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Chances, Harvard Divinity School


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Hello! I hope I'm posting this in the right place, I'm not very familiar with this site or how its forums are organized. I was hoping I could get some feedback on the chances I have at Harvard Divinity School, so below I've listed off some core information that I thought might provide a good frame of reference:

I am currently a junior at a small, private liberal arts school in the southern US, where my GPA is 3.8. I am double-majoring in English and History, and will be graduating a semester early (Fall 2016). I am currently an exchange student studying abroad at the University of Wuerzburg in Wuerzburg, Germany, where I have conducted an intensive 6-credit German course (in addition to the year of German language coursework I took prior to studying abroad) and am currently taking an independent study and three other classes. My co-curricular activities include serving as Student Government Vice President last academic year (my second year of undergrad), serving as the first-chair and co-chair to two different SGA committees, serving as president of a campus club, working as a paid research assistant to two of my professors, leading and coordinating a summer youth group with an emphasis on service and social justice at my home church (a United Methodist Church), and involvement as a member in a number of other clubs/organizations (including an environmental sustainability club and a Catholic student fellowship). Additionally, when I return in the Spring, I will be founding my college's chapter of International Justice Mission, an NGO which works to build up justice systems and protect the poor from violence in a number of nations in the developing world. I was invited to IJM's headquarters this past summer in order to discuss the arrangements for the chapter, and I'm very optimistic about it. I have just been accepted into national leadership society Omicron Delta Kappa, and I meet the requirements for three other national honor societies, all of which I will be applying to in the spring with a high probability of induction. I was awarded my college's first-ever women's scholarship, Woman of Vision, this past spring. I have a great passion for service and social justice, and would like to translate that passion into my studies in Divinity School and become better equipped for subsequent work and leadership.

I am very apprehensive about all of the ambiguity surrounding Harvard Divinity's admissions. While the information on their website answered a number of my questions, the fact that the average GPAs of those accepted is really setting me on edge. Is there anyone on here who has been accepted to Harvard Divinity School, or anyone who was rejected? If you could provide any details that you think might shed some light on the candidates they're looking for, I would appreciate it enormously. I am not attending an ivy-league undergraduate institution (although I earnestly believe that the quality of my undergrad education has been fantastic; my professors are some of the finest people I will probably ever meet, and many of them have taken sincere interest in helping me grow in my education), and I don't know if this will hinder my chances of admission.


Sorry this post was so long; thank you in advance for any information you can provide, I'm looking forward to your feedback!

Edited by Noelani
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You're a competitive candidate to be sure. Don't worry too much: for Masters, Divinity Schools with impressive names like Harvard, Yale, Duke etc. aren't as competitive to get into as the names sound. Master's programs at such schools generally have admission rates in the 30%-50% range (with Mdiv admission being higher than MTS/MA). If you've done well in undergrad or in smoother career and can articulate at least a general direction you want to go, then don't worry too much (but apply to more than one school).

For what its worth, I was rejected from Harvard Divinity's MTS program but accepted at several of HDS's peer schools (Yale, Chicago, Princeton Seminary) for similar programs. Like you (and most students at said schools) I did not go to an Ivy League undergrad and was active in scholarship, student life, extracurriculars etc. I don't know what HDS is looking for exactly, hopefully an HDS student can weigh in on that.

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It's more about fit and luck than strictly about numbers. Also, it's about personal statement and compelling story.

Therefore, apply broadly to the peer institutions--as the poster above mentioned--and you will stand a good chance of acceptance to one or more of them. Good luck. 

Edited by Averroes MD
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Thank you both so much, I really appreciate the feedback! Would you mind if I asked what kind of information these schools are generally looking for in the personal statement? I have seen quite a few people post about writing a 'good story,' and I was hoping someone could elaborate on the criteria, or direct me to some samples. Thanks again!

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15 hours ago, doobiebrothers said:

HDS graduate with two close friends who were on the committee over the last four years: you have a great chance! I'm now a very well funded PhD candidate at a top school in my field, so from HDS sky is the limit.

good luck!

Thank you so much, it comes as a great relief to hear that I'm not crazy for thinking Harvard could be an option for me! Would you mind telling me a bit about your experience at HDS? I'm especially interested in gaining a better idea of the kind of community they foster; a friend of mine is studying at a small seminary and has told me that having a close, tight-knit community has made all the difference for her. Would you say you found a comparably supportive and close community at HDS?

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Don't let the name fool you. As it was said above, admission rates hover between 30-50% and that's including the more 'difficult' accepted degrees (MTS/MAR). For the MDiv, many of the top schools are somewhere around 40%+. This means their acceptance rates are higher than many state school MA's in religion. If you do end up at a place like HDS (or its peers), nearly everyone will be from non-ivy schools. Good luck.

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