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 admiss@fas.harvard.edu.

Health Insurance

Learn about Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) and review information for new students.

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 17, 2022. Course registration opens on August 17, 2022, and the deadline is August 26, 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.

HUHS requires that students provide their immunization history prior to registration. Email HUHS Medical Records or call 617-495-2055 with any questions about the immunization requirements.

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

International Students

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. 

GSAS will also host two International Student Pre-Arrival Webinars on June 22, and July 20, from 8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m. Invitations with the Zoom link and passcode were distributed via email, if you have questions please contact Student Affairs

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

GSAS Welcomes

All incoming students are invited to GSAS Welcomes 2022, a 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), 8:30 a.m. (EDT), virtual. (This event was recorded. Contact Student Affairs if you would like a link to the presentation.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

  • International Student Pre-Arrival Webinar (Part 2), 8:30 a.m. (EDT), virtual. (This event was recorded. Contact Student Affairs if you would like a link to the presentation.)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

  • Visiting Fellow Town Hall, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., virtual: Please pay attention to your email for Zoom links to these very informative and interactive events. Come ask questions and learn all about how to navigate university resources. Questions about the event? Email akent@fas.harvard.edu
  • Special Student Town Hall, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., virtual: Please pay attention to your email for Zoom links to these very informative and interactive events. Come ask questions and learn all about how to navigate university resources. Questions about the event? Email akent@fas.harvard.edu.

Monday, August 22, 2022

  • International Student Orientation, 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Emerson Hall: All new international students will attend an orientation program designed to connect you with other new international students and to help you learn more about graduate life at Harvard and the offices and resources available to help you succeed and thrive! Check in begins at 1:00 p.m., programming will begin at promptly 1:30 p.m. Confirm your attendance today! Questions about the event? Email studaff@fas.harvard.edu.  
  • International Student Reception, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall): Following International Student Orientation, come to the GSAS Student Center at Lehman Hall for a welcome reception with refreshments. During the reception, small groups of new students will connect with a continuing student host to discuss the graduate student experience and life at Harvard and explore the GSAS Student Center! Confirm your attendance and any dietary accommodations. Questions about the event? Email studaff@fas.harvard.edu.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

  • GSAS Families Brunch, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall): GSAS students with spouses, partners, and children are invited to a brunch that includes a resource fair for students and partners, crafts and music for children, and a chance to connect with fellow student-parents and student families. Confirm your attendance and any dietary restrictions. Questions about the event? Email stucenter@fas.harvard.edu.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

  • Convocation, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Sanders Theater: GSAS students are invited to Sanders Theater for the official orientation welcome ceremony! Meet the peers with whom you will navigate your graduate school journey. Speeches by GSAS Dean Emma Dench, Dean Claudine Gay, and student leaders. Confirm your attendance today!
  • Resource Fair, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall): Join us for this year’s in-person Resource Fair! Connect with GSAS offices, University resource groups, and other businesses and services from the surrounding community. You’ll have the chance to explore many tables, chat with staff and fellow students about the services and opportunities offered, and pick up an awesome GSAS blanket! Questions about the event? Email stuserv@fas.harvard.edu. Confirm your attendance today!
  • Social Hour, sponsored by the Graduate School Alumni Association: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall)
  • First Year Affinity Group Reception, 5:30 p.m.: First year students belonging to affinity groups will receive details about this event from the GSAS Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. We hope you can join us for additional upcoming events. For more information, please select the Diversity & Inclusion category in Engage. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

  • Student Involvement Fair, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall): At the GSAS Student Involvement Fair, meet student leaders to learn about GSAS student groups and discover many opportunities to find community at GSAS and pursue your interests outside the classroom, lab, or library, and enjoy refreshments. Confirm your attendance today! Questions about the event? Email stugroups@fas.harvard.edu.
  • GSAS Student Center Open House Party, 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.: Discover the GSAS Student Center at Lehman Hall with the first big bash of the year. Grab some treats and meet student leaders and GSAS staff. End the evening with a DJ dance party! Harvard ID required for entry and government-issued ID required for alcohol. Come and #FindYourCenter. Confirm your attendance today! Questions about the event? Email stucenter@fas.harvard.edu.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

  • GSAS Lunch on the Lawn, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Museum Lawn: GSAS students and individuals living in the GSAS Residence Halls are invited to a casual lunch on the lawn to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Play lawn games, pick up swag, meet other GSAS students, and enjoy the last days of summer! Bring your GSAS Picnic Blanket (given out during the GSAS Welcomes Resource Fair)—the first 100 students who do will also get a limited edition GSAS prize! Guests are welcome. Rain date will be Sunday, September 11. Confirm your attendance today! Questions about the event? Email stucenter@fas.harvard.edu.

General questions about GSAS Welcomes can be directed to the Office of Student Services at stuserv@fas.harvard.edu. 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 Keenan Bailey, case manager for 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 (stuserv@fas.harvard.edu), or book an appointment online. Keenan and Vicky Mooney, the office's program coordinator, are here to assist and support students however they 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. 

Tuition Grant

Tuition grants for eligible students cover GSAS tuition, the Student Health Fee, and the Student Health Insurance Plan. Grants do not cover dependent health or dental care.

Stipend Payment

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.

Taxes 

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.

Loans

Your Financial Aid Officer can help with questions about loans.

MBTA Pass

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.

Harvard Language

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

Research Process

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

Experiencing Failure

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 and Interim Dean of Students

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

Seeking Help

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.