Editor’s Note: Whether you have recently been admitted to HDS or you are considering applying, we know you may have questions about where you will live while completing your degree program. For students who are not already in the Boston or Cambridge area, looking at housing options can be particularly confusing and stressful. We hope this post provides more clarity on the various housing options that HDS students can choose from. While the ongoing pandemic has left us with some unanswered questions about what exactly fall term will look like, we advise students to plan to be on campus in the fall.Continue reading
Narrowing down your options can be nerve-wracking especially when you are choosing between multiple programs that will help you meet your personal and career goals. Here is some advice on how you can go about narrowing down and comparing your options.
Consider All Factors
Make a list of what you are looking for in a graduate program and all the factors you want to consider. Then rank that list in order of importance. You should be honest with yourself when considering all aspects of a graduate program. If location or housing options are important to you, be sure to include it on your list. While that might feel less important than focusing on solely academic criteria, it is important to consider all parts of your graduate school experience. Also take time to look at the resources that the program offers. This might include things like grants, fellowships, libraries, field education opportunities, and so on.
Post by: Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21, Graduate Assistant
Since incoming students are starting to think about housing, we thought it would be helpful to run two articles from last year about housing options in the Boston area:
- Our On-Campus Housing article covers options like the Center for the Study of World Religions and Harvard University Housing.
- Our Off-Campus Housing article will give you a sense of what features to consider when searching for places to live.
Please note that these articles were published last year, so the deadlines have changed. Because of COVID-19, the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) is not open for summer lodging this year. Applications for CSWR housing during the 2020-21 academic year are due May 29, 2020. To participate in the Harvard University Housing lottery, apply by May 15, 2020.
We wish you the best of luck with finding your new home!
Post by: Julia Reimann, MDiv ‘22, HDS Office of Admissions Graduate Assistant
Editor’s Note: No matter where you might be in the admissions process, a glimpse into a new student’s experience at Orientation can help give you a sense of the kinds of programs and facilities that are available at HDS.
Hi everyone! My name is Julia Reimann and I am one of the new Graduate Assistants in the Office of Admissions here at Harvard Divinity School. As a first-year Master of Divinity student, the last few weeks have been filled with orientation activities, campus renovation, and checking out classes for shopping week. During shopping week, students can visit any classes they might be interested in taking. The course registration deadline happens after we’ve all had a chance to explore.
For those of you who don’t know, HDS’ Andover Hall (soon to be Swartz Hall) is under renovation, which has slightly altered the campus map. Jumping into school after a few years away sometimes feels overwhelming, but it has been comforting to realize that our entire campus and community is in a similar time of transition and new beginnings.Continue reading
Post by: Mikaela Allen, MTS 2019, HDS Office of Admissions Graduate Assistant
For the second post in our series on housing at HDS, we decided to cover not only the resources available to find off-campus housing, but also to give our best tips and tricks for finding housing in the greater Boston area. We hope this information will prove helpful to you as you begin your housing search this summer.Continue reading
It is the first day of orientation at Harvard Divinity School. I am sitting under this little canopy at one of those generic plastic pop-up tables drinking free coffee and eating a free bagel. (Even before you hear about religious pluralism and the commitment to social change and the historic
function of the Divinity School as a site of training learned ministers, you learn that HDS is going to give you free food. Lots of it.) But then you do start learning about that other stuff, and it begins with the people whom you encounter. My new classmates – these previously unaccounted for entities with whom I will be spending the next two years – start sitting down next to me.
That’s just the way it is here. It turns out that what all the ‘prospective student’ brochures told us was actually true: no two people are interested in the same thing, and HDS is a place where we not only embrace that diversity but actively encourage everyone to go wild with their education and make it their own.
First there’s someone who’s Jewish but wants to study Hinduism. Next is an ordained Buddhist minister who grew up in an evangelical Christian context. A self-avowed atheist humanist who’s pursuing a Master of Divinity (a degree that, until quite recently, was offered only to those pursuing Christian ministry). A secularist who identifies as ‘spiritual but not religious’ and wants to pursue interfaith chaplaincy. A Muslim who’s interested in the complexities of Islamic scholarship in a western academic context. A wholly nonreligious person who’s interested in the ways that methodologies in religious studies can be brought to bear upon the study of literature. The list goes on. That’s just the way it is here. It turns out that what all the “prospective student” brochures told us was actually true: no two people are interested in the same thing, and HDS is a place where we not only embrace that diversity but actively encourage everyone to go wild with their education and make it their own.
At this particular moment, the only thing that unites us is that we’ve made it, and now that we’re finally here, we’re all totally freaking out. There’s not one among us who wasn’t, by around mid-March, compulsively refreshing their emails to see if we had gotten in. We went through the ecstasy of receiving our admissions letters, the discernment of whether to accept, the ordeal of finding an apartment in the area, and the bittersweet task of leaving behind wherever it was we were coming from. Now we’re all sitting around these little pop-up plastic tables, drinking our free coffee, meeting each other for the first time, and each and every one of us has this look on our faces that says: “Oh crap. I’m actually at Harvard.”
The promise of HDS is located in precisely this unsettling disorientation, this project of continually asking us to discover and re-discover who we are and what we want to do.
Of course, this doesn’t last too long. Orientation has to start, and we begin to channel that rush of nervous energy into actually doing stuff. There are speakers, degree panels, breakout sessions. We meet our advisers and start selecting our classes. Some of us have existential crises and possibly a minor breakdown about what it is that we’re actually studying here [cough, me, cough]. But slowly, gently, we begin to glimpse a vision of ourselves as students at HDS, and we like what we see, so we keep going. Step by step.
At the time of this writing, it’s been a month since orientation. I’m going over some of my notes I took during one of the sundry information sessions, and one line in particular stands out to me. I was sitting in a session facilitated by Dudley Rose,professor, coordinator of the M.Div. program here, and local legend. In speaking of some of the elements of HDS’s degree requirements, he cracked a wry smile and said, “Sometimes we want this to be a sort of unsettling disorientation for you.” An unsettling disorientation. Nice. I couldn’t help but think that, in fact, that’s exactly what we were all going through at just that moment. The whole irony in calling those first few days our “Orientation” is that they weren’t really orienting us in any particular direction at all. HDS, we are coming to learn, wants to give us the boat and the paddle and some sketched maps, send us out into the vast oceans of religious scholarship and ministry, and say: “find your own way.”
That’s why HDS is awesome. The promise of HDS is located in precisely this unsettling disorientation, this project of continually asking us to discover and re-discover who we are and what we want to do. Over and over, I hear my fellow students saying the same thing: “I came here expecting to do one thing, but now that I’m here, I’m realizing that actually what I want to do is….” That’s okay. That’s actually what we came here for. You don’t come to a non-religiously affiliated, multifaith, endlessly diverse divinity school because you’re looking to learn more of the same. You come here because you know, perhaps in some pre-rational intuitive kind of way, that you’ll encounter difference here, and that difference will have something to teach you. Orientation, it turns out, is the first step on a disorienting, uncertain, and (for that reason) revelatory path that’s taking us directions we’d never thought we’d go, and transforming us into people we never knew we could become.
Recently, as a graduate assistant in the Office of Admissions, I was fielding questions in a virtual chatroom from prospective HDS applicants. Most of the questions were the typical ones you’d expect: What degrees are offered at HDS? Is HDS affiliated with a particular denomination? How does financial aid work? Some were a little more specific: What’s field education and why is it required for all MDivs? Can you tell me more about the Boston Theological Institute? What’s campus life like at HDS?
But there was one question I hadn’t been expecting: Keith, could you tell us what you like the most about HDS?
For context, I am a first year MDiv, this was only my second week of class, and my time at HDS thus far had been a blur. My days consisted of rushing out the door each day for morning prayer at Memorial Church, followed by an advanced Spanish course I was cross-registered in at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and then off to my other classes on Religious Pluralism or Ministry Studies or Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, followed by discussion sections, my Hear and Now interfaith group, late nights in the comfy chairs on the second floor of Andover-Harvard Library chipping away at my mountain of reading, and finally my bike ride home, where I would collapse in an exhausted, but happy, heap on my bed, wake up the next morning, and do it all over again.
I loved my classes, the worship services, my readings—all of it. But I hadn’t had much time yet to process it all. And upon reflection I realized that my favorite part of HDS thus far was the in-between time, the few gaps in my schedule, because it was during those times that I had started to build friendships with my classmates. During a break, I’d mosey outside to the quad, inevitably bump into someone, and strike up a conversation: about Boston, or our classes, or specific readings. Just the night before, I had ended up sitting in the grass with two classmates completely geeking out over some obscure philosophy text. On another occasion, a conversation about various Christian practices led to a group of us attending a local church service that weekend.
My classmates fascinate me. They come from all walks of life, from all over the US and the world, from an array of religious traditions, all with deep-seated convictions. From them I’ve already learned about Zen Buddhist monasticism, interpretative approaches to Nietzsche, Latin American Liberation Theology, and Greek Orthodox contemplative practices, not to mention the best bars in the Cambridge, books that change lives, and life hacks for poor graduate students (tip #1: shop at market basket). I’ve quickly realized that though HDS offers leading scholars, top-notch academics, unimaginable opportunities, and access to University-wide resources, its greatest resource may be the students who study here. I look forward to learning from as many as I can, one impromptu conversation at a time.
David Waters, newest graduate assistant for the HDS Office of Admissions, has quite the resume. From his time in the Navy to his participation in our Diversity and Explorations Program (DivEx), David ultimately chose to attend HDS to study the intersection of religion, literature, and culture. David looks forward to talking with prospective students about the DivEx program and about life at HDS!
This is the fourth post in our Neighborhood Spotlight series. To catch up on earlier installments in this series, read Part I, A Love Song to Davis Square, Part II, An Ode to Union Square, and Part III, A Tribute to Harvard Square.
For those of you who consistently hunger for a beautiful view of the Charles, let’s start at the Smoot bridge before we head to Central Square. With the Boston skyline on either side and Cambridge straight ahead, even the crankiest New Englanders find it hard not to enjoy the views on this bridge.
Oh, Harvard Square, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
- I love that you’re so conveniently located, a place where everyone goes to meet for food, drinks, and merriment. Relatedly, no one has ever told you that you’re too far to visit (cough cough), unlike Davis or Union square.