Getting into Harvard Divinity School is highly competitive, with only around 8% to 20% of applicants gaining admission each year. If you’re wondering what your chances are of getting into this prestigious theological school, read on for a deep dive into HDS’s acceptance rate and admissions process.

The short answer is that Harvard Divinity accepts around 1 in 5 or more applicants, so gaining admission is challenging but achievable with a strong overall application.

Harvard Divinity School Acceptance Rate

When it comes to pursuing a graduate degree in divinity, Harvard Divinity School is often at the top of many students’ wish lists. But what are your chances of getting accepted into this prestigious institution?

Let’s take a closer look at the Harvard Divinity School acceptance rate and what it means for prospective applicants.

Overall Acceptance Rate

The overall acceptance rate at Harvard Divinity School is quite competitive. While exact figures may vary slightly from year to year, the acceptance rate typically hovers around 10-15%, but sometimes it’s as low as 8% or as high as 20% or more. This means that out of every 100 applicants, only a small percentage is admitted into the program.

Acceptance Rate by Program

It’s important to note that the acceptance rate may differ based on the specific program you are applying to within Harvard Divinity School. Some programs may have a higher acceptance rate, while others may be more selective.

It’s recommended to research the acceptance rates for your desired program to get a better understanding of your chances.

For example, the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School is known for being highly competitive, with a lower acceptance rate compared to other programs. On the other hand, the Master of Theological Studies program may have a slightly higher acceptance rate.

How HDS’s Acceptance Rate Compares to Other Divinity Schools

When comparing Harvard Divinity School’s acceptance rate to other divinity schools, it’s important to consider the reputation, resources, and academic rigor of each institution. While Harvard Divinity School is known for its high standards and selectivity, there are other top-ranked divinity schools with similarly competitive acceptance rates.

For instance, Yale Divinity School and Duke Divinity School also have acceptance rates in the range of 10-15% and sometimes up to 50% to 65%. These schools, along with Harvard Divinity School, are often considered the top choices for those seeking a rigorous education in divinity.

It’s worth noting that acceptance rates should not be the sole factor in determining where to apply. Each divinity school has its own unique strengths, faculty, and programs. It’s important to thoroughly research and consider factors such as curriculum, faculty expertise, and campus culture when making your decision.

Why Getting Into Harvard Divinity is Competitive

Harvard Divinity School, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is renowned for its excellence in theological education. As a result, the acceptance rate at Harvard Divinity School is highly competitive, making it a challenging endeavor for prospective students.

There are several factors that contribute to the competitiveness of the admissions process.

Prestige of the Harvard name

The prestige associated with the Harvard name is a significant factor that contributes to the competitiveness of getting into Harvard Divinity School. Harvard University is globally recognized for its academic rigor, distinguished faculty, and rich history.

As a result, the Divinity School attracts a large number of highly qualified applicants from around the world. The reputation and prestige associated with the Harvard name make it a sought-after institution for those pursuing a career in divinity.

Small class size

Another reason why getting into Harvard Divinity School is competitive is the small class size. With a limited number of spots available each year, the school is highly selective in its admissions process.

This allows for a more personalized and intimate learning environment, but it also means that the competition for admission is fierce. The small class size ensures that only the most qualified and exceptional candidates are accepted, making the admissions process highly competitive.

Holistic admissions process

The holistic admissions process employed by Harvard Divinity School is another reason why getting accepted is highly competitive. The admissions committee looks beyond just academic achievements and considers a range of factors when evaluating applicants.

This includes assessing the candidate’s personal statement, letters of recommendation, community involvement, and relevant experiences. The holistic approach ensures that a diverse and well-rounded cohort of students is admitted, but it also means that the competition is fierce as applicants need to excel in multiple areas to stand out.

How to Improve Your Chances of Admission

Aim for high grades and test scores

One of the most important factors in gaining admission to Harvard Divinity School is achieving high grades and test scores. Admissions committees look for candidates who have demonstrated academic excellence and a strong commitment to their studies.

To increase your chances of acceptance, focus on maintaining a high GPA and aim for competitive scores on standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT if required. Additionally, taking challenging courses and pursuing academic opportunities in related fields can demonstrate your dedication to the field of divinity.

Write a compelling personal statement

Your personal statement is your opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. It is crucial to craft a compelling essay that effectively communicates your passion for divinity and your potential contributions to the Harvard Divinity School community.

Be sure to highlight any relevant experiences, such as volunteer work, research projects, or leadership roles, that demonstrate your commitment to serving others and exploring issues related to religion and spirituality.

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your writing, as admissions committees appreciate genuine and authentic voices.

Secure strong letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation provide insight into your character, abilities, and potential for success in divinity school. Seek out individuals who can speak to your academic abilities, personal qualities, and dedication to the field.

Professors, advisors, or mentors who know you well and have observed your commitment to your studies and the field of divinity are ideal candidates to request recommendations from. Remember to give your recommenders ample time to write strong letters and provide them with any necessary information about your achievements and goals.

Visit campus and interview if possible

While visiting the Harvard Divinity School campus may not be feasible for everyone, if you have the opportunity, it can greatly enhance your application. Visiting campus allows you to get a feel for the school’s environment, interact with current students and faculty, and gain a deeper understanding of the program and its offerings.

Additionally, some schools offer the opportunity for interviews, either in person or through video conferencing. Interviews provide a chance to showcase your enthusiasm for divinity and engage in meaningful conversations about your goals and aspirations.

By implementing these strategies, you can improve your chances of gaining admission to Harvard Divinity School. Remember, the admissions process is highly competitive, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and present a strong application that highlights your unique qualities and dedication to the field of divinity.


While gaining admission to Harvard Divinity School is certainly competitive, it’s within reach for applicants with outstanding academics, strong essays and glowing recommendations. Understanding HDS’s holistic review process and low acceptance rates can help you submit the best application possible.

With thoughtful preparation and a compelling personal statement, you can maximize your chances of joining the HDS community.

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