Misconceptions I Had When Applying to HDS

Tags

, ,

Editor’s Note: We know that students who are considering HDS may have some preconceived notions about what being a student at HDS is like. In this post, one of our Graduate Assistants, Kate Hoeting, helps dispel some common misconceptions.  

Post by Kate Hoeting, MTS ‘21 

Photo Courtesy of Kate Hoeting

When I was applying to HDS two years ago, I did my research, but I still made a lot of assumptions about what attending HDS would be like. Looking back now, I can’t believe that I had these misconceptions—some of them seem funny because they’re so far off from the truth about HDS. So now, I’m letting you know what my misconceptions were so that you won’t make the same ones. 

  1. I thought all MDiv students were affiliated with a religion. When I was first figuring out which degree program to choose, I didn’t even consider the MDiv because I’m not affiliated with a certain religious tradition. In reality, I could have totally been a nonreligious MDiv! The MTS degree is not at all a degree for analyzing religion from a nonreligious point of view, and the MDiv is not a degree exclusively designed for affiliated folks. At HDS, the lines between these two degrees are blurred.  
  1. I thought that Harvard professors wouldn’t have time for their students. It turns out that assumption couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I have been absolutely floored by the care and dedication that some of my professors have offered up to their students during the pandemic. It’s such an honor to be taught by people who make me feel “star struck,” but also are down-to-earth and ready to offer feedback on whatever projects I’m working on. 
Continue reading

Frequently Asked Questions

Tags

, , , ,

Editor’s Note: For this blog post, we wanted to highlight some of the questions we receive most often in the Ask Students inbox. If you don’t see your question here, we encourage you to reach out to the Admissions Graduate Assistants. 

HDS Photo

I do not have experience in religious studies, is there a place for me at HDS?  

At HDS, we admit students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds. We receive many applications from individuals who have not completed coursework in religious studies and theology. In these cases, the Admissions Committee pays attention to previous coursework in the humanities and social sciences and to the applicant’s demonstrated interests and qualifications. If your work in the humanities and social sciences is limited, you might want to consider enrolling in a course in the field to demonstrate that you are prepared to do graduate-level work in religion. Make sure to use your statement of purpose as an opportunity to demonstrate how your past academic and professional experiences have uniquely prepared you for graduate study in the field of religion. 

My interests overlap with both the MDiv and MTS program, which one should I apply for?  

We receive numerous emails from students who find that both the MTS and the MDiv align with their academic interests. Both degrees will prepare you for a variety of career paths as well as PhD programs. There are some logistical differences between the two programs and the best way to get a snapshot of the two is to look at the comparison chart of the two programs here. We also have recorded panels on both the MDiv and MTS degree programs that you can check out here. We would recommend that you pay extra attention to the MDiv requirements. The MDiv requires a field education component that is optional for the MTS program. Does Field Education feel like an important part of what you want out of divinity school? We’d also recommend asking yourself if you would be interested in courses that involve reflecting on the meaning of ministry and your own personal relationship with religion/spirituality.  If so, then the MDiv might be a better option for you. 

Continue reading

Last Minute Application Questions and Answers

Tags

, ,

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. 

Continue reading

Advice from Current Students as You Finish Up Your Application

Tags

, ,

Editor’s Note: For this blog post, we asked current students to share some words of wisdom to help students as they finish up their HDS application. We know this can be a stressful time, but we hope this insight from current students makes the process a little easier. If you have any specific questions about the application, please reach out to the admissions team

Kenashia Thompson MDiv ’23 She/Her/Hers 

When you finish your application, celebrate! Relax! Kick your feet up! Treat yourself fam! Don’t stress! The decision will come soon enough. You’ve done your part in applying to HDS and this community would be blessed to have you and everything that you offer. Even if you don’t get accepted, realize that you are still ENOUGH and your talents and scholarship in this season are needed elsewhere. This is not the end. I’m rooting for you one trillion percent. 

Lóre Stevens MDiv ’22 She/Her/Hers 

As someone with a previous master’s degree: Know your deep, clear reason for coming to grad school. That reason will be what gets you through, so if it’s fuzzy or absent, this whole experience will be more difficult and less fulfilling. 

Continue reading

Applying to Graduate School During a Pandemic

Tags

, , , ,

Editor’s Note: My name is Jessica Cantos, and I am a current student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in the Higher Education program. Due to the pandemic, my entire HGSE experience will be virtual because my program is only a year long. While zoom classes were not what I expected when I applied to graduate school a year ago, I have been overjoyed with the compassionate and support that professors and administrators have shown students during this challenging time. As I finish up my first semester remotely, I wanted to offer my perspective to students who are considering graduate school at a time where it feels impossible to plan ahead. I hope that the advice and insight offered in this post gives you the confidence and support you need to take this next step.  

Post by Jessica Cantos, Admissions Graduate Assistant

While we are currently planning for Fall 2021 to be back to an in-person, on-campus experience, we don’t know what will happen in the future with the pandemic and public health. If HDS needs to be remote for Fall 2021, we won’t have that decision until late spring or early summer, well after the Fall 2021 application deadline of January 7. Rest assured that if you do apply, are admitted, and accept our offer of admission, and then the decision is made to be remote in the fall, we will work with you to discuss your enrollment options. This blog post is meant to help you navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic and plans to apply to graduate school. 

Deciding to apply to graduate school during any “normal” year feels stressful and uncertain, but even more so during a global pandemic. If you’re feeling unsure whether it is the right time to pursue graduate education, you are not alone! Here are some things to consider as you decide:  

Continue reading

Favorite Classes at HDS: Part 2

Tags

, , , ,

Editor’s Note: This post is the final post of our two-part series highlighting some of the wonderful courses that HDS has to offer. Be sure to take a look at part one of the Favorite Classes at HDS series. If you are interested in exploring more of the course offerings at HDS, please note that the course catalog is public! You can check it out here.  

Alex Jensen MDiv’21 He/Him/His 

I would say, for me, Field Education is some of the most enriching coursework I’ve done at HDS each year of my program. Even though it’s a broader class and so site-specific, I would say it’s helpful in integrating thoughts and ideas from other classes into ministry and service in ways I might not otherwise see. 

Jessica Young Chang MDiv’22 She/Her/Hers 

Theories and Methods of the Study of Religion, surprisingly! While it’s an incredibly challenging class, David Holland and the graduate teacher fellows are accessible, thoughtful, and responsive. Also, the content and theory in the class continue to reflect into other work I’m doing in ways that are consistently useful and surprising. It took a lot of effort, but I’m so glad that I took it. 

Continue reading

Favorite Classes at HDS: Part 1

Tags

, , , , , ,

Editor’s Note: With so many course options, it can be difficult for students to narrow down which classes to take during their short time in graduate school. This blog post part one of a two-part series highlighting some of our current student’s favorite HDS classes. You can read part 2 here. Please note that these are just a few of the great courses HDS offers! The HDS Course Catalog is public, you can check out the other courses offered here. 

Reem Shaikh MTS ’21 She/Her/Hers 

Hadith Jibril: An introduction to the theological, legal, and spiritual dimensions of Islam. I really enjoyed this class because it allowed me to take a break from academia and rather approach religion from a spiritual perspective, which kept me rooted to my love for what I study.” 

Rebecca Mendoza Nunziato MTS’22 She/Her/Ella 

Moctezuma’s Mexico is an incredible course that has helped me connect to my own heritage while also clarifying my research interests. It has been especially interesting to discuss the differences of social stratification, gender, and pandemics then and now.” 

Continue reading

What’s at Stake? Important Questions to Consider at DivEx, HDS, and Beyond

Tags

, , , , , ,

Post by Nathan Samayo

Editor’s Note: This week at HDS we are hosting our annual Diversity and Explorations (DivEx) event, which is a 3-day introduction to Harvard Divinity School and the programs we offer. DivEx is geared towards current undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in exploring divinity school. In this post, former DivEx participant and current HDS student, Nathan Samayo, reflects on his personal and academic background and how participating in the DivEx program has impacted his journey at HDS. 

What a critical time it is to be applying to Harvard Divinity School. A contentious election creeps around the corner whose result could either continue America’s dissonance to its long history of anti-Black racism and xenophobia, or a result that will, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “let our democracy live another day.” We see on our local and social medias the uprisings from marginal communities and allies who denounce state-sanctioned violence, white supremacy that has seeped into every facet of public life, and the legacy of colonialism that altered the land that white America now occupies. We are becoming products of a historical moment where a pandemic has and continues to alter our ordinary lives, bringing to light how broken America’s systems of education, economy, and healthcare have been operating. All these issues and realities ask a similar question—what is at stake? What values and ethics guide us as we advocate and protest for new tangible conditions in hopes of a reconciled world? These questions will be asked to you if you decide to come to Harvard Divinity School, a community committed to transforming you into the change agent you want to be. 

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Samayo
Continue reading

Curious About Entrepreneurship? Meet the Harvard Innovation Labs

Tags

, ,

Editor’s Note: Our students have access to a variety of resources at HDS and across Harvard. Here, we’re spotlighting one of those resources, with an interview with Alexa Barry, the Harvard Innovation Labs Community Coordinator. 

What are the Harvard Innovation Labs? 

First, thank you for interviewing me! I’m excited to connect with prospective Harvard Divinity School students! Harvard Innovation Labs (the “i-lab” for short) is a hub for innovation that connects, supports, and inspires the next generation of leaders, and is a fantastic resource for any full-time, degree-seeking Harvard student. We are actually three distinct labs: The i-lab is open to students at any Harvard school, at any stage of the entrepreneurial journey; Launch Lab X GEO is our accelerator for alumni-led, early-stage venture teams anywhere in the world; and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab supports students, faculty, and alumni working on high-potential life sciences and biotech startups. Whether you have a startup or just want to start thinking like an entrepreneur, we can help. We’re also an incredibly diverse community, and we’re proud to have hosted venture teams with founders from more than 120 countries. 

Photo Courtesy of Alexa Barry

Why is the i-lab’s primary goal? 

Our purpose is to inspire cross-disciplinary connection and venture creation amongst all Harvard students, as well as alumni and faculty. We do this three ways: 

  • Diverse Connections: We aim to create a cross-disciplinary community of innovators and entrepreneurs from all 13 Harvard schools, with a focus on bringing together undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni from a wide variety of backgrounds, life experiences, and areas of expertise. 
  • Experiential Learning: We connect students and alumni with people and resources that can help them move their ideas and ventures forward. 
  • Psychological Safety: We work hard to create a supportive environment that truly nurtures entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. We help students think like entrepreneurs, and we strive to create a sense of connection and belonging.  

Another thing that I’d offer is that being a founder can get lonely! But by creating new points of access to thinkers and founders from many communities and areas of expertise, the i-lab community acts as a kind of beehive for collaboration.  

Continue reading

Reflections on Applying to HDS: Surrender

Tags

, , , ,

Post by Patrick Downes, MDiv ‘23 

Editor’s Note: For students who have been out of school for a few years or are well into their careers, applying to divinity school can be an especially difficult decision. Here is a piece from one of our current MDiv students, Patrick Downes, about his experience deciding to apply to HDS. For a more directed approach to the application process, including a suggested timeline, please see this earlier post from July 2020. 

Forest Park in Queens // Photo Courtesy of Patrick Downes

What becomes of a person who flees a call to vocation, flees the Divine, forever fights and retreats? For me, it felt like an endless winter, an overexposure to cold. I wrestled in snow and ice. The moment I turned in my application to HDS, a moment when my acceptance seemed remote, turned into a moment of quiet. I had stopped fighting, for a little while, with God, and began to suffer less. The discernment that became my statement of purpose, my application, belongs to a surrender. 

Last November, fifty-years-old, I attended the Theological Education Day at HDS, or how it is currently known, Open House for Prospective Students.  I walked from my hotel in Back Bay to the Academy of Arts and Sciences, three miles more or less. I chanced the unfamiliar roads, feeling out Cambridge on a weekday morning. I wanted to think and prepare my heart, to cross the Charles on foot. Walking is for me a form of devotion, a time for attentiveness and witness. To attend the day was to advance toward vocation, to situate myself within a scholarly community that embraces exploration of devotion and the future of religion. 

Continue reading