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Spring Planning

Dear GSAS Students,

At the midpoint of the fall term, I wanted to provide an update on where planning stands for the spring 2021 term, and what you can expect over the next several months. 

Spring 2021 Term

In July, FAS Dean Claudine Gay announced that all course instruction (undergraduate and graduate) for the 2020–2021 academic year will be delivered online. GSAS subsequently required graduate programs to conduct all classroom teaching and learning remotely, including cohort-building activities, for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms. Remote instruction is still in effect for the spring term.

Emergency Support Initiative

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, GSAS has supported students through the Emergency Support Initiative. We have committed $4 million to this initiative and have already assisted many students who experienced disruptions to their academic progress due to the pandemic. I am delighted to announce that, as we did for the fall 2020 term, GSAS will provide grants for the spring 2021 term to active, upper-year PhD students who would otherwise pay the Harvard University Student Health Plan (HUSHP) fees and the facilities fee (i.e. tuition for advanced doctoral students) or the active file fee out of pocket. Your graduate program administrator will work with the GSAS Office of Financial Aid to confirm eligibility and disburse funding.

November 2020 and March 2021 graduates who do not have a job lined up or whose employment was delayed may also apply for a GSAS visiting fellow appointment through the end of spring term 2022. As visiting fellows, these recent alumni will:

  • Remain members of the Harvard community, with access to libraries and other Harvard resources so that they may continue their research independently.
  • Have visiting fellow tuition waived and access to Harvard’s health insurance plan at the student rate.
  • Be able to continue searching for jobs while retaining a Harvard affiliation, including their Harvard email address.

Please visit the Emergency Support Initiative page for more information.

Spring Planning Survey and Town Hall

Thank you to those of you who completed the spring planning survey earlier this month. We are currently reviewing the results, which show that access to campus spaces—whether for research or focused work—is an important need. The information you shared is crucial to our planning for spring and for our advocacy work for students across the University. Once we have completed our analysis, I will be in touch with more information about the results and an invitation to a GSAS-wide town hall.

We are living in a chaotic and complex world, one which does not provide us with easy answers to the challenges we all face. I want to assure you that despite the uncertainty presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, GSAS continues to work with University leadership and others to increase opportunities for students to conduct their research and to identify funding that can expand student support. 

With all best wishes,


Emma Dench

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics

Harvard Griffin GSAS Newsletter and Podcast

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