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Editor’s Note: Here in the Office of Admissions, one of the most common questions we hear is, “How can I write a strong statement of purpose?” One thing strong statements of purpose tend to do is show how HDS is the right place for them to do the work they hope to pursue. Strong statements of purpose also tend to tell us about the applicant’s general background information, how this background has prepared them for graduate study at HDS, and their vocational or career objectives. We also want to emphasize that because our applicants have such diverse goals and interests, and because our programs are so flexible, there is no singular type of applicant who would be the “right fit” for HDS. Rather, we’re looking for applicants to show us how HDS is the right fit for you! 

You can learn more about the details of the statement of purpose here. To help you brainstorm for your statment of purpose, we’ve gathered a collection of current HDS students who’ve told us about why they chose HDS.  

Mary Perez (MDiv ‘22): I’ve found a space that honors and supports the integration of my intellectual and spiritual life. In the HDS community, I am free to be myself⁠—in the complexity of my identity, in my questions about my faith tradition, and in my wonderings about how to live my vocation.

Margaret Hamm (MTS ‘21): HDS was right for me because of the unique opportunities that help me to learn and grow both inside and outside the classroom. At HDS, I’m able to grow as a scholar through the amazing courses HDS has to offer, but my interactions with classmates through events like Noon Service and Community Tea have impacted me just as much. 

Lóre Stevens (MDiv ‘22): As a Unitarian Universalist and an atheist, I need to learn about and thrive in contact with many different traditions, which HDS intentionally nourishes. I also hope to bring my perspectives of queer feminist mestizaje to this community and widen HDS’ current boundaries of whose theologies are centered. 

Kaitlin Wheeler (MTS ‘21): As an incoming first year MTS student with a focus in religion, ethics, and politics, HDS offers expansive opportunities to discover my vocation as an aspiring journalist through its immersive J-Term experiences, riveting conversations in the classroom, and challenging discussions of current political, economic, and social problems. I hope to study how refugees affected by climate change use religion as tools for resilience and survival in their host countries. HDS allows me to find professors and students who offer intellectual and emotional support in this life journey. 

Fernando José Benetti (MTS ‘21): From the very beginning when I was not yet certain where I was going to apply, I noticed that HDS was particularly interested addressing questions of underrepresented identities. As a queer Latin man, I feel that HDS is the perfect environment to develop my academic interests and grow as a human being in society. 

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Although we can’t look over statement of purpose before submission, we’re happy to answer questions that you have about writing it, or any other questions you have about HDS. Just email ask_students@hds.harvard.edu, and you’ll hear back from one of our Graduate Assistants. We hope to hear from you!