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How do I apply?
We accept all necessary documents through our online application system.
What is the application deadline, and when are decisions released?
The application deadline is Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST, and admission decisions will be released in late March 2016. Please visit our website and the HKS Admissions Blog regularly for any updates. There is no spring admission.
May I apply to more than one master's degree program at HKS?
You may apply to only one master's degree program at a time.
Does HKS accept transfer students?
HKS does not accept transfer credits.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
We prefer to receive letters that are written specifically for Harvard Kennedy School rather than generic letters. They should be prepared and submitted by academic or professional references; we do not recommend that you submit letters from friends, coworkers, etc. Please avoid having all three letters come from academic references, but any other combination beyond that is fine.
HKS requires three letters of recommendation for all applications. Please do not submit more than this amount.
Is an interview required to be considered for admission?
Interviews are not a required part of the admission process. Our Admissions Committee may contact applicants on a case-by-case basis.
Do I need to be fluent in a foreign language in order to apply?
We have no foreign language requirement.
Do I need to have a particular academic major or work experience?
Students come to Harvard Kennedy School from a range of academic and professional backgrounds. We do not look for a particular academic major or type of work experience among our applicants. Rather, we evaluate their potential to work for the public good.
If your academic or professional background varies from the proposed course of study at HKS, your application should address how an HKS education will help you transition to a new career path.
May I submit additional materials to supplement my application?
You should submit only the required documents. Additional writing samples, compact discs, recordings, and newspaper or magazine articles will not be considered and will be discarded.
I've taken undergraduate and graduate courses at a number of schools. Which transcripts should I submit?
You are required to submit transcripts from any college or university that you attended -- even if the coursework was not part of your degree program. Courses, credits, grades, and the grading scale must be included in the transcript. Unofficial transcript copies may be uploaded to our online application system for consideration; however, official copies will be required for individuals who are admitted and accept our admission offer.
HKS requires you to submit transcripts from schools from which you transferred, took summer courses, or studied abroad -- unless those courses, credits, and grades are included in the transcript from the school where you graduated.
If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, we do not need to wait for your fall grades. We require proof of your enrollment from the registrar's office that lists your current courses. Do not send transcripts from high school, lycee, etc.
May I reapply if I was not admitted previously or if I declined my admission offer?
We keep application materials for all degree programs on-file for three years, after which they are destroyed. To reapply, you must submit a new application; however, you may reuse your valid test scores, academic transcripts, and letters of recommendation if you are reapplying within three years after submitting your previous application. Read more about reapplying to HKS.
What do you look for in an applicant?
HKS is a school of leadership and public service. Successful candidates typically demonstrate leadership experience and commitment to the public good, which are qualities often displayed through professional experience and volunteer work during and after college.
Our curriculum is demanding, and we look for applicants with the skills needed to manage rigorous coursework. Course requirements vary by program; however, quantitative coursework is part of the curriculum for all programs. Previous coursework in micro- and macroeconomics, and multivariable calculus is required for the MPA/ID Program. Coursework related to quantitative methods (e.g. economics, mathematics, and statistics) is recommended for our other degree programs. Applicants lacking quantitative coursework are strongly encouraged to take these classes prior to applying.
Successful candidates also demonstrate strong writing and communication skills. Work experience is preferred, and some degree programs have specific work experience requirements. Read more about our degree programs for more information.
How do I apply for financial assistance to attend HKS?
You will receive an email after you submit your application, which will include instructions on how to use our online system to apply for financial assistance.
What other resources are available to help fund my HKS education?
We encourage you to learn more about external funding opportunities on the HKS Student Financial Services website.
What is the minimum or average GPA or GRE/GMAT score for successful applicants?
Our Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach to evaluating applications. Many factors are considered, including essays, prior academic performance, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores.
We are looking for strong academic achievement and quantitative ability among applicants; however, we do not have a cutoff grade point average (GPA), or cutoff scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
Which standardized tests are required?
The GRE or GMAT is required of all applicants to the HKS master's degree programs except for those who are applying to the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration Edward S. Mason Program or to the Wexner Israel Fellowship.
Either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are required of all applicants to both the two-year and mid-career programs, whose native language is not English or whose four-year undergraduate degree program was not conducted entirely in English.
The minimum TOEFL scores to be considered for admission are:
The minimum overall IELTS band score is 7.
I have been out of school for a long time. How important are my GRE or GMAT scores?
Although standardized test scores are an important measure of academic ability, our Admissions Committee pays close attention to the quality and depth of an applicant's professional experience and potential if it proves to be extensive.
Do you look at all of my GRE scores if I take the test more than once?
Our Admissions Committee will look at all of your scores.
Do you have an online or distance-learning program?
HKS does not offer such programs.
May I take classes at other schools or departments at Harvard?
You may cross-register into other Harvard schools, or at the Fletcher School at Tufts University or select departments at MIT. Typically, students are permitted to take one course per semester at another school.
Is student housing available?
Harvard University Housing is an option for students. Please visit their website for more information.
May I study part-time or in the evening only?
HKS does not offer part-time programs. Classes may not be taken only at night.
HKS Admissions Blog
We encourage you to visit the HKS Admissions Blog regularly to learn more about the admissions process, stay up to date on important dates and deadlines, and read more about our school, faculty, and students.
Where may I find copies of Harvard's annual security and fire safety reports?
Harvard University is required by federal law (The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, 20 U.S.C. 1092(f), known as the Clery Act) to publish an Annual Security Report and an Annual Fire Safety Report for current and prospective students, faculty, and staff. These reports are prepared by the Harvard University Police Department and the Environmental Health and Safety Department respectively, and can be obtained in hard copy by contacting their offices. Learn more about these reports and the relevant contact information.