I am a master student in Mathematics. I got a scholarship that would pay me a 1-year stay (including housing etc.) at Harvard University. All I need to do, is to apply for admission as a Special student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (and be admitted of course).

Searching through the internet, some people indicated that admission as a special student is a: if you pay, you are in-system. Is this true? Or is admission as competitive as the one for regular students in the PhD programms?

  • 2
    Hi, and welcome to Academia.SE! Unfortunately, you really need to ask people at Harvard about this, rather than strangers on the internet who are not in a position to tell you how this particular program at Harvard works.
    – jakebeal
    Jan 5 '16 at 15:43
  • You need someone from Harvard to write a letter for you or you must be really good. This program was very selective: the students basically get the same rights, including voting and have their names engraved, as other students.
    – High GPA
    Apr 24 '18 at 1:44

You need to check on the rules at Harvard, but in general, "special student" generally means that a student is allowed to take courses but not to get a degree from the university. The phrase "non-degree seeking student" is also sometimes used for this status.

It can be easier to be admitted as a special student than as a regular student, but it's also typically hard (as hard as getting admitted as a regular student) to switch from "special" status to regular degree seeking status.


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