About the HEB PhD

A Message From the Department Chair

Daniel Lieberman

Welcome! Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology is one of the world’s leading programs to study the fundamental question “How did evolution make humans the way they are”? Our program evolved from the subfield of biological anthropology (sometimes called evolutionary anthropology), but we are more than that because we address issues in human evolutionary biology by bringing together and integrating scholars and students engaged in many fields of research relevant to our core question including:

  • Paleontology and the physical record of primate and hominin evolution
  • Molecular, developmental, and population genetics and genomics
  • Primate and human behavior and ecology, including cognition, behavioral development, cultural transmission and evolution
  • Anatomy and physiology of primates and humans, including the evolution and function of the human microbiome, and physiological ecology.

Further, in all of these fields, we explore relationships between human evolution and contemporary health and disease.

HEB is proud to continue a long and distinguished record of innovative graduate training that dates back more than 100 years and that prepares students for careers in teaching and advanced research. HEB graduate students receive generous funding for their entire degree program to get hands-on training in both laboratory and field-based research, as well as training to teach. In addition to the extraordinary resources within the department, HEB graduate students also benefit from the unparalleled resources of Harvard University, including strong collaborations with related departments such as Anthropology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology, and access to the rich collections of the Peabody Museum and the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Altogether, HEB is a diverse, vibrant community of researchers and students. Come join us!

-Daniel Lieberman, Department Chair, Edwin M Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences

About the HEB Doctoral Degree

The objective of the PhD program in Human Evolutionary Biology is to provide students with comprehensive training necessary to address the question “How did evolution make humans the way they are?” Our interdisciplinary approach thus includes field and laboratory programs in many sub-disciplines including:

  • Reproductive endocrinology
  • Human behavioral biology and ecology
  • Ape behavioral ecology and biology
  • Human and primate paleobiology
  • Experimental biomechanics
  • Human physiology
  • Genetics and genomics of humans and primates
  • Developmental biology
  • Human and non-human primate cognition

HEB welcomes PhD candidates from diverse backgrounds, including undergraduate degrees in biology or anthropology. HEB’s PhD program is typically six years. The first two years are a combination of classwork and research. Ordinarily, students define a PhD topic in the third year, and then finish by the sixth year.

All HEB students receive five years of full funding, including tuition and stipend plus substantial departmental support for research. Training to teach is also an important component of the PhD.