Harvard Language Revealed

Each university has its own vernacular and Harvard is no exception. Even if English is your mother tongue, it takes a while to get used to Harvard Speak. The following is a partial list of acronyms and terms used by the Harvard community and their definitions.

Ad Board - A committee of faculty charged with interpreting and enforcing the rules of the Faculty of Arts and Science that apply to graduate students.

ART - American Repertory Theatre

B-School - Harvard Business School

BSC - Bureau of Study Counsel, located on 5 Linden Street. Offers tutoring services, a reading course, academic and personal counseling.

CGIS – Center for Government and International Studies

Chan School – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


CMES - Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Concentration - The Harvard term for undergraduate "major."

Coop - The Harvard Cooperative Society, located in Harvard Square. Pronounced as in "hen coop."

Crimson - The name of the student daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson; also the nickname of any Harvard sports team.

Crimson Cash – Students can put money electronically on their Harvard ID card in order to purchase copies, food, and other sundries.

Div School - Harvard Divinity School

Ed School - Also known as HUGSE (Harvard University Graduate School of Education)

EPS - Earth and Planetary Sciences Department

Faculty Deans - Faculty members who lead and administer each undergraduate House.

FAS - Faculty of Arts and Sciences, comprising Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education.

G1, G2, G3, etc. - Designation of the year one is in at GSAS.

Gen Ed – General Education Program. The set of courses undergraduates are required to take outside of their concentration to ensure that their education encompasses a broad range of topics and approaches.

Gov Docs - Government Documents and Microtext Division of the Harvard College Library, located in Lamont Library.

GSAS - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

GSC - Graduate Student Council. Student government for GSAS students.

GSD - Harvard Graduate School of Design

GSE - Harvard Graduate School of Education

HBS - Harvard Business School

HCL - The Harvard College Library, comprising the following libraries: Cabot Science, Fine Arts, Harvard
Yenching, Hilles, Houghton, Kummel, Lamont, Littauer, Loeb Music, Tozzer, and Widener.

HD - The Harvard Depository, located in Southborough, Massachusetts. HD. HD is an off-site storage facility for books and is used to manage the vast collections of the University Libraries.

Head of the Charles - The annual October regatta held on the Charles River.

HGC - Harvard Graduate Council. The HGC is the official student coordinating body for Harvard's twelve graduate and professional schools.

HIO - Harvard International Office

HKS – Harvard Kennedy School of Government

HLS - Harvard Law School

HMS - Harvard Medical School

HOLLIS - An acronym that stands for the Harvard Online Library Information System. Refers to the online catalog and now also to the suite of electronic resources that the libraries make available via the HOLLIS Portal.

House - The residences of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Harvard Houses were modeled on the college systems of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, in England.

HSPH - Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

HUAM - Harvard University Art Museums

HUID - Harvard University Identification (card)

HUIT - Harvard University Information Technology, the group that manages student internet access, email, etc.

HUL - Harvard University Library (the entire library system).

HUPD - Harvard University Police Department

ICG - Instructional Computing Group

IOP - Institute of Politics, at the Kennedy School of Government

K-School - Kennedy School of Government

Let's Go - The series of travel books written by Harvard students.

MAC - Malkin Athletic Center

Masters - Faculty members who lead and administer each undergraduate House.

MBTA - Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (i.e. the subway and buses).

MCZ - Museum of Comparative Zoology, which has a library as well.

MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The other university in Cambridge.

NELC - Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department

OCS - Office of Career Services

Pit - The area immediately surrounding the Harvard Square T stop, one of the Square's hubs of street entertainment.

Proctors - Graduate students or officers of the University who live among freshmen, serve as academic advisors, and direct the events and programs of an entryway.

Q Guide - The Harvard University Course Evaluation Guide. Available online.

QRAC - Quadrangle Recreational Activities Center at 66 Garden Street

Quad - The area surrounded by Currier, Pforzheimer and Cabot Houses.

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study - An interdisciplinary center offering non-degree instruction and executive education programs. The Institute was created when Harvard and Radcliffe formally merged in October 1999.

Reading Period – The period in which students prepare for exams.

Resident Tutors - Graduate students who live in the Houses with students, and provide them with a range of informal advice and counsel.

SEAS - Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Shopping Period - The first five days of an academic term at Harvard, when students can visit classes, sit in on lectures, and review syllabi and readings before the Course Regisrtation deadline.

Statue of 3 Lies - The John Harvard Statue, located outside of University Hall. Lie #1: He didn't found Harvard (the Massachusetts Bay Colony government did). Lie #2: Harvard was founded in 1636 not 1638. Lie #3: It's not even John Harvard. No one knows what he looked like since there are no surviving portraits of the man. Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, used a 19th century undergraduate for his model.

The "T" - Short for MBTA, see definition above.

Tercentenary Theatre - The part of Harvard Yard bounded by Widener Library, University Hall, Sever Hall, and Memorial Chapel. It is the site for Commencement.

TF - Teaching Fellow

UHS - University Health Services

Veritas - The Harvard motto. Latin for truth.

WCFIA – Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

The Yard - Most universities have a quadrangle, but Harvard has its Yard divided into 2 parts. The Old Yard is bordered by the freshman dormitories; the New Yard is bordered by Widener Library and Memorial Church.