sit for the general examination.

Language Requirement

All students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one language other than English upon submission of the dissertation prospectus in November of the G3 year (see below). The language(s) in question should reflect students’ research interests and ordinarily will be agreed on in consultation with the DGS and intended dissertation director at the beginning of the first year of graduate study; the list may be revised as necessary to reflect students’ changing intellectual trajectories. Some students may enter with all the language preparation they will need for graduate study in their chosen fields. Others may have an elementary or intermediate knowledge of a language or languages and may improve on that knowledge by taking additional coursework, including first-, second-, or third-year language courses and/or the reading courses offered by some departments, whether during the regular academic year or in summer.

Students may demonstrate proficiency in one of the following ways: 1) completing two semesters of foreign-language coursework, and receiving a grade of A- or higher in the courses; 2) completing a summer Reading Knowledge or other summer language course approved in advance by the DGS and receiving a grade of A- or higher; 3) completing upper-level coursework in a language other than English; 4) making substantial use of non-English texts in one or more seminar papers or in the preparation of general examination fields and prospectuses, or 5) passing a language exam offered by the department. Proficiency is assumed in the case of native speakers and bilingual students, as long as they are skilled in both reading and speaking.

To document proficiency, students must email the graduate program coordinator, cc’ing the advisor and the faculty member who certifies the student’s language skills; students should list the language(s) and the means by which proficiency has been demonstrated. Students taking language reading courses at Harvard Summer School or in an external institution should have a transcript sent to the graduate program coordinator.

As students’ fields of study develop, they may find that they need to acquire new languages or further develop their skills in ones they already know. This should be discussed by students and their advisors on a regular basis as part of the advising process.

Year 2: The General Examination

PhD students in the History of Science normally take the General Examination at the end of the spring semester of the G2 year. The aim of the General Examination is to deepen and expand students’ historical knowledge for the purposes of both research and teaching. It is an oral examination in three fields, each one directed by a different faculty examiner. Students are not expected to demonstrate an encyclopedic command of detail but, rather, to give evidence of understanding the main historical developments in each field, mastery of the chief historiographic traditions associated with a particular content area, and an ability to discuss particular sciences or topics within relevant historical contexts.

The three examiners constitute the student’s General Examination Committee, one of whom serves as Chair. Each field is chosen in consultation with the DGS, the Chair of the Committee, and individual Committee members. Two fields should be directed by faculty in the Department of the History of Science (or in certain cases by faculty approved by the department to direct a field related to the history of science, technology, or medicine). One field should be directed by a faculty member outside the Department, and students should consult carefully with the DGS and their intended Chair about the scope of that field and who might be asked to direct it. Occasionally, a single field may be split into two subfields, each of which is directed by a distinct faculty member.

Once the student has agreed with each Committee member about the title of their field, and the Chair of the Committee has approved all of them, students should submit the General Examination Application and a completed PhD Degree Requirements Worksheet  to the Graduate Program Coordinator. This should happen by early November of the G2 year. These applications are reviewed and then voted on by Department faculty at the following Faculty Meeting.

During the G2 year, students normally enroll in a directed reading course (HSCI 3001) with each of the directors of their three fields during either the Fall or Spring semester. Preparation for the exam may take place in the fall or spring, or it may extend over both semesters. In any case, preparation should involve at least seven meetings between student and faculty member. At the beginning of preparation for each field, the student and director of each field will agree on a set of texts that constitutes the Reading List for that field. This list may be revised over the course of preparation in consultation with the Director of each field.

Early in the spring semester it is the student’s responsibility to coordinate with their General Examination Committee to determine the date and time of the exam. The Examination should be scheduled for two hours: 90 minutes for the exam itself and 30 minutes for the Committee to review the exam and discuss the result with the student. Once the date and time have been determined, the student should inform the Graduate Coordinator who will secure a room and add it to the schedule.

General Examination Applications will normally only be considered once students have completed all required coursework from the G1 year (and have no outstanding Incomplete grades). Moreover, at the time of the exam itself, students should have completed (or should be actively enrolled in) all required coursework for the degree. A rising G3 student who has not passed the General Examination will be allowed one semester in which to complete any outstanding course and writing requirements as well as to sit for and pass the examination. The department may ask students who have not completed this process and passed the Examination by the end of the first semester of the G3 year to withdraw from the Program.

For more information about General Examination Fields and the exam itself, consult the HoS General Examination Procedures document available on the HoS Graduate Program website.

Third Year of Graduate Study

All students are required by the department to participate as teaching fellows or course assistants in at least one course offered by department faculty. Students may not teach during the DCF year and so should plan accordingly. All students are required to complete the Colloquium on Teaching Practices (two credits) offered in the fall of the first year that they teach in the Department, with opportunities for additional sessions in the spring.

Rising G3 students must attend the fall Bok Center Teaching Retreat as well as the department teaching retreat held in late August/early September. The Bok Center offers numerous teaching workshops and resources to enable teaching fellows to hone their teaching skills.

Faculty course instructors hold weekly meetings with teaching fellows to guide them in leading discussion sections and grading assignments and exams.

The Dissertation Prospectus

Students are expected to begin preparing to write their prospectus following the completion of their General Examination at the end of the G2 year. To help facilitate this process, the Department normally holds two “Prospectus Study Days” (in late May and early September).

During the summer or early in the Fall term, students will assemble a Prospectus Committee in consultation with their General Examination Committee Chair, presumptive Primary Advisor, and/or the DGS. The Prospectus Committee normally consists of three faculty members, of which one is the Chair. (While Dissertation Committees may have more than three members, the Prospectus Committee is made up of exactly three members except in exceptional circumstances.) At least two members of this Committee should be members of the Department. Students are encouraged to include junior faculty on their Dissertation Committees.

Over the course of the G3 year's fall semester, students develop a draft of their prospectus in consultation with their Prospectus Committee, which will approve its submission to the department faculty as a whole. Prospectuses are to be submitted to the graduate program coordinator at least one week before the December history of science faculty meeting (usually, by the Thanksgiving break). The faculty discuss prospectuses at this meeting and vote on their approval.

Students are expected to submit their prospectuses in the fall of the G3 year; in all cases, however, approval must be obtained before the end of the G3 year.

After obtaining faculty approval, students present their prospectuses to the history of science community in a department seminar, usually in the spring of the G3 year.

For more information about the prospectus process and requirements consult the Dissertation Prospectus Guidelines Document .

Fellowship Applications

Third Year students often apply for traveling and research fellowships beginning in the late fall of the G3 year as well as other external and internal fellowships. Please see the HoS Graduate Program website for further information. Department Faculty and the GSAS Fellowships Office  offer workshops to assist students in the application process.

Progress Report

Beginning in the G3 year, students and advisors together complete an end-of-the-year Progress Report  which is submitted to the graduate coordinator in April .


Annual  Progress Reports   are due in April each year following acceptance of the Dissertation Prospectus.

The Dissertation

Once the student’s Prospectus has been approved by the department, a Dissertation Committee is formed. Normally, the chair of the Prospectus Committee becomes the chair of the Dissertation Committee and the student’s primary advisor. The chair of the Dissertation Committee must be an eligible member of the department, as must at least one other member of the committee. (The names of faculty members available for the direction of the PhD dissertation are listed in the course catalog under History of Science 3000.) Students are encouraged to include junior faculty on their committees.

Timetable for submission of the dissertation

Students planning to graduate in March, May, or November, should meet with the graduate program coordinator to review the graduation process. Students need to provide the coordinator with vital information to ensure the dissertation acceptance certificate may be processed to meet GSAS deadlines and the degree application approved.

Students must submit a final, complete draft of the dissertation to their committees no later than six weeks prior to the “dissertations are due on” date specified by GSAS. All students must submit a pdf of the submitted dissertation with the signed dissertation acceptance certificate to the graduate coordinator.

Committees will read and comment on the dissertation draft, and ask for any revisions, no later than three weeks prior to the same date.

Students will make any necessary changes and submit the dissertation in its final form to the committee and to the department no later than one week prior to the “due on” date.

The dissertation should be an original contribution to knowledge. It must conform to the online description, Formatting your Dissertation , on the GSAS Policies website.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense in History of Science ordinarily takes place after the members of the Dissertation Committee have approved the dissertation. The dissertation defense is not required to receive the doctoral degree, but students often find the forum useful as they further their research. The Graduate Program Coordinator will assist students in setting a defense date.

Duration of Study

Work for the degree should be completed within a total of six years. Normally, students take a Dissertation Completion Fellowship during the year that they complete the dissertation. However, in cases in which the dissertation is not completed, the Graduate School permits students to remain enrolled in the PhD Program for one year following the Dissertation Completion Fellowship year. An extension beyond this one-year limit may be considered by the Department and the Graduate School in extraordinary circumstances.

Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator (Linda Schneider) at [email protected] or 617-495-9978.

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PhD Programs

  • Accounting & Management
  • Business Economics
  • Health Policy (Management)
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Technology & Operations Management

Students in our PhD programs are encouraged from day one to think of this experience as their first job in business academia—a training ground for a challenging and rewarding career generating rigorous, relevant research that influences practice.

Our doctoral students work with faculty and access resources throughout HBS and Harvard University. The PhD program curriculum requires coursework at HBS and other Harvard discipline departments, and with HBS and Harvard faculty on advisory committees. Faculty throughout Harvard guide the programs through their participation on advisory committees.

How do I know which program is right for me?

There are many paths, but we are one HBS. Our PhD students draw on diverse personal and professional backgrounds to pursue an ever-expanding range of research topics. Explore more here about each program’s requirements & curriculum, read student profiles for each discipline as well as student research , and placement information.

The PhD in Business Administration grounds students in the disciplinary theories and research methods that form the foundation of an academic career. Jointly administered by HBS and GSAS, the program has five areas of study: Accounting and Management , Management , Marketing , Strategy , and Technology and Operations Management . All areas of study involve roughly two years of coursework culminating in a field exam. The remaining years of the program are spent conducting independent research, working on co-authored publications, and writing the dissertation. Students join these programs from a wide range of backgrounds, from consulting to engineering. Many applicants possess liberal arts degrees, as there is not a requirement to possess a business degree before joining the program

The PhD in Business Economics provides students the opportunity to study in both Harvard’s world-class Economics Department and Harvard Business School. Throughout the program, coursework includes exploration of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, probability and statistics, and econometrics. While some students join the Business Economics program directly from undergraduate or masters programs, others have worked in economic consulting firms or as research assistants at universities or intergovernmental organizations.

The PhD program in Health Policy (Management) is rooted in data-driven research on the managerial, operational, and strategic issues facing a wide range of organizations. Coursework includes the study of microeconomic theory, management, research methods, and statistics. The backgrounds of students in this program are quite varied, with some coming from public health or the healthcare industry, while others arrive at the program with a background in disciplinary research

The PhD program in Organizational Behavior offers two tracks: either a micro or macro approach. In the micro track, students focus on the study of interpersonal relationships within organizations and the effects that groups have on individuals. Students in the macro track use sociological methods to examine organizations, groups, and markets as a whole, including topics such as the influence of individuals on organizational change, or the relationship between social missions and financial objectives. Jointly administered by HBS and GSAS, the program includes core disciplinary training in sociology or psychology, as well as additional coursework in organizational behavior.

Accounting & Management  

Business economics  , health policy (management)  , management  , marketing  , organizational behavior  , strategy  , technology & operations management  .

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Ph.D. Commencement robing Martin West and Christopher Cleveland

Additional Information

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The Harvard Ph.D. in Education trains cutting-edge researchers who work across disciplines to generate knowledge and translate discoveries into transformative policy and practice.

Offered jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Ph.D. in Education provides you with full access to the extraordinary resources of Harvard University and prepares you to assume meaningful roles as university faculty, researchers, senior-level education leaders, and policymakers.

As a Ph.D. candidate, you will collaborate with scholars across all Harvard graduate schools on original interdisciplinary research. In the process, you will help forge new fields of inquiry that will impact the way we teach and learn. The program’s required coursework will develop your knowledge of education and your expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative methods needed to conduct high-quality research. Guided by the goal of making a transformative impact on education research, policy, and practice, you will focus on independent research in various domains, including human development, learning and teaching, policy analysis and evaluation, institutions and society, and instructional practice.   

Curriculum Information

The Ph.D. in Education requires five years of full-time study to complete. You will choose your individual coursework and design your original research in close consultation with your HGSE faculty adviser and dissertation committee. The requirements listed below include the three Ph.D. concentrations: Culture, Institutions, and Society; Education Policy and Program Evaluation; and Human Development, Learning and Teaching . 

We invite you to review an example course list, which is provided in two formats — one as the full list by course number and one by broad course category . These lists are subject to modification. 

Ph.D. Concentrations and Examples

Summary of Ph.D. Program

Doctoral Colloquia  In year one and two you are required to attend. The colloquia convenes weekly and features presentations of work-in-progress and completed work by Harvard faculty, faculty and researchers from outside Harvard, and Harvard doctoral students. Ph.D. students present once in the colloquia over the course of their career.

Research Apprenticeship The Research Apprenticeship is designed to provide ongoing training and mentoring to develop your research skills throughout the entire program.

Teaching Fellowships The Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity to enhance students' teaching skills, promote learning consolidation, and provide opportunities to collaborate with faculty on pedagogical development.

Comprehensive Exams  The Written Exam (year 2, spring) tests you on both general and concentration-specific knowledge. The Oral Exam (year 3, fall/winter) tests your command of your chosen field of study and your ability to design, develop, and implement an original research project.

Dissertation  Based on your original research, the dissertation process consists of three parts: the Dissertation Proposal, the writing, and an oral defense before the members of your dissertation committee.

Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS) Concentration

In CIS, you will examine the broader cultural, institutional, organizational, and social contexts relevant to education across the lifespan. What is the value and purpose of education? How do cultural, institutional, and social factors shape educational processes and outcomes? How effective are social movements and community action in education reform? How do we measure stratification and institutional inequality? In CIS, your work will be informed by theories and methods from sociology, history, political science, organizational behavior and management, philosophy, and anthropology. You can examine contexts as diverse as classrooms, families, neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more.

Education Policy and Program Evaluation (EPPE) Concentration

In EPPE, you will research the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy affecting early childhood, K–12, and postsecondary education in the U.S. and internationally. You will evaluate and assess individual programs and policies related to critical issues like access to education, teacher effectiveness, school finance, testing and accountability systems, school choice, financial aid, college enrollment and persistence, and more. Your work will be informed by theories and methods from economics, political science, public policy, and sociology, history, philosophy, and statistics. This concentration shares some themes with CIS, but your work with EPPE will focus on public policy and large-scale reforms.

Human Development, Learning and Teaching (HDLT) Concentration

In HDLT, you will work to advance the role of scientific research in education policy, reform, and practice. New discoveries in the science of learning and development — the integration of biological, cognitive, and social processes; the relationships between technology and learning; or the factors that influence individual variations in learning — are transforming the practice of teaching and learning in both formal and informal settings. Whether studying behavioral, cognitive, or social-emotional development in children or the design of learning technologies to maximize understanding, you will gain a strong background in human development, the science of learning, and sociocultural factors that explain variation in learning and developmental pathways. Your research will be informed by theories and methods from psychology, cognitive science, sociology and linguistics, philosophy, the biological sciences and mathematics, and organizational behavior.

Program Faculty

The most remarkable thing about the Ph.D. in Education is open access to faculty from all Harvard graduate and professional schools, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Learn about the full Ph.D. Faculty.

Jarvis Givens

Jarvis R. Givens

Jarvis Givens studies the history of American education, African American history, and the relationship between race and power in schools.

Paul Harris

Paul L. Harris

Paul Harris is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination in children.

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics. 

Luke Miratrix

Luke W. Miratrix

Luke Miratrix is a statistician who explores how to best use modern statistical methods in applied social science contexts.

phd requirements for harvard

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor studies the economics of education, with a particular interest in employer-employee interactions between schools and teachers — hiring and firing decisions, job design, training, and performance evaluation.

Paola Uccelli

Paola Uccelli

Paola Ucelli studies socio-cultural and individual differences in the language development of multilingual and monolingual students.

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View Ph.D. Faculty


The following is a complete listing of successful Ph.D. in Education dissertations to-date. Dissertations from November 2014 onward are publicly available in the Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) , the online repository for Harvard scholarship.

  • 2022 Graduate Dissertations (265 KB pdf)
  • 2021 Graduate Dissertations (177 KB pdf)
  • 2020 Graduate Dissertations (121 KB pdf)
  • 2019 Graduate Dissertations (68.3 KB pdf)

Student Directory

An opt-in listing of current Ph.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Student Directory

Introduce Yourself

Tell us about yourself so that we can tailor our communication to best fit your interests and provide you with relevant information about our programs, events, and other opportunities to connect with us.

Program Highlights

Explore examples of the Doctor of Philosophy in Education experience and the impact its community is making on the field:

E-Book Animation

Using E-Books to Get Young Readers Talking

New research shows how parents can help kids — and themselves — use e-books as a tool to improve early childhood development

Avriel Epps

Exploring Structural Oppression in Digital Spaces

Ph.D. student Avriel Epps studies how bias in the digital world impacts users across diverse backgrounds

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Psychology Graduate Program

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The  Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 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.

Immigration status does not factor into decisions about admissions and financial aid. For more information, see  Undocumented at Harvard .

If you already hold a PhD or its equivalent, or are an advanced doctoral candidate at another institution, you may apply to a PhD program only if it is in an unrelated field of study; however, preference for admissions and financial aid will be given to those who have not already had an opportunity to study for a doctoral degree at Harvard or elsewhere. You may also want to consider pursuing non-degree study through our  Special Student or Visiting Fellow  programs.

Eligible Harvard College students with advanced standing may apply in the fall of their junior year to earn an AM or SM degree during their final year of undergraduate study. Interested students must contact the  Office of Undergraduate Education  for eligibility details before applying.

Questions about the application or required materials should be directed to the Harvard Griffin GSAS Admissions Office at  [email protected] or 617-496-6100. 

Required Application Materials

Please refer to Completing Your Application on the Harvard Griffin GSAS Admissions site for details.  A complete application consists of:

Online application form

Application fee payment* ($105)


Letters of recommendation (at least 3)

Statement of purpose

Personal statement

Demonstration of English proficiency

GRE General exam scores -  o ptional but recommended for Fall 2024 admission**

Harvard Griffin GSAS may request additional academic documents, as needed.

*Application fee waivers are available to those for whom payment of the application fee would be financially challenging. 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 completed, the application system will provide an immediate response regarding fee waiver eligibility.

**Graduate student admissions are among the most important decisions we make as a department. Like many other PhD programs around the US and abroad, we have wrestled with the question of whether we should continue to require that applicants to our PhD program submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of their application. After extensive review of the scientific literature and robust discussion among our faculty, we have decided to continue to make submission of GRE scores optional, but to Recommend that students submit GRE scores if they are able to do so. We wanted to share our candid thoughts on this here.  

A number of empirical and review papers have noted that performance on the GRE is not a strong predictor of performance on a number of graduate school metrics (e.g., correlation with graduate school GPA = .21-.31, which represent small to medium effect sizes; Woo et al., 2023) and that the fact that the significant group differences (by race/ethnicity and gender) in GRE scores suggest it may discourage those from underrepresented groups from applying to PhD programs. Other research has shown that although there are limitations to the GRE, other potential predictors of success in graduate school have even smaller correlations with such outcomes, and removing the GRE would lead us to rely on these other potentially biased factors, such as where a person received their undergraduate degree, what research lab they had the opportunity to train in, and letters of recommendation.(1) We have heard anecdotally from current and former PhD students (including those historically underrepresented in PhD programs) who argue that the GRE helped them demonstrate their abilities when they didn’t attend a top undergraduate institution or work in a well-known research lab.  

On balance, we acknowledge that the GRE is an imperfect test and should not be used as the single deciding factor in admissions; however, we fear that excluding it altogether will introduce more, not less, bias into the admissions decision-making process. Thus, we have decided to keep the submission of GRE scores optional, but to recommend that students submit their scores if they are able to do so.  

We know that many students might expect that we are looking for near-perfect scores as a requirement for admission. We are not. We do not use a rigid threshold for GRE scores, and take it into consideration with other factors (e.g., strong performance in undergraduate statistics might be used to demonstrate quantitative abilities in place of strong performance on the quantitative section of the GRE). To be transparent about this, we note that our past 10 years’ of admitted PhD applicants have had scores on the GRE ranging on the Quantitative section from the 38th to the 98th percentile, and on the Verbal section ranging from the 59th to the 99th percentile.(2 )

We will continue to work toward determining how to make admissions decisions in a way that identifies the candidates who match best with what our PhD training program has to offer and in doing so may make further adjustments to our admissions requirements in future admissions cycles.  

(1) For a review of these issues, see: Woo, S. E., LeBreton, J. M., Keith, M. G., & Tay, L. (2023). Bias, Fairness, and Validity in Graduate-School Admissions: A Psychometric Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 18(1), 3–31.  

(2) Note: Test scores were not required for the past 3 years and so are largely unavailable for that period. 

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Course Descriptions 

CS PhD Course Guidelines

The following program guidelines (a.k.a model pogram) serve as a starting point for a discussion with the faculty about areas of interest.   This description of the Computer Science PhD course guidelines augments the school-wide  PhD course requirements .   Students should make themselves familiar with both.

Course Guidelines for Ph.D. Students in Computer Science

We expect students to obtain broad knowledge of computer science by taking graduate level courses in a variety of sub-areas in computer science, such as systems, networking, databases, algorithms, complexity, hardware, human-computer interaction, graphics, or programming languages.

Within our school, CS courses are roughly organized according to sub-area by their middle digit, so we expect students to take courses in a minimum of three distinct sub-areas, one of which should be theory (denoted by the middle digit of 2, or CS 231). Theory is specifically required as we expect all students to obtain some background in the mathematical foundations that underlie computer science. The intention is not only to give breadth to students, but to ensure cross-fertilization across different sub-disciplines in Computer Science.

Just as we expect all students obtaining a Ph.D. to have experience with the theoretical foundations of computer science, we expect all students to have some knowledge of how to build large software or hardware systems , on the order of thousands of lines of code, or the equivalent complexity in hardware. That experience may be evidenced by coursework or by a project submitted to the CHD for examination. In almost all cases a course numbered CS 26x or CS 24x will satisfy the requirement (exceptions will be noted in the course description on my.harvard). Students may also petition to use CS 161 for this requirement.   For projects in other courses, research projects, or projects done in internships the student is expected to write a note explaining the project, include a link to any relevant artifacts or outcomes, describe the student's individual contribution, and where appropriate obtain a note from their advisor, their class instructor, or their supervisors confirming their contributions.  The project must include learning about systems concepts, and not just writing many lines of code.   Students hoping to invoke the non-CS24x/26x/161 option must consult with  Prof. Mickens ,  Prof, Kung,  or  Prof. Idreos  well in advance of submitting their Program Plan to the CHD.  

Computer science is an applied science, with connections to many fields. Learning about and connecting computer science to other fields is a key part of an advanced education in computer science. These connections may introduce relevant background, or they may provide an outlet for developing new applications.

For example, mathematics courses may be appropriate for someone working in theory, linguistics courses may be appropriate for someone working in computational linguistics, economics courses may be appropriate for those working in algorithmic economics, electrical engineering courses may be appropriate for those working in circuit design, and design courses may be appropriate for someone working in user interfaces.


The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) requires all Ph.D. students to complete 16 half-courses (“courses”, i.e., for 4 units of credit) to complete their degree. Of those 16 courses, a Ph.D. in Computer Science requires 10 letter-graded courses. (The remaining 6 courses are often 300-level research courses or other undergraduate or graduate coursework beyond the 10 required courses.)

The requirements for the 10 letter-graded courses are as follows:

  • Of the 7 technical courses, at least 3 must be 200-level Computer Science courses, with 3 different middle digits (from the set 2,3,4,5,6,7,8), and with one of these three courses either having a middle digit of 2 or being CS 231 (i.e., a “theory” course).   Note that CS courses with a middle digit of 0 are valid technical courses, but do not contribute to the breadth requirement.
  • At least 5 of the 8 disciplinary courses must be SEAS or SEAS-equivalent 200-level courses. A “SEAS equivalent” course is a course taught by a SEAS faculty member in another FAS department. 
  • For any MIT course taken, the student must provide justification why the MIT course is necessary (i.e. SEAS does not offer the topic, the SEAS course has not been offered in recent years, etc.). MIT courses do not count as part of the 5 200-level SEAS/SEAS-equivalent courses. 
  • 2 of the 10 courses must constitute an external minor (referred to as "breadth" courses in the SEAS “ Policies of the Committee on Higher Degrees [CHD] ”) in an area outside of computer science. These courses should be clearly related; generally, this will mean the two courses are in the same discipline, although this is not mandatory. These courses must be distinct from the 8 disciplinary courses referenced above.
  • Students must demonstrate practical competence by building a large software or hardware system during the course of their graduate studies. This requirement will generally be met through a class project, but it can also be met through work done in the course of a summer internship, or in the course of research.
  • In particular, for Computer Science graduate degrees, Applied Computation courses may be counted as 100-level courses, not 200-level courses.
  • Up to 2 of the 10 courses can be 299r courses, but only 1 of the up to 2 allowed 299r courses can count toward the 8 disciplinary courses. 299r courses do not count toward the 5 200-level SEAS/SEAS-equivalent courses. If two 299r’s are taken, they can be with the same faculty but the topics must be sufficiently different.
  • A maximum of 3 graduate-level transfer classes are allowed to count towards the 10 course requirement.
  • All CS Ph.D. program plans must adhere to the SEAS-wide Ph.D. requirements, which are stated in the SEAS Policies of the Committee on Higher Degrees (CHD) . These SEAS-wide requirements are included in the items listed above, though students are encouraged to read the CHD document if there are questions, as the CHD document provides further explanation/detail on several of the items above.
  • All program plans must be approved by the CHD. Exceptions to any of these requirements require a detailed written explanation of the reasoning for the exception from the student and the student’s research advisor. Exceptions can only be approved by the CHD, and generally exceptions will only be given for unusual circumstances specific to the student’s research program.

Requirement Notes

  • Courses below the 100-level are not suitable for graduate credit.
  • For students who were required to take it, CS 290hfa/hfb may be included as one of the 10 courses but it does not count toward the 200-level CS or SEAS/SEAS-equivalent course requirements nor toward the SM en route to the PhD.

Your program plan  must always comply  with both our school's General Requirements, in addition to complying with the specific requirements for Computer Science. All program plans must be approved by the Committee on Higher Degrees [CHD]. Exceptions to the requirements can only be approved by the CHD, and generally will only be given for unusual circumstances specific to the student’s research program

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PhD Course Requirements


Please note that the number of “credits” vary at each school. FAS uses a 2, 4, 8 credit system while the Harvard Chan School uses a 2.5, 5, and 10 credit system. Please use the Credit Conversion Chart to see the credit equivalent at each school. Harvard Griffin GSAS students, including BPH, use FAS credits . Harvard Griffin GSAS students need to enroll in 16 credits per semester.  

Additionally , all Harvard Griffin GSAS students are required to take courses for a grade (sometimes referred to as “ordinal”) if the course is offered for both ordinal and sat/unsat .  The only time a student can take a course for ‘sat/unsat’ is if that is the only grading option.  In that case, it is expected that Harvard Griffin GSAS students receive a satisfactory grade.  This is outlined in the Harvard Griffin GSAS Handbook .

REQUIRED COURSES (for all BPH students) 1. BPH 201r   Laboratory Rotations  (Fall/Spring)  (Year 1) (4 credits) 2. BPH 219  Biological Sciences Communications ( Fall)   (Year 1) (4 credits) 3. ID 201 Core Principles of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (Fall) (Year 1) (4 credits) 4. Med-Sci 300qc  Conduct of Science ( Fall)   (Year 2) (2 credits) 5. ID 100  Foundations for Public Health (Online course, plus in-person case study (Year 1) (1 credit) 6. BST 272*  Computing Environments for Biology  (January) (1 credit) [more introductory course for those with little or no programming experience] or BST 273* Introduction to Programming (Fall 1) (2 credits) [more advanced course for those with previous programming experience]  – *either course can be taken as a pre-requisite for Biostat 281 7. BST 281   Genomic Data Manipulation ( Spring)   (Year 1, 2 or 3) (4 credits)

At least 3 (12 credits total) of the following 4 credit CORE COURSES (or approved equivalent) Course offerings vary from year to year, so please consult with the course catalog for the most up to date course list. You can also review FAS Course of Instruction website .

FALL BPH 208  Human Physiology ( Fall) (4 credits) BPH 215  Principles of Toxicology (Fall) (4 credits) BCMP 200  Principles of Molecular Biology (Fall) (4 credits) GENETIC 201  Principles of Genetics (Fall) (4 credits) HBTM 235  Principles of Human Disease: Physiology and Pathology (Fall) (4 credits) IMMUN 201  Advanced Topics in Immunology (Fall) (4 credits) MICROBI 202  Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Host Immune Response (Fall) (4 credits) MICROBI 205  Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis (Fall) (4 credits) MICRO 210  Microbial Sciences: Chemistry, Ecology and Evolution (Fall) (4 credits) NEUROBIO 215A The Discipline of Neuroscience (Fall) (4 credits)

SPRING BPH 210 Pathophysiology of Human Disease (Spring) (4 credits) BCMP 234 Cellular Metabolism and Human Disease (Spring) (4 credits) BCMP 236  Principles of Drug Action in People (Spring) (4 credits) BCMP 250 Biophysical and Biochemical Mechanisms of Protein Function (Spring) (4 credits) CELLBIO 201  Principles of Cell Biology (Fall) (4 credits) CELLBIO 212 Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer (Spring) (4 credits) GENETIC 216 Advanced Topics in Gene Expression  (Spring) (4 credits) HBTM 200 Pathlogy of Human Disease (Spring) (4 credits) IMMUN 202 Immune and Inflammatory Diseases (Spring) (4 credits) MICROBI 201 Molecular Biology of the Bacterial Cell (Spring) (4 credits) NUT 202 The Biological Basis of Human Nutrition (Spring) (4 credits)

At least 2-3 (6 credits total) of the following CRITICAL READING COURSES (or approved equivalent) A critical reading course is defined as a course that spends a minimum of 50% of its class time reviewing and discussing primary research on a given topic.

FALL BPH 304qc  Eradicating Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (Fall 2)(2 credits) BPH 305qc  Interdisciplinary Training in Pulmonary Sciences Part I (Fall 1) (Year 2) (2 credits) BPH 318qc  Topics in Immunology and Infectious Diseases (Fall 2) (2 credits) BPH 320qc  Advanced Topics in Molecular Metabolism (Fall 2)(2 credits) BCMP 218  Molecular Medicine (Fall) (4 credits) BCMP 308qc  Cell Fate Decisions in Development and Disease (Fall 1) (2 credits) IMMUN 307qc  Cancer Immunology (Fall 2) (2 credits) IMMUN 315qc  Therapeutic Human Antibody Engineering (Fall 1) (2 credits) MICROBI 202* (formerly 214) Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Host Immune Response (Fall) (4 credits) *can also be considered a core course

BPH 250  Biology and Control of Vector-Borne Parasites (Spring in even years) (4 credits) BPH 301qc  Molecular Basis for Nutritional & Metabolic Diseases (Spring 1 in odd years) (2 credits) BPH 302qc  Interdisciplinary Training in Pulmonary Sciences Part II (Spring) (2 credits) BPH 310qc  Molecular Mechanisms of Aging (Spring 2 in even years) (2 credits) EH 298  Environmental Epigenetics (Spring 2) (2 credits) GENETIC 216  Advanced Topics in Gene Expression (Spring) (4 credits) IMMUN 301qc  Autoimmunity (Spring 2) (2 credits) IMMUN 305qc  Neuro-Immunology in Development (Spring 2) (2 credits) MICROBI 201*  Molecular Biology of the Bacterial Cell (Spring) (4 credits) *can also be considered a core course

300-Level Research Course Once a dissertation advisor has been selected, they can enroll in the BPH 300-level course specific to their BPH dissertation advisor. Students should register for up to 16 credits* equivalent of dissertation research each semester. [*depending on the number of other courses students are registering for each semester]. Each faculty member’s 300-level course number can be found by searching their name in the my.harvard ‘course search’.

COURSE LOCATIONS FOR DMS and Harvard Chan DMS curriculum and course locations Harvard Chan course locations are found through searching on My.harvard Epidemiology Course Offerings

Want to know what courses are like?  Check out past course evaluations through these tools: FAS : HSPH :


WAIVER OF COURSE REQUIREMENTS For some students who have successfully completed graduate-level course work, BPH course requirements may be waived if graduate-level competence is demonstrated before the end of the first semester of year 1. A “Course Waiver Form” may be requested from the BPH Program Office. A signed copy will be kept in the student’s file as documentation of the program’s authorization to grant an exemption to a student from further course work in these areas.   However, the number of total course credits required to complete the coursework part of the curriculum will remain the same.  Thus students are encouraged to take more advanced courses, or additional core courses, if a course waiver is approved.

CROSS-REGISTRATION To learn how to cross register at other Harvard Schools, you can read through the cross-registration website .

If your course has a FAS/Harvard Griffin GSAS course number associated with it, you can just register for the course.  If a course is only offered by another school, such as the Harvard Chan School or the Harvard Medical School, then you will need to cross-register for the course.  All course enrollments including cross-registration is completed electronically through my.harvard.

ACADEMIC CALENDARS The most current and complete Harvard Griffin GSAS academic calendar can be found here . The most current and complete Harvard Chan academic calendar can be found here . Filter by selecting Calendars and then Academic Calendar.

Biostatistics Student Consulting Center The Biostatistics Student Consulting Center (BSCC) is open for the Spring 2019 semester! Through the BSCC, doctoral students in the Department of Biostatistics provide FREE help to students in the School of Public Health on statistics questions that arise outside of the classroom. Please drop by our walk-in group office hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00-1:50pm in Building 2 Room 428, or schedule one-on-one consultation by submitting an online inquiry . Contact [email protected] with questions and review their website for the most up to date information.

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Graduate studies, commencement 2019.

The Harvard Department of Physics offers students innovative educational and research opportunities with renowned faculty in state-of-the-art facilities, exploring fundamental problems involving physics at all scales. Our primary areas of experimental and theoretical research are atomic and molecular physics, astrophysics and cosmology, biophysics, chemical physics, computational physics, condensed-matter physics, materials science, mathematical physics, particle physics, quantum optics, quantum field theory, quantum information, string theory, and relativity.

Our talented and hardworking students participate in exciting discoveries and cutting-edge inventions such as the ATLAS experiment, which discovered the Higgs boson; building the first 51-cubit quantum computer; measuring entanglement entropy; discovering new phases of matter; and peering into the ‘soft hair’ of black holes.

Our students come from all over the world and from varied educational backgrounds. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment and attracting the widest possible range of talents.

We have a flexible and highly responsive advising structure for our PhD students that shepherds them through every stage of their education, providing assistance and counseling along the way, helping resolve problems and academic impasses, and making sure that everyone has the most enriching experience possible.The graduate advising team also sponsors alumni talks, panels, and advice sessions to help students along their academic and career paths in physics and beyond, such as “Getting Started in Research,” “Applying to Fellowships,” “Preparing for Qualifying Exams,” “Securing a Post-Doc Position,” and other career events (both academic and industry-related).

We offer many resources, services, and on-site facilities to the physics community, including our electronic instrument design lab and our fabrication machine shop. Our historic Jefferson Laboratory, the first physics laboratory of its kind in the nation and the heart of the physics department, has been redesigned and renovated to facilitate study and collaboration among our students.

Members of the Harvard Physics community participate in initiatives that bring together scientists from institutions across the world and from different fields of inquiry. For example, the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms unites a community of scientists from both institutions to pursue research in the new fields opened up by the creation of ultracold atoms and quantum gases. The Center for Integrated Quantum Materials , a collaboration between Harvard University, Howard University, MIT, and the Museum of Science, Boston, is dedicated to the study of extraordinary new quantum materials that hold promise for transforming signal processing and computation. The Harvard Materials Science and Engineering Center is home to an interdisciplinary group of physicists, chemists, and researchers from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences working on fundamental questions in materials science and applications such as soft robotics and 3D printing.  The Black Hole Initiative , the first center worldwide to focus on the study of black holes, is an interdisciplinary collaboration between principal investigators from the fields of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and philosophy. The quantitative biology initiative  aims to bring together physicists, biologists, engineers, and applied mathematicians to understand life itself. And, most recently, the new program in  Quantum Science and Engineering (QSE) , which lies at the interface of physics, chemistry, and engineering, will admit its first cohort of PhD students in Fall 2022.

We support and encourage interdisciplinary research and simultaneous applications to two departments is permissible. Prospective students may thus wish to apply to the following departments and programs in addition to Physics:

  • Department of Astronomy
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Mathematics
  • John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)
  • Biophysics Program
  • Molecules, Cells and Organisms Program (MCO)

If you are a prospective graduate student and have questions for us, or if you’re interested in visiting our department, please contact  [email protected] .

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The Ph.D. Program in the Department of Economics at Harvard is addressed to students of high promise who wish to prepare themselves in teaching and research in academia or for responsible positions in government, research organizations, or business enterprises. Students are expected to devote themselves full-time to their programs of study.

The program prepares students for productive and stimulating careers as economists. Courses and seminars offered by the department foster an intellectually active and stimulating environment. Each week, the department sponsors more than 15 different seminars on such topics as environmental economics, economic growth and development, monetary and fiscal policy, international economics, industrial organization, law and economics, behavioral economics, labor economics, and economic history. Top scholars from both domestic and international communities are often invited speakers at the seminars.  The Harvard community outside of the department functions as a strong and diverse resource. Students in the department are free to pursue research interests with scholars throughout the University. Faculty of the Harvard Law School, Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Business School, for example, are available to students for consultation, instruction, and research guidance. As a member of the Harvard community, students in the department can register for courses in the various schools and have access to the enormous library resources available through the University. There are over 90 separate library units at Harvard, with the total collections of books and pamphlets numbering over 13 million.  Both the department and the wider University draw some of the brightest students from around the world, which makes for a student body that is culturally diverse and likely unequaled in the range of intellectual interests of its members. These factors combine to add an important dimension to the educational process. Students are able to learn from one another, collaborate on research projects and publications, and form bonds that are not broken by distance once the degree is completed and professional responsibilities lead them in different directions.

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For Prospective Graduate Students

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The Department of Government. Calling all researchers, leaders, and changemakers.  

When you join Harvard University’s Department of Government, you become part of a highly-recognized intellectual community of scholars, researchers, visionaries, leaders, and changemakers. Our strength in teaching and research in all fields of political science is reflected in both our faculty and our curriculum. 

Harvard University’s Department of Government is a world leader in the study and scholarship in political science. Our programs of study include:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Methodology/Formal Theory
  • Quantitative Social Sciences in the Government Department

Our innovative curriculum reflects a diverse range of fields and methodologies. The vibrant graduate student body receives hands-on training by conducting supervised dissertation research and working with our faculty in research projects and undergraduate teaching. 

Here, scholars have access to unparalleled resources.  They have the opportunity to define and formulate their own research questions and to apply a variety of research methodologies. 

  • Graduate students research is greatly facilitated by the exceptional resources offered by the Department of Government and the University.
  • Harvard has the  largest university library in the world .
  • Harvard expansive network of research centers and top international studies centers bring together scholars and researchers from around the globe.

Scholars can also take advantage of Harvard’s generous financial aid program.  In addition, there is just no match to the energy and excitement that accompanies student life in the Cambridge/Boston area.  

PhD Requirements

Candidates for the PhD in Government are expected to complete the required coursework during their first two years of graduate study and take the General Examination at the end of the second year. A typical schedule consists of these two years, followed by three or four years of work on a dissertation, combined with supervised teaching.


The graduate program of the Department of Government is designed to train students for careers in university teaching and advanced research in political science. The department does not offer an independent master’s program, the master of arts in political science being reserved for PhD candidates on the way to their final degrees.  Click here  to visit the Graduate School of Arts and Science’s page on admission to the Government Department to learn more about the application process. 

Application for Admission

The application for admissions is available at . The application fee is $105.

Application information and instructions are available at . Applicants with admissions questions should call 617-496-6100 from 2-5pm EST or email  [email protected] .  Applicants with financial aid questions should call 617-495-5396 or email  [email protected] .

Financial Aid and Fellowship Opportunities 

Financial aid is administered under the direction of the  Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) .  The department intends that all graduate students should have support adequate to enable them to complete their studies while enrolled full-time. Prospective students apply for financial aid at the same time they apply for admission and are also required to submit a Statement of Financial Resources.  The financial aid package for government students typically includes tuition and fees plus a stipend and a summer research grant for the first two years; tuition and fees plus guaranteed teaching fellowships and a summer research grant for years three and four; tuition and fees in year five; and tuition and fees plus a stipend for the completion year.

In addition to  funding from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences , graduate students are encouraged to apply for outside fellowships and grants. Please visit the  website of the GSAS Fellowships Office  for more information.  

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The department expects candidates for advanced degrees to develop professional competence in a chosen area of research and to acquire sufficient general knowledge to understand and follow important developments in other areas of astronomy and astrophysics. Candidates are admitted directly to the PhD program, although the AM degree will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of the residence requirements. Candidates for the PhD degree in the Department of Astronomy must complete the necessary courses, undergo an assessment test, satisfy the teaching requirement, work on an initial Research Project, complete a PhD Thesis and pass a Final Oral Examination, as described below.

PhD Degree Requirements

Courses Astrophysics Assessment Research Project Teaching PhD Thesis Public Outreach Project

Program Deadlines

The reseach project and associated exam must be completed by the end of the third year, and it is strongly recommended to finish in the fall of the third year or sooner.  Beginning with students entering in the Fall of 2021, it will be expected that students complete all required courses and teaching requirements by the end of their third year; petitions to go beyond this schedule requires approval from the CAS and advisor by the Spring of the second year.  The outreach project is due by the end of the Fall in a student's year of graduation.

Duration of Graduate Study

Nearly all students complete their PhD degree requirements in five or six years.  Funding is guaranteed only for six years, and extensions beyond this are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Satisfactory Progress Students who are not progressing satisfactorily will be put on grace, essentially a one year University probation during which they must begin to make appropriate progress. Students who, at the end of such a probationary year, are still not progressing satisfactorily, will lose stipend support.

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The process of preparing for and applying to a PhD program can be overwhelming. The University of Pennsylvania has created this webpage to help prospective PhD students think through the process so you can put together a strong application.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree one may obtain within a particular field of study. This ranges from studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields; Social Science fields such as Education, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology; as well as Humanities fields such as English, History, Music, Philosophy, and more. The PhD degree aims to prepare people to think critically, develop research, and produce scholarship that may be used for further research or implementation. The PhD historically prepared students to take on faculty roles in colleges and universities, and that is still the goal for many students pursuing the PhD. However, today the PhD is a sought-after degree in many other industries including pharmaceutical research, arts organizations and other nonprofits, publishing, government policy, big tech, finance, and more.

  • Who can apply to a PhD program?  PhD education is available to people from various educational, occupational, socioeconomic, and demographic backgrounds.
  • Who should get a PhD?  People interested in uncovering new ideas, solutions, processes, etc. within a specific area of study through conducting independent research.
  • Why is it important for diverse candidates to become PhD holders?  Our world thrives on heterogeneous ideas and experiences, which is why it is indispensable to include students with diverse perspectives in our PhD programs. These students will generate important and original research.

Most PhD programs are fully funded, meaning that for a specific number of years, the program will pay for your tuition and fees and health insurance, as well as provide you with a stipend for living expenses. The structure of this funding varies by field. Below is an outline of general funding information as well as trends according to field of study.

  • Funding packages provided by educational institution.
  • Funding packages provided through faculty research grants: Many STEM fields fund students through research grants awarded to faculty. In these cases, students perform research alongside the faculty. 
  • Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships: Part-time service that provides teaching and research training opportunities within your area of study.
  • Fellowships: Internal or external merit-based funding. Some fellowships require an application while others are given via nomination. Educational institutions typically have a resource listing fellowship opportunities. Winning a competitive fellowship looks good on your resume.
  • Grants: Requires an application with supporting materials of either your grades, scholarly work, and/or anticipated research. These are available through internal and external means. Grants greatly vary so be sure to always understand the requirements. Educational institutions typically have a resource listing grant opportunities. Winning a competitive grant looks good on your resume.
  • Employment: For example, serving as a residential advisor, on-campus jobs, etc. Some PhD programs restrict additional employment, so be sure to check before applying for jobs.
  • The funding opportunities described here often can be combined.

Choosing a school or program that provides the most potential funding may be a challenging decision. The value of the same amount of funding will differ depending on the cost of living in different geographic locations. Admitted applicants should investigate cost-of-living tools (available on the web) and be sure to understand how their funding will be structured. Ask questions when you are admitted, such as: 

  • Could you share more about your program’s funding mechanism?
  • For how long is funding guaranteed? How does that compare to the average time-to-completion? Historically, what percentage of students have received funding beyond the guaranteed funding package?
  • Does funding cover tuition, fees, books, etc.?
  • Does the funding rely on teaching, research, or other service? How much and for how long? 

Choosing a program for your studies is a personal decision that should reflect not only your research interests, but your work style, and interests outside of the classroom. Here we have identified five key tips to consider when selecting schools. 

  • Ask about which programs are strong in your area of interest, which have high completion rates, which have career outcomes that align with your goals, etc. 
  • Conduct a general internet search with terms related to your research interest.
  • Determine your geographic and personal preferences. Does the area meet your community needs? Is it important that the university aligns with your sociopolitical values? Do you prefer a large city or a smaller/college town? Is there a particular region(s) that has better access to resources needed to conduct your research?
  • Access your current or former university career center. These services are often still available for former students!
  • As you narrow your choices, try to identify at least 3 faculty in the programs of interest with whom you’d like to study. Also note how many of them have tenure. If relevant, research which of those faculty are taking on advisees in your year of matriculation.
  • Read articles from faculty with similar research interests.
  • Note the number of awards, publications, and service activities of faculty.
  • Identify research opportunities funded by both your program and university at large.
  • Connect with current and former students in the program for informational interviews.
  • Connect with campus Diversity Offices.
  • Whenever possible, before submitting your applications, make an appointment to visit the campuses and department(s) that interest you.
  • Use  LinkedIn  to see what graduates of your program are doing and how they are involved in their communities.
  • Estimate your feasible cost of living by geographic location and compare to the funding package offered.
  • Consider availability of health insurance, childcare, housing, transportation, and other fringe benefits.
  • Connect with a local bank or your prospective university’s financial services office for budgeting, savings, and other financial wellness advice.
  • Your First Year in a Ph.D. Program
  • What Does Academic Success Mean and How to Achieve it?  (STEM)
  • Pathways to Science  (STEM)
  • 7 Advantages PhDs Have Over Other Job Candidates  (Industry)
  • During your undergraduate/master’s education, you should pursue coursework and/or research that will prepare you for the higher expectations of a PhD program; for example, taking a research methods course, pursuing a summer research experience, or conducting research with a professor at your home institution.
  • Identify instructors who could write a letter of recommendation. Ask them to write letters even if you do not intend to apply to PhD programs immediately. Their letter will be stronger if they draft it while their memory of you is fresh.
  • Experiences outside of higher education can also strengthen your PhD application. These may range from project management to volunteer work.
  • Develop soft or hard skills. A soft skill that is most useful from the first day of your PhD program is networking. This is necessary not only for meeting other students but also to find collaborators with similar research interests and selecting faculty for your dissertation committee. Learning how to negotiate will also serve you well when approaching collaborative projects. Hard skills related to your field might include learning statistical analysis software, economic theory, a foreign language, or search engine optimization. In short, identify a few soft and hard skills that you can familiarize yourself with prior to your program’s start date.
  • Finally, prepare by identifying leading researchers and practitioners in your field, exploring peer-reviewed literature and/or publications, and gain familiarity with research methods.
  • Be sure to address all the specific questions/topics in the personal statement prompt. 
  • Clearly state why you want to pursue a PhD.
  • Propose your research interest.
  • Identify the faculty you’d like to study under. 
  • Discuss the unique qualities/experiences you offer to the program/school.
  • Outline what you hope to do with your degree.
  • Ask for recommendation letters early in the process, at least 2-4 weeks before the deadline. A good letter takes time to write!
  • Provide recommenders with your resume, information about the program, your personal statement and/or information about your research interests and research goals.
  • Consider your current/former instructors, supervisors, colleagues. These should be people who can speak to your work ethic, academic abilities, and research interests.
  • Test scores (i.e. TOFEL, GRE, GMAT, etc.) may or may not be required.
  • All transcripts including those for coursework completed abroad and transfer credits. Some programs require official transcripts, which take longer to procure.
  • Writing sample (field dependent): Include a graduate-level sample and update any statements, statistics, etc. as needed. It is highly encouraged that you edit your previous work.
  • Diversity statement: Many institutions offer an optional short statement where students can expand on their diverse backgrounds and experiences that may contribute to the diversity interests/efforts of the school.
  • Typically, PhD applications are due 10-12 months in advance of the program’s start date (i.e. apply in November to start the following September). A good rule of thumb is to begin your application process 6 months before the deadline. 
  • The availability of reduced application fees or fee waivers varies and sometimes depends on financial status and/or experiences (AmeriCorps, National Society of Black Engineers, attending certain conferences, etc.). If you are interested in a reduced fee or waiver, reach out to the program coordinator for details.
  • Dress professionally, even if the interview is virtual. You don’t necessarily need to wear a suit but dress pants/skirt and a blouse/button down shirt would be appropriate.  
  • Develop an engaging elevator pitch, a 30-60 second summary, of your research interests and what you hope to gain by becoming a student at that particular university. Practice your pitch with friends and ask for honest feedback.
  • Prepare 2-3 questions to ask during the interview. These could include questions about program expectations, the experience and success of their PhD students, and (academic/financial/mental health) support for PhD students.
  • Some interview programs will include multiple activities including a social event. Be sure to maintain a professional attitude: do not drink too much and keep conversation on academic/professional topics.
  • This is also your opportunity to decide whether this campus is a good fit for you.
  • Academia Insider  is a good resource. 

Unlike undergraduate and master’s level education, coursework is just one component of the degree. A PhD comes with additional expectations: you must independently conduct scholarly research in your field of study, train in specific activities such as teaching or lab/field research, pass “milestone” requirements along the way, such as comprehensive exams, and complete the process by writing a dissertation. Furthermore, some fields require you to write multiple articles (number varies by field/program) for conference presentation and/or peer-reviewed publication.

There are other important elements as well:

  • Student/Advisor relationship. This is one of the most valuable relationships you can have as a PhD student. Your faculty advisor not only assists you with learning how to approach your research topic, but also typically serves as the lead supervisor of your dissertation research and writing, and ideally mentors you throughout the PhD experience. The selection process of choosing your advisor varies so be sure to know what is expected of you as a student and what is expected of the faculty member. Whenever possible, it is important to align your personality and work style with that of your faculty advisor. Many universities publish expectations for the PhD student/faculty advisor relationship;  AMP’ed  is Penn’s guide.
  • Other relationships: Your faculty advisor is far from the only important person during your PhD career. Other faculty members will also serve on your dissertation committee and be potential mentors. Other students in your program can also provide good advice and guidance along the way.
  • Coursework: Most programs have a number of required courses all students must take regardless of research interests. Once you have finished this requirement, the classes you choose should closely align with your research topic. Choose courses that will help you learn more about your dissertation topic and research methods. It is a good idea to discuss elective course selection with your advisor. 
  • The dissertation is a large-scale, written document that explores a narrow research topic of your choice. It is the final step before receiving your degree and must be presented and “defended” to your dissertation committee (made up of faculty members) for approval. Defending means that you have to answer in-depth questions about your topic. While this might sound daunting, the dissertation is simply a demonstration of all the knowledge and expertise you have acquired through your PhD education. 
  • Networking comes in many forms and includes connections with your fellow classmates, faculty members, and scholarly community. Formal networking events typically take place at academic conferences, where scholars and students present research. Increasing your academic circle will not only allow you to have study buddies, but offer you the opportunity to collaborate on articles or even gain employment. Your school’s career center can provide best practices for effective networking. 

Explore  graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania  and click on the programs that interest you to learn more about admissions and academic requirements.

Upcoming Penn recruitment events include:

  • Fontaine Fellows Recruitment Dinner (by invitation only): Friday, March 22, 2024
  • IDDEAS@Wharton  (Introduction to Diversity in Doctoral Education and Scholarship): April 18-19, 2024. Deadline to apply is January 31.
  • DEEPenn STEM  (Diversity Equity Engagement at Penn in STEM): October 11-13, 2024. Application opens in March 2024.
  • DivE In Weekend  (Diversity & Equity Initiative for Mind Research): Fall 2024

National conferences to explore:

  • The Leadership Alliance  supports students into research careers
  • McNair Scholar Conferences
  • SACNAS , the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the U.S.
  • ABRCMS , the annual biomedical research conference for minoritized scientists
  • The PhD Project  for students interested in business PhD programs
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Marquette Graduate School bolsters career-readiness with new Ph.D. requirements

Feb. 16, 2024

phd requirements for harvard

The three career skills requirements are career discernment; communication; and diversity, equity and inclusion. This requirement will apply to all students admitted to a Marquette Ph.D. program beginning with the fall 2024 semester.

“This new requirement will address a perceived disconnect between students’ preparation and the realities of the job market upon graduation,” said Dr. Doug Woods, dean of Marquette Graduate School. “Often people think the only career path for Ph.D. students is to become a professor, but we know that such jobs are becoming scarcer. We also know that people with Ph.Ds. can use their degrees very successfully in many ways that go beyond the traditional professor job. At Marquette, we are committed to allowing our doctoral students to find a career path that best speaks to their values and to best prepare them for it.”

As part of this new requirement, Ph.D. students must complete one or more approved courses, workshops or practical experiences in each of the identified categories. The objectives of each skill are:

  • Career discernment: Students will explore and define their own identity, experiences and skills and how their chosen career pathway fits with those values.
  • Communication: Students will be able to communicate effectively and ethically with nonacademic audiences.
  • Understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion: Students will learn universal design principles and be able to work and interact effectively with persons from diverse backgrounds who have varied values, ideas and opinions.

“Our data suggests that only 45% our current students enter a Marquette Ph.D. program with the intention of entering a tenure-track academic position upon graduation,” Woods said. “Such findings suggest that doctoral education, rooted in the Jesuit Apostolic Preference of creating a hope-filled future for our youth, should not only be effective in preparing graduates for a challenging academic job market, but in all careers to which they find purpose and value.”

About Marquette Graduate School

As one of, if not the first Graduate School established at a Jesuit university, Marquette Graduate School opened its doors in fall of 1922 and recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. In that time, it has awarded nearly 30,000 advanced degrees, including over 26,500 master’s degrees and 3,100 doctoral degrees The Graduate School offers Ph.D. programs in 20 different disciplines, as well as an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program which provides students and faculty with opportunities for creative customized academic programming and research that crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

About Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee that offers a comprehensive range of majors in 11 nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools. Through the formation of hearts and minds, Marquette prepares our 11,100 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional students to lead, excel and serve as agents of positive change. And, we deliver results. Ranked in the top 20% of national universities, Marquette is recognized for its undergraduate teaching, innovation and career preparation as the sixth-best university in the country for job placement. Our focus on student success and immersive, personalized learning experiences encourages students to think critically and engage with the world around them. When students graduate with a Marquette degree, they are truly prepared and called to Be The Difference.

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or [email protected]

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Before ‘Forever’

Tracking down precursors to the persistent toxic chemicals that contaminate our water and food

phd requirements for harvard

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2024 Harvard Horizons Scholar Heidi Pickard in a lab coat at her bench

You should know three things about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The first is that these chemical compounds are persistent. The strength of their bonds prevents them from breaking down in the natural environment. The second is that they’re everywhere; PFAS are used in cookware, carpeting, cosmetics, and many other consumer products. The last and probably most important thing to know is that PFAS are probably bad for you. The chemicals are associated with widespread negative impacts on health.

“[The scientific community has reached] good consensus that PFAS exposures are associated with certain health effects,” says 2024 Harvard Horizons Scholar Heidi Pickard, a PhD student in engineering sciences. “Some of these effects include liver disease, decreased fertility and hypertension in pregnant women, immune and developmental effects in children including decreased antibody response to vaccines, and certain organ cancers.”

The good news is that private industry is shifting away from the production of certain types of PFAS—largely in response to regulation like the  PFAS Strategic Roadmap announced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2021. The bad news is that the shift is usually to different kinds of PFAS. Alarmingly little is known about these substances, many of which are referred to as PFAS precursors. Pickard’s Horizons project, “Investigating Environmental Contamination and Human Exposure to Overlooked and Difficult to Measure Chemical Compounds,” seeks to uncover the prevalence of these precursors in our water and food, and assess the impacts on the environment and health.

The Problem with PFAS

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a class of organofluorines, organic compounds that contain carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds. This bond gives PFAS some unique properties. The fact that they repel oil and water, are stain-resistant, and non-stick, for instance, make PFAS attractive for use in consumer products that range from carpeting and furniture to food packaging, outdoor gear, cosmetics, cookware, and aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used to fight fires. But that C-F bond is also what makes PFAS so difficult to get rid of.

“The C-F bond is one of the strongest bonds in nature,” she says. “That makes these compounds very resistant to breaking down in the natural environment. They’re very persistent under normal environmental conditions. That’s why they’re called ‘forever chemicals.’”

Because PFAS don’t break down, they build up in the environment and eventually in our bodies through the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the things we touch. They can even be transferred from mother to child through breastfeeding. Laboratory studies indicate that the levels at which PFAS accumulate in humans and animals can be associated with troubling health effects. “The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published in 2021 an extensive review of epidemiological studies for 14 PFAS compounds, summarizing the associated negative health effects with them,” Pickard notes. 

Moreover, because PFAS are so persistent and so widely used, the contamination problem is widespread. The chemicals have been detected not just at industrial sites and adjacent areas, but also in the high Arctic, the Antarctic, and remote islands—all locations far from sources of contamination. The PFAS Project Lab at Northeastern University created a map that identified almost 58,000 sites in the US suspected of PFAS contamination. An estimated 98 percent of the US population has detectable levels of the chemicals in their blood.

The C-F bond is one of the strongest bonds in nature. [It] makes these compounds very resistant to breaking down in the natural environment . . . That’s why they’re called ‘forever chemicals.’  —Heidi Pickard

“PFAS are released into the air from manufacturing and can transport long distances,” Pickard says. “They leach into the soil and groundwater from industrial waste or consumer products in landfills and from fire-fighting foam. The effluent and biosolids from wastewater treatment processes that don’t remove these chemicals get released into waterways and are used as fertilizer, contaminating farmland. These are just some of the ways that these chemicals get into our groundwater, drinking water, surface waters, soil, and air. They then get taken up into plants and accumulate in biota. Anywhere you look for PFAS, you’ll probably find them.”

Sounding the Alarm

Not surprisingly, PFAS have increasingly become a concern for environmental regulators in recent decades, particularly the chemical perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), originally produced by the American multinational conglomerate 3M. “At least 17 states at this point have fish consumption guidelines related to PFAS that focus on the PFOS chemical because it’s the one that’s detected at high concentrations in freshwater fish and we know it’s associated with toxic effects through exposure and consumption,” Pickard says. “PFOS has been phased out of production in North America but the compound is still found in high concentrations at sites across the country and it’s still accumulating because it is persistent and other precursor PFAS are breaking down to it over time.”

In response to the regulatory crackdown, industries have shifted to using polyfluorinated substances that are usually precursor PFAS. Unlike terminal PFAS, precursors do break down, which allows manufacturers and others to evade regulation. But the degradation is only partial, leaving the precursor’s terminal PFAS component in the natural environment. “The problem is that we don’t have analytical standards to quantitatively determine if precursor PFAS are in the environment and at what levels,” Pickard says.

That’s where her Horizons project comes in. Pickard used a combination of methods to assess the full extent of PFAS contamination and analyzed the muscle tissue of eight species of recreational freshwater fish caught in southern New Hampshire. In all samples, she found traces of precursor PFAS associated with the electrochemical fluorination process historically used in manufacturing. “People rely on these fish for food,” she says. “We don’t know what levels of exposure to these precursors could be a concern, but identifying their presence and potential to accumulate in biota is the first step.”

Pickard also studied surface waters downstream of a military base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where AFFF was used to train firefighters. “Aqueous film-forming foam is one of the largest sources of PFAS,” she explains. “It’s used at almost every military base and airport across the United States, so there are hundreds if not thousands of these sites. But we have limited understanding of the extent of contamination present in nearby ecosystems and which PFAS used in the foam are accumulating in fish around these sites—particularly those that are consumed by local fishers or indigenous communities in the area.”

Pickard analyzed a variety of Cape Cod fish species consumed by the indigenous Mashpee Wampanoag and others. She found high concentrations of PFOS in the fish, the chemical most frequently regulated because of its well-known toxicity, but there were also abundant precursor PFAS present in the fish.

“There is one class of precursors called perfluoroalkyl sulfonamides, which have a very similar molecular structure to PFOS, only with a sulfonamide head group on the end,” Pickard explains. “These precursors can break down to PFOS or other similar terminal compounds depending on the carbon chain length of the molecule. But what we're finding is that those chemicals aren't breaking down. They persist for a long time and accumulate at high concentrations in the fish.” 

[Heidi's] work has direct relevance to regulations for these compounds such as fish consumption advisories and water quality protection.  —Professor Elsie Sunderland

This last finding—about the resilience of precursors and the levels at which they accumulate in biota—is one Pickard says should concern regulators and the public. “My work is trying to sound the alarm,” she asserts. “These precursors we've assumed aren’t a problem probably are. So, we need to include them in regular biomonitoring and conduct toxicity assessments to identify whether or not exposure to these types of chemicals is important for fish consumers.”

Mitigating Risk

Heidi Pickard posing for a photo in the Quashnet River on Cape Cod, MA where she collected fish using an electrofishing method.

Pickard's advisor Elsie M. Sunderland, professor of environmental science and engineering, says that exposure to PFAS is often underestimated because of a failure to take precursors into account. Her advisee’s research will fill that gap.

“Heidi is investigating less understood exposure pathways to PFAS and also the potential for precursors to bioaccumulate in food webs,” she says. “Her work has direct relevance to regulations for these compounds such as fish consumption advisories and water quality protection. It’s also pushing communities to think about new ways to detect and report these compounds when they are present in the environment.”

Pickard’s research will also provide a toolbox of analytical methods that will enable researchers to better assess the full extent of PFAS contamination in the environment and to link the transport of PFAS from source sites to fish consumed by wildlife and humans—particularly members of indigenous communities who rely on their local catch as a food source. She hopes that understanding how these toxic chemicals accumulate and behave in the environment will enable local officials to better mitigate the risk that PFAS pose.

“In addition to understanding how precursors behave and accumulate in biota,” she says, “my results will hopefully also be used by local or state governments to establish necessary fish and water advisories in their areas for risk mitigation. My hope is also that more agencies will start thinking about precursors as an important part of our PFAS exposures. We must account for precursors when assessing biological exposure to PFAS, especially if a lot of these precursors are entering food chains, bioaccumulating in organisms, and biotransforming to substances that have known toxicological effects.”

Learn more about the 2024 Harvard Horizons Scholars and see them on stage at the campus-wide Harvard Horizons Symposium in Sanders Theatre on April 9.

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 View of some ridgetop wind power turbines from the summit of Blue Knob

What Happens When a Wind Farm Comes to a Coal Town?

On National Public Radio, PhD student Eleanor Krause says coal mines can't always be replaced with wind turbines to provide alternative sources of energy production and alternative sources of jobs.

Find Your Center: Nourishment for the Body and Mind

During stressful times, the Student Center food literacy wellness fellows help students relax and connect. They also hope to enable members of the Harvard Griffin GSAS community to make environmentally responsible choices, boost overall health, and leave the Boston area a better place than they found it. 

Students learn to make empanadas at a class sponsored by the Student Center fellows,

A Beef with Climate Change

The Brazilian cattle industry accounts for nearly 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental economist Marcos Barrozo says that, with the right incentives, the sector could significantly reduce its footprint while producing the same amount of beef. 

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Colloquy Podcast: Buying Time in the Fight Against Climate Change

Robert Stavins, PhD ’88, says that reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere is a critical and cost-effective way to slow climate change and its impacts. 

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Cambridge Residents’ Division over Bike Lane Expansion Continues

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Harvard to Open 24/7 Study Spaces for Graduate Student Reading Weeks

phd requirements for harvard

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Lehman Hall of that Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is located at 8 Harvard Yard.

This spring, Harvard will open 24/7 study spaces for graduate students for the first time during reading period.

Mustafa I. Diwan, a student at the Harvard Divinity School and member of the Harvard Graduate Council’s advocacy committee, became the primary sponsor of the resolution after working on a midterm on a Friday night and realizing that the Harvard libraries didn’t stay open overnight on weekends.

“I went to Lamont Library assuming that I could stay there and work until 12 a.m. And then we had to leave,” Diwan said.

Diwan said that because of the “funny internet connection” at his home off campus, “it was difficult for me to finish that assignment.”

Diwan also said it was likely other graduate students are facing similar issues.

“Many students would appreciate having open study spaces and libraries because most graduate students don’t live on campus, and many have WiFi issues at home,” he said.

After Diwan proposed his initiative, the HGC passed a resolution to collaborate with the Harvard University librarians to keep specific libraries open all day for two designated weeks in the period leading up to graduate students’ finals season.

Curneisha Williams, chair of advocacy for the HGC, explained that libraries like Lamont already stay open 24/7 for undergraduate students, but their reading periods don’t overlap with Harvard’s graduate schools.

Williams spoke to the Harvard University librarians and said there had been pre-existing misunderstandings about reading period overlaps.

“When it’s time for us to take exams, it’s not open 24/7, and they just didn’t realize that,” Williams said.

“We collaborated with the Harvard University librarians and got a list of the reading periods for every graduate school, and now we want to to open the library spaces 24/7 for the two weekends of the graduate students’ reading periods that overlap,” Williams said.

Williams praised the librarians for being “very cooperative,” noting that the HGC planned to announce the change in study space access by the end of the month.

In particular, Williams pointed to the importance of library access for graduate students who often do not have timed exams.

“We don’t have a lot of in person tests; we have a lot of 15-page papers and group projects,” she said. “So, we need that time.”

Correction: February 22, 2024

A previous version of this article mispelled Mustafa Diwan’s first name.

—Staff writer Angelina J. Parker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @ angelinajparker .

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