The Division of Medical Sciences (DMS) at Harvard Medical School with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University offers six interdisciplinary programs leading to a PhD degree. These six programs share a common purpose: to foster a stimulating and supportive environment for research training in the biomedical sciences.

DMS students are members of many different communities at Harvard. The below diagram summarizes the major organizational structure of graduate education at Harvard (relevant to DMS).

org chart



The Division of Medical Sciences was established at Harvard University in 1908 to provide students wishing to pursue careers in research and teaching with a broad education in basic biomedical science fields and specialization in one of them. Classroom and laboratory instruction are conducted primarily by approximately 650 faculty members of the basic sciences departments and affiliated hospital laboratories of the Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston. The Ph.D. degree is awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) of Harvard University. For over 100 years, this fruitful collaboration has spawned research achievements across the spectrum from basic science to experimental medicine. Since 1909, over 2,800 Division graduates, including six Nobel Laureates, have gone on to distinguished careers in biomedical research, university teaching, and a number of increasingly diverse careers.

The creation of the Division was the outcome of considerable discussion and negotiation of a proposal made by Professor James Minot and adopted by the Faculty of Medicine on January 5, 1907. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, however, modified the proposal, recommending that the Ph.D. program should be administered by "means of a joint committee of the two Faculties." The proposal was adopted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on November 17, 1908. The joint committee later became known as the Division of Medical Sciences.


Around 1950, predoctoral fellowships were awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to individual students. Training grants to departments began to appear in the late 1950's and the early 1960's.

The Ph.D. program in Virology was created at a general meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on March 8, 1983.

Notable Alumni

Nobel Laureates:
Edward A Doisy
Ph.D., 1920, Bacteriology
Physiology and Medicine, 1943
James B Sumner
Ph.D., 1914, Biological Chemistry
Chemistry, 1946
John F Enders
Ph.D., 1930, Bacteriology
Medicine and Physiology, 1954
Christian B. Anfinsen
Ph.D., 1943, Biological Chemistry
Chemistry, 1972
George H. Hitchings
Ph.D., 1933, Biological Chemistry
Physiology or Medicine, 1988
Martin Chalfie
Ph.D., 1977, Physiology
Chemistry, 2008
Jennifer Doudna
Ph.D., 1989, Biological Chemistry
Chemistry, 2020