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How To Get Into Harvard Graduate School

Last Updated on February 23, 2021 by kabirat adeniyi

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While it is difficult to get a coveted Ivy League acceptance letter, it is not impossible. If you want to walk among those hallowed halls as a graduate student, but do not know where or how to start, this guide can help. There is no magic formula or secret trick, but this guide will walk you through the application process and offer expert tips on what to focus on, whether you’re applying to an Ivy League or other highly competitive university.

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Harvard

  • Number of applicants: 16,000
  • Number of admitted students: N/A
  • Admission rate: N/A
  • Matriculants: 4,605

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 2017

Harvard University - Wikipedia

Apply!

This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised by how many highly qualified students simply don’t apply. They may have many good reasons for not doing so, such as not wanting to live through a New England winter (I get that!) or wanting to go somewhere else instead, but feelings of inadequacy are by far the most common.

The low acceptance rates may intimidate you. But do you know your chance of getting accepted if you don’t apply? Spoiler: It’s zero

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR IVY LEAGUE GRAD SCHOOLS

All grad school applications require thoughtful attention to detail and clear explanations of why you want to complete an advanced degree, and while Ivy League graduate schools call for similar requirements, the standards and expectations are much higher. Review the various components of the Ivy League application below to get a sense of common requirements and steps.

  • Application and feesAs with any other college, Ivy Leagues require prospective students to fill out an application. This usually asks for a range of basic information, such as name, gender identity, address, birthdate, citizenship status, intended area of study, phone number, and contact information. In addition to providing answers to all questions on the application, individuals must also pay a fee. These can range from $50 to $100, though some schools may charge as much as $175.
  • TranscriptsIn order to verify whether an applicant earned the grades required for admissions consideration, Ivy League graduate programs require transcripts from all colleges or universities applicants attended. Some may also require high school transcripts if admission is highly competitive. Each school maintains a unique process for reviewing transcripts. At Yale University, for instance, prospective degree seekers can upload unofficial transcripts during the application process but must provide official transcripts if they receive a letter of admittance.
  • Test scoresDepending on the particular discipline an individual plans to study or the department they hope to join, Ivy League grad programs require applicants to take at least one of several advanced study standardized tests. In addition to the most commonly required GRE, students may need to take the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT if they plan to study business, law, or medicine, respectively. Some schools do not specify score requirements, but applicants can review average scores from past admissions to get a sense of expectations. Depending on the competitiveness of the program, some schools may also want to review ACT or SAT scores that were taken for undergraduate education.
  • Letters of recommendationIn addition to all the information potential students provide themselves, Ivy League graduate schools also want to hear from others who can speak to an applicant’s preparedness for the program and their likelihood of contributing something unique to the student body. When selecting individuals to write these letters of recommendation, applicants should think carefully and strategically. Do not ask anyone who doesn’t know you well and who you don’t maintain a professional or academic relationship with, as they won’t be able to speak to the nuances of what makes you an exceptional student and strong grad school candidate. Most schools look for two to three letters from former professors, mentors, or supervisors.
  • Personal statement or statement of purposeWhile much of the application process calls on applicants to provide hard facts such as test scores, GPAs, and work history, personal statements/statements of purpose allow students to introduce themselves to admissions committees in a more personal way. Learners should use this opportunity to highlight unique qualities, discuss their academic passions, and clearly lay out what they bring to the table. Anyone wanting more information about this topic can review GoGrad’s guides on Writing a Successful Grad School Statement of Purpose and Writing a Winning Personal Statement for Grad School.
  • Resume/CVThe resume or CV exists for students to demonstrate relevant professional and academic accomplishments. When creating this document, ensure all major achievements appear on the document, but focus on succinct descriptions for each. It’s also important to ensure organization reigns supreme: start with a header at the top that clearly states your name and contact information. Use bullets, indentations, and bolded text so readers can easily identify individual sections. Select a professional-looking font, and avoid grammatical errors and syntax issues.
  • InterviewWhile it’s becoming less common for applicants to visit campus and interview with members of the admissions panel, schools are increasingly utilizing alumni living in the prospective student’s region to conduct interviews. These may be done in-person or online. Interviews tend to be more conversational. These face-to-face interactions offer students the chance to demonstrate other qualities about themselves that are not easily conveyed in an application or personal statement, such as confidence, charisma, diplomacy, and character. While some may decide to emphasize points made on their applications, others use interviews as an opportunity to introduce other facets of themselves.
  • PortfolioNot all programs require portfolios, but for those that do, applicants should ensure they put their best work forward. The majority of art and design degrees require portfolios as a way of examining where an applicant stands in their artistic career and if they are ready for advanced study at an Ivy League. When selecting materials for an admissions portfolio, applicants should work with their professors, mentors, or colleagues to identify pieces that show their growth over time and demonstrate the evolution of their creative eye. Admissions panels typically do not want a large portfolio, so judiciously select works that highlight the unique angles and strengths of your artistry.
Why Can't I Get Into Graduate School?" | Psychology Today

Find a grad program that is a GREAT fit

This may actually be the hardest part about getting into Harvard. You need to have a semblance of an idea about what you want to study in grad school, and you need to have some story about why you want to study that particular subject at this particular school.

This may require you to talk to people who study these subjects. Talk to other students at your university. Volunteer in a research group while you’re in undergrad (but try to get paid for your time, if possible!). Ask professors for their help on how to identify a specific area and what sorts of programs you might apply to.

This may take some time and some reflection, but it will be very important when you’re describing why you want to join a specific program.

You don’t need to know exactly what you will study before you apply. You will probably change your mind once you get here anyway. Most grad programs will have certain course requirements and will make you try out different research groups before you make a final pick. Their goal is to help you identify and develop your interests.

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