FAQs for Applicants

Interested in applying to Graduate School? Submit any questions you may have about the process through our new PRO-TiP page! We are collecting questions until September 20, 2020.

What kind of program does Harvard offer?

The Harvard Psychology Department offers Ph.D. degrees in several specialty areas. It is strictly a research-oriented program. Graduates of the program usually seek positions as research psychologists, typically in an academic setting. A smaller number of graduates get positions in government, consulting firms, hospitals, or social service agencies.

The Department concentrates in several sub-fields of psychology, including Social, Developmental, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior (CBB), and Clinical Science. Faculty and students collaborate within and across these...

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Can I get training in clinical psychology at Harvard?

The Department offers a research-oriented program in Clinical Science geared to train students primarily for research careers rather than psychotherapy careers. Applicants seeking professional training for the purposes of clinical practice are advised to apply elsewhere. 

The Clinical Program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).

Where can I find out about graduate school admission in general?

There is lots of information out there. Speak to psychology professors at your undrgraduate institution and get their recommendations. If you have a well-focused research interest, read lots of current literature in the area. This will not only inform you about your field, but will give you an idea of who the principle researchers are in that field. It makes sense to apply to schools where those researchers are on the faculty. 

The APA publishes a book that may be helpful: ...

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How do I get information about Harvard doctoral program admissions?

This brochure describing the Psychology graduate program covers prerequisites and information about the curriculum. 

Prospective applicants will want to read carefully the Faculty Research Interests at the end of the brochure to decide whether this department is a good match. "Fit" of interests is an important criteria when the Department makes admissions decisions. 

Information about current students in the doctoral program may be useful in figuring out if this...

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How long does the program take?

Some students find four years is sufficient to complete the program, although many take five and a few take six years.  Financial aid is generally given for up to six years.

Can I go part time? Is there a correspondence program?

This is a full-time program, and we do not admit applicants who want a part-time program. In unusual circumstances, the Department may grant permission for an enrolled student to temporarily register for a part-time schedule. It is required that students be in residence for at least two years in the program, and the vast majority of students are in residence for the entire program. It is possible to receive permission to be a "traveling scholar" and do research or writing away from Cambridge, but this is most typical for students at an advanced stage of the program who have finished data...

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What if I want to take some courses, but don't want a degree?

The only way to take Harvard Arts and Sciences courses, unless you are enrolled in another Harvard graduate program or MIT, is to be admitted as a Special Student, which allows you to take between one and four courses a semester. Foreign nationals have to take a full-time load in order to get a student visa. Students are issued a transcript, but no degree or certificate, for their work in the Special Student program.

Admitted applicants should be aware...

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What if I already have a master's degree?

Some of our applicants are admitted with a master's degree from another institution. These students can petition, after a semester of satisfactory work in the Department, to receive credit for up to eight relevant half-courses, the equivalent of a year's worth of work. However, many students in the program don't bother to apply for this credit, for the following reasons: it is exceedingly rare for a student to be exempted, by virtue of prior work, from any courses required by the department. In addition, the bulk of time in the doctoral program is spent on research projects, and the...

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What about test scores?

GRE scores are an important part of the application, but equal or greater weight is given to other components, such as grades and letters of recommendation. While the average admitted applicant has a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 1350 or higher, candidates with lower scores will be given serious consideration if other parts of the application are extraordinary . We have admitted applicants with scores as low as 1200. We do not require the GRE subject test, although many schools do, as well as some of the national...

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Is there financial aid available?

Funding is available, and can be merit-based or need-based. Financial aid is in the form of grants in the early years and teaching or research fellowships in later years. Both foreign and U.S. applicants are eligible for financial aid. Our top funding package consists of up to six years of full tuition, three years of living stipend, and two years of teaching eligibility. Because funds are limited, applicants are urged to apply for any outside fellowships they may be eligible for. NSF graduate fellowships and...

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