About the application process

BBS Admissions is now a two-step process.  In the first step, our Admissions Committee performs a careful review of electronically submitted applications and letters of recommendation and then selects a number of exceptional candidates to visit our program.  In the second step, our invited candidates will visit BBS on one of two weekends (February 6 - February 9, 2014 or February 27 - March 2, 2014).  To help us find the very best fit of candidates for BBS, the visit includes individual interviews for each candidate with several of our faculty, plus we organize a series of social events and informal interactions with our students as well as student and faculty presentations to help each candidate decide if BBS is right for them.  If travel is impossible for some candidates, we can offer interview by video conference, but we feel strongly that seeing our community in person is the best way to understand what BBS has to offer.  Candidates selected for an offer of admissions in BBS after the interview are then recommended for acceptance by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), and are notified as soon as possible by email and phone call.  Applicants who have not received an invitation to interview by January 15, 2014 should expect to receive a letter from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, regretfully informing them that they have not been accepted.  These letters are generally sent in March.


How to Apply

Once you enter the application and click on "program selection" you must scroll down to "Division of Medical Sciences" under the heading "Please select your program".  Once you select "Division of Medical Sciences: you would then select "Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)" under the Subject tab.


The application is located here.


Application deadline: December 2, 2013, 5:00 PM EST


General 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 calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry, both physical and organic. Strong consideration is given to letters of recommendation, particularly to comments from individuals who have firsthand knowledge of the applicant's research experience.

GRE and TOEFL Requirements

GRE Tests:

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General test is required. The GRE Subject test is 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 take the GRE General test no later than October 2013 to ensure that score reports arrive in time to be considered.

Scores are valid for five years.  They are valid from 10/1/2008 onward for the 2014– 2015 application year.


For more information, visit the GRE website at or call the Educational testing Service at 609-771-7670.

English Proficiency/(TOEFL Test):

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. TOEFL scores are valid two years from the test date.


For more information, visit the TOEFL website at or call the Educational Testing Service at 609-771-7100.

Completed Application 

Your application is complete when the following materials are submitted:


Online Application must include:


  • Statement of Purpose
  • Scanned and uploaded CV (.pdf preferred)
  • Scanned and uploaded student copy of your GRE, TOEFL scores (.pdf preferred)
  • Scanned and uploaded student copy of your transcript/s from all institutions where courses were taken after the equivalent of American high school (.pdf preferred)
  • Scanned and uploaded certificates, or any other items you deem pertinent (.pdf preferred)
  • Letters of Recommendation (NOTE – DMS requires online submission of all letters of recommendation.  DMS does not accept paper letters of recommendation.)
  • Application Fee


Items sent via postal mail:


  • Official Transcripts


Items sent by ETS:


  • Official ETS GRE General Test Score Report sent to code 3451
  • Official ETS TOEFL (if required) Test Score Report sent to code 3451


The only materials DMS will accept in paper form are Official transcripts and official GRE and TOEFL scores.  Any other items sent to DMS by mail will NOT be included as part of your application.


Letters of Recommendation 

DMS does 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.

Once your application is submitted it can no longer be altered.  Please make sure you have a complete application (see above) before submitting your application.


Important Information About Applying

2014 Application Deadline has Passed


The application deadline for September 2014 matriculation has passed. The application for Fall 2015 admission should be available in September 2014.


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


The next application deadline will be December 1, 2014 at 5:00pm


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Please click here to see the answers to many commonly asked questions.


Contact Information


DMS Student Affairs Office

TMEC 435; Harvard Medical School
260 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 02115

Telephone: (617) 432-0162



What is considered a completed Application


Items uploaded to online application:

  • Completed online application
  • Statement of Purpose
  • CV
  • GRE Scores - student copy
  • TOEFL Scores (if applicable) - student copy
  • Transcripts - student copy
  • Certificates & other pertinent information (if applicable)
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • $105 application Fee


Items sent via postal mail:

  • Official Transcripts

© 2013 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College