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Graduate Application Requirements

Application Requirements

Please verify that your application is complete, with all applicable documents, before submitting it to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. See below for the components needed to complete your application:

  • Application
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • Recommended Coursework
  • English Proficiency / TOEFL Scores
  • Application Fee*



Applications are submitted through the GSAS Applicant Portal. You can access the application by clicking the apply button on the apply page. Please note all supporting materials and required components must be submitted electronically as part of the application. The application includes biographical and academic information, an abstract of all courses, and a statement of purpose. Although the abstract of courses may duplicate information available on your transcript(s), it is essential that the admissions committee receive this orderly summary of your courses.



Describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words.



Submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation from professors or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. At least one letter should be from a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student unless you have been out of school for more than five years. Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work. Indicate on the recommendation form whether you are waiving your right to see the letter of recommendation.

Please note that your letters must be received by the application deadline in order for your application to be evaluated by the Admissions Committee. Please note that recommenders must submit their letters through the recommender portal: letters submitted any other way will not be accepted.



Applicants are required to upload transcripts from each institution attended as part of their application. We do not accept mailed or email transcripts during the application submission and review process. Any transcripts sent in this manner will be discarded.

Official transcripts are only required from those who have been admitted and accepted the offer of admission. Instructions for submitting official transcripts will be provided in spring/summer prior to enrollment.

Transcripts from international institutions must be in English or be accompanied by a certified English translation. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records. International transcripts should include:

  • Courses, seminars, and examinations taken
  • Grades, scores, and grading scales
  • Confirmation of degree conferral and date

Students who are unsure of the U.S. equivalency of their degree(s) should consult a reputable credential evaluation service.

The University reserves the right to request additional academic documents.



Entering students should have a record of introductory courses in chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics. While the following courses should not be regarded as prerequisites for admission to graduate study, most admitted students have completed these courses as undergraduates:

  • Biology (at least one general course in biology and two terms of biology at a more advanced level)
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Physics (a general course)
  • Mathematics (a basic knowledge of differential and integral calculus). Competence in elementary programming is also desirable.
  • Laboratory in Biology, Biochemistry, or Instrumental Analysis.



Applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold the equivalent of a US Bachelor degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must submit scores from the Internet-based Test (IBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

When requesting official score reports, indicate the receiving institution as:

Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Code 3451.
If an “Applicant’s Score Confirmation Report” is available, scan and upload a copy, attaching it to the online application. However, the official institutional score report sent by ETS to the Graduate School (Code 3451) is still required. A score of 80 on the TOEFL IBT is the minimum accepted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A score of 100 or higher is strongly recommended for consideration.

Applicants who took the TOEFL more than two years before the current application deadline must repeat the test. No test other than the TOEFL IBT will be acceptable as proof of English proficiency. Additionally, GSAS will use students’ scores on the speaking section of the TOEFL IBT to determine the oral proficiency of admitted students.

Applicants holding a master’s degree from an English-language university and whose undergraduate degree is from a non-English-language university are required to provide scores for the TOEFL IBT. This requirement cannot be waived. For more information, please visit the TOEFL website or call the Educational Testing Service at (609) 771-7100.



This fee must be paid via credit card. Your application will not be processed until payment is submitted and received by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

*GSAS is committed to ensuring that our application fee does not create a financial obstacle for prospective applicants. 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 answered, the application system will provide an immediate response regarding fee waiver eligibility.


Please note that GRE scores are no longer accepted.


Application Questionsadmiss@fas.harvard.edu

Phone Hours:
Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Tuesday, 2:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time