Essay Questions

This section of the application will show (1) your research interests and vision for your scientific career and (2) your reflections on a short reading. Please take your time to complete these essays. We suggest working on them over multiple days and with real reflection. However, responses are not meant to evaluate you as a whole person.

The online application has sections to upload a response to each prompt as a separate PDF. Each can be limited to about two pages but may be longer.

Essay 1 - Research Interests
Researchers and students at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) study a range of disciplines, theoretical and observational. We pair students with advisors who are conducting research similar to their interests.

Research at the CfA:
Harvard Astronomy:
Harvard Physics:

Section 1 (Essay 1)

Please describe your current research interests in astronomy and astrophysics. This can include previous work you may be interested to build on or simply a vision for the future of a specific field that you find compelling.

Section 2 (Essay 1)

After browsing the links above, please list three (3) professors*, researchers, or postdocs whose research you are interested to be part of. Explain why.
*Remember, some professors have joint appointments at the University and therefore may have more information on their department sites.

Essay 2 - "A Test That Fails” (Miller & Stassun 2014)
Our programs prove that opportunities to promote social justice exist in all arenas, including astronomy and astrophysics. The STEM fields and the scientists who compose them are awash in the same racial and cultural biases that affect greater society. Respond (from any perspective) to the reading linked above.

This reading should bring to mind many ways that formal academic application processes—including this one—should be improved. In what ways (if any) do you feel you have been molded by standardized testing? How would you prefer to see yourself be evaluated by an admission board? Is there usefulness to limiting access to science education? You are not required to respond to these questions specifically.