Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Coat of arms of the School
DeanEmma Dench
Administrative staff
Location, ,

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is the largest of the twelve graduate schools of Harvard University.[2] Formed in 1872, GSAS is responsible for the majority of Harvard's post-baccalaureate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The school offers Master of Arts (AM), Master of Science (SM), and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in approximately 56 disciplines.[3]

Academic programs offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have consistently ranked at the top of graduate programs in the United States.[4] The school's graduates include a diverse set of prominent public figures and academics. GSAS has produced the vast majority of Harvard's Nobel Prize-winning alumni. In addition to scholars and scientists, GSAS graduates have become U.S. Cabinet Secretaries, Supreme Court Justices, foreign heads of state and heads of government.

History and organization[edit]

GSAS was formally created as the Graduate Department of Harvard University in 1872 and was renamed the Graduate School of Harvard University in 1890. Women were not allowed to enroll in GSAS until 1962.[5]

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences forms part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), along with Harvard College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Harvard Division of Continuing Education. The dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who reports to the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is charged with the responsibility of implementing and supervising the policies of the faculty in the area of graduate education. In the administration of academic policy, the dean is guided by the Administrative Board and the Committee on Graduate Education. The dean is assisted by an administrative dean of GSAS, who has day-to-day responsibility for the operations of the school, a dean for admissions and financial aid, and a dean for student affairs. While the GSAS office oversees the processing of applications, financial aid and fellowships, thesis guidelines, and graduate student affairs, the individual departments, centers, and programs in FAS retain considerable autonomy in the administration of their respective graduate programs.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences oversees GSAS and is responsible for setting the conditions of admission, for providing courses of instruction for students, for directing their studies and examining them in their fields of study, for establishing and maintaining the requirements for its degrees and for making recommendations for those degrees to Harvard’s Governing Boards, for laying down regulations for the governance of the school, and for supervising all its affairs. The dean of GSAS is responsible for implementing and supervising the policies of the faculty in the area of graduate education. In the administration of academic policy, the dean is guided by the Administrative Board, the Graduate Policy Committee, and the Committee on Graduate Education.

In addition to its own Masters and PhD programs, GSAS nominally oversees the PhD programs in Harvard's professional schools: the Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, the basic science departments in Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Design, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Academic Programs[edit]

The Graduate School of Arts and Science is home to a number of departments, including:

  • African and African American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Astronomy
  • Bioengineering
  • Celtic Languages and Literatures
  • Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  • Computer Science
  • The Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • English
  • Germanic Languages and Literatures
  • Government
  • History
  • History of Art and Architecture
  • History of Science
  • Human Evolutionary Biology
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Music
  • Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • South Asian Studies
  • Statistics
  • Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

Student life[edit]

Dudley House is the center of GSAS student life on Harvard Yard

As of 2016, Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences had 4,255 students, of which approximately 200 were enrolled in master's programs, with the remaining students pursuing PhDs. 46% of GSAS students are women, 30% of students are international, and 12% are underrepresented minorities. 20% of GSAS students pursue degrees in humanities, 26% in social sciences, and the remaining 54% in natural sciences.[6]

GSAS students have a dedicated space on Harvard Yard, known as the Dudley House. Unlike Harvard's twelve undergraduate "houses", Dudley is non-residential and serves primarily graduate students. It also fulfills the administrative and social functions for the few Harvard undergraduates who choose to live off-campus. Graduate students who wish to dine on-campus do so at Dudley, which features a full-scale dining hall, as well as a smaller cafe. The house also provides study spaces and rooms for leisure activities.

Financial aid[edit]

GSAS guarantees full funding for all PhD students for five years, which covers tuition, health fees, and living expenses. The PhD funding packages include a combination of tuition grants, stipends, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and other academic appointments.[7] Although master's candidates are not guaranteed full funding, depending on their home department they often receive financial support covering at least half of tuition and fees. Depending on the program and availability of resources, some master's candidates may receive no funding, whereas others may secure full funding and a stipend.


Conant Hall, as seen in 2017
Perkins Hall, as seen in 2013

As of 2017, Harvard's GSAS guarantees housing for all first-year graduate students, as long as the students apply for accommodations by April 22.[8] GSAS offers housing through several on-campus residence halls, as well as Harvard-owned apartments, both on and off-campus. In addition, approximately 100 GSAS students live in Harvard’s undergraduate houses and freshman dorms as resident tutors and proctors.[9] GSAS residence halls include the following:[10]

Conant Hall[edit]

Constructed in 1894, Conant Hall was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, reflecting the Georgian architecture of freshman residences found around Harvard Yard. It was built with funds gifted by Edwin Conant, whose name the building currently bears. Originally consisting of 29 suites, Conant has since undergone numerous renovations and currently houses 84 single rooms.

Perkins Hall[edit]

Perkins Hall was built in 1893 according to the design of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Consisting of 154 single rooms, Perkins is the oldest of the GSAS residence halls currently in use at Harvard. The funds for its construction were donated by Catharine Page Perkins, the widow of an oil tycoon, in memory of her husband's family. Perkins was originally intended to house undergraduate students from modest circumstances but as the number of graduate students increased, it was converted into a graduate residence. In the early 1900s, Perkins Hall was at the center of controversy involving "homosexual activity" at Harvard, and the university administration's attempts to suppress it, an affair that later became known as the Secret Court of 1920.[11]

Richards Hall and Child Hall[edit]

Designed by the German modernist architect Walter Gropius, Richards and Child Halls were built in 1949. Richards is named after the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Theodore Richards, while Child Hall takes its name from Francis J. Child. The two residence halls are constructed on the former Jarvis Field, where the first American football game was played in 1874. Child Hall houses approximately 100 students and Richards Hall houses over 70. The lawn space includes Richard Lippold’s “World Tree” sculpture, a 27-feet-tall steel construction designed to be climbed by students.


  1. ^ GSAS at a Glance, Harvard University, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  2. ^ GSAS is the largest of Harvard's twelve graduate and professional schools when measured by the number of degree-seeking students.
  3. ^ History: Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  4. ^ Harvard University: Grad School, U.S. News & World Report, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  5. ^ History: Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  6. ^ GSAS at a Glance, Harvard University, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  7. ^ Funding and Aid, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  8. ^ Housing Options for Graduate Students, Harvard University, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  9. ^ Fact: Housing and Dorms, Harvard University, Retrieved: 7 April 2017
  10. ^ GSAS Residence Hall Handbook: 2017-2018, Harvard University, Retrieved: 24 August 2017
  11. ^ Wright, William. Harvard's Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals. St. Martin's Press: 2006

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°22′25.1″N 71°7′6.3″W / 42.373639°N 71.118417°W / 42.373639; -71.118417