The department's programs, many of which are interdisciplinary or linked to research in other departments, constitute a frontier of scientific vision in organismic and evolutionary biology. Modern research facilities, combined with the natural history collections and libraries of the Harvard University Herbaria and the Museum of Comparative Zoology, provide unique opportunities for meeting the challenges inherent in this pursuit.

How Does Admission to OEB Work?

The OEB graduate program is a direct admission program. This means that our students do not normally do rotations, but instead are admitted to work with a specific faculty member. Therefore, a key component of any successful application to OEB is for the student to make direct contact with prospective advisors before they apply (please note, affiliate faculty cannot serve as primary advisors of OEB graduate students). For a list of faculty accepting 2022-2023 students please visit the OEB Department Faculty page.

The best approach is to email the faculty member of interest with a personal note explaining your research experiences and interests, and include a CV. Information on the research interests and contact information of our faculty can be found here. Faculty may ask to speak with you on the phone, by Skype, or even to visit campus before the admissions cycle begins. These contacts are critical because our admission process weighs multiple factors; the most important of which is the quality of the student’s application, incorporating grades, test scores, research experience and letters of recommendation. However, it is also necessary for the prospective advisor to approve admission.

What is the General Timeline of the Admissions Process?

  • September - November:  Contact prospective advisors and discuss your research interests, potentially including a campus visit.
  • December:  Submit your application online by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on December 1.  Students considering graduate work should visit the GSAS Office of Admissions and Financial Aid online.
  • January:  Applicants will be notified if they are invited to the OEB interview event.
  • Early February:  Interview event at Harvard.  This event is by invitation only.
  • Late February - Early March:  Final admissions decisions are made.

OEB's graduate program is part of Harvard's Integrated Life Sciences Program (HILS). A description of recommended academic preparation, requirements, and admission and financial aid procedures and deadlines are available online through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) website.

If you have further questions about the OEB Graduate Program, please don't hesitate to email us at