PRO-TiP Image

Welcome to Harvard Psychology’s PhD Resources and Online Tips Page (PRO-TiP)! We created this page to provide easy and open access to resources that help demystify the process of applying to graduate programs in Psychology. Below, you will find a series of informational videos in which members of our faculty provide insight into the structure and climate of our Department, details of our application process, and some diverse perspectives about how PhD applications are evaluated.

This initiative was envisioned and implemented by graduate students on the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee. If you have any comments or feedback, please email us at

Video 1: Introductory remarks from Dr. Matt Nock (Department Chair)

In this video, Dr. Matt Nock (Department Chair) provides an overview of the structure of the Psychology Department, its four different research areas (Clinical, Developmental, Social, and Cognition, Brain, and Behavior), our program’s academic requirements, and funding opportunities for our PhD students. 

  • Structure of the Harvard Psychology Department - 1:10
  • Research areas within the Department - 3:52
  • Funding for our graduate students - 4:50
  • Graduate advisors - 5:24 
  • Academic requirements for our graduate students - 6:10
  • Closing remarks - 7.46


Video 2: Remarks on the application process and the Harvard Psychology graduate student experience from Dr. Leah Somerville (Director of Graduate Studies)
In this video, Dr. Leah Somerville (Director of Graduate Studies) describes the application process to Harvard’s Psychology program, the various resources available to our graduate students, and the social and professional climate of our Department. 

  • Q1 - What is your role in the department? - 0:48
  • Q2 - What does the application look like? - 1:59
  • Q3 - Are there fee waivers? 1 - 3:28
  • Q4 - Are there special requirements for international students? - 4:18
  • Q5 - Are there minimum GPA/GRE cut-offs? - 5:40 
  • Q6 - What happens once an application is submitted? - 7:07
  • Q7 - How many students are accepted each year? - 13:04
  • Q8 - How diverse is the student body? - 14:50
  • Q9 - What resources are available to graduate students? - 17:20 
  • Q10 - What about special needs or special accommodations? - 20:24 
  • Q11 - How do current graduate students feel about the program? 2 - 21:06
  • Q12 - Any final comments on the graduate community? - 23:21


Video 3: Remarks from faculty members about your most frequently asked questions

In September 2020, we posted an open call for questions from anyone interested in applying to graduate school. We received over 100 submissions! From these submissions, we selected the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) and invited members of our faculty to respond to them. This video features the selected FAQs and responses from our faculty. All of the questions (and corresponding video timestamps) are listed below. Faculty members who participated in this discussion include: Drs. George Alvarez, Fiery Cushman, Sam Gershman, Dan Gilbert, Josh Greene, Mark Hatzenbuehler, Talia Konkle, Max Krasnow, Steven Pinker, Jesse Snedeker, Leah Somerville, and John Weisz.

Questions and Timestamps - 
Introductions - 0:26

  • Q1 - Do I need to have a connection with a PI (Principal Investigator) prior to working with them? If not, should I contact a PI before applying? - 4:35
  • Q2 - What information should I include in an email to a PI? - 6:14
  • Q3 - What if a PI does not respond to my email? - 7:05
  • Q4 - How else could I make an initial connection with a PI? - 7:40
  • Q5 - How does funding for new students work at Harvard? When should I ask about funding/ whether a PI is planning to accept a new student? - 8:01
  • Q6 - How closely should my research interests match those of my mentor? - 10:17 
  • Q7 - How are different parts of the application evaluated (e.g., statement, GPA, GRE, letters)? - 12:58
  • Q8 - What do you look for when reading a statement of purpose? - 18:18
  • Q9 - How should students address GPA issues or extenuating circumstances in their applications? - 25:02
  • Q10 - How important is having an undergraduate degree in psychology? (Can I apply to psychology PhD programs with a degree in math or education or computer science?) - 30:38
  • Q11 - How should I choose between applying to Psychology vs. Neuroscience programs? 3 - 35:24
  • Q12 - How important is prior research experience? - 37:20
  • Q13 - How do you view applications from people who are older or who have non-research work experience? (Is work weighted the same?) - 44:18
  • Q14 - Who should I ask to write a reference letter? What should be included in a good letter? - 49:31
  • Q15 - How do you recommend preparing for interviews? - 56:49
  • Q16 - Is there an ideal applicant? - 1:04:43
  • Q17 - Do you have specific recommendations for coursework or readings? - 1:06:34

Questions Specific to Clinical Psychology 

  • Q18 - Are there any specific skills that you look for in clinical applicants? - 1:09:06
  • Q19 - How important is prior clinical experience when applying to clinical programs? - 1:09:54
  • Q20 - How can I find out more about what kind of clinical training a school provides? - 1:11:17
  • Q21 - How can I evaluate research- vs. practicum-focused clinical programs? - 1:13:07
  • Q22 - Can clinical students have multiple mentors (including those outside the clinical area)? - 1:16:12

For all applicants - Some Final Thoughts - 1:17:24

As stated on Harvard’s application website for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS; “GSAS is committed to ensuring that our application fee does not create a financial obstacle for prospective applicants. 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.”
For the results of the Harvard Psychology Department Climate Survey, please visit:
Psychology programs also do not always support research with animal models. For more information on research themes within Harvard’s Psychology program, please visit: For information about Harvard’s interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, please visit: