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Post by: Mikaela Allen, MTS 2019, HDS Office of Admissions Graduate Assistant

Note: This post has been updated to reflect the requirements for those applying to admission for the 2020-21 academic year.

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


How many times can I apply to HDS?

You can apply to HDS a total of three times, regardless of the program or combination of programs. For example, this means that if you applied for the MTS once, and the MDiv twice, you may not reapply to any program even though you did not apply to the same program three times.

I began an application last year but did not submit it, does that count against the number of times allotted to apply for HDS? 

Nope! If you began an application but did not submit it, it does not count for one of the three times you are allowed to apply. It only counts if you submit your application. However, our office does keep files for three years, meaning that even if you started but did not submit an application within the last three years, but did send official test scores or transcripts to our office, we do still have those on file. If you have any questions about this, please do reach out to us at admissions@hds.harvard.edu.

Will any of my materials transfer into my new application if I decide to reapply?

The first step to reapplying is completing the reapplication form found within the Instructions tab of the application. To be eligible to use the reapplication form that allows you to reuse materials from a previous application for the 2020-21 application cycle you must have previously applied for either the 2017-18, 2018-19, or 2019-20 application cycle.* Because our office only holds files for three years, if you applied at a date outside these years and have not exceeded three applications, you may still reapply, but you will have to resubmit all documentation and should not submit the reapplication form.

If you are eligible to use the reapplication form, you must submit it by January 2nd, 2020 and prior to the submission of your application. This will allow you to reuse the following materials if they have not changed since your previous application:

  • Transcripts in which nothing has changed since your previous application (e.g., graduation date, final grades)
  • GRE score report that will be valid as of this year’s application deadline for your program. Please contact ETS if you have any questions about the expiration date for your GRE score report. Please note that the GRE is now optional for all applicants.
  • TOEFL/IELTS score report that will be valid as of this year’s application deadline for your program. Please contact ETS or IELTS if you have any questions about the expiration date for your TOEFL/IELTS score report.

You must still submit anew the following materials, even if you are eligible to use the reapplication form:

  • A new online application form
  • $25 application fee or approved waiver
  • A new statement of purpose
  • Updated résumé or curriculum vitae
  • At least one new official letter of recommendation from a previous recommendation provider or from a new recommendation provider
  • A new essay (MDiv and MTS applicants only)
  • Your valid TOEFL/IELTS score report (if applicable), if your previous TOEFL/IELTS score report has expired

Will the fact that I was not accepted last time impact my chances of acceptance this time? What if I was previously accepted but could not come to HDS due to personal reasons?

If your application was previously denied and you decide to reapply, this will not impact your new application. HDS is a very competitive school, meaning that fantastic applicants are denied admission each year. Even though you should consider working to strengthen your application between applications, rejection does not necessarily suggest that you were not a competitive applicant.

In the case that you were previously accepted to HDS but rejected our offer for personal reasons, you might consider discussing this briefly within your SOP to show the admissions committee that you are now prepared to attend HDS if you are admitted to the program.


That wraps up our “How to Apply” series! We hope that these posts have been helpful for you as you prepare your applications. If you have any further questions, please do reach out to us at admissions@hds.harvard.edu.