The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a comprehensive program of financial support, including grants and fellowships from internal and external sources, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, other academic employment opportunities, and several types of loans.

Funding for PhD Students

Standard Funding Package

Harvard guarantees full financial support to PhD students—including tuition, health fees, and basic living expenses—for a minimum of five years (typically the first four years of study and the completion year), using a tiered tuition structure which reduces tuition over time as students progress through their degree programs. This multi-year funding package includes a combination of tuition grants, stipends, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and other academic appointments. In addition, GSAS students are particularly successful in securing grants, fellowships, and other sources of external funding as part of their professional development.

The standard funding package includes:

  • Grant toward tuition and fees—paid in full for years 1 through 4, plus the dissertation completion year
  • Living expense stipend during years 1 and 2
  • A combination of stipend, teaching fellowships, and/or research assistantships during years 3 and 4
  • If noted in your Notice of Financial Support, summer research funding following the first four academic years from GSAS or faculty grants
  • Stipend and/or research support during the completion year.

In some programs, the timing and structure of living expense support may vary from this pattern. For example, students in the sciences typically receive full funding until they complete their degrees.

 

Funding for Master's Students

Funding Your Education

Your graduate education at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is an important investment that you are making in yourself and your future. As you prepare to take this next step in advancing your education, the GSAS Office of Financial Aid is on hand to provide the information and resources you need to develop strategies for financing your graduate education.

A successful strategy for funding your education begins with committing to responsible financial management through early financial planning, reducing consumer debt, and exploring all available external funding opportunities. GSAS is dedicated to partnering with you to navigate your funding options and make informed decisions.

Prior to Enrollment

Careful financial planning is a crucial step in preparing for enrollment and ensuring a smooth transition to life as a GSAS student. This is your opportunity to lay the foundations that will support your financial well-being as you pursue your academic goals. To help you think about the important components that you will want to consider when developing your financial plan, the GSAS Office of Financial Aid has prepared the information below.

Cost of Attendance

Understanding what costs to expect during a year at GSAS is a key step in preparing financially for graduate school. To help you plan, we have developed an itemized budget that includes typical living expenses along with the cost of tuition and fees. Keep in mind the cost of attendance is a general budget and your personal expenses may be higher or lower, but it is a great place to start when developing your own budget.

Identifying Your Expenses and Resources

The first step in creating a strategy for funding your education is to create a personal budget that outlines your expenses and any resources available to you. When thinking about your budget, consider expenses specific to you that may not appear in the cost of attendance estimates provided by GSAS. For example, you may need to add in loan payments, credit card payments, or family expenses. If you have identified a gap between your expenses and resources, you will want to explore the options in the Sources of Funding section below for ideas on how to fill that gap.

Consumer Debt

Consumer debt frequently carries a high interest rate and is not an allowable expense when determining eligibility for most sources of student financial assistance. Incoming students are encouraged pay down their consumer debt as much as possible prior to starting graduate school.

Health Insurance

All GSAS students studying on campus are automatically enrolled in the Harvard Student Health Insurance Program, which has two components: the Student Health Fee and the Student Health Insurance Plan. These two fees are included in the standard cost of attendance budget.

US and Massachusetts law requires that all students have health insurance, and the student insurance program provided by Harvard meets this requirement. Students who have comparable health coverage from another source may elect to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan component. You can read more about the Student Health Insurance Program, including a checklist of things to consider if you are exploring alternate coverage.

Students enrolled in the Student Health Fee and Student Health Insurance Plan are eligible to obtain health coverage for their dependents at additional cost. Important information about the various plans and rates can be found on the dependent section of the Harvard University Student Health Program website.

Housing

Whether you are interested in living in one of the four GSAS residence halls, looking for an on- or off-campus apartment, or hoping to find a roommate, the Office of Residential Life can direct you to resources to help with your search.

Rent costs can vary based on many factors, including location, size, living alone versus having roommates, whether utilities are included, etc. It will be helpful for you to research and compare the options available to determine the best fit for you.

Sources of Funding

GSAS has many resources available to assist you in funding your graduate education at Harvard. Below you will find links to databases and programs offering multiple types of aid.

All Master’s Students

  • Pivot is a searchable database of federal and private funding opportunities in all fields. You can refer to the Pivot Guide (PDF) for guidance on using this database.
  • CARAT is a database that allows students to search for fellowship opportunities by keyword, citizenship requirement, length of opportunity, stage in graduate school, and more. Through CARAT, you can find links to application materials and instructions on how to apply.
  • Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is a searchable database that contains a wealth of information on foundations and the grant programs they sponsor. You can refer to the FDO Guide (PDF) for guidance on using this database.
  • If you are interested in exploring private loan options, Harvard has compiled information to help guide the search process. While Harvard does not endorse any of these loans, you may find it beneficial to compare the terms of several loan types in order to find the option that best fits your needs.
  • There are employment opportunities on campus that are not federal work-study specific.
  • Additional benefits may also be available to veterans of the US armed forces. 

US Citizens and Permanent Residents 

  • US citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for Federal Student Loans. The US Department of Education offers several loan programs for graduate students. Details about these programs are listed in the link above and on the US Department of Education Federal Student Aid website.
  • US citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for Federal Work-Study. The Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP) is a federally funded financial aid program. Details about the program, as well as a link to search for on-campus jobs, can be found in the link above.

International Students

  • The Harvard Committee on General Scholarships has a number of programs for international applicants planning to study at Harvard graduate and professional schools. These fellowships are country specific and range in amount and duration. Please note that submitting an application does not guarantee that a fellowship will be awarded. For more information, visit the Committee on General Scholarships website.

Other Student Benefits

MBTA Semester Pass Program

Students at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences can purchase semester MBTA Local Bus, Link (bus and subway), or commuter rail passes (all zones) at a 50 percent discount. You can learn more about this perk on the MBTA page of the GSAS website.

International Students

To help international students feel at home and thrive in their academic and personal lives, Harvard provides resources and support to assist in navigating common issues such as funding and visas. Additional information can be found in the resources for international students section of the GSAS website.

Visa Certification

Newly admitted Harvard students arriving from outside the United States are required to follow very specific outlines for obtaining a visa. For information on the various types of visa sponsorships and the procedures for obtaining them, please visit the Harvard International Office website.

When seeking a visa for the purpose of graduate study at Harvard, students should consider that:

  • International students are required to certify that they have sufficient funds to cover the cost of education and living expenses for themselves and any family members accompanying them to the US.
  • International students and scholars at Harvard should use the appropriate visa related to their current activities at Harvard (a student visa or a research scholar visa). Use of a "visitor" or "tourist" visa for this purpose is not appropriate and may have serious consequences.

Immigration status does not factor into decisions about admissions and financial aid. For more information, see Undocumented at Harvard.

Students with Families

Many graduate students are accompanied by their spouses, domestic partners, and children. GSAS maintains policies and provides access to resources that help balance family needs with the demands of graduate study. You can find a list of those family resources on the GSAS website (please note some resources are specific to PhD students).

Expenses

If you plan to bring your family, it is important to understand how additional family expenses will impact your budget and expected resources. Most financial aid sources, including loans, have limitations on whether family expenses can be included when determining eligibility.

For example, with proper documentation we may be able to increase your financial aid eligibility to account for childcare expenses necessary for you to attend school; however, living expenses for a spouse or dependents cannot be considered.  

Therefore, you must plan ahead to ensure that you have sufficient resources to cover these costs. The chart below provides an estimate of how much you will need to support a spouse and/or dependent(s). Keep in mind this is a general budget and your personal expenses may be higher or lower, but it is a great place to start when developing your own budget.

Budget (2020-2021 figures) 

Single Student Budget

10 Months (September–June)  

12 Months (July–June)  

$30,840 

$37,008 

Those bringing a partner or dependent(s) will need at minimum an extra:
  10 Months (September–June) 12 Months (July–June)  

First Dependent/Spouse 

$11,540  

$13,848 

Second Dependent 

$7,640  

$9,168 

Each Additional Child  

$6,080 

$7,296

Dependent Health Insurance

Dependents of students covered by the Student Health Fee and Student Health Insurance Plan, are eligible to enroll in dependent health coverage. Important information about the various plans and rates can be found on the dependent section of the Harvard University Student Health Program website.

Gym Membership

GSAS students have complimentary access to Harvard athletic facilities as well as a discounted family membership option. To learn more about gym memberships and the facilities, please visit the resource section of the GSAS website.

Program Specific Information

Middle Eastern Studies

In addition to the resources listed above in the Sources of Funding section, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies has limited funding available for specific research or conference trips during the academic year and the summer. Most students in the program fund themselves with a combination of personal funds and loans.  

Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia

In addition to the resources listed above in the Sources of Funding section, the Regional Studies— Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) master’s program awards a limited number of partial tuition scholarships to selected incoming students at the time of admission.

A listing of some suggested sources of funding from private organizations, philanthropic groups, government agencies, and affinity organizations can be found on the REECA Financial Aid website.

Regional StudiesEast Asia

In addition to the resources listed above in the Sources of Funding section, the Regional Studies—East Asia (RSEA) admissions committee awards a limited number of scholarships to selected incoming students at the time of admission.

The funding page of the RSEA program website lists scholarships and fellowships that students have previously pursued.

Engineering and Applied Sciences

In addition to the resources listed above in the Sources of Funding section, students in the SM and ME programs in Computational Science and Engineering and the SM program in Data Science may be allowed to hold a teaching appointment. If this is of interest, you should consult with your faculty advisor to explore that opportunity.

There are financial obligations that are specific to students in the SM and ME programs in Computational Science and Engineering and the SM program in Data Science. The following are the 2020-21 tuition rates for these three programs:

SEAS CSE Masters ME                                                                                  
Tuition (G1) $56,528  
Tuition (G2)  $28,264  
SEAS CSE Masters SM
Tuition (All Years)   $56,528     
SEAS Data Science Masters
Tuition (All Years)   $56,528
                                            
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