Advising Programs Office

Freshman Advising

As part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Curricular Review, the Standing Committee on Advising and Counseling (which issued a report in May 2005) recommended the establishment of an Advising Programs Office (APO), which began to take shape in February 2006. This office is charged with coordinating, supporting, and facilitating academic advising programs for all undergraduates and, as such, works with students, faculty, the Freshman Dean’s Office, the Houses, and other Harvard College and FAS offices on all aspects of pre-concentration and concentration advising.

All incoming first-year students are provided a network of advisers: a proctor, a freshman academic adviser, a peer advising fellow, and a Resident Dean of Freshmen who together serve as the student’s chief initial resources for academic and non-academic advice.

Proctor: The proctor is an administrator or graduate student who lives in the dorm and advises on personal, residential, social, and academic matters. In some cases, the proctor is also the academic adviser. Proctors oversee an entryway of approximately 20-30 students, and along with the Peer Advising Fellows, they are also responsible for fostering entryway community.

Freshman Adviser: Freshman advisers are faculty members, administrators and/or proctors at the University who together form the Board of Freshman Advisers. Freshman advisers help first-year students select courses and explore a wide range of questions on the curriculum, academic requirements, educational goals, summer opportunities, career aspirations, and extracurricular interests. Our freshman advisers work with an average of 3-6 first-year students apiece and can act as both a sounding board for students’ ideas and a link between students and further resources.

Peer Advising Fellow: The PAF is a sophomore, junior, or senior at the College who has been appointed, trained, and supported by the Advising Programs Office to offer advice and assistance to first-year students. Fellows are assigned by entryway and, together with the entryway proctors, are responsible for entryway and dorm-wide programming. Fellows are matched with approximately ten freshmen in the entryway and bring a student’s perspective to the first-year advising network.

Resident Dean of Freshmen: The Freshman Dean’s Office (FDO) is responsible for the overall well-being of first-year students at Harvard. There are three Resident Deans of Freshmen; one for each of the clusters of dorms that comprise Ivy Yard, Crimson Yard, and Elm Yard. Resident Deans also work closely with the proctors and PAFs in their respective Yards.

As helpful as these advisers are, we emphasize to all first-year students that no adviser has all of the answers, and that students should be proactive in making use of all resources at their disposal at Harvard.

Sophomore Advising

As a result of the May 2006 faculty legislation that changed the timing of concentration choice from the end of the second to the end of the third term, the Advising and Counseling Committee, in collaboration with the Masters, the Dean of the College, and the Advising Programs Office and its Student Advisory Board, designed a sophomore advising program to support sophomores as they enter House life and concentrations. The goals of sophomore advising at Harvard College are to support sophomores as they engage in focused academic exploration and to help them make successful transitions into their Houses and their chosen concentrations. Sophomores, like freshmen, begin the year with a network of advisers: a sophomore adviser, a sophomore advising coordinator, and an Allston Burr Resident Dean. Once they choose a concentration, they also have a concentration adviser or advising team. While concentration advisers serve as the primary academic advisers for sophomores in the fourth term, sophomore advisers continue to work with their advisees throughout the year, supporting students in their transition into concentrations; addressing academic issues such as study abroad, secondary fields, and research opportunities; and providing individualized, holistic attention.

By the middle of the sophomore year, Harvard students make the transition from exploring all of the concentrations that might interest them to selecting one concentration for focused study. We encourage students to consider many factors in making this decision. These include the student’s intellectual interests, the concentration community and culture, the required coursework, availability of research opportunities and faculty contact, advising structures, class size, thesis policies, and ways in which concentration choice may play a role in post-graduation paths.

Concentrations are very involved in helping students find the right program for their individual needs and interests and collaborate on pre-concentration advising efforts with the Freshman Dean’s Office and the Advising Programs Office. In September, there are divisional fairs, panels and a Peer Advising Fellows study break for freshmen. In April, the APO sponsors Advising Fortnight, a two-week advising event, during which first-year students engage in at least one advising conversation with a prospective concentration. In the third term, sophomore and other academic advisers encourage students to seek out information from the concentration advising teams before concentration choice in December.

Once a student declares a concentration, the concentration assumes primary academic advising responsibility for the student. The student works with a concentration adviser or with an advising team, depending on the concentration advising structure. The APO also supports concentrations as they guide students in three phases: into an appropriate set of introductory courses in the field of study, to advanced work in the field of study and, when applicable, through a final project or thesis in the senior year.

Since each concentration has a somewhat unique advising structure and process, we encourage all advisers to help pre-concentrators connect with concentrations. Updated contact information for concentration advisers is located under "List of Programs" on the Advising Programs Office Website.

The APO works closely with advisers in all of the concentrations and we are always happy to help students and concentration advisers make connections. Please write to us at with any questions or suggestions.

Advising Website and the Advising Network Portal

The Advising Programs Office has a comprehensive Website for information on advising opportunities for all students, in the freshman yards, in the Houses, and in the concentrations: The goal of this Website is to bring together in one place a vast amount of information on a large number of resources that offer academic and non-academic assistance, support, and information to Harvard College students. In addition to the APO Website, the office has created (in conjunction with the Registrar’s office) the Advising Network Portal, or ANP, where students can view the photos, names, and contact information for all of their assigned advisers. The advisers themselves can also access the ANP to see the photos, names, and contact information for all of their advisees. Choose "Advising Network Portal" on the upper right-hand side of the page at to access the Portal.