Arrival and Orientation

How can I get to Cambridge from the airport?

Check out the Traveling to Harvard section on the New Students page.

What orientation programs are offered for new students?

In addition to the events run by academic departments, GSAS Welcomes offers several orientation events you are strongly encouraged to attend:

Orientation for Incoming Students 
DudleyFest
Social Hour
Discover Dudley

Orientation provides essential information for graduate students followed by a luncheon for you and members of your department. Following the luncheon, students can attend workshops, visit a resource fair, and learn about student groups during DudleyFest. The afternoon ends with the Graduate School Alumni Association Social Hour outside Dudley House.

How do I set up my Harvard online account?

Over the summer, the GSAS Office of Admissions sends an e-mail that includes your Harvard ID number. You'll need your ID number to to claim your HarvardKey, which will automatically create a g.harvard account for you in the Google Apps for Harvard system (if you are a returning student or current Harvard affiliate, you can request a Google Apps (@g.harvard.edu) e-mail account). 

Once you have claimed your HarvardKey, you will need to upload a current photo to our ID system, which will generate your Harvard ID card (if you already uploaded a photo or had your photo taken during Harvard Summer School, you are not required to upload a new photo).

Protect and secure your personal computer by downloading free ESET anti-virus software and don’t forget to register for Harvard’s MessageMe system, which allows the University to send emergency alerts via voice, text, or e-mail.

How do I register and enroll as a student in GSAS?

Registration for incoming students is a two-step process. First, visit my.harvard.edu and log in with your HarvardKey between Monday, August 14, 2017, and Thursday, August 29, 2017, to check in. Instructions can be found by visiting the FAS Registrar’s Office and selecting the GSAS registration tab. Then, follow instructions at my.HARVARD to enroll in your courses during the first week of classes.

Next, come to DudleyFest on August 24, 2017, to receive your ID card and your first stipend check, if applicable (see the Financial Aid FAQ below for more information). Representatives from the FAS Registrar's Office will be available to answer any questions. If you do not have access to a computer before arriving at Harvard, terminals will be available at DudleyFest.

To expedite receiving your ID card, submit your ID photo ahead of time so that your card will be ready for pickup.

I live off-campus. Does GSAS subsidize transportation?

The MBTA Semester Pass Program provides bus, link, and commuter rail passes for the fall and spring terms, October through January and February through May. GSAS students can purchase semester MBTA bus and link passes at a 50 percent discount by completing the MBTA Semester Pass form by the deadline. The cost will be added to your term bill. Once available, student purchasers will receive an e-mail to pick up their passes in Cambridge or in the Longwood Medical Area. 

What is this Dudley House I keep hearing about?

Dudley House has served as the graduate student center for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for over 25 years, offering social, intellectual, and recreational activities designed to help GSAS students make connections outside of the classroom, lab, or library. From its central location in Harvard Yard, Dudley welcomes students from all GSAS departments and disciplines. Students can drop in at any time for a good meal at the Dudley Café or a cup of coffee in Café Gato Rojo, access the computer lab, and visit administrative offices. The Dudley Library provides a quiet place to read while the Dudley Game Room offers ping pong, pool, and more ways to unwind. 

Learn more on Friday, August 25, 2017, at Discover Dudley, where you can explore the House and meet other students, the Dudley House faculty deans, Dudley fellows, and staff.

If I am not living in the GSAS residence halls, can I still eat in Dudley House?

Yes, there are a number of options that would allow you to eat at Dudley Café. 

What do I have to do about immunizations?

Massachusetts has strict immunization requirements that you must meet in order to register for classes, and Harvard University Health Services requires that you complete and return a student immunization form prior to Registration. Visit Harvard University Health Services' Student Immunization Form FAQ for more information. You can also e-mail HUHS Medical Records or call 617-495-2055 with any questions about requirements.

Where can I find information about health coverage?

Harvard University Health Services offers health coverage through the Student Health Program.

Harvard sure uses a lot of acronyms. What do they all mean?

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.

Financial Aid

What does my tuition grant cover?

For students whose financial support includes tuition grants, these grants cover GSAS tuition charges, the Student Health Fee, and the Student Health Insurance Plan. Costs related to dependent health coverage and dental health coverage are not included.

When can I pick up my first stipend check?

Students in the natural sciences, the Division of Medical Sciences, biological sciences in dental medicine, biological sciences in public health, biophysics, business economics, chemistry and chemical biology, chemical biology, chemical physics, molecular and cellular biology, and systems biology will receive their first stipend checks directly from their academic programs.

All other students should pick up their first check at DudleyFest on August 24, 2017, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Be sure to pick up your HUID first, as you will need it to receive your check. With your first check you will also receive instructions for setting up direct deposit for subsequent disbursement.

Who is my financial aid officer?

 All GSAS programs have a designated financial aid officer.

Where can I apply for a loan deferment?

Contact the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office, located on the 4th floor of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge.

How do I apply for loans?

For information regarding educational loans, loan disbursements, or the status of a loan application, contact your financial aid officer.

I filed a FAFSA when I applied to Harvard. Is that all I need to do to receive federal loans?

In addition to the FAFSA, you will need to complete supplemental forms to initiate a federal student loan request. Contact your financial aid officer for details.

I have a hold and cannot register. What should I do?

There are four types of “holds” for incoming students, described in the Registration and Enrollment for Resident Students section of the GSAS Student Handbook:

  • Financial Hold. If all outstanding term bill charges have not been fully paid, you will not be able to register. Although most PhD students have tuition/health fee grants to cover those charges, you may have other charges on your term bill (for example, charges related to housing) that need to be paid prior to registration. Contact your financial aid officer for details.
  • Admissions Hold. This hold indicates that the GSAS Office of Admissions has not received all of your required documents over the summer; contact the GSAS Office of Admissions at 617-495-5315 for assistance.
  • Medical Hold. Contact Harvard University Health Services to determine how to complete any unmet health-related requirements.
  • International Student Hold. It may be that you have not yet had your required meeting with your international student advisor. Contact the Harvard International Office for assistance.