Frequently Asked Questions

Student panel at 2013 TED

General Questions

What is the difference between Harvard Divinity School and a seminary?

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.

What can I do with an MDiv or MTS degree?

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.

I am not affiliated with a particular religious or spiritual tradition. Is there still a place for me at HDS?

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.

Do you offer scholarships or financial aid?

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.

Application Process

How do I submit my transcript?

Applicants are required to upload unofficial transcripts from each postsecondary institution that they have attended in the academic history section of the application. All transcripts should show courses completed, grades received, duration of study, and degree or diploma received, if applicable.

Please keep in mind that you will need to provide official transcripts (and translations, if applicable) for verification, should you be admitted. HDS reserves the right to withdraw an admissions offer if there is a discrepancy between an applicant’s uploaded transcript and official transcript or translation.

Do I need to provide transcripts for study abroad programs?

If you studied abroad and your courses and grades are listed on your home institution's transcript, then you do not need to upload a separate study abroad transcript. If the coursework and grades for your study abroad program are not listed on your home institution's transcript, then you are required to upload a separate transcript from your study abroad program that shows the coursework and grades.

What if I am currently a student and won’t have my fall semester grades by the application deadline?

You should upload a transcript with grades through the preceding term. Please report your GPA up through the prior semester, if applicable.

It is generally not necessary to provide an updated transcript with fall semester grades during the application review process. However, if you are admitted to HDS and choose to matriculate, you will be required to submit an official, final transcript showing all grades received and degree(s) conferred in the summer prior to enrollment.

I have changed my legal name, and it differs with the name listed on one or all of my application materials. Do I need to take extra steps?

Yes. If your legal name differs from the name listed on your test scores, transcripts, or other supporting documents, you must also provide notarized documentation of your name change by your degree program’s application deadline. If you changed your name due to marriage, please send a notarized hard copy of your marriage certificate to the address below. If you changed your name for any other reason, please send us a notarized hard copy scan of your passport.

Please mail all notarized documents to:
Office of Admissions
Harvard Divinity School
14 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

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