Q&A with the Office of Career Services

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Editor’s Note: One of the advantages of going to HDS is the ability to access the resources and guidance of our Office of Career Services! Please enjoy this Q&A with Laurie Sedgwick, Coordinator at the Office of Career Services. 

We are excited that you’re thinking about Harvard Divinity School! The Office of Career Services is committed to helping HDS students along their career journey. We hope this Q&A format addresses some of the questions you might have as a prospective student considering attending HDS.   

What is the value of a degree from HDS? Can you provide some examples of career paths of graduates? 

The HDS degree equips you with a range of skills beyond the academic curriculum that can benefit you for many career paths. Some of these skills include a facility with engaging in a pluralistic environment, multi-disciplinary thinking, analytical skills grounded in theory, competence in written and oral communication, and language proficiency.  

As far as career paths go, HDS graduates find meaningful work in a variety of career fields, from ministry (across religious faiths), to work in non-profit, education, law, public policy, the arts, writing careers, and many go on to pursue a PhD or other advanced degree field.   

Photo courtesy of TONY RINALDO, HDS Office of Communications 

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What to Do While You Wait to Hear Back

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21 and Graduate Assistant in the Office of Admissions 

We’ve come to that much anticipated time of the year! You’ve finally submitted that application that you worked so hard on, and now you’re sitting here thinking, “Now what?” It might help you to know a bit about what we’re doing on the other end: helping recommenders get their letters in, clarifying transcript details like transfer credits, and making sure all the uploaded documents are legible. We go through each application page by page to ensure that it follows the requirements, and we follow up with applicants if we need more information. Our Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach, which means that we consider all aspects of every application in our decision-making process. Because we receive hundreds of applications, we need time from early January to mid-March to review them in a way that honors your hard work! 

Even though we’re busier than ever, we know that this time can be a stressful waiting period for applicants. Here are 12 tips to help you be relaxed and ready for mid-March: 

Photo courtesy of JONATHAN BEASLEY, HDS Office of Communications 
  1. Celebrate that you turned in your application! You finally finished your application, and that’s nothing to sneeze at! Let’s be honest: writing about yourself in your statement of purpose can be a daunting task. Well, now you’re done with it! 
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Featured Article: Last Minute Application Tips

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, Graduate Assistant in the HDS Office of Admissions

A snowy scene outside 60 Oxford Street on HDS’ campus
Photo courtesy of KATE HOETING

Hi everyone! We hope you’re already having a great start to the year 2020. Since many of you are wrapping up your applications for the January 8, 2020 deadline, we thought it would be helpful to re-post an article from last year called “Last Minute Application Tips.” The article answers some questions you may have about the application as the deadline approaches. 

As always, please email our office at admissions@hds.harvard.edu if you have any last minute questions or concerns. We’re excited to get to know you all through your applications! 

Admissions Staff: What We Wish Applicants Knew

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Editor’s note: As the application deadline draws closer, please enjoy these short excerpts from staff members at the Office of Admissions talking about what they wish applicants knew.

Kate Hoeting, Graduate Assistant, MTS ‘21

When I was applying to HDS, I barely knew about the marvelous HDS Admissions Blog! I promise that I’m not just plugging the blog because I’m the blog’s editor—it really will help your journey through the application process. On the blog, we publish everything from student reflections on life at HDS to nuts and bolts articles about the application requirements. Go ahead and click around! 

Julia Reimann, Graduate Assistant, MDiv ‘22 

I wish more applicants knew about the Ask Students email. Run by the graduate assistants, this email is a great way to connect with a current HDS student and learn more about the opportunities to engage specifically in programs relating to each student’s individual interests. Simply send us a note including your name and interests and we will do our best to connect you to a current student with similar interests. Current students can be a great resource when it comes to learning more about HDS and what life at HDS is like. 

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How to Apply: Writing Sample

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, Graduate Assistant in the HDS Office of Admissions 

This article is part of our “How to Apply” series, which answers common questions about the application process and includes these articles:  

Since the writing sample is a new component of the application this year, I’m adding this article to the series to walk you through guidelines and best practices. We know that the writing sample can be an intimidating part of the application process, but remember that the requirements are open-ended on purpose, and always feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have. 

What does the admissions committee look for in a writing sample? 

The writing sample serves to demonstrate your academic writing ability. You may choose to submit:  

  • An excerpt of an academic paper in any subject area within the humanities or social sciences 
  • An adapted piece of professional writing 
  • An original work that is based upon a topic that you are interested in studying here at HDS 

The writing sample should be 1,000-1,500 words long and give the admissions committee a sense of your strengths in writing, research, and/or critical analysis. 

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How to Apply: Test Scores

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, Graduate Assistant in the Office of Admissions 

This article is part of our “How to Apply” series, which answers common questions about the application process and includes these articles: 

In this article, we walk through the requirements and best practices for the TOEFL/IELTS and the GRE. Please note that the GRE is optional for all applicants! 

 
I. TOEFL/IELTS  

Is the TOEFL or the IELTS required for me?  

All international applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL or IELTS, unless you attended an undergraduate institution where English was the sole language of instruction (e.g. a school in the U.S. or the American University of Paris). Even if your major or all the classes you took were taught solely in English, this policy is based upon the entire institution’s medium of instruction. 

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How to Apply Series

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, Graduate Assistant in the HDS Office of Admissions 

Hi everyone! If you’re planning to apply for the 2020-2021 school year, we hope this blog has been helpful in getting you ready for the January 8, 2020 deadline. Last year, our Graduate Assistants created a wonderful blog post series called “How to Apply” that will walk you through each aspect of the application process. This year, we went back and updated the old articles to reflect this year’s requirements. Here are the articles in our “How to Apply” series: 

Remember that during this busy period for those of you applying in this cycle, the Admissions Office is happy to help! Email us at admissions@hds.harvard.edu or ask_students@hds.harvard.edu.

The Himalayas Brought the Answer

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Post by: Fernando Benetti, MTS ‘21 

Editor’s Note: In this post, Master’s of Theological Studies (MTS) student Fernando Benetti walks us through his complicated path to Harvard Divinity School (HDS). As Fernando’s story shows, our students come from diverse backgrounds and unique experiences—no prospective student’s journey through the application process will be identical to the next. As you read please keep in mind that Fernando’s journey shouldn’t be read as specific advice or requirements for all applicants. In addition, remember that if you’re applying to HDS after already completing another master’s degree like Fernando, your Statement of Purpose should clearly articulate why you need another master’s degree to reach your career or vocational goals. As always, if you have any questions about application best practices, you can email us at admissions.hds.harvard.edu. 

Hello everyone! I’m Fernando, and this is my first post on the blog. I’m excited to be with you all. I’m here to tell you how I decided to apply to Harvard University. I am originally from Southern Brazil and have completed my BA in Cultural History in 2014 in my hometown of Florianópolis. After finishing college, I started traveling the world and visited around thirty countries in Europe, Latin America, North Africa, and the  Middle East. In 2016, I settled in India and started an MA in Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative Religion at Nalanda University, in Rajgir, Bihar. Rajgir is a small village in a rural area. The pervasive peace of the place allowed me to spend long periods studying and practicing meditation without the distractions of big cities. 

My classmates and professors at Nalanda University
Photo courtesy of FERNANDO BENETTI. 
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Reflecting on Theological Education Day

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Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21 and Graduate Assistant in the Office of Admissions 

I can’t believe that Theological Education Day (TED), our annual open house for prospective students, has come and gone! I had so much fun getting to meet you all that it was sad to see you all go. If you couldn’t make it to TED this year, let me offer you a brief overview. 

Graduate Assistant Julia Reimann welcomes visitors on the morning of TED  
Photo Courtesy of KATE HOETING 
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Freedom School

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Post by: Najha Zigbi-Johnson, MTS ‘20, African and African American Studies Concentrator, Freedom School Founder and Leader 

Editor’s Note: For the first time, students at HDS have gathered to create the collaborative, student-led seminar “Freedom School,” which encourages students to bring Black studies into social justice issues in the community. In this blog post, HDS student and Freedom School founder Najha Zigbi-Johnson discusses the goals and pedagogy of Freedom School. 

Freedom School community members 
Photo Courtesy of NAJHA ZIGBI-JOHNSON, MTS ‘20 

Last spring, I had the opportunity to learn alongside a group of incredibly talented and action-oriented students in the seminar, Faith in the Fire: Religious Public Intellectuals, led by Professor Cornel West. Each week, students prepared engaging presentations, and guided our class through animated conversation. I found myself wrestling with the notion of public intellectualism and also the moral responsibility of progressive thinkers to engage in work fundamentally rooted in political activism and cultural change. It was the brilliance of my peers who continue to be engaged in justice-oriented work, the legacy of radical public intellectuals like Pauli Murray and Professor West, and the urgent necessity to involve myself fully in movement building that fueled the creation of Freedom School. In partnership with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, I was able to bring this course to fruition in my desire to engage contemporary Black studies with projects committed to systems-change and equity work.