Welcome to GSAS! Below are helpful tips and resources designed to help incoming students transition to graduate student life. You can find COVID-19 updates on GSAS's Coronavirus page.
Accept Your Offer of Admission
You must officially accept your offer of admission by logging in to the GSAS applicant portal. The reply deadline is April 15, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
Beginning in March, an email with instructions on how to get your Harvard ID number (HUID) and claim your HarvardKey will be sent within 7–10 days of accepting your offer of admission. Your HarvardKey is the primary credential that you will use to access Harvard resources as a student. If you do not receive this email, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) and review information for new students.
Harvard innovation labs
Interested in exploring innovation and entrepreneurship? Harvard innovation labs serve all full-time, degree-seeking Harvard students and eligible alumni- or faculty-led ventures with an interest in impacting the world. Harvard i-lab is hosting a Virtual Visitas session on Monday, April 11, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (EDT). Visit Harvard innovation labs to register.
Before You Arrive
Enroll at GSAS
Registration for incoming students is a two-step process. First, visit my.harvard.edu and log in with your HarvardKey in early August to check in. The deadline to check in is August 31, 2022. Course registration opens on August 31, 2022, and the deadline is September 7, 2022. The first day of classes is August 31, 2022.
Your First Stipend Check
In order to receive your first stipend payment, you will need to sign up for direct deposit through the University’s payroll system, PeopleSoft. During the summer, you will receive an email from Harvard University Student Account Operations with instructions on how to do so. If you are unable to sign up for direct deposit after receiving the instructions, please contact your financial aid officer.
Harvard University ID
To expedite receiving your ID card, submit your ID photo ahead of time so that your card will be ready for pickup.
Health Coverage and Immunizations
Through the Harvard University Student Health Program, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) offers comprehensive medical, mental health, and prescription benefits to students.
Log in to Engage
Once you have your HarvardKey, you can also log in to Engage to find your GSAS community. Join student groups, RSVP to events, and explore social and learning opportunities!
Register with the Accessible Education Office
The Accessible Education Office (AEO) serves students with disabilities to ensure equity, inclusion, and access. AEO works in partnership with students, faculty, and staff to develop and implement accessibility plans based on individualized assessments of student needs. AEO provides accommodations for coursework, housing, dining, transportation, and other aspects of student life, as appropriate. Though access to the Harvard campus is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AEO remains open virtually and staff are happy to connect via phone or video call. The office is committed to supporting students with disabilities in accessing online learning environments. Learn more on the AEO website.
Purchase Your Discounted Transit Pass
Students can purchase discounted MBTA bus, link, and commuter rail passes at a 50 percent discount. Order your pass online.
Before you move to the United States, visit the Harvard International Office (HIO) for information about services and support for international students, including visa and tax information. The HIO has also prepared a helpful new student guide to ease your transition to Harvard.
Language and Communication Resources for International Students
The Bok Center’s Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars supports international PhD students at every stage of their academic careers.
Start with the Professional Communication for International Scholars Resource Site! Designed as a foundational resource for all international PhD students, this site provides an overview of academic culture and communication at Harvard, including English language skills (speaking, listening, writing, and reading) and cross-cultural communication skills. Find resources related to the most common questions we hear from international PhD Students. JOIN THE CANVAS SITE.
The Bok Center will reach out to new students who need to meet the GSAS Oral English Language Requirement. If you have questions or are not sure where to start, every international PhD student is encouraged to schedule a consultation with us to discuss your English communication skills and get connected to available resources.
First Weeks at Harvard University
All incoming students are invited to GSAS Welcomes 2022, an orientation program designed to introduce you to important resources, provide opportunities to connect with other students, learn about student groups and the many ways to get involved, and aid in the transition to life at Harvard for international students; students with families, spouses, or children; special students; and visiting Fellows. GSAS Welcomes includes a Canvas course and the following list of events:
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
- International Student Pre-Arrival Webinar (Part 1): 8:00 a.m. (EDT), virtual
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
- International Student Pre-Arrival Webinar (Part 2): 8:00 a.m. (EDT), virtual
Monday, August 22, 2022
- International Student Orientation: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Emerson Hall
- International Student Reception: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
- GSAS Families Brunch: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
- All Student Welcome: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Sanders Theater
- Resource Fair: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
- Social Hour, sponsored by the Graduate School Alumni Association: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
Friday, August 26, 2022
- Student Involvement Fair: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
- GSAS Student Center Open House Party: 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Saturday, September 10, 2022
- GSAS Lunch on the Lawn: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Museum Lawn (rain date of Sunday, September 11, 2022)
General questions about GSAS Welcomes can be directed to the Office of Student Services at email@example.com. Keep an eye on your inbox for additional details as August approaches!
Academic or Personal Support
No matter what kind of support you need during your time at Harvard, the GSAS Office of Student Services is here to help. To schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with Danielle Farrell, director of student services, students can drop by room B-2, located in the basement of the GSAS Student Center, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., reach out by phone (617-495-5005) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or book an appointment online. Danielle and the office's staff are here to assist and support students however we can!
Financial Aid and Support
Get to know your Financial Aid Officer who can help you help you plan financially for the term of your degree program.
Students who receive stipends as part of their financial award will receive payment on the first of the month either by direct deposit or check. If the first of the month falls on a weekend, the check date will be the Friday before the first. In early summer, you will receive communication from the GSAS Office of Financial Aid regarding the stipend disbursement schedule. If you have questions about this, please contact your financial aid officer. Additionally, students will receive an email from the Harvard University Student Financial Services office over the summer with instructions on how to sign up for direct deposit.
While international student stipends are ordinarily taxed based on their country’s tax treaty with the US, this year the pandemic has resulted in situations where this rule may not apply. More information is available from Harvard University Student Financial Services.
GLACIER Tax Compliance System
You may receive an email from Harvard about the GLACIER tax compliance system. International students who will not be in the US in the fall do not need to enter information into GLACIER at this time; international students coming into the US at this time will need to enter their information into GLACIER prior to arrival.
Your Financial Aid Officer can help with questions about loans.
GSAS students can purchase an MBTA pass at a 50 percent discount.
For International Students
When you arrive at Harvard, you should report to the Harvard International Office (HIO) with your passport and visa documentation. HIO staff will walk you through a brief registration process and provide information to help orient you to the area.
English Language Help
If you would like to strengthen your English, check out the resources at the Academic Resource Center and The Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.
Fellowships for First-Year Graduate Students
There are a number of fellowships specific to first-year and second-year graduate students with deadlines in October or November. GSAS provides resources and workshops on fellowship opportunities.
The GSAS Student Center
The GSAS Student Center in Lehman Hall is the center of GSAS student life. The Center has a cafeteria, a library, game room, study spaces, computer lab, coffee house, and several administrative offices serving graduate students.
Student Groups and Events
Discover your GSAS community! Engage allows you to connect with student groups, find events, and explore social and learning opportunities.
Here at Harvard, we shorten names and use a lot of acronyms. Learn some at Harvard Speak.
Advice from the GSAS Community
You Belong at Harvard
"Graduate students are by nature critical. Unleash your curiosity and turn down your inner critic." —Emma Dench, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
“First, be confident that you do belong here. The imposter syndrome is surprisingly common, even among the elite group of students we bring into our programs, but our degree programs do a good job of evaluating applications, and you are here because you have earned it.”—James M. Hogle, PhD, Edward S. Harkness Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, former Faculty Dean of Dudley House
“Relax. Everyone else also thinks that they don’t deserve to be here.”—Donal Cahill, PhD ’15
“Talk to others about your own work. They’ll be interested. It will stimulate them, motivate them, and give them new ideas. And I find that talking to someone in a completely unrelated field about my own work often helps me make progress.”—Anshul Kumar, PhD '18
"Don't just focus on classes: make sure you go to research seminars as much as possible."—Yueran Ma, PhD student in business economics
“Be prepared to experience failure. In many ways, graduate school at Harvard is an exercise in extremes: the most advanced course, taught by the most distinguished faculty, to a group of the most talented students, in preparation for solving the most challenging, unmet research problems. Somewhere along the way, your aims are going to exceed your grasp and you will fail. This is a good thing. This is how you learn more about the problem you are studying and the current, hopefully temporary, limits of your own abilities. In most cases, failure is a necessary prerequisite to success.”—Allen Aloise, PhD ’04, GSAS Dean for Administration and Finance
“Take risks. It may mean that you fail sometimes, but that’s okay. You learn the most when you fail, and learning how to deal with failure is probably more important than learning how to deal with success.” —Sheila Thomas, PhD, GSAS Dean for Academic Programs and Diversity
Make Time for Yourself
"All work and no play actually make you less productive! Work-life balance is important and isn't something that magically happens; you have to work on it."—Sa-Kiera Hudson, PhD student in social psychology
"Look at the student groups and see which ones might fit your interests, and surround yourself with a community. Graduate school is hard enough as it is . . . if you don't have a community surrounding you, it's going to be that much harder."—Alyssa Hernandez, GSAS Diversity Fellow and PhD student in organismic and evolutionary biology
“Do not be afraid to ask for help! This is completely cliché, but it’s still the most important piece of advice I have for incoming graduate students. Many students feel intimidated when coming to Harvard and think that asking for help (of any kind) somehow makes them unintelligent. I can guarantee that the only unintelligent thing you are doing is NOT asking for help.”—Cammi Valdez, PhD ’14
“Grad school is intense and demanding. It can get hard, but keep in mind that if you don't face some hardship and struggle, then you are not really learning. These difficulties will help you grow both academically and as a person. If you are facing a problem or you have some concerns, whether it is personal or academic, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are plenty of resources for GSAS students and there are people who genuinely care about your welfare as a grad student.”—Ismail Ben Atitallah, PhD student in engineering and applied sciences
“I advise new students to seek help when they need it. People at Harvard are more than happy to help or answer academic or personal questions.”—Sophie Gilmore, PhD student in visual and environmental studies
Connecting with your Advisor
“A mentor relationship can be defined as going beyond just narrow academic advising; typically the mentor takes the whole person into account, conveying a sense of support and encouragement.”—Cynthia Verba, former GSAS Director of Fellowships
“One thing my advisor kept reminding me was that there's literally nothing that can prepare you for a PhD program at Harvard, and that was a comforting reminder. That advice allowed me to be a little more compassionate toward myself and just ride the waves of transition with grace.”—Avriel Epps, PhD student in education
Harvard University requires all enrolled students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving on campus for fall classes, using a vaccine authorized or approved by the FDA or the World Health Organization. For international students unable to access FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccines, the University plans to offer vaccination on arrival. Learn more about the requirement on the Harvard University Health Services vaccine webpage.