Harvard views study abroad as an invaluable part of every student's undergraduate education and encourages students to explore the possibilities of earning degree credit studying in another country. Details about term-time study abroad may be found on the Office of International Education (OIE) website.
The Office of International Education advises Harvard College students on all aspects related to study abroad. The OIE works closely with each student to find a program that best matches his or her academic and personal goals, while also guiding them through the course approval and credit transfer process.
The OIE website has extensive advising resources, including information on approved programs and universities, course and credit guidelines, FAQ’s, a calendar of events, and contact information for the OIE staff, concentration and language advisers, and students advisers and ambassadors who have recently returned from a term abroad.
It’s never too early to begin planning for study abroad, so students are encouraged as early as their first year to begin thinking about how to incorporate study abroad as part of their Harvard experience. All students should seek assistance from the OIE as early as possible to begin planning the best study abroad experience for them. Students should also consult with their concentration Head Tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies in addition to their Resident Dean for academic-related questions. To ensure that credits from courses taken abroad will transfer back to Harvard for concentration or secondary field credit, students should work directly with their academic departments. If a student is seeking elective credit for a course taken abroad, the course will be reviewed by an Elective Credit Committee.
Who can Study Abroad?
Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors may participate in term-time study abroad through enrolling directly in a foreign university, in programs sponsored by U.S. universities, or in field-based programs with leading world researchers. The OIE maintains a list of approved programs on the OIE website, which is reviewed and updated annually. If a student is interested in participating in a program that is not on the approved list, the student may petition the program through the formal petition process.
Drop-in hours are held daily (Monday-Friday, 2 – 5 pm), and introductory Study Abroad 101 information sessions are available on a regular basis to get students started in planning their study abroad experience. Students should consult the OIE calendar to find dates and times for these recurring informational sessions as well as the wide variety of information meetings and panels held throughout the year.
Procedures for Earning Degree Credit for Study Abroad
Credit earned abroad are considered transfer credit, for which up to a full year of credit may be earned. No more than 16-credits may be earned per term for term-time study abroad, and no more than 8-credits may be earned for summer study abroad. A total of 32-credits transfer credits may be earned from studying abroad.
Transfer credit may be earned for concentration and/or elective credit and may also contribute to a secondary field or language citation. Additionally, students may earn one General Education reduction per term studied abroad (Academic year 2018-2019 is the last year to take advantage of the Gen Ed reduction) Specific information about these options is provided on the OIE website, the General Education website (see Term Time Study Abroad), and through the undergraduate advisers in the academic departments.
Students planning to study abroad in countries where English is not the first language are encouraged to complete at least one year of study in the host country’s language before studying abroad. Additionally, as part of their academic program during each term abroad, students in non-English-speaking countries are expected to take either a language instruction course or a course taught entirely in a language of the host country.
It is expected that students who study abroad for a semester or academic year will take a full-course-load, as determined and approved by the OIE, and consistent with the College's policies for students studying in residence. Students studying abroad during the fall or the spring term will reduce by one the number of terms for which they may register at Harvard College.
Applying for Study Abroad
The application process is a two-step process. Students must apply directly to their study abroad program or foreign university, and also apply for transfer credit to the OIE. Applications for study abroad transfer credit must be completed and submitted by the deadlines listed below. Online application instructions and materials are available on the OIE website. The deadlines for submitting transfer-credit applications are as follows:
- For Fall Term study: March 1
- For Spring Term study: October 1
For Summer study: Summer Funding, early February;
- General, April 1
Students should monitor carefully the OIE website for updated or changed information. Students are strongly encouraged to begin the application process early.
Online application instructions and materials are available on the OIE website. The student’s Resident Dean and departmental DUS must sign off on a student’s proposed study abroad coursework. This ensures that advising conversations take place before the student receives approval to study abroad. Students should meet with a study abroad adviser from the OIE for specific questions on this process.
To be approved for study abroad, a student must be in good academic and disciplinary standing during the term immediately preceding the proposed period of study. Unless granted permission by the Administrative Board in advance, a student cannot be granted degree credit for course work that begins when the student is on probation for any reason.
Financial Aid and Summer Funding
A student’s financial aid package may be used to pay for term-time study abroad, including tuition, room and board, program and visa fees, books, airfare, and other living expenses. Students eligible for financial aid must submit a Financial Aid Supplement to the Griffin Financial Aid Office, and consult their designated financial aid officer for more detailed information.
All students earning credit abroad during the academic year will be assessed the student services fee; students will also automatically be billed for health insurance, which may be waived by the deadline with proof of comparable coverage.
Students abroad will maintain their Harvard University Identification Number (HUID) and Personal Identification Number (PIN), and will retain access to Harvard libraries and services.
Harvard does not ordinarily grant credit for study out of residence at other U.S. institutions, except in rare cases when such study is judged to offer a “special opportunity” unavailable to the student at Harvard. Information on the process for petitioning for credit for study out of residence within the U.S. can be obtained from the student’s Resident Dean of Freshmen or Resident Dean; if the student’s petition is approved by the Administrative Board, the OIE will be notified by the appropriate Dean and will instruct the student on how to apply for transfer credit.