By Kailee Traficante, M.Ed ’22
Editor’s Note: Harvard Divinity School is dedicated to increasing the participation by members of historically underrepresented groups in the study of religion. Each Fall we host our annual Diversity and Explorations (DivEx) DivEx Program to provide undergraduate students and recent college graduates who are members of underserved groups with the opportunity to discern whether or not graduate study in religion makes sense for them and their career goals. In this article, we will share all the ins and outs of DivEx, from the application process to what to expect as a participant. At the bottom of the article, you’ll also find links to reflections from some of our amazing DivEx alum about their DivEx experience!
What is DivEx?
The Diversity and Explorations Program, affectionately known as DivEx, is a three-day introduction to Harvard Divinity School and the graduate programs offered. It is designed to give undergraduate students and recent college graduates who have been historically underrepresented in the study of religion the chance to evaluate whether graduate studies in religion might be aligned with their career aspirations – whether they are in ministry, public service, academia, or other fields. At DivEx, prospective students have the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a graduate student studying religion, network with HDS staff, faculty, and students, and get advice about the admissions process.
Tell me more. What can participants expect to do during DivEX?
DivEx packs a ton of programming into just a few days! Participants can expect a variety of informational sessions and panels with representatives from around the HDS campus, including the offices of Student Life, Religious and Spiritual Life, and Career Services.
Participants can also expect to engage in mock classes and faculty talks, attend office hours and tours of campus, and network with DivEx alum. For example, this past year participants attended a mock class where they examined the meaning of forgiveness with Professor Matthew Potts, attended an informal dinner with DivEx alum, took a tour of the HDS library, and had the opportunity to attend the office hours of 20+ HDS professors and denominational counselors!
The final day of DivEx is dedicated to ensuring that participants have all the information necessary to submit a strong application for admission to an HDS degree program. Participants will attend sessions with representatives from HDS Admissions and Financial Aid to learn about all the ins and outs of the admissions and financial aid process.
Beyond the scheduled program, DivEx is a great opportunity to build community with other prospective HDS students from across religious and cultural backgrounds. Thanks to its small cohort model, there is lots of time for participants to get to know one another deeply and share in community with one another. The small-group model also offers prospective students the opportunity to share in their discernment process together as they ascertain whether religious study is the right direction for them.
Should I apply to participate in DivEx? What if I’m not yet certain that I want to complete graduate study in religion?
Yes! Even if you aren’t entirely certain that you want to complete graduate study in religion, you should still apply to DivEx! DivEx is exploratory by design. Part of its purpose is to give students an opportunity to assess whether graduate study in religion makes sense for their unique career goals. Therefore, students who may not have extensive preparation and robust understanding of religious studies would be ideal participants. For example, in prior years, many participants have aspired to be lawyers, educators, or policymakers (and more!) and have used DivEx to determine if studying religion would provide an important intersectionality with their desired field. In particular, we encourage students of color, first-generation students, and/or LGBTQ+ students to apply.
What is the application timeline for DivEx?
While deadlines vary each year, the DivEx application is typically available in the early summer and is due by August. The DivEx Selection Committee tries to release decisions as soon as possible so students have time to prepare for DivEx in advance.
The exact dates of DivEx vary each year, but it typically takes place between September and October ahead of our Prospective Student Open House in late October.
For more information about specific deadlines, be sure to check out the DivEx website during the summer!
What materials do I need to apply?
The DivEx application looks like a mini-version of the application process for our degree programs – applicants will need to submit an online form, personal statement, resume, letter of recommendation, and unofficial academic transcripts.
If you are interested in applying to participate in DivEx it is best to start your application early to ensure that you have time to gather all of these materials. One bonus of completing this rigorous process is that if you do decide to apply to HDS after attending DivEx, you’ll have a good sense of what to expect from the application process!
How much does DivEx cost?
DivEx is free for all participants! We pay for expenses, including transportation to and from Boston, hotel fees, and food.
Where can I hear more about the DivEx Experience?
Several DivEx alumni have shared their DivEx experiences on the HDS Admissions Blog, so be sure to check them out:
- Former Admissions Graduate Assistant, Atéha Bailly (MDiv ‘23), reflects on how his DivEx experience helped him find the answers to three key questions: 1) What types of people are drawn to divinity school? 2) What kind of students does HDS admit? 3) What does HDS look for in an application? in his article “My DivEx Experience.”
- Nathan Samayo (MDiv ‘23) considers how his DivEx experience provided the foundation for his studies at HDS and gave him opportunities for discernment and relationship building across cultural and religious bounds in “What’s at Stake? Important Questions to Consider at DivEx and Beyond.”
- HDS Alum, Natalie Solis (MTS ‘21) discusses her DivEx experience and how it influenced her application process in “DivEx a Year Later.”
If you have additional questions about DivEx and whether it’s right for you, please reach out to HDS Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.