Program Selection

Students apply to a program and once admitted, perform lab rotations during their first year in order to select a dissertation advisor. Student do not need to secure a dissertation advisor prior to applying.

Most applicants apply to one program, and we strongly recommend this targeted approach. While prospective students are encouraged to carefully choose the program that best fits their academic goals, interested applicants may apply to up to three HILS programs and pay only one application fee. If you elect to apply to three programs, only two may be programs in the Department of Medical Sciences. Each application must be unique, containing a tailored statement of purpose and separate recommendations.  *Please note that an individual may submit up to three applications during the course of their academic career to the Graduate School of Arts and Science of which we are a member. Applications to HILS affiliated programs count toward the limit of three. The submission of additional applications may result in the withdrawal of the application.

To apply to BBS, 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, select "Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)".

How to Apply

For detailed information about the application, please visit the GSAS Admissions website and click on "Required Application Materials" and "Completing Your Online Application" half-way down the page.

A complete application consists of:

  • Online application form
  • Application fee payment ($105)
  • Transcripts uploaded to the application
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Demonstration of English proficiency, where required

Areas of Interest

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.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

BBS will not consider GRE scores if submitted.

Demonstrate English Proficiency, Where Required

Adequate command of spoken and written English is essential to success in graduate study at Harvard. Applicants who are non-native English speakers and who received their undergraduate degree from an academic institution where English is not the primary language of instruction must prove their English proficiency by earning either a minimum score of 100 on the Internet based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a minimum score of 7.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test. Applicants who took tests more than two years ago must retake them. No test other than the iBT TOEFL or the IELTS Academic will be accepted as proof of English proficiency; a master’s degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency.

For those students planning to submit TOEFL scores, please arrange to have an official score report sent to the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using code 3451. If you have a copy of your Score Confirmation Report, you can upload it to your online application for consideration by the admissions committee. However, you will still need to ensure that Educational Testing Service sends an official score report.

For those students planning to submit IELTS scores, please note that we will only accept official IELTS Academic scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center via the E-Delivery service. Scores from the IELTS General Training module are not accepted. At the time of test-taking, please specify Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a score recipient. We do not accept IELTS paper Test Report Forms nor do we verify Test Report Forms (TRFs).

Applicants unable to take the TOEFL IBT, IELTS or IELTS indicator exams may apply without these scores, and if programs recommend these applicants for admission, their admission will be provisional until they provide scores from one of the accepted tests that demonstrate the required level of English proficiency.

Financial Aid 

Applicants to the Division of Medical Sciences,  should NOT­ complete the Statement of Financial Resources for Graduate Study. DMS  students receive full tuition and stipend support while they are enrolled.

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.

Statement of Purpose

For your statement of purpose, you want to describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in BBS, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. As part of your statement of purpose, please also include a description of your research accomplishments or current projects. In the event that undergraduate research opportunities were not available to you, describe other science projects, reading projects, etc. that you undertook.

Fee Waivers Available

We are 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. A fee waiver can be requested in the "Applicant Fee" section of the application.

Application Contacts

Application questions: Please refer to the GSAS Admissions website, call  617-496-6100 (please call between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday), or contact

Degree program questions: If you still have questions after carefully reviewing the DMS Programs to which you are applying, reach out to

To speak with a staff member from the Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs, please contact or 617- 495-5315.

COVID-19 and other extenuating circumstances

We realize that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, recent natural disasters, and other extenuating circumstances may have significant impacts on applicants’ academic and personal lives, including the ability to provide all required application materials prior to our stated deadlines. We understand that these impacts may extend to recommenders and offices at institutions previously attended.

If any of these conditions apply to you, we encourage you to apply, even if required materials are missing. Our application form includes a section for you to let us know about any of your materials that may be unavailable or delayed. This information will be shared with the appropriate admissions committee and your admissions decision will be based on the materials available at the time of review. Please note that even though the online application system may indicate that your application is incomplete, it will still be reviewed by the appropriate admissions committee.

If you are able to gather missing materials after the admissions deadline, you will find that our application system does not allow applicants to attach new materials to an application once it has been submitted; please contact the GSAS Office of Admissions at for assistance. Any materials that become available before the admissions committee has finished deliberating will be passed along for consideration.

If your application is incomplete and you are denied admission, GSAS will not count it toward our lifetime limit of three total applications that an individual may submit.