Emergency Support Initiative

The Emergency Support Initiative (ESI) is designed to help PhD students overcome academic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency Support Initiative April 2021 Phase

Financial Support to Forward Academic Progress

PhD students who have faced severe disruption in their academic studies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for small grants that will enable them to forward their academic progress. If awarded, students may receive research awards, grants toward tuition and health fees, or other academic support. Preference will be given to those who are able to demonstrate that the funding will enable them to move significantly closer to finishing their degree.

To apply, visit harvardfas.slideroom.com/#/permalink/program/60516Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on May 11, 2021.

Please email the GSAS Office of Academic Programs at gsasacademicprograms@fas.harvard.edu with questions.

Post-Graduation Opportunities

GSAS has extended the visiting fellowship opportunity to students graduating in May and November 2021 who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The appointment may extend until May 2022. See GSAS Visiting Fellow Status below for more details.

The Fellowships & Writing Center is creating one-year postdoctoral fellowships, to which graduating Harvard PhDs may apply. This will provide opportunities for new graduates while helping current students advance their scholarship and enhance their ability to secure outside funding.

To learn more and apply, visit academicpositions.harvard.edu/postings/10280.

Emergency Support Initiative Phase 4

Phase 4 of the ESI will provide grants to active, upper-year PhD students who would otherwise pay the facilities fee (i.e., tuition for advanced doctoral students) or the active file fee and Harvard University Student Health Plan (HUSHP) fees out of pocket for spring 2021. Grants will be added to the student accounts of eligible PhD students.

Graduate program administrators will work with the GSAS Office of Financial Aid to confirm eligibility.  

GSAS Visiting Fellow Status

GSAS PhD students graduating in November 2020 and March, May, and November 2021, who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, may apply for a GSAS visiting fellow appointment. As a GSAS visiting fellow, graduates:

  • Remain members of the Harvard community, retaining student status with access to libraries and other Harvard resources so that they may continue their research independently.
  • Have visiting fellow tuition paid for by a GSAS tuition scholarship; all other required fees are the responsibility of the student.
  • Are able to access Harvard’s health insurance plan at the student rate.
  • Are able to continue searching for jobs while retaining a Harvard affiliation, including their Harvard email address.

If you are an international student, you should confirm your visa status, especially if you are within two weeks of your student visa end date. If you have questions, please reach out to the Harvard International Office.

To Apply

  • Click “Learn More and Start Your Application” below
  • Choose “Apply as a Visiting Fellow” (ignore the application deadline)
  • Under “First-time users” select “Create an account.”
  • After you have created an account, email the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office to let them know you are a current PhD student and would like to apply.

The Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office will contact you to finalize your application.

Email the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office with questions.


Postdoctoral Writing and Fellowships Appointments

We are not currently accepting applications for this position. Please check back for updates. 

Graduating GSAS students from all disciplines may express interest in applying for one-year writing and fellowships postdocs to assist continuing students in maintaining progress toward the degree. Priority will be given to 2020 GSAS PhD graduates whose post-graduate academic plans were adversely affected by COVID-19 and those who have experience writing winning fellowship applications.

Responsibilities include offering individual consultations on papers, theses, dissertations, fellowship applications, and presentations, talks, and other modes of communication, as well as designing, promoting, and leading small group workshops and events that will help GSAS students to communicate their research. Fellows will also work with faculty and administrators in their area of expertise to provide customized research support for students and create innovative programming.

Eligibility and Required Skills

  • Applicants must have already successfully defended their doctoral dissertations in order to be considered for the position.
  • Strong written and oral communications skills, and demonstrable success in writing, publishing, and presenting academic work.
  • Experience in advising, teaching, and providing feedback.

Emergency Support Initiative Phase 3

The deadline for Phase 3 support has passed.

Phase 3 of the ESI will provide grants to active, upper-year PhD students who would otherwise pay the facilities fee (i.e. tuition for advanced doctoral students) or the active file fee and Harvard University Student Health Plan (HUSHP) fees out of pocket for fall 2020. Grants will be added to the student accounts of eligible PhD students.

Students who meet the criteria are asked to complete a brief survey to activate funding. Graduate program administrators will work with the GSAS Office of Financial Aid to confirm eligibility.

Emergency COVID-19 Funds

The deadline for Emergency COVID-19 Funds has passed.

Application deadline: May 20, 2020
Final decisions: June 1, 2020 
Disbursement: July 1, 2020

When applying for Emergency COVID-19 Funds, students must include

  • a statement explaining why they are applying, how their situation was affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and how the funds will help them move forward in their scholarship;
  • a letter of support from a dissertation advisor or director of graduate studies.

To ensure that these limited funds are distributed equitably, students will also be prompted to disclose other funding applications they have submitted or any overlapping funding offers they have received or expect to receive.

Note about eligibility

GSAS is working with our University partners to evaluate additional categories of need to determine the next phase of support so that we may expand the program. Students experiencing acute financial distress that is not covered by this phase of the ESI should complete a GSAS Emergency Request form, available on the Emergency Funding policy page. As always, GSAS will give these requests the fullest consideration that our available resources will permit.

Emergency Summer Research Awards


  • Students whose summer 2020 research plans will be disrupted, especially students at G5 and above who lost summer teaching or a research assistant opportunity or a summer grant funding opportunity.

Lost-Time Funding


  • Students on dissertation completion fellowships whose completion has been delayed
  • Students on spring-term Merit Fellowships or other pre-DCF fellowships
  • Students not on DCFs whose May dissertation submission was delayed

Other Funding


Students who do not fit the criteria for other emergency funding whose research was severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Contact gsas-fellowships@fas.harvard.edu with questions.


This Initiative is made possible in part thanks to the generous philanthropy of alumni and friends of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


Questions about the Emergency COVID-19 funding? Email gsas-fellowships@fas.harvard.edu

Questions about the Visiting Fellows status? Email the Special Students and Visiting Fellows Office

Questions about postdoctoral writing and fellowships appointments? Email Office of Academic Programs