Study Abroad

Harvard views study abroad as an invaluable part of every student’s education and strongly encourages students to explore the possibilities for earning degree credit for study in another culture. The Faculty’s Standing Committee on Education Abroad works with the staff of the Office of International Programs (OIP) to develop and monitor the best possible academic opportunities. Details about arranging a program of study abroad for Harvard credit may be found in the Guide to Study Abroad and at the OIP Website.

Options for Study Abroad

Sophomores, juniors and seniors may study abroad at a foreign university, in a program sponsored by a US university, or in field-based programs. Students may enroll directly in the best universities in the world, or work in the field under leading researchers.

Up to a full year of credit may be granted for study at an accredited institution that is approved by Harvard University for credit transfer. No more than four half-courses of credit may be earned for a term of work; and no more than two half-courses may be earned for a summer of work. A total of eight half-courses may be transferred to Harvard from study abroad.

Students may earn concentration and elective credit, reduce up to two of their Core or General Education requirements, and earn credit toward a language citation from a Harvard language department through academic work completed for degree credit abroad. Specific information about these options is provided on the OIP Website, the Core or General Education Websites (see Core Credit for Study Abroad or Study Abroad During Term Time under General Education), and through the undergraduate advisers in the language 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 a language of the host country before going abroad. As part of their academic program during each term abroad, students in non-Anglophone countries will ordinarily be expected to take either an appropriate language course or a course taught entirely in a language of the host country.

Procedures for Earning Degree Credit for Study Abroad

It is important to begin the study abroad planning process early: first-year students are encouraged to begin thinking about how to incorporate this experience into their studies, and all students are encouraged to seek assistance from the Office of International Programs. Students should also consult with their concentration Head Tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies, and their Resident Dean.

Applications for degree credit for study abroad must be completed and submitted before the program of study begins. Online application instructions and materials are available on the OIP Website. The deadlines for submitting applications are March 1 for study abroad during the fall term or full academic year, and October 1 for study abroad during the spring term. See the OIP Website for summer credit application deadlines. Applications may be approved prior to these dates, and students are strongly encouraged to apply early. To be approved for study abroad, a student must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at Harvard College 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.

OIP suggests that students consult the office Website ( for detailed guidance on the process for obtaining credit for study abroad, for links to various internet resources. Harvard’s policy regarding credit and sponsorship for undergraduates wishing to travel to countries for which the US State Department has issued a warning also appears on this site.

Students eligible for financial aid may apply to use that aid to pay for term-time study abroad for Harvard credit. Sources for summer funding are listed in the Funding Sources Database. 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 have access to Harvard libraries and services.

It is expected that students who study abroad will take a full course-load, as determined and approved by the OIP. Any term for which a student receives four half-courses of degree credit (an approved study abroad term) will reduce by one the number of terms for which a student may register at Harvard College. An approved study abroad term for which full credit was pre-approved, but only partial credit is granted (1–3 half-courses) does not reduce the student’s number of terms at Harvard but may subject the student to an acceleration fee. Such a term of partial credit will also require that the student make up the credit deficiency either by applying a fifth course taken earlier at Harvard, or making up the course in a future term or through Harvard Summer School. See Acceleration, Residence Requirement, and Rate of Work.

Independent Study with a member of a Harvard Faculty while a student is studying for degree credit out of residence is governed by the same policies as Independent Study in residence, except that the Independent Study petition must be reviewed as part of the overall application for study out of residence.

Harvard does not ordinarily grant credit for study out of residence at other US 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 away within the US can be obtained from the OIP.

Students may cross-register for courses offered by other Harvard Faculties or by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. See Study at Other Boston-Area Institution.