Admission Requirements for Graduate Programs at Harvard University

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Admission to graduate programs at Harvard University is highly competitive, and the specific admission requirements and process can vary across different schools and programs. However, there are some general guidelines and factors to consider:

  • Academic Excellence: Harvard places significant emphasis on academic achievements and looks for candidates with a strong academic background. This includes undergraduate GPA, standardized test scores (such as the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, depending on the program), and letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of Purpose: Applicants are typically required to submit a statement of purpose that outlines their academic and professional goals, research interests, and reasons for pursuing the specific graduate program at Harvard. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion, motivation, and fit for the program.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Most graduate programs at Harvard require letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your academic abilities, research potential, and personal qualities. It is important to choose recommenders who can provide meaningful insights into your qualifications and potential for success in the program.
  • Research Experience: For research-oriented programs, having prior research experience, such as independent research projects, publications, or presentations, can strengthen your application. It demonstrates your ability to conduct research and contribute to the scholarly community.
  • Personal Statement or Essays: Some programs may require additional essays or personal statements to assess your writing skills, critical thinking abilities, and alignment with the program's values and goals.
  • Interviews: Certain programs or departments may conduct interviews as part of the admission process to assess a candidate's fit and potential. These interviews can be conducted in person or through online platforms.
  • Portfolio or Audition (for certain programs): Applicants to creative or performance-based programs may be required to submit a portfolio of their work or participate in auditions or interviews to showcase their skills and talents.

What is the average GRE, GMAT, or LSAT score expected for acceptance into Harvard's graduate programs?

Generally, the highest possible GRE Harvard score is 340, and the lowest possible score is 260. According to this, any score above 300 or equal to 300 will qualify as a good score to meet Harvard GRE requirements.

There is no minimum GRE or GMAT score requirements at Harvard. 69% of the students submitted GMAT scores and 34% submitted GRE scores, with some students submitting scores from both tests.

GRE score requirements:

  • Verbal Range: 150-170
  • Quantitative Range: 145-170
  • Median Verbal: 163
  • Median Quantitative: 163

GMAT score requirements:

  • Verbal Range: 25-51
  • Quantitative Range: 31-51
  • Total Range: 500-790
  • Median Verbal: 42
  • Median Quantitative: 49
  • Median Total: 740

Are there any master's programs at Harvard that do not require GRE or GMAT scores?

There are some master's programs at Harvard University that do not require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores as part of their admission requirements. However, it's important to note that the specific admission requirements can vary across different programs and departments.

Harvard's graduate schools value a holistic approach to admissions, considering various factors beyond standardized test scores. Some programs may place more emphasis on academic records, research experience, letters of recommendation, essays, and other aspects of the application.

Here are a few examples:

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE): HGSE offers several master's programs in education, including the Master of Education (Ed.M.) program. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, HGSE does not require the GRE or GMAT for admission to its master's programs.
  • Harvard Kennedy School (HKS): HKS offers the Master in Public Administration (MPA) program. While the MPA program does not explicitly require the GRE or GMAT, applicants are encouraged to submit test scores if they believe they will strengthen their application. The submission of test scores is optional.
  • Harvard Divinity School (HDS): HDS offers various master's degree programs in divinity, theology, and religious studies. The HDS website indicates that the GRE is not required for admission to master's programs.
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD): The GSD offers various master's degree programs in architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and design-related disciplines. While the GSD does not explicitly state whether the GRE or GMAT is required, they encourage applicants to submit test scores if they believe it will enhance their application, but it is not a mandatory requirement.
  • Harvard Extension School: The Harvard Extension School offers a wide range of master's degree programs in fields such as liberal arts, management, information technology, and more. The admission requirements vary depending on the program, but the Extension School does not generally require the GRE or GMAT for admission to its master's programs.
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The MPH program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as mentioned earlier, does not explicitly require the GRE. While some applicants may still choose to submit GRE scores, they are not mandatory for admission consideration.
  • Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS): GSAS offers master's programs in various disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The specific requirements for each program within GSAS may vary, and some programs may not require the GRE or GMAT for admission.

How difficult is it to get admission to Harvard Master’s programs with a low GPA?

Admission to Harvard University's master's programs is highly competitive, and a low GPA can present a challenge in the application process. While a low GPA can make admission more difficult, it does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of being accepted. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Holistic Review: Harvard takes a holistic approach to admissions, considering multiple aspects of an application beyond just the GPA. They consider factors such as standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, research experience, professional achievements, and personal qualities. Strong performance in these other areas can help compensate for a lower GPA.
  • Contextual Factors: Admissions committees understand that GPA can be influenced by various factors, such as the difficulty of the undergraduate institution, personal circumstances, or extenuating circumstances. If you have a low GPA but can provide context and explanation for it, such as overcoming challenges or showing improvement over time, it can help the admissions committee gain a better understanding of your academic potential.
  • Strong Supporting Materials: To offset a low GPA, it is crucial to present other elements of your application that demonstrate your abilities and potential. This could include high standardized test scores, exceptional letters of recommendation from professors or employers who can vouch for your academic and intellectual capabilities, significant research experience, or outstanding achievements in relevant professional or extracurricular activities.
  • Additional Preparatory Steps: If you have a low GPA and are particularly keen on pursuing a master's program at Harvard, you might consider taking additional steps to strengthen your application. This could involve enrolling in post-baccalaureate coursework or obtaining a graduate certificate to demonstrate your ability to handle advanced academic work and improve your academic profile.

It's important to note that the competitiveness of the applicant pool and the specific requirements and criteria of each master's program can influence the impact of a low GPA on your chances of admission. It is always advisable to consult the official websites of the programs you are interested in or reach out to the admissions offices directly to understand their specific policies and recommendations regarding applicants with lower GPAs.

Ultimately, while a low GPA can present challenges, it does not automatically disqualify you from admission. With a strong application, compelling supporting materials, and a clear demonstration of your academic potential and fit for the program, it is possible to overcome a low GPA and increase your chances of admission to Harvard's master's programs.

How difficult is it for an International student to get admission to Harvard?

Admission to Harvard University is highly competitive for both domestic and international students. While the process and criteria for admission are the same for both groups, international students face some unique challenges and considerations. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Academic Excellence: Like all applicants, international students must demonstrate outstanding academic achievements and strong intellectual potential. Harvard looks for students who have excelled in their previous academic pursuits, typically with a competitive GPA and strong standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT for undergraduate programs or GRE/GMAT for graduate programs).
  • English Language Proficiency: As English is the primary language of instruction at Harvard, international students must demonstrate proficiency in English. Most applicants are required to submit results from standardized English language tests such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Achieving a high score on these tests is important to showcase language proficiency.
  • Cultural Diversity and Perspective: Harvard values a diverse and inclusive student body, and international students contribute to the cultural diversity of the university. Admissions committees consider the unique perspectives and experiences that international students can bring to the academic community.
  • Financial Considerations: International students need to consider the financial implications of studying at Harvard, as the cost of attendance can be significant. It is important to explore financial aid opportunities, scholarships, and external funding sources to support their studies. Harvard offers a limited number of need-based scholarships and financial aid packages for international students.
  • Strong Application Materials: International students must present a compelling application that highlights their achievements, extracurricular involvement, leadership experiences, research activities, and community engagement. Letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews are also important components of the application process.

Are there interviews for Harvard’s Master's or joint-degree programs?

The interview process for master's or joint-degree programs at Harvard University can vary depending on the specific program and department. While not all programs require interviews, some may include interviews as part of the selection process. Here are a few points to consider:

Program-Specific Interviews: Certain master's or joint-degree programs at Harvard may conduct interviews to assess an applicant's fit, potential, and alignment with the program's goals. These interviews are typically conducted by faculty members, admissions staff, or alumni of the program. The interview format can vary, including in-person interviews, phone interviews, or virtual interviews.

  • Invitation for Interviews: If an interview is required for a specific program, the admissions committee will typically extend interview invitations to selected applicants. Not all applicants will be invited for an interview, as the decision to interview is often based on a holistic assessment of the application materials.
  • Purpose of Interviews: Interviews serve as an opportunity for the program to learn more about the applicant beyond the written application. They provide a chance for the applicant to discuss their academic background, research interests, career goals, and any relevant experiences. Interviews also allow the program to assess an applicant's communication skills, and critical thinking abilities, and fit within the program's academic and professional community.
  • Preparation for Interviews: If you are invited for an interview, it is important to prepare thoroughly. Research the program and its faculty, review your application materials, and be ready to discuss your academic and professional background, interests, and goals. Practice answering common interview questions and be prepared to articulate why you are a strong candidate for the program.

Lets explore the admission requirements for various graduate programs at Harvard University that do not require GRE scores.

MS in Computer Science

The application requirements for MS in Computer Science at Harvard University are

1.Bachelor's degrees in the natural or quantitative sciences, mathematics, computer science, or engineering.

2.Completed application form.

3.Statement of Purpose.

4.Three letters of recommendation submitted electronically.


6.C.V. or Resume.

7.GRE test scores are not required for MS in Computer Science at Harvard University.

8.TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold a Bachelor degree or its equivalent from an institution at which English is the language of instruction.

9.The application fee of $105.

The application deadline for MS in Computer Science is December 15.

Graduate program in Materials Science & Mechanical Engineering

Admission requirements for Graduate program in Materials Science & Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University are:

1.Completed application form.

2.The application fee of $105.00.

3.Statement of Purpose describing the future research interests, research experience.

4.Three letters of recommendation.

5.C.V. or Resume.


7.General GRE scores are not required for Graduate program in Materials Science & Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University.

8.TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold a Bachelor degree or its equivalent from an institution at which English is the language of instruction.

Master of Public Health - No GRE

The admission requirements for the MPH program at Harvard University are as follows:

  1. Statement of Purpose
  2. Test Scores (e.g., GRE, TOEFL/IELTS for international students)
  3. Letters of Reference (usually 2-3 letters from academic or professional sources)
  4. CV/Resume (highlighting relevant academic and work experiences)
  5. Transcripts / Mark Sheets (official academic records from all colleges/universities attended)
  6. SOPHAS Application Fee (required for submitting the application through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for public health programs).

NOTE - GRE score is not required.

Executive Master of Public Health - Hybrid - No GRE

The admission requirements for the master's program (MPH) are as follows:

  1. A master's degree and at least 2 years of relevant work experience.

For the AP (Advanced Professional) program, the admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor's degree and at least 5 years of relevant work experience.

For the Executive program, the admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor's degree and at least 4 years of relevant work experience.
  • Additionally, for students seeking admission with completion of the third year at an accredited medical, dental, or podiatric school in the United States, specific requirements may apply depending on the program they are applying to.

Note - GRE is not required for the Yale Online programs.

Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Museum Studies - No GRE

The admission requirements for the ALM in Museum Studies are:

  • 4-year bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.
  • Official transcripts
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Resume
  • No GRE scores are required for this program.

PHD in Musicology - No GRE Required

Students from all backgrounds can apply for this program. The annual deadline is usually January 2 for entrance the following fall term.

The Music Department does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. Submitting scores is permitted, and when submitted, GRE scores are considered during the admissions process. But those who do not offer such scores will not be penalized.