Course Meeting Times

Traditionally, courses meet for three hours per week. Before 1 pm, hour-long courses are scheduled on the hour, Monday through Friday. One-and-one-half hour courses are scheduled for 8:30-10 am, 10-11:30 am, or 11:30 am-1 pm, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Two-hour seminars may be held on Friday mornings. After 1 pm, courses may begin on either the hour or half hour, Monday through Friday. Courses scheduled at non-compliant meeting times must be approved by the Registrar. Approved courses are required to meet in classrooms scheduled through offices other than the FAS Registrar.

By Faculty vote, no class, committee or departmental meeting, tutorial, conference, examination, or other academic activity may be scheduled from 4:00 until 5:30 p.m., or any part of that period, on any of the days designated for meetings of the Faculty (usually the first Tuesday of the month, from 4 to 5:30 pm, October through May excluding January). Exceptions to this rule may be granted only by the Registrar.

Classes ordinarily begin five minutes after the announced meeting time, e.g., at 9:05 or 11:35. An instructor may refuse to permit students to enter the classroom after the class has begun. Instructors should end the course promptly at the announced meeting time, leaving the blackboards clear and the furniture properly configured. (Note: Course meeting times posted in my.harvard display an end-time of one minute before the class ends, e.g.. 9:59 or 10:29. This is necessary to prevent a course scheduling conflict when the student enrolls in the course.) The five minutes allotted for transition is not reserved by either course. Instructors should exercise professional conduct when entering or vacating a classroom.

In Spring 2017 the Faculty voted to adopt a new schedule for the FAS that will go into effect in the academic year 2018-2019. Departments will be prompted over the 2017-2018 academic year to submit new schedules in conformity with the new plan.

Holidays and Days Preceding and Following Holidays and Vacations

FAS classes will be held on observed Veteran’s Day (check the Academic Calendar for the specific date). Otherwise, classes should not be held on holidays or during vacations. By vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, instructors are expected to hold regular classes on the days preceding and following holidays and vacations. Students should not be excused from class on those days or allowed to transfer temporarily from one section to another to accommodate a longer holiday or vacation.

Courses Meeting Away from the University

Ordinarily, courses should be organized to meet only in their regularly-scheduled times, plus the additional times scheduled at the beginning of the term for sections and laboratories. In some cases, an instructor may wish to include a field trip or project that would take students away from the University on days when classes are normally held and, thereby, interfere with students’ ability to attend other courses. In such cases, permission to include activities that will take students away from the University must be obtained before the course may be listed in the my.harvard Course Search. Instructors must consult with the Office of Undergraduate Education about courses below the 200- or 2000-level and with the Dean of the Graduate School about courses at or above the 200- or 2000-level. Ordinarily, instructors should plan no more than one class day away from the University in any given week and never more than five class days during the term, or ten days total including weekends. In all cases, the students’ obligations to other courses meeting at their regularly-scheduled times must have priority over course requirements that take students away from the University. Instructors must announce at the beginning of a course any requirements that would take students away from the University so that students may consider these requirements when choosing their courses.

Reading Period

At the end of each term, a period of six or seven days prior to the start of final examinations is designated as Reading Period. Reading Period is intended to be a time for students to reflect, review, and synthesize what they have learned during the semester. In order to protect this educational purpose, the following rules apply during Reading Period:

  • With the exception of designated intensive language courses, no regular instruction may take place during Reading Period. Sections and review sessions may take place during Reading Period as may class sessions that must be made up due to weather or other emergencies.
  • Courses may not assign new material during Reading Period.
  • All seated final examinations, of whatever duration (up to three hours) or scope, must take place on the assigned date that corresponds with a course’s Exam and Student Deadline Group as assigned by the Office of the Registrar. 
  • Final papers, take-home exams, projects, presentations, and other culminating course assignments due after the end of regular classes must be due on or before the day of each course’s assigned Examination and Student Deadline Group, but no earlier than the fourth day of Reading Period. Final projects that include individual or group presentations may be scheduled beginning on the fourth day of Reading Period and may extend through the Final Examination and Project Period.*
  • Short, regular assignments that address material covered in the last two weeks of classes (such as problem sets or response papers) may be due during the first three days of Reading Period.  

Regardless of whether a class meets during Reading Period, that time is an integral part of the term. Students are expected to remain in the immediate vicinity of Cambridge throughout this period.

* Each course will be assigned a final exam/student deadline group in order to spread out student deadlines and to establish grading due dates. While instructors may establish earlier deadlines per faculty legislation, the spirit of this policy is to spread students’ final assignment deadlines across the entire exam period to avoid having all assignments due at the same time. If an instructor decides to use an earlier deadline it is very important that students are well informed about this change from the posted deadline.

Examination Period

Courses that culminate in a final examination of any duration (up to three hours) must hold their exams during the designated Final Examination and Project Period and during the Exam/Final Deadline Group assigned by the Registrar's Office. There are two exam sessions each day: morning exams begin at 9:00 a.m. and afternoon exams begin at 2:00 p.m.