The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed restrictions on the academic activities and personal lives of many GSAS students. On this page, you will find answers to some of the questions you may have and links to recent messages from Dean Emma Dench.

GSAS is also reviewing existing academic policies and developing emergency policies.

Please note HUHS has added important information on their website about benefit changes to the Student Health Insurance Plan.

This page was updated on July 8, 2020. If you have a question not noted below, email the Office of Student Affairs.

Academic Concerns

Whom should I contact about remote learning if I have an academic accommodation?

Please contact the Accessible Education Office (AEO) at 617-496-8707, or the AEO staff member you work with, to assist you. You may also be in touch with the Office of Student Services to help you navigate resources, strategize, and figure out how to continue to access material and make progress.

What if I am absent from a remote class or turn in an assignment late due to sickness?

Faculty understand that this is a time of great ambiguity and uncertainty, and they have been encouraged to practice flexibility and understanding on deadlines. If you are ill, first prioritize your health and call HUHS at 617-495-5711 (24/7) or your primary care provider for advice to determine whether to get assessment or treatment. Contact your course instructor to discuss protocols for missed classes or late assignments.

Do I need a hand-signed dissertation acceptance certificate?

No, handwritten signatures are not required. Electronic signatures from committee members are acceptable on the dissertation acceptance certificate (DAC). If a DAC is submitted with electronic signatures, an additional DAC with handwritten signatures will not be required. Students should include a completed DAC before the title page of the online dissertation submission, and should attach a separate copy in the "Administrative Documents" section in ProQuest ETD. 

Research

When will Harvard Libraries reopen?

Harvard Library’s Smart Restart for Research provides information about Harvard Library plans. Further information is available on the Harvard Library website and individual School library sites.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted my ability to conduct my research. Whom can I speak with?

Please contact your academic program’s graduate program coordinator or your director of graduate studies.

I am paid hourly for research work and I am concerned by a reduction in my hours.

Researchers who are paid on an hourly basis and are experiencing financial hardship due to a reduction in hours worked should contact the GSAS Office of Financial Aid for additional guidance.

Teaching

What do I do if I need teaching for fall 2020?

GSAS and the Office of Undergraduate Education have confirmed that teaching or comparable appointments will be available to students. Interested students should consult with their graduate program coordinator for more information.

What support and resources are available to help me prepare to teach remotely?

Working remotely as a teaching fellow, whether you are teaching sections or serving in a course support role, is new to everyone. Support is available to you as you plan with your course head and consider strategies that will work best for your course:

  • You can attend Zoom and Canvas Training sessions with Academic Technology for FAS.
  • You can attend the Fall Teaching Conference. The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning is revamping the format of their annual conference to help TFs prepare for their remote teaching responsibilities. Registration opens July 15.
  • You can access the Bok Center’s growing list of resources dedicated to teaching remotely, including help available at the Bok Center, the University, and beyond. Individual consultations are available for instructors who would like one-on-one assistance.
  • You can take advantage of other resources at the Bok Center, such as Bok Seminars and support specifically for international teachers and scholars. Many departments and programs also have a Pedagogy Fellow, who serves as a peer resource on teaching and professional development for TFs and will continue to provide support remotely.

Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) also has resources available, including best practices for remote teaching and general information about working remotely.

How can students get accommodations for online instruction, if they need them?

Students who may need new or additional accommodations for the online learning environment can be referred to the Accessible Education Office.

How can students get accommodations for online instruction?

Students who may need new or additional accommodations for the online learning environment can be referred to the Accessible Education Office at 617-496-8707.

Fellowships

I had planned to travel internationally this summer; is it reasonable to plan travel now for the fall?

If you are using Harvard funding for your travel (international or domestic), you must wait to purchase tickets and make travel arrangements until the University allows resumption of travel on Harvard business. If you purchase tickets after travel restrictions are lifted, and if the country to which you are traveling is subsequently placed on a restricted list, you should contact your financial aid officer to discuss options. If you purchased your tickets before the travel restrictions were imposed, please reach out to your funding source and to your financial aid officer or the Harvard center or office that is providing your funding (such as the Committee on General Scholarships, WCFIA, etc) to discuss options.

If you are on a traveling fellowships and cannot travel to your country of interest, please contact your GSAS financial aid officer or the Harvard center or office that is providing your funding (such as the Committee on General Scholarships, WCFIA, etc) to discuss options.

Will I be able to use my traveling fellowship at a later date?

GSAS is committed to supporting its students through this crisis and beyond, which means trying to mitigate and minimize the impact of an admittedly fluid and unpredictable situation. We will evaluate each student’s case and work with them to figure out a good solution. Please be in touch with your GSAS financial aid officer to discuss your situation.

Financial Concerns

Where can I find information on the Emergency Support Initiative?

Visit the Emergency Support Initiative policy page for more information.

I’m a March 2020 graduate, am I eligible for GSAS Visiting Fellow status?

March 2020 graduates should check in with the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office to determine eligibility.

Will I receive funding if I make a G-year adjustment due to disruption caused by COVID-19?

No, G-year adjustments are not automatically accompanied by additional funding.

Can I apply to the GSAS emergency fund for help with COVID-19 expenses?

Students experiencing financial distress should complete the GSAS Emergency Request form. As always, we will give these requests the fullest consideration that our available resources will permit.

How will my stipend be paid during fall 2020?

Direct deposit is the best option for receiving your stipend payments. You can enroll in or confirm your stipend direct deposit details by completing the following steps:

  1. Visit hr.harvard.edu, click on the PeopleSoft link at the top right, and log in using your HarvardKey.
  2. Once in PeopleSoft, within the Self-Service menu, click on My Pay and then Deposit.

Stipends are paid on the first of each month. You must enroll in direct deposit at least two weeks in advance of the pay date to receive direct deposit, otherwise your first check will be sent to the mailing address on file.

If you are residing outside of the US and do not have access to a US bank account, you will be sent a link by Western Union after the 1st of the month of when your stipend will be commencing. At that time, you can enter your international banking details and Western Union will initiate a wire payment.

I need assistance with access to computer equipment or Internet access. What can I do?

If you are experience a financial hardship that is making it difficult for you to access the resources you need for your studies, contact your financial aid officer.

International Students

Will online fall 2020 courses affect my visa status?

The Harvard International Office is reviewing government guidance on online learning and visa status..

I am an international student who left the US. Will I need special documents to return to the US?

International students and scholars who have decided to travel home or to another location should refer to the Harvard International Office travel page for information about the proper documents you will need for your return to the US.

Can I teach if I reside outside the US?

Yes. Non-Massachusetts and non-US based students may receive appointments as TFs.

Traveling Students

My travel has been canceled and I am worried about my academic progress. Whom can I speak with?

Contact your academic department’s graduate program coordinator or director of graduate studies.

Can I apply to the GSAS Emergency Fund for help with COVID-19 expenses that I cannot cover?

Students experiencing financial distress should complete the GSAS Emergency Request form. As always, we will give these requests the fullest consideration that our available resources will permit.

Students with Families

A member of my family is sick. What can I do about my academic requirements?

If you are caring for a sick family member, contact the Office of Student Affairs to discuss your options. In addition, if you feel that your academic progress has been disrupted, you can reach out to your department to request a G-year adjustment of up to one year.

My child’s daycare or school is closed, are there any options to secure backup care?

Care.com has curated a resource guide for parents and caregivers. Additionally, the National Association of School Psychologists has released a parent resource guide and the Harvard Graduate School of Education has developed a website to learn how to help your children cope with the Coronavirus and uncertainty.

In the event of the potential disruption of your regular care channels, using backup care via Care.com is a great way to fill that gap. Each PhD student is eligible for a maximum of 10 subsidized days of care per year. These 10 days can be used for child and/or adult care. If you have used your 10-day benefit, you can continue to use Care.com services. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may request emergency funding.

What other supports are there for student-parents during this time?

We understand that this can be a particularly challenging time for student-parents. The Academic Resource Center offers tips on learning and working remotely with a family. We encourage you to connect with the Harvard GSAS Student Parents Association, see what families resources are available, and connect with The Office of Student Services to assist you.

Health Care and Other Health Concerns

I am not sick but have a health condition that makes me susceptible to illness. How can I avoid campus and maintain academic progress?

Graduate students have transitioned to remote work wherever possible.  Guidance has been developed for the FAS Division of Sciences and SEAS Communities. Please contact your academic department’s graduate program coordinator or your director of graduate studies if you still have concerns, to build a plan that is best for you.

Have there been any changes to my Student Health Insurance Plan?

The Student Health Program has implemented benefit changes to your Student Health Insurance Plan. Please review their FAQs, which are updated regularly.
For students who graduated in May, HUHS is providing a one-time opportunity to extend student health care coverage past July 31, under recent authority granted by state regulators. Visit HUHS’s graduating students page for more information.

What do I do if I suspect someone is sick and isn’t self-isolating?

If someone you know has flu-like symptoms, you can encourage them to consult with Harvard University Health Services by calling 617-495-5711 (24/7). We also advise taking many of the same precautions recommended when protecting oneself against the flu.

I share an apartment with someone who is sick and self-isolating. Can I find somewhere else to live?

Contact the GSAS Office of Residential Life to discuss resources and options.

I am sick and have waived Harvard insurance coverage. Should I still call Harvard University Health Services to report I am unwell?

Yes, you can still access services at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS). All active/enrolled students are charged the Student Health Fee, which is separate from insurance. The Student Health Fee covers the cost of most services at HUHS. If you receive care that is not covered under the Student Health Fee and you waived the Student Health Insurance Plan, your alternative insurance will be billed. Please let HUHS know if you recently traveled. They will help you determine whether to get assessment or treatment.

I have incurred medical costs that are not covered by health insurance. Are there any resources to help me pay my health bills?

If you have concerns about health care costs, contact your financial aid officer.

What does it mean to self-isolate?

Harvard University Health Services provides an explanation of self-isolation and what to do if you require medical assistance from HUHS.

I need emotional support and would like to talk to someone.

CAMHS clinicians are working remotely and are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and after-hours urgent care consultation by phone is available nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and weekends 24/7 at 617-495-5711. Use the  patient portal  to schedule an initial consultation or call 617-495-2042 to book follow-up, same-day or urgent care appointments.  Referral coordinators are also available to help connect you with support in the Cambridge or in your local community. If you’re already being seen at CAMHS, you can reach out to your clinician directly for more information or to schedule an appointment.

HUHS has also prepared a factsheet with information and resources to manage fear and anxiety.

If you need assistance connecting with CAMHS or navigating community support, please reach out to The Office of Student Services to assist you.

Is Harvard University Health Services still taking appointments?

While HUHS clinicians will continue to see patients in-person at the Smith Campus Center and Longwood Medical Area locations for urgent and essential appointments, other services are available through telemedicine or telephone visits. Please view the operating hours for specific departments online.

Am I eligible for the Student Health Fee discounted rate?

Students studying outside of Massachusetts may be eligible for a 50 percent discount for fall 2020. Students who qualify should provide a new “Physical Location” address in my.harvard.

Can I waive the Student Health Insurance Plan? 

Important waiver changes that have been made to the Student Health Insurance Plan to accommodate both remote and on-campus students, including an extended waiver deadline and criteria, and two waiver periods. Students must waive each term. 

Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination

What do I do if someone is discriminating/harassing me because I’m from or look like I’m from one of the countries associated with Coronavirus?

The University and GSAS have policies against racial discrimination and procedures for handling it. If, at any time, you are concerned for your safety, contact the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 (617-432-1212 for the Longwood Medical Area).

You may make a video-conference appointment with Danielle Farrell, the director of student services, to talk through options, connect with available resources, and receive support. You can also email the Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs to speak with a staff member.

You can also contact the 24/7 Anonymous Reporting Hotline, which is run by an independent, third-party provider, toll-free by calling 877- 694-2275 or submit a report online. The hotline is for reporting issues in situations where you don’t feel comfortable speaking with a supervisor or other resource. (Please read about the hotline to better understand the reporting process, including information regarding non-retaliation and confidentiality, before submitting a report.)

I’m working remotely and I have a concern about sexual or gender-based harassment; how do I ask for help?

As Title IX coordinators for GSAS students, Danielle Farrell and Seth Avakian continue to serve as a resource to GSAS students adjusting to a remote community. They can help regardless of when or where an incident occurred, and regardless of the identity of the other party.

You can schedule a meeting with Danielle or schedule a meeting with Seth by Zoom or by phone between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday. If you are unable to meet during this time frame, email Danielle or Seth directly at farrell@fas.harvard.edu or avakian@fas.harvard.edu. Seth and Danielle will accommodate your time zone and schedule to the best of their ability. If you are concerned about privacy, you do not need to use your Harvard email or your full name when scheduling a meeting. We are committed to following best practices for privacy on Zoom.

I’m concerned about my, or my friend’s safety during this time, where can I find support and information?

If you have concerns about a friend or colleagues safety, please don’t hesitate to reach out to reach out to the Office of Student Services to assist you. They can help you strategize about possible next steps and how to get them help. Depending on the situation, you may consider contacting Harvard University Police Department or local law enforcement, or HUHS Urgent Care to help you help your friend.

Social distancing during COVID-19 leaves survivors of sexual and domestic violence particularly vulnerable. If you or someone you know in Massachusetts is at risk, you are not alone, help is available. For Massachusetts-based resources, please call 877-785-2020 or visit Jane Doe, Inc. If you are outside Massachusetts, The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

I’m concerned about online sexual harassment; how can I learn more about being safe on the internet?

As we adjust to remote work, The Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is offering resources to increase technology-based safety for students, faculty, and staff. These resources provide information about internet etiquette, the ways tech can be used for harm, and autonomy and consent in online spaces.

Student Engagement

Is the GSAS Student Center offering programming?

While Lehman Hall is closed, the GSAS Student Center Fellows and many graduate student groups are offering virtual programming to help you stay connected! Visit Engage for more information.

Students can also follow the GSAS Student Center on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Is the GSAS Student Council still meeting?

The GSAS Student Council is still operating. They continue to hold Open Meetings, send Newsletters, and provide funding for students and student leaders. Connect on Engage to see ways they are supporting and advocating for graduate students.

Graduating Students

How long will I have access to my Harvard email?

Having access to a Harvard email address may support your pursuit of professional opportunities and help you remain more easily connected with one another and with GSAS. To aid with this, Harvard has extended access to your University email address, which will remain active for 365 days beyond your official date of graduation.

Can I extend coverage through my Student Health Insurance Plan?

For students who graduated in May, HUHS is providing a one-time opportunity to extend student health care coverage past July 31, under recent authority granted by state regulators. Visit HUHS’s graduating students page for more information.