To apply

Now inviting applications for 2017-2018 academic year

The program is open to Harvard Ph.D. students throughout the social sciences who may apply at the end of their G-1 or G-2 year (1st or 2nd year) of doctoral study. Those selected as doctoral fellows begin the proseminar sequence and other program activities in the upcoming academic year.

New—Extended deadline
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Eligibility and instructions

Harvard Ph.D. students may apply at the end of their G-1 or G-2 year of graduate study for entry into the program in the upcoming academic year. That is, students who will be G-2s or G-3s in September 2017 are eligible to apply.

The Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy is designed for Harvard Ph.D. students in the social sciences, including African and African American StudiesEconomicsEducationGovernmentHealth PolicyPolitical Economy and GovernmentPsychologyPublic PolicySociology, and Social Policy. The curriculum focuses primarily on research from the disciplines of economics, political science, sociology, and social policy. Students with an appropriate social science background from these or other Harvard doctoral programs are eligible to apply.

Both US and international students are fully eligible for Inequality fellowship awards. Although the program began as a National Science Foundation initiative, it is now supported from non-governmental sources, enabling US and international students to participate equally.

When to apply

Applicants may apply at the end of their G-1 or G-2 years. The proseminar sequence requires facility with quantitative research methods. It is strongly recommended that all applicants will have taken two graduate-level courses in quantitative empirical research methods before joining the program.

Applicants selected for the program will be notified by June 30 and begin the proseminar sequence and other activities in September. Once selected for the program, doctoral fellows maintain an affiliation with the program through the dissertation stage of their work.

Application instructions

Students are encouraged to submit their application via email. The application form and recommendation form are writable PDF forms that may be downloaded, completed, and then saved for submission as email attachments. Applicants are urged to save the documents to their computer before beginning any edits and then to test the save process before completing the application form in its entirety. (Mac-users: See additional troubleshooting notes below). 

JFK walkwayThe completed application for electronic submission will consist of the following six items, with items 1-4 collated in a single PDF document and sent to (The two recommendation waiver forms should be sent as separate attachments to the same address). 

  • Application form
  • Research statement
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Unofficial transcript 
  • Recommendation #1 waiver form 
  • Recommendation #2 waiver form

PLUS two recommendation letters to be sent separately: 

  • Two recommendation letters (to be submitted directly by faculty members).

    Applicants should highlight for their recommenders that email submission is encouraged, and that those writing on behalf of multiple students may submit a single letter that briefly evaluates each student in turn. There are 10 fellowships available, with 4 specifically designated for students pursuing research on top-end income inequality and wealth concentration. In some circumstances, these resources might extend to up to 12 fellows.

Troubleshooting for Mac users: Writable PDF application forms work best when completed with the free Adobe Reader for Macintosh, which may be downloaded from the Adobe site. The Apple Preview app does not fully support forms, meaning that your saved pdf form data will not be visible to reviewers using a Windows computer. Although we have found a fix that can usually resolve these issues, it is time consuming to do this for each application. Please help us out by using Adobe or verifying that your application data are viewable on both Mac and Windows before submitting.

Tips for the statement of purpose

In the application itself, much weight is placed on the statement of purpose. In general, the strongest applications will outline a compelling research agenda, with a clear question or set of questions that might form the basis for the student's empirical research in the Inequality program. While the selection committee recognizes that most applicants are still at an early stage, applicants are advised to approach the statement much like a research proposal, outlining with as much specificity as possible why this is an important question or area of inquiry, what preliminary ideas or hypotheses they have, and how they might go about investigating them. 

A final note: relationship to departmental degree programs 

The Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy is a graduate training initiative developed by the National Science Foundation to enrich and extend the work of Harvard Ph.D. students in their disciplinary fields. It is open to Harvard Ph.D. students who apply at the end of their first or second year of doctoral study at Harvard. It is not itself a degree-granting program.

Note: Prospective applicants to Harvard who are seeking admission to a Ph.D. program in this area may wish to investigate instead the Harvard joint Ph.D. Programs in Social Policy, which confers a Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy or the Ph.D. Sociology and Social Policy. These degrees are designed for students who seek to combine deep scholarship in the discipline of  political science or sociology, respectively, with a multidisciplinary perspective on issues of social policy.

What the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy does provide is an extra-disciplinary complement to the traditional program of study. It aims to enrich students' understanding of the complexities of inequality and social policy and to strengthen their capacities to carry out sophisticated research in this domain.

Doctoral students drawn from different disciplines gain opportunities they might not otherwise have to interact and learn from each other, from Harvard faculty across the University, and from the program's network of national and international scholars.