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Editor’s Note: We hope this blog post helps answer any last-minute questions you may still have. Be sure to also check out our How to Apply series and the recorded HDS Admissions virtual events from this semester. Please note that the Admission’s Office is closed until January 1st and will reopen on January 4th. We are confident that you will use the tools we’ve provided and your best judgement as you finish up your application. Best of luck! 

HDS Photo // Courtesy of Kristie Welsh

Can I submit my application before my recommenders submit their letters? 

Yes, you can submit your application before your recommenders have submitted their letters. However, please note that it is your responsibility to remind your recommenders of the deadline and continue to check the status of your materials to make sure they are submitted on time.  

How do I apply for financial aid?  

The application for financial aid will become available AFTER the application deadline. Those who have applied will receive the financial aid application via email. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive the financial aid application information by late January and contact Financial Aid with any questions or concerns. The financial aid application is short and easy to complete. If you are an American citizen or qualified resident, you must also submit the FAFSA. International applicants are not required to submit the FAFSA.  Please note that you only need to include your personal financial information, and not your family’s financial information, on both the FAFSA and the HDS financial aid application.  

Upon submitting your HDS application, you will be considered for merit-based aid. However, you must submit the HDS financial-aid application to be considered for need-based aid.  Approximately 90 percent of students receive some form of institutional grant assistance, and the vast majority of that is need-based aid, so we strongly encourage all HDS applicants to apply for financial aid. 

How do know if my application was correctly submitted?  

Our office receives your application when you click submit and pay the application fee. It is your responsibility, however, to monitor the application checklist to ensure that all your materials have been submitted and received by the deadline. This includes test scores and letters of recommendation. If our office has received these materials, you will see a green arrow next to them on the checklist. In the weeks after the application deadline our admissions staff will begin processing all materials within every application to make sure we have everything we need to review your application. We will contact you directly if there are any issues.  

Once our office’s review is complete, you will see a green check mark at the top of the application checklist reading “all documents have been checked and verified by the Office of Admissions.” If our office has received all application materials and the only red x is the one next to “all documents have been checked and verified by the Office of Admissions,” there is no need to contact us.   

How can I strengthen my application? 

At HDS we take a holistic approach to reviewing prospective student applications. This means that we review each application individually with the understanding that applicants’ unique skills shine through various parts of their application. While past academic performance and test scores are important factors, the Admissions Committee is especially interested in what you say about yourself through the statement of purpose and what your recommenders say about you in their letters.   

As you review your materials, ask yourself: Does my application highlight how my past experiences have prepared me for graduate-level theological study at Harvard Divinity School? Does my application highlight why HDS makes sense for my interests and intended career path? 

If your answer to both questions is yes, then you’ve done what you needed to do to craft a strong application.  

Should I fill out the “Academic Record Concerns” box under the Academic History tab? 

If due to extenuating circumstances there was a period in your academic career where you believe your grades do not accurately reflect your capabilities, it might be helpful to explain what was happening in this section of your application. This way, our Admissions Committee is aware of any personal hardship that may have affected you academically.  

Is there anything I should do once I submit my application? 

Once you submit, you’ll be prompted to pay the $25 application fee. Please be sure to pay the application fee by the application deadline so our office can move forward with processing your application. If $25 presents a financial hardship, there is an application fee waiver request form in the instructions embedded in your application. 
You will also have the option to download a complete PDF of your application. We suggest saving yourself a copy because you will not be able to access your application once it has been submitted.  
You should also monitor your checklist for any test scores or letters of recommendation that may not have been received by our office at the time that you submitted your application. If there are any outstanding documents that you believe we should have received, please contact us at admissions@hds.harvard.edu

I think I am ready to submit but I’m scared I’ve missed something.  

If you have already checked your application materials thoroughly for typos, ensured that you’ve uploaded each of your materials into the correct section, and you’ve reviewed the application information that we’ve provided you, then you are all set to submit. Finally, once you submit make sure to celebrate! Our team wishes you the best of luck.