Information for Prospective Students


What degrees are granted by the Romance Languages and Literatures Department?

Students are admitted for the purposes of obtaining the PhD degree. Admitted students may earn a master’s during their time in the program, but no students are admitted for the purposes of gaining the master’s degree only.


What is the deadline to apply?

The application deadline is December 1st at 5 PM EST. The application closes promptly, and no extensions are provided.


What materials are required for the application?

1. Application form with all information provided (statement of purpose must be in English)

2. Transcripts

3. Reports of current GRE test scores (valid for five years)*

4. Current TOEFL or IELTS score if this requirement applies to you (valid for two years)*

5. CV

6. A writing sample of your best scholarly work in your chosen language of study; not to exceed 15-20 double spaced pages.

7. Three letters of recommendation (in English; if not in English, a certified translation will be required of all admitted students prior to registration)

Prospective applicants in Romance Languages and Literatures often ask about criteria for admissions decisions. The committees assess scholarly promise based on each student's dossier as a whole. We expect high GRE scores of our applicants. We consider test scores to serve as likely indices of academic potential, but also place them in the context of the candidate's overall profile. The GRE code is 3451.

The required minimum TOEFL score is 80 on the Internet-Based Test. Admitted candidates who score below 80 on the IBT will be required to retake the test obtaining a minimum score of 80 prior to fall term registration.

All applicants should note that our Master’s degree is not terminal. Students who enroll in Harvard’s graduate program in Romance Languages do so with the goal of obtaining a Ph.D. The Graduate School provides generous and competitive financial support to its Ph.D. students. Many funded opportunities are available for travel abroad, such as research and/or teaching fellowships and exchanges sponsored by Harvard and outside institutions.

* Note: Test score reports
If you have personal score reports available, please scan, upload, and attach these to your application. If you do not yet have your official scores by the application deadline, please self-report them on the form; ETS transmits scores to us regularly.




Do I need to have a master’s degree in order to apply to the PhD program?

A Master’s degree is not required to apply to the PhD Program. Admitted students with prior master’s degrees may be eligible to transfer credits for courses taken as a part of the master’s program, to be counted in fulfillment of the PhD requirements.


When will I hear whether I have been accepted into the program?

Final admission and waitlist offers are typically announced in the third week of February. 


If admitted, what is the deadline to officially reply with my decision?

The deadline to officially reply to the admission offer is April 15th.


How long does it take to complete the program?

Typically, the program is completed within 6 to 7 years. The Timetable for Obtaining the PhD provides an overview of a standard progress to degree.


What are the academic requirements of the program?

The first two years of graduate study are spent on coursework. Normally, students take 16 four-credit courses during the first two years, with the possibility of credit given for work done as a part of a master’s program. Specific course requirements can be found in GSAS Policies. A First Year Exam is taken at the conclusion of the second term, and the General Exam by the end of the third year. This is followed by a Prospectus and completion of dissertation chapters.


What financial support is provided to PhD students?

Admitted students receive a standard funding package which guarantees full financial support- including tuition, health fees, and basic living expenses- for a minimum of five years (typically the first four years and the completion year. This includes a combination of tuition grants, stipends, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and other academic appointments. Additional details can be found on the GSAS Funding and Aid website.




Should you need any additional information please contact Kathy Hanley at