Harvard Divinity School was established in 1816 as the country's first nonsectarian theological school. It is dedicated to educating future leaders in religious life and thought with the resources and support of the wider Harvard University. Seminaries are typically affiliated with a particular religious denomination, and may or may not be affiliated with a larger university. We recommend that you contact the denominational seminaries that interest you for additional information about their programs, resources, and student life. We are happy to share detailed information about HDS.
Our graduates go on to a wide variety of professions and vocations, including ordained and lay ministry; chaplaincy; higher education teaching and research; public and private secondary education; community development, advocacy, and human services; management and consulting—especially nonprofit; public policy, law, conflict resolution, and mediation; arts, publishing, communications, and media. The training HDS students receive is meant to prepare graduates for important work across fields.
No. Our applicants have completed degrees in a wide variety of disciplines, primarily focused in the humanities. If you have not completed any coursework in the humanities, we suggest completing a course or two in your proposed area of study before applying.
Yes! Students come to HDS from a variety of spiritual and religious backgrounds, including non-religious backgrounds. We have a number of students that are not affiliated with a religious tradition. What all HDS students share in common is a willingness to explore the complexities of religious thought and life through academic curiosity and practical engagement.
HDS offers both merit- and need-based grants for students enrolling in the MDiv or MTS programs. Approximately 90% of students receive some form of financial aid, the vast majority of which is need-based grant aid. HDS has a small pool of merit aid that is awarded based on the overall strength of the application. Merit award decisions are made by the admissions committee at the point of admission and are final.
The majority of grant aid is awarded through our need-based grant program, which requires an application process. US Citizens and eligible non-citizens will be required to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the HDS Application for Financial Aid. The FAFSA can be submitted after January 1 of the year you intend to apply for admission. Instructions for how to complete the HDS Application for Financial Aid are generally available in mid-January and are emailed to prospective students once they have submitted their application for admission. The deadline for applying for need-based financial aid is generally in mid-February. We strongly encourage all applicants to apply for need-based institutional grants. If an applicant does not receive merit funding and did not apply for need-based institutional aid by the deadline, there is a very strong possibility that we would not be able to review late applications. Admitted applicants will receive either merit-based institutional grants or need-based institutional grants. They will not be awarded from both pools of funding.
HDS also participates in the Federal Work Study and Federal Loan Programs which are open to US Citizens and eligible non-citizens. For specific information on those programs, as well as other programs and policies, please visit the Financial Aid section of this website.
Online courses are not offered at HDS. Those who are interested in online learning through Harvard might consider Harvard Extension School, which offers courses on religion taught by HDS professors. Please note, however, that coursework completed at the Extension School will not lead to a degree at HDS.
Harvard Divinity School does not accept transfer credit. However, after satisfactory completion of at least one full semester of coursework at HDS, students in the MDiv program may be considered for advanced standing for work completed at another institution prior to enrollment at HDS. Guidelines and information about obtaining advanced standing are provided in the HDS Handbook for Students.
We offer a joint doctoral degree in religion with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at Harvard University, but the PhD application process is solely managed by the Committee on the Study of Religion through FAS. The Committee on the Study of Religion can answer your questions about the PhD in Religion degree program, requirements, and application process.