GSAS - COVID-19 Updates

Harvard University is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The health, safety, and well-being of the GSAS community, on and off campus, is our top priority. We are following the advice of Harvard University and Harvard University Health Services, which are continuously monitoring information from local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Coronavirus Guidance Website

GSAS Emergency Policy Amendments Website

Latest Updates

[5/12/2020] Travel Advisory Update

May 12, 2020
"Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Given the prolonged public health uncertainty across the United States and around the world, we are writing with updated domestic and international travel guidance.

University-related travel, both international and domestic, is prohibited until further notice and should not be planned or scheduled at this time. This applies to all community members—students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and other academics. We encourage you to explore creative options for alternative study, research, work, and collaboration. We also strongly discourage personal travel, both international and domestic.

Travel increases the risks of exposure to the coronavirus for you and your community. Harvard bases its travel guidance on a variety of factors, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Global Level 3 Warning – Avoid Non-Essential Travel, the U.S. State Department’s Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel, and the CDC’s recommendation against domestic travel. Governments worldwide have issued similar warnings and entry restrictions, which can change without advance notice.

We understand that states and localities within the United States and around the world have issued varying levels of travel restrictions and that many are revising travel guidance in real time. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and government travel advisories both domestically and internationally and adjust the University’s travel guidance accordingly. We will update you as the situation evolves.

Note that this guidance for personal travel does not affect individuals who remained in on-campus housing after Spring Recess and who will be traveling home any time between now and the end of the spring semester.

If you choose to travel for personal reasons, please make sure that you understand your destination’s travel restrictions (e.g., 14-day quarantine) and that you take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and others during your trip (e.g., wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash them; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; remain at least six feet from others; and wear a cloth face covering). If you are coming back to Massachusetts from elsewhere, please remember that the Commonwealth requires a 14-day quarantine.

As always, the health and safety of our community on and off campus is the driving factor in our decision making. We look forward to the day when these travel restrictions are relaxed. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience, understanding, and adherence to these guidelines.


Alan M. Garber AB '77, PhD '82, MD

Katie Lapp
Executive Vice President

Giang T. Nguyen MD, MPH, MSCE, FAAFP
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services"

[5/8/2020] - GSAS Emergency Support Initiative

May 8, 2020

[The following message was sent to GSAS Students on 5/8/2020]


"Dear GSAS Students,

Last week, I announced the launch of the GSAS Emergency Support Initiative, the first phase in GSAS student support that includes targeted measures designed to help PhD students overcome academic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are now open for:

  • Emergency COVID-19 funds for GSAS students, including lost-time funding and emergency summer research awards;
  • GSAS visiting fellow status opportunities;
  • Postdoctoral writing and fellowship appointments.

Please visit to learn more and apply.

This phase of support was designed to prioritize research or postgraduate plans that, due to access issues or personal conditions, were severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As I mentioned in my earlier message, GSAS is working with our University partners to evaluate additional categories of need to determine the next phase of support so that we may expand the program.

As more opportunities for support become available, I will be in touch.

Emma Dench
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics"

[5/5/2020] Steps toward Reopening Research Facilities

May 5, 2020

[email sent to GSAS students on 5/5/2020]

"Dear GSAS Students, 

I wanted to share a message from Provost Alan Garber about steps toward reopening Harvard’s research facilities, which went out to Harvard faculty earlier today. As you will read, the Provost has asked that a committee be formed to develop a phased approach for the resumption of laboratory-based research. He also notes that preparations are underway for the phased resumption of research access to Harvard’s libraries and museums. 

I trust this is welcome news to those of you relying on access to labs, libraries, and other scholarly resources to continue your research. While there is still much to be done, progress is being made. I am particularly heartened by the Provost’s acknowledgement that lost research productivity is not only a problem for faculty, but one that affects the academic progress of graduate students as well.

The Provost’s Office plans to communicate progress regularly, and GSAS will ensure that students are kept informed. 

With all best wishes, 

Emma Dench 
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 
McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics"

[5/1/2020] GSAS Launching Emergency Support Initiative

May 1, 2020

[email sent to GSAS students on 5/1/2020]

"Dear GSAS Students,

Today, GSAS is launching an Emergency Support Initiative, four targeted measures designed to help PhD students overcome academic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Support Initiative includes:

  • Lost-Time Funding
  • Emergency Summer Research Awards
  • GSAS Visiting Fellow Status Opportunities
  • Postdoctoral Writing and Fellowship Appointments

Lost-Time Funding
Students will be able to apply for up to a year of additional funding to make up for time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students currently on dissertation completion fellowships whose completion has been delayed will be prioritized, followed by those on research fellowships during March 2020.

Emergency Summer Research Awards
Students whose summer 2020 research plans will be disrupted may apply for awards to help them advance their progress toward the degree.

GSAS Visiting Fellow Status
GSAS will allow students graduating in May and November 2020, who do not have a job lined up or whose employment was delayed, to apply for a GSAS visiting fellow appointment for up to a one-year term. These recent alumni would:

  • Remain members of the Harvard community, with access to libraries and other Harvard resources so that they may continue their research independently.
  • Have visiting fellow tuition waived and access to Harvard’s health insurance plan at the student rate.
  • Be able to continue searching for jobs while retaining a Harvard affiliation, including their Harvard email address.
Postdoctoral Writing and Fellowships Appointments
The GSAS Center for Fellowships, Writing, and Communicating Ideas is actively supporting students in maintaining progress on their dissertations and in improving their fellowship applications. To expand this work, over the next two years GSAS will create ten one-year postdoctoral writing and fellowships appointments, to which graduating Harvard PhDs may apply. This will provide opportunities for new graduates while helping current students advance their scholarship and enhance their ability to secure outside funding.

This initial phase is made possible thanks to the flexibility of an anonymous GSAS graduate, who allowed their generous gift to be redirected to fund the Initiative. We are tremendously grateful for their desire to support our students.

GSAS is currently creating mechanisms to collect applications for these four opportunities, which we anticipate will be available next week. You will receive an email with more details once the application process is live.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, GSAS has heard directly from students and their advocates, including faculty and directors of graduate studies, about the many ways this public health emergency is affecting PhD students. We first focused on personal safety and emergency needs while we worked with our University partners to evaluate additional categories of need to determine this next phase of support. In the coming weeks, we will continue working with our University partners to augment and expand this program.

We understand that this has been an extraordinarily difficult time, and I thank you for your patience as we undertook this important work. As more opportunities for support come online, I will be in touch.

All best wishes,

Emma Dench
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics"

[4/22/2020] The GSAS Professional Development Fund for PhD Students

April 22, 2020

The GSAS Professional Development Fund for PhD Students

Established through the generous donations of alumni and other benefactors, the GSAS Professional Development Fund supports PhD students seeking to obtain the competencies and skills necessary to be successful in their chosen professions.

If noted in the Notice of Financial Support provided at the time of admission, PhD students who entered GSAS between fall 2015 and fall 2019 and who are in their third year of study or beyond may be eligible to apply for up to $2,500 from the GSAS Professional Development Fund. Please note, as with all other stipends, the Professional Development Fund is considered taxable income. For more information, please consult the Special Note Concerning US Income Taxes section of the GSAS website.

Before applying, students should review the list of approved professional development expenditures developed by their program and discuss their professional development plans with faculty advisors or directors of graduate studies. Please note that these funds are not intended to be used for activities supported by existing departmental resources, to fund dissertation research travel, or to purchase equipment (e.g. computers).

Students must complete a final report within 60 days of completing the professional development activity.

Student Eligibility

  • Eligibility will be noted in the Notice of Financial Support provided at the time of admission.
  • Students must have entered a GSAS PhD program between fall 2015 and fall 2019, must be in their third year or beyond, and must be deemed eligible by their directors of graduate studies.
  • Students must be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Students must submit a funding proposal using the application instructions below.

Eligible Professional Development Activities

The Fund is designed to support access to workshops, conferences, courses, and other activities and resources that help students develop new competencies and skills, for example:

  • Writing and communicating ideas
  • Leadership and management
  • Teaching and mentoring
  • Career exploration and preparation
  • Data analysis and digital skills development

Activities or expenditures that are inconsistent with these guidelines will be ineligible for funding. Among the ineligible expenses are:

  • Equipment/computers
  • Books
  • Software
  • Research expenditures
  • Publication costs
  • Editing services
  • Job interview expenses

Award Amounts

Students can request any amount from a minimum of $300 up to a maximum of $2,500. Once the request is approved, the GSAS Office of Financial Aid will provide an award notification and disburse the award via a single stipend payment.

The entire amount does not have to be requested all at once; students may request smaller amounts multiple times until they reach a cumulative total of $2,500.

Application Periods for 2019–2020

Students may apply for the Professional Development Fund during the following application periods:

  • July 1 through August 31 (for October 1 fund disbursement)
  • October 1 through December 20 (for February 1 fund disbursement)
  • February 1 through April 30 (for June 1 fund disbursement)

How to Apply

Note to applicants: Starting with the fall 2019 application cycle, you no longer need to provide a faculty endorsement form.

  1. Log in to the Centralized Application for Research and Travel (CARAT)* using your Harvard Key.
  2. Click Apply! at the top of the page, which goes to the Browse Opportunities and Apply! page.
  3. Click on the blue Filter button in the upper right section of the page. In the Enter Keywords to Search For field, type GSAS Professional Development Fund and click on the blue GO button.
  4. Select GSAS Professional Development Fund in the left column to display program details and click on the blue Apply button.
  5. Choose the Project Description tab, enter the requested information, and click Save and Next.
  6. You will now be on the Travel tab. Enter the requested information (Cambridge/USA if not traveling), then click Save and Next.
  7. You will now be on the Additional Questions tab. Enter your itemized expenses, and click Save and Next.
  8. You will now be on the Submission tab; answer the question concerning human subjects research.
  9. Select Click Here to Validate Application.
  10. Enter your Harvard ID number, hit tab, then click on Submit Application. Click OK to finalize your submission.

​*If you experience problems completing the CARAT application, you may request assistance by clicking Contact Us on the bottom right of each page in the CARAT system.


If you have questions about the GSAS Professional Development Fund or the application instructions, contact your Financial Aid Officer.


April 18, 2020

With many students moving their graduation date from May to November, GSAS has received questions about whether these students will need to pay tuition. Students who apply for and receive the November 2020 degree are not charged tuition for the fall term, as the spring term is considered their final term of enrollment. Students can elect to pay for health coverage through January 31, 2021, if they submit their dissertation ON the September deadline (tentatively scheduled for September 9). Students who DO NOT wish to retain health coverage should submit their dissertation ON OR BEFORE September 8.

The degree calendar for 2020–2021 is now available.

If you are concerned about a student having academic or personal difficulties, email Danielle Farrell, director of the Office of Student Services. Danielle assists students navigate and connect with GSAS, Harvard, and local resources. Danielle also provides advice and ongoing support, making referrals to other services as necessary.

Students can email the Fellowships Office to set up an individual counseling appointment to discuss their fellowship proposal and receive advice on how to articulate the significance of their fellowship project.