Before applying for special student or visiting fellow status, scholars should select one department to affiliate with based on their academic interests. While applicants seeking more interdisciplinary opportunities may choose the General Studies Program, GSAS reserves the right to send an application to a specific admissions committee if a candidate’s experience and interests are more suited to a particular department.

* Applicants must have the confirmed support of at least one faculty member to be considered. Division of Medical Science visiting fellows must be working in the lab of a faculty member who is affiliated with one of the 6 DMS PhD Programs.
† Accepts applications for visiting fellow status only.
The Department of Government and the committees on Public Policy do not permit affiliation as a special student if you plan to apply for PhD study within 18 months.
§ Only special student applications are considered; research students should inquire directly with the department.

Course Selection

To review the courses offered during a particular term, access the Public Course Catalog. Courses marked with an asterisk require instructor approval before you can register and those in brackets are not offered during the current term, but may be offered in the future. Special students are restricted from participating in a select group of departmental offerings. Please note, course instructors reserve the right to make enrollment adjustments during the Add/Drop period, should they determine a student is not academically qualified.

Special students may audit coursework upon securing the approval of the course instructor, who determines the level of participation. A grade is not received for the course, but the student’s transcript will reference “TIME-A.” Full tuition is charged for an officially audited course.

Special students may also participate in a supervised independent research project instead of a half-course, after securing approval from a faculty member. While a grade is not received for the course, the student’s transcript will reference “TIME-C.” Full tuition is charged.


Special students may enroll in a limited number of courses (not more than half of one’s total program per term) in other Harvard faculties or cooperating schools. Learn more by reviewing Harvard’s cross-registration procedures. Enrollment cannot be guaranteed in advance of registration.