HDS Postdoctoral Fellows

Junior scholars who have received their doctoral degrees within the past five years may apply to be unpaid postdoctoral fellows. The focus of the proposed research project needs to be aligned in some way with research conducted by one or more members of the HDS faculty.

A postdoctoral fellow is considered an independent researcher and may not register for and take classes for credit. For information on how to audit classes (not for credit) at HDS, please consult the instructions on auditing.

The deadline for applications is January 31 of each year for appointments commencing the following academic year. Candidates will be informed in early March whether they have been accepted as postdoctoral fellows at HDS for one or both terms of the next academic year.

All one-term appointments run from August 1 to December 31 or from January 1 to May 31 (with a minimum stay of at least three months). All full-academic-year appointments begin August 1 and end May 31. Extension of an appointment beyond 10 months is not allowed.

Postdoctoral fellowships are unpaid.

How to apply

An application must contain the following:

  1. Current curriculum vitae;
  2. Description of proposed research project (including a timetable);
  3. Two letters of recommendation from members of the applicant's doctoral committee;
  4. Doctoral studies transcript showing the completion date of the doctorate (if this is not available at the time of application, it must be submitted before the start date of the appointment, or the appointment will be revoked);
  5. A signed statement or email message from a permanent member of the HDS faculty indicating his or her willingness to supervise the applicant's project while he or she is at HDS; and
  6. For those seeking J-1 Visitor Visas, a Certification of English Language Proficiency (PDF) to be completed by the sponsoring member of the HDS faculty sponsor (see Note for Faculty Sponsors: Certification of English Language Proficiency below).
  7. A completed Visiting Scholar/Postdoctoral Fellow Form for Unsalaried Appointment (PDF)
  8. Please put all the information into an email and send it to academicaffairs@hds.harvard.edu.
  9. Your recommenders may also send their letters of recommendation to academicaffairs@hds.harvard.edu.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please also note that no HDS funding is available for a postdoctoral appointment. This is an unpaid appointment. No assistance is available for housing, insurance, moving expenses, visa fees, research funding, office space, etc.

An appointment as a postdoctoral fellow entitles the fellow to a Harvard University ID card (which allows access to the Harvard University Libraries) for the duration of the appointment. Postdoctoral fellows are cordially invited to attend all HDS community and public events. However, HDS is unable to offer courtesy library cards, or appointments, for any additional members of a fellow's family.

HDS receives a large number of requests each year and is only able to accommodate a small number of postdoctoral appointments. Therefore, an extension of the term of the appointment is generally not possible, unless it is with the explicit permission of the associate dean for faculty and academic affairs and is supported by a permanent HDS faculty member.

For further questions, and/or inquiries, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs.

English language proficiency

Note for Faculty Sponsors: Certification of English Language Proficiency

Harvard Divinity School faculty members who are considering sponsoring a postdoctoral scholar who will require a J-1 Visitor Visa should note that they will be required to confirm that the prospective postdoctoral scholar’s English language skills are sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the environment that is required to complete their program, based on the following criteria:

  • Recognized English Language Test (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS);
  • Document from an academic institution or English language school;
  • In-person interview (conversation);
  • Videoconferencing/Skype;
  • Telephone Interview (if in-person or videoconferencing is not possible);
  • Transfer/Repeat Visitor (English language proficiency established in previous J-1 stay); and
  • Other criteria, to be described by the sponsoring faculty member.