Student Qualifications & Admission Requirements 

To qualify for admission, applicants must demonstrate strong enthusiasm and ability for the vigorous pursuit of scientific knowledge. Minimal requirements include a bachelor’s degree and undergraduate preparation in the sciences. The program in Bioinformatics requires a strong grounding in mathematics and quantitative sciences (e.g. computer sciences, physics and chemistry). 


Strong consideration is given to letters of recommendation, particularly to comments from individuals who have firsthand knowledge of the applicant’s research experience.


All of our Programs conduct personal interviews as part of the application process. Invitations for interviews are usually sent out between late December and early January depending on the program.


Harvard University's policy is to make decisions on the basis of the individual's qualifications to contribute to Harvard's educational objectives and institutional needs. It is unlawful, and contrary to Harvard University policy, to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to job or course of study requirements.

Applying to a Program in DMS 

To apply to a DMS program, you should select "Division of Medical Sciences" as your program of choice from the pull down menu at the "Select degree program" box on the Degree Programs page. Then using the pull down menu at the "Select area of study" box right below this, you must select one of these six specific subject areas within the Division of Medical Sciences.


  • Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics (BIG)

  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences(BBS)**

  • Immunology

  • Neuroscience

  • Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT)

  • Virology


Those wishing to do research in Biochemical and Biophysical Mechanisms, Cancer Biology, Cellular Systems and Mechanics, Computational Biology, Developmental Biology, Genomics, Human Biology, Immunobiology, Metabolism and Physiology, Molecular Genetics, Microbial Systems and Infectious Disease, Molecular Neuroscience, Proteomics, Regenerative Biology, Stem Cell Biology, Structural Biology, Synthetic Biology or Therapeutics usually apply through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program.  Applicants wishing to do research in Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics (BIG), Immunology, Neuroscience, Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT) or Virology should apply directly to the relevant program.


If you are unsure which program is best for you, please clarify this in an additional letter accompanying your application.


**BBS applicants should complete the "Areas of Interest" form on the online application.

Application Fees & Deadline

The cost to apply online is $105.00 U.S. (subject to change) The online application fee must be paid by credit card, no other form of payment is accepted. Your application will not be processed unless payment is submitted and received.


Applications for the 2019-2020 academic year will open in the fall.  Applications will have a submission deadline December 1, 2018 5:00 PM EST.  All applications must be submitted by this date in order to be considered.  A completed application includes submission of the online application form, scores from the Graduate Record Examination (General Test), and official transcripts. Applicants whose native language is not English, and who have not received a bachelor's degree from an English language institution, must meet minimum score requirements on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).


All materials, including letters of recommendation and official reports of the GRE, must be received by the application deadline.


Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

This year DMS has changed its policy on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General scores. If you are applying to BBS, Immunology, Neuroscience or Virology, the GRE is optional. However, both the BIG and SHBT strongly recommend that you submit GRE scores with your application.


The GRE Subject test is also optional; if you choose to take a subject test, you can take it in the subject of your choice. When requesting GRE score reports, be sure to indicate the receiving institution as Harvard University, Graduate Division, Arts and Sciences code 3451. No department code is required.


We strongly recommend that applicants who wish to submit GRE scores take the GRE General test no later than September 2018 to ensure that score reports arrive in time to be considered.


Scores are valid for five years.  They are valid from 9/1/2014 onward for the 2019 – 2020 application year. For more information, visit the GRE website or call the Educational Testing Service at 609-771-7670.


Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission.  Applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must submit scores from the Internet based test (IBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Box 899, Princeton, NJ  08541. 


When requesting official score reports, be sure to indicate the receiving institution as Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Code 3451.  If an "Applicant’s Score Confirmation Report" is available, scan and upload it as a pdf to the online admissions application.  However, the official institutional score report sent by ETS to the Graduate School (3451) is still required.  A minimum of 100 on the Internet based test (IBT) on the TOEFL is required for consideration by the Division of Medical Sciences' programs.  No test other than the TOEFL IBT will be acceptable as proof of English Proficiency.


Applicants holding only a master’s degree from an English-language university will need to provide scores for the TOEFL test. This requirement cannot be waived.


Applicants who took the TOEFL more than two years ago (i.e. before September 1, 2017, for fall 2019 admission) must retake the test. For more information, visit the TOEFL website at or call the Educational Testing Service at 609-771-7100.


Financial Aid 

Applicants to the Division of Medical Sciences, other than international applicants to the SHBT program, should NOT­ complete the Statement of Financial Resources for Graduate Study. These students receive full tuition and stipend support while they are enrolled. International applicants to the SHBT program who are not permanent legal residents of the US must complete the Statement of Financial Resources for Graduate Study.


Letters of Recommendation 

We do not accept any paper letters of recommendation. Be sure to register your recommenders’ information in your application, as all recommendation letters must be submitted online.  Paper letters of recommendation will NOT be included as part of your application.

Application Deadline

The application for Fall 2019 matriculation is now closed.

In order to apply to one of the six programs within the Division of Medical Sciences:

  1. Select "Division of Medical Sciences" from the program selection drop down menu
  2. Select from the subject drop down the Ph.D. subject for which you are applying:
    • Bioinformatics & Integrative Genomics (BIG)
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)
    • Immunology
    • Neuroscience
    • Speech & Hearing Bioscience Technology
    • Virology


Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Admissions process, please click here.


Contact Information

DMS Student Affairs Office

Harvard Medical School

TMEC 435
260 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 02115

(617) 432-0162

© President and Fellows of Harvard College