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Ph.D. FAQs

Please note that the information below refers to the application process for the Ph.D. in Education. All Ph.D. applicants must apply through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

For additional, up-to-date information about the Ph.D. application process, please see the GSAS Application Instructions and Information and the HGSE How to Apply page.

How do I access the application for the Ph.D. in Education?

What should I discuss in my Statement of Purpose?

  • In your statement, please describe your area of research interest. What experiences led you to your research ambitions? Why is there a need for further research in this area? How do you anticipate your research fitting in within the larger education sector? Concisely state your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Briefly indicate your career objectives.
  • The statement should be no more than 1,000 words.

Who can be my recommenders?

  • Ph.D. applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from faculty or others qualified to evaluate the applicant’s 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.
  • All recommendations must be submitted using the online application system.

How do I submit my transcripts?

  • GSAS requires that you upload transcripts from each postsecondary institution that you have attended as part of the application. At this stage of the application process, you may upload unofficial or student copies. All transcripts should show courses completed, grades received, duration of study, and degree or diploma received, if applicable. Additional requirements for international transcripts are provided below.
  • Foreign transcripts — records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and conferrals of degrees — must be in English. If records are not available in English, original records must be submitted with certified English translations. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.
  • Students who are unsure of the U.S. equivalency of their degree(s) should consult a reputable credential evaluation service.
  • GSAS reserves the right to request additional academic documents.
  • Please keep in mind that you will need to provide official transcripts (and translations, if applicable) for verification, should you be admitted. GSAS reserves the right to withdraw an admissions offer if there is a discrepancy between the uploaded version and the official original transcript and/or the official translation.

Is the GRE a required part of the application?

  • All Ph.D. applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.
  • If you are applying for the Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.) you must send your GRE scores to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Their institution code for the GRE is 3451.
  • GRE tests must be taken within five years of your expected date of matriculation. If you are applying for fall 2023 admission, you must submit scores from tests taken no earlier than September 1, 2018.

Is the TOEFL/IELTS a required part of the application?

  • If your native language is not English and you do not hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction, you must submit official scores from the internet-based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • Ph.D. applicants interested in fall 2022 admissions must submit official TOEFL scores from no earlier than September 1, 2021.

The institutional code for the GRE and TOEFL:

  • The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' institution code for the GRE and TOEFL is 3451.

What if I previously applied to a program at HGSE?

  • Applicants who have previously applied to HGSE and are now applying for the Ph.D. in Education through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) must resubmit all documents when applying.
  • Applicants who applied to GSAS within the past year and are now applying to the Ph.D. should review the GSAS reapplication procedure.

Does GSAS accept transfer credits?

  • The Ph.D. in Education does not accept transfer credit from other institutions or transfer credit from an HGSE degree earned more than three years prior to enrolling in the Ph.D. Students who graduated with an Ed.M. or C.A.S. from HGSE within three years prior to enrolling as Ph.D. in Education candidates can receive credit for maximum four courses (16 credits) completed during their Ed.M. or C.A.S. course of study. A Ph.D. student who has completed at least one full term of satisfactory work may file an application for transfer of prior coursework done at HGSE to be counted toward their degree.