Harvard PhD social policy acceptance rate

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) admissions have grown slightly more competitive with the acceptance rate of 20% and consider the record of academic achievement of great importance. In the latest factual year, roughly, 1,100 students got enrolled in this renowned institute of the US Education System.

More than 4,000 professionals across all sectors and from more than 150 countries participate annually in the suite of executive education programs of the university. Hence, the school is ranked among the best university-affiliated research centers in the world and offers a broad range of academic opportunities. It offers 4 master’s programs and more than 35 open-enrollment programs for candidates seeking to study in the USA by enrolling at the institute. 

Some salient points regarding admissions at Harvard Kennedy School are as listed below.

  • The school opens applications once in a year for Fall season only.
  • Applicants may upload the supporting documents while making the online application on their official website.
  • Every year, the majority of students are provided with a financial aid package in the form of loans and scholarships.
  • Transcripts must be sent in a sealed envelope or must be electronically mailed for all educational institutions attended
  • Scores of examinations like GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and IELTS are necessary to determine the competitiveness of the applicant. 
  • No exam is given preference over the other and it is upon the Admission committee to decide whom to select and whom not to.

A student can expect career development and some good placements as almost 4000 jobs and internships are targeted annually at the institute. As per the data of the previous years, it is observed that 538 graduates of the school work in 52 countries and territories, 30 U.S. states and Washington. 


Application PortalOnline portal
Application Fee (International Applicants)100 USD
Acceptance rate20%
Minimum GPAB
Mode of PaymentCredit card or check
Academic CalendarSemester-based
Intake SeasonsFall
Work ExperienceRequired for Graduate Programs
Financial AidWork study, Loans, Fellowship and Scholarships available

Harvard Kennedy School Acceptance rate 

Getting into Harvard Kennedy School is not a cup of tea for everyone. About 20% of the total applicants get a chance to study here. According to HKS, making an application and submitting documents are not guarantee admission. There are some factors HKS considers while shortlisting candidates for admissions. Factors are the following:

  • Schools evaluate applicant potential to work for public welfare
  • Applicants who demonstrate leadership experience, professional experience get an edge in admission
  • Applicants with relevant skills needed for rigorous coursework get preference
  • Strong writing and communication skill is one the mandatory skill-sets requires for admission at Harvard Kennedy School
  • At last candidates with relevant work experience get preference

Harvard Kennedy School Admission Deadlines

The institute provides a plethora of courses for international students. It provides the same application procedure and deadlines whether you apply as a freshman, transfer or international student. 

For master’s programs, the university only provides one deadline each year for fall enrollment only. HKS has declared that the application deadline for the master’s programs admissions will be in early December. The decision of admissions is released in Mid-March.

Admission Application deadline for the 2021-22 academic year was Tuesday, December 8, 2020. HKS will process the application in a few weeks. The deadline for Financial Aid Application is February 4, 2021.

Harvard Kennedy School International Students Admission

Harvard Kennedy School has mandated that the students must have completed secondary education with a college preparatory curriculum, fulfilled the minimum grade point equivalency, provided required official academic records, met the appropriate deadlines, and verified financial support for one academic year. The application process is similar for both international and domestic applicants. However, international applicants need to meet some additional entrance requirements:

How to apply?

Application Portal: Students may apply online at the university’s official website. The application portals are different for the Master, Executive Education, and Doctoral programs-

Application Fee: 100 USD

Admission Requirements: International applicants must satisfy the following requirements in order to be eligible for Harvard Kennedy School admissions:

  • Official GRE and GMAT scores
  • Essay, which varies by programs
  • Additional analytic resume or statement, which varies by program
  • Three strong letters of recommendation
  • All official academic transcripts, certificates, or grade records from the institution that you received your secondary education.
  • Minimum IELTS, TOEFL scores for a proof of English proficiency
  • Applicants who want admission in Law programs need to submit LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) for admission in Medical Programs

Students must mail the admission materials to the admission office of the university also:

Harvard Kennedy School

Office of Admissions

79 John F. Kennedy Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Office number: 617-495-1100

English Proficiency Test Scores

International applicants are required to present TOEFL, IELTS Test scores to demonstrate English proficiency. The minimum required scores by the university are:

TestMinimum score required

Visa Process for International Students

Students can apply for a student visa to study in the USA after the acceptance. Generally, students are issued with an F-1 visa after the completion of all the requirements. Therefore, Aspirants will be required the following documents for a visa interview:

  • Copy of a valid Passport
  • Completed visa application
  • Receipt of visa application fee
  • Passport size photographs
  • I-20 form issued by the university
  • Acceptance letter from the university
  • Scholarship/ Sponsorship Letter(if applicable)
  • Immunization Form
  • Health Examination Form

Harvard Kennedy School Graduate Admissions

The school offers four master’s programs in the field of public policy and administration. The university provides similar deadlines and application procedures for domestic undergraduate applicants as well as international applicants. Even the application fee and the admission requirements are also similar. 

The international applicants can visit the respective online portals to apply for the courses at their desired degree level. However, the program-specific requirements are mentioned below:

RequirementsMaster in Public PolicyMaster in Public Administration in International DevelopmentMaster in Public AdministrationMid-Career Master in Public Administration
Application Fee (Non-refundable)100 USD100 USD100 USD100 USD
GMAT/GREGRE/GMAT requiredGRE/ MAT requiredGRE/GMAT requiredGRE/GMAT required
EssayNot requiredRequiredRequiredRequired
Work ExperienceRequired (2 years)Required (3 years)Required (3 years)Required (7 years)
Professional CV/ResumeRequiredRequiredRequiredRequired
RecommendationsRequired (3 letters)Required (3 letters)Required (3 letters)Required (3 letters)
Admission InterviewBy invitation onlyBy invitation onlyBy invitation onlyBy invitation only

Harvard Kennedy School Doctoral Admissions

Harvard Kennedy School offers four full-time doctoral programs under Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Science. The students are directed to submit their admissions materials directly to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Therefore, the students are required to submit the following documents while applying for the admissions:

  • Completed application form
  • Payment of application fee
  • Academic transcripts
  • Resume/ CV
  • One writing sample
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GRE scores
  • English Language Proficiency – TOEFL/ IELTS
TestMinimum score required

Harvard Kennedy School Executive Programs Admissions

Harvard Kennedy School offers more than 35 open-enrollment programs led by Harvard faculty, Executive Education along with the Executive Certificates in four concentrations areas:

  • Economic Development
  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Public Leadership
  • Public policy

It becomes mandatory for students to complete 3 programs in 6 years to earn an Executive Certificate from HKS. Students are also required to fulfill the general admission requirements such as:

  • Experience – A minimum of 5 years professional experience
  • Education – HKS do not require any formal educational requirements.
  • Language – Candidates must be fluent in spoken and written English.

Note that candidates are requested to send their queries and documents to [email protected]

Applicants are recommended to check the official website of the university for the admission deadlines of graduate programs. Applicants are required to expect the arrival of the decision in March. Students are notified about the application status through an email notification with the confirmation which includes information about the application review process of the university and instructions laid down by it to check the status of the application online. 

The curriculum at the institute is very demanding and the applicants should be equally competitive, merely meeting the general requirements does not guarantee an applicant a place. It is observed that the college looks for leadership qualities and students who demonstrate public service.

The Harvard Kennedy School, one of the top colleges in the USA, also seeks applicants who can demonstrate good writing and speaking skills. Even after meeting the general admission requirements, it might so happen that an applicant is not selected because the applications received are far more than the numbers that can be admitted. Therefore, early applications are advised with all the required admission documents.

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