Krzysztof Gajos

Information For Prospective Graduate Students


Here are answers to some common questions from prospective graduate students.

Are you looking for students?

Possibly, but unlikely for 2021.

Also note that Prof. Elena Glassman has just joined Harvard Computer Science faculty. Prof. Glassman is also an HCI researcher and she also plans to recruit new students this year.

Are you looking for summer interns?

Not this summer.

What projects are you currently working on? What project could I work on?

I have recently updated our current list of themes that are prominent in my research to give you an idea of the types of questions and approaches that are characteristic of our group. But the specific projects you will see there are just examples. I am happy to work on any well-motivated project that creatively combines human and machine intelligence.

Some areas of particular interest to us include principles and applications of intelligent interactive systems, tools and methods for behavioral research at scale, and computing for social justice.

How can I join the group?

You have to first get into our graduate program. Do not contact me directly about admissions because individual faculty do not control the admissions process. Feel free to write, however, if you have specific questions about research.

How does the admissions process work?

You need to apply through Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (see the admissions page). The admissions committee will make the decisions in the Spring. Admitted students are then invited for a visit day to learn more about the program. Note again, that the decisions are made by the admissions committee and not by individual faculty so emailing professors with your resume will not increase your chances of getting into the program. If you are interested in joining a specific group, however, it is always a good idea to mention that in your application.

What are my chances of being admitted?

Our graduate program is very competitive and and in the past fewer than 15% of applicants were admitted (across all programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences).

What are the most important factors considered by the admissions committee?

When I am asked to review applications, I look first at the applicant's letters of recommendation, prior research experience, and the personal statement. In the words of Ed Lazowska, as a PhD student you are no longer a knowledge consumer but a knowledge producer---thus evidence of conceptual thinking, creativity and perseverance is more important than merely being able to do well in exams. This said, very poor grades are a red flag. A note on letters: even if you have been working for the past few years, make sure that the majority of your letters are from researchers (either at a university or at a reputable research lab). Letters from non-researchers rarely contain information helpful for evaluating PhD candidates.

What would be the ideal candidate?

In general, the strongest candidates have prior research or professional experience in addition to a strong academic record. However, we do recognize that different schools offer different opportunities. Thus, we evaluate the candidates based on what they accomplished with the opportunities that were available to them.

As far as academic preparation is concerned, I am in particular looking for students with strong backgrounds in either Human-Computer Interaction or Machine Learning, and who are willing to learn about the other area.

Can international students do a PhD at Harvard?

By all means. Here are some most important things you need to consider. First, the application process takes nearly a year. Like most graduate programs in the US, Harvard requires applicants to take TOEFL exam (for non-native English speakers). Make sure to schedule your exam such that the results are available by the application deadline. Our applications are typically due in December or January, and the results are announced in March or April for programs starting in September. Second, the cost. In Computer Science, you should expect to receive financial assistance that will cover the tuition and that will also provide a stipend sufficient to maintain a frugal but perfectly reasonable lifestyle. This financial assistance can come from a fellowship, a research assistantship, or a teaching assistantship.

Can I email you?

If you have a reseach-related question, I will do my best to reply. Please do not write with questions regarding admissions because I cannot help you with that.