Non-Degree Programs

GSAS offers two opportunities for non-degree study, as special students or visiting fellows.

All non-degree students must:

Special Students

Special students may take a maximum of four courses per term; additional courses must be approved by the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office.

  • As required by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, special students holding a Harvard-sponsored F-1 visa must register for full-time study, equivalent to four courses per academic term.
  • The Registrar's Office will provide a transcript of credits earned following completion of each academic term as long as the student does not have an outstanding student account balance.

Special students are charged full tuition and are not eligible for financial aid.

Applying to a Degree Program

Special students may later apply for admission to a degree program.

  • Former special students are not guaranteed admission.
  • A special student admitted to a GSAS degree program may be eligible for financial credit for courses completed.
  • Upon completion of one term in a GSAS degree program, students may petition their academic department to receive credit for work done as a special student; academic credit is granted only for graduate-level courses valid for the relevant degree program.
    • A maximum of eight courses may be used for credit for a PhD or a two-year master’s program; a maximum of four courses may be used for credit for a one-year master’s degree.

Visiting Fellows

Visiting fellows are considered full-time research students with access to Harvard University’s libraries and facilities and may apply for membership in the Harvard Faculty Club. 

  • While visiting fellows do not take courses for academic credit, they may audit courses with the approval of the instructor and seek faculty guidance as they conduct independent research.
    • Visiting fellows are normally not permitted to audit basic skills courses such as beginning languages or computer science.
  • Visiting fellows are charged reduced tuition, and are not eligible for financial aid.


Alex Kent
Alex Kent
Assistant Director of Admissions and Director of the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Program