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FAQs: Plans and Enrollment Options

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These FAQs were last updated on July 31, 2020
Jump to: Costs and Financial Aid | Enrollment OptionsDeferrals, Leaves, and Withdrawals | Summer Admissions | International Visa Issues | Campus Access
 

The Decision to be Online

Other colleges and universities, including other schools at Harvard, are making decisions about the 2020–2021 academic year that are different from HGSE. Why did you decide to focus on a fully online experience?

We are mindful of how the pandemic is likely to continue to disrupt residential learning. In addition to intermittent quarantine requirements, we expect distancing measures will need to be in place next year, and there may be multiple, unpredictable interruptions to our on-campus programs that could severely compromise the HGSE learning experience. Additionally, we know that continued travel restrictions may limit many students’ ability to join us in person on Appian Way. Based on our specific context, programs, and diverse student body, we are not certain that we can bring students to the HGSE campus in a safe, equitable, and sustained way. We realize that other institutions or schools may make other decisions based on their specific circumstances, programs, and student body. 

Our decision is also grounded in HGSE’s strong track record of offering high-quality online experiences. We completed the spring semester remotely, and students reported high levels of satisfaction, even surpassing their expectations, in many cases. In addition, we have been delivering online professional education for 20 years and last year reached more than 6,000 educators through online programs.  

Building on our existing offerings and expertise, we are crafting online courses and co-curricular experiences that will take advantage of the best that digital learning has to offer, giving students unparalleled access to instructors and to peers, thoughtful and engaging  learning experiences, and thriving online communities that will help them build and maintain a network of colleagues, friends, and support systems that will last beyond their time at HGSE.    

Why did you decide so early to have remote learning the entire school year when many states seem to be re-opening? Did you consider a fall online/spring in-residence option? 

We made the decision to support remote learning for the full year in acknowledgement of projections made by epidemiologists. Increasingly, we are seeing that even many colleges and universities that intend to open their campuses this fall are announcing decisions to suspend residential learning from Thanksgiving to March in recognition that the we may experience a difficult resurgence of COVID-19 during the winter (i.e., the regular flu season). However, in the case of HGSE, it is important to underscore our specific circumstances. Unlike other colleges and universities, most HGSE students are in a one-year program, and thus we are reluctant to require our students to move to Cambridge for two to three months for a spring semester as this would create prohibitive costs and burdens for those with families, jobs, and personal commitments. Logistically, this would also be challenging given unknown plans to reopen university housing and whether area landlords would be willing to grant leases beginning in January. Finally, given ongoing travel restrictions, our international students would still be unlikely to attend in residence this spring.  

Given these realities, we choose to invest our time, energy, and ideas into creating an outstanding yearlong remote experience. Though we continue to monitor public health conditions, we want to ensure all of our students can fully experience the value of being an HGSE student. 

I’m concerned that an online experience will not be a good as a residential one. Won’t I lose out on the full graduate experience if my full program is online?

Our goal is to provide an innovative online program that draws from our years of experience and best practices in the field. While an online experience will differ from a residential one in many ways, our program will still foster active learning experiences and strong individual and group connections. Moreover, the most important aspects of HGSE are not changing. You will build relationships with our world-class faculty, who are pioneering researchers, seasoned practitioners, and influential policymakers from across the educational landscape. We will help you to build and hone your skills and expand your thinking by grounding your studies in real-world problems. You will engage in field experiences and professional development — something we will be able to do in new ways, with our alumni and education leaders worldwide now available to us at the click of a button. And we will bring voices from across education and from around the world to add to our community-wide dialogue. You may not be in residence, but you will be challenged and engaged, personally and professionally, in ways you may never have imagined. 

Will the entire year be online or are you only planning to be online this fall?

We are planning to be online for a full year for several reasons. First and foremost, we anticipate that potential disruptions, distancing requirements, and travel restrictions will continue throughout the academic year. Even if a vaccine is found very soon — and most experts estimate that it will take 12–18 months — it is not likely to be widely distributed in time to safely welcome all students back for the spring semester. Second, we realize that moving to Cambridge for only part of the year would be disruptive and require our students to make major sacrifices personally and professionally. Moreover, such a move would be complicated logistically given the limited time students would be in Cambridge and concerns about the housing rental market. We are also concerned that a short-term move would be prohibitively expensive for many of our students, who are often leaving and plan to return to public service jobs with modest salaries. Based on these concerns, we do not feel it is appropriate to ask our students to physically join us for only part of the year, especially in this uncertain environment when residential education may be continually disrupted even during the spring.

Did HGSE consider offering hybrid courses rather than being completely online?     

Yes, we did explore numerous scenarios, including the possibility of a hybrid program with some students in the classroom and some being remote. However, based on our spring experience with this delivery model as well as our discussion with other schools that have taken this approach, we became concerned with serious drawbacks. This sort of hybrid model is exceedingly hard to do well, and we worry greatly about creating a two-tier system in which neither the on-campus nor the remote students are fully served. The chances of building something amazing are much higher if a school focused on one or the other rather than compromising both forms of education. Ultimately, based on public health issues, we did not feel confident in being able to offer a strong residential program and thus choose to focus online. 

Are additional scenarios still being considered? 

We continue to explore possibilities and are becoming increasingly hopeful about having students on campus in May. Our hope is that we will be able to announce enhancements and additional options in the months ahead as we figure out more and respond to the evolving public health situation. However, we caution students to realize that no one has certainty about when we will be able to be together physically and interact like we previously did. We do not control the timeline for COVID, a vaccine, or herd immunity, and there are some who warn us that even Fall 2021 could be impacted too.   

If I chose the part-time option, can I have an in-person classroom experience during the second year?

Part-time students should plan to complete their entire degree online. For academic year 2021-22, we have concerns about how public health mandates may continue to impact on-campus activities, and we are also mindful of the limited capacity we have on campus and in our classrooms. As the options for next year become more apparent, we will contact all part-time students to update them on our campus access policies.

Costs and Financial Aid

Will you be offering a tuition discount now that the programs will be online?

We are not offering tuition discounts in response to our decision to be online next year. We are still devoting all our resources to ensuring a high-quality educational experience, including the time, attention, and expertise of our faculty and staff. Even in a virtual environment, students can expect a high level of engagement — individually, with peers, and as a community — and there will be numerous opportunities not only for academic growth but also social events and activities. Given we are not reducing the quality or cost of our programs, nor the value of our degree as a vehicle to advance students’ careers, we are not adjusting our tuition. Our online model does not seek to reduce costs — instead, we are using technology to enhance the HGSE experience and provide as much individual interaction as possible. Moreover, we expect that our students will continue to experience strong benefits from the training and networks they will build as HGSE students. 

We do realize, however, that affordability is a serious concern for our students, and this has only been heightened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working to identify additional resources so that we can better help those who have been especially hard hit by recent economic conditions. 

I heard HGSE increased its tuition. Could you explain the rationale for tuition and what it is covering? 

In January, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected us, HGSE increased tuition by 3.5 percent (from $50,144 for 2019–20 to $51,904 for 2020–21), which is similar to what we have done in years past and is meant to cover ordinary increases in the cost of what we provide. Since then, in conversations both at the university level and internally, we have considered whether an across-the-board tuition cut is warranted with the decision to be remote during AY20–21. As noted above, we are still devoting faculty, staff, and financial resources to ensuring a high-quality educational experience, and we are not cutting costs with the move to remote learning for the year. Our early projections suggest that our pivot to remote learning has caused us to increase expenses. In fact, the educational experience provided to students is subsidized with resources we receive from the endowment, current-use gifts from donors, revenue from Programs in Professional Education (i.e., executive education), and some of the overhead we charge on research grants.   

Now that HGSE plans to be online during academic year 2020–21, am I still eligible to receive financial aid?

Students who have already been awarded federal financial aid for academic year 2020-21 will retain their awards. The U.S. Department of Education previously issued a waiver to institutions that elect to be online during the fall, and recently approved aid eligibility for distance learning through June 2024.  

Now that I will not be in Cambridge, do I need to pay the Harvard University Health Insurance and Student Health Fee? 

All full-time students are automatically enrolled in the university health care program. Students enrolled in a comparable health insurance plan may be eligible to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan. Waivers of the Student Health Fee may be accepted in very limited cases.  For more information on waiving the Health Insurance, please visit this website. Also, for more information on waiving the Student Health Fee, please visit this website and look for the Waiver Process section.

Since HGSE is online for 2020–21, am I still eligible for Harvard Student Health Insurance?

Yes, students attending HGSE in academic year 2020–21 are eligible for Harvard Student Health Insurance. For more information please visit Harvard University Health Services (HUHS).

If I switch to part-time study, will my financial aid award change?

If you switch from full-time study to part-time study, it is possible that your financial aid award will need to be adjusted. Please contact the HGSE Financial Aid Office to discuss your current package and how changing to part-time enrollment would affect your award.

What if I don't meet the technical requirements, is there any additional support HGSE can offer so that I can secure a laptop or pay for better internet service?

For students who have already applied for financial aid, the Standard Student Budget has been revised to include estimated technology costs so that borrowing decisions can be made based on a budget that includes technology items. Students who did not initially apply for financial aid this spring but now need financial support should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. HGSE may be able to temporary loaner laptop, on a limited basis, while students secure a permanent solution—loaner laptops are not meant to be used for the entirety of the academic year.  *Please note: we regret to inform students that due to security constraints, HGSE is unable to mail laptops outside the U.S. To learn more, please contact the Office of Student Affairs

Students who anticipate being unable to participate in online coursework due to limited internet connection or significant technology challenges should plan to explore the option of borrowing a student loan (usually a supplemental student loan) to help meet technology expenses. You may review your student budget and financial aid package on the HGSE Student Aid Portal. If students are unable to secure their own laptop, and/or internet connectivity, they may elect to withdraw their enrollment before the start of fall classes.
 

How will Federal Work Study work now that the program will be online? Will I still need to get a job to earn that financial aid?

Students awarded Federal Work Study (FWS) as part of their Financial Aid package will still be able to earn this funding. If there are jobs that can be done remotely and meet the FWS requirements, then students can expect to earn wages. Students can learn more about the FWS program on the HGSE Financial Aid website and should visit the Student Employment Office website to learn about available jobs. There will also be HGSE-specific opportunities (such as research assistant positions) posted on the HGSE Hub, and internship opportunities can be explored through the Career Services Office. *Please note that FWS aid is awarded to full-time students only.  

Will there still be opportunities to get HGSE student employment to help me pay for my bills?

Students can apply for jobs that can be done remotely to earn wages. Students seeking work opportunities should visit the Student Employment Office website. There will also be HGSE-specific opportunities (such as research assistant positions) posted on the HGSE Hub, and internship opportunities can be explored through the Career Services Office

I am an incoming international student. What does the switch to online instruction mean for the financial certification process and my need for a visa? 

Since HGSE will be online for AY20–21, international students do not need a visa. In fact, according to guidance from the Harvard International Office, international students starting new programs, who are not transfers from other programs in the U.S., should not come to the U.S., even if they are successful in getting an appointment and receive a visa. Students should learn remotely, and current U.S. government regulations suggest that they must do so from their home countries. 

If you have not yet completed the financial certification process, there is no need to continue working on it. If you have already received an I-20/DS-2019 sponsored by HGSE, we will facilitate cancelling it for you. The Admissions Office will be reaching out to all incoming international students in the next few days with additional details and clarification, and any follow-up questions can be directed to them at fincert@gse.harvard.edu

Enrollment Options

What are my options for enrollment?

We welcome and encourage your continued enrollment during the 2020–21 academic year. We understand that this is a personal decision, and that students need time to consider their options. Please take advantage of the many sessions and HGSE faculty and staff available to help you think through your options. 

Will I still receive the Ed.M. (i.e., the same degree)? Will the final diploma signal that the degree was completed online or is somehow different from previous years? 

Yes, all students who complete the Ed.M. program will receive the Master of Education degree. The diploma will not be different from prior HGSE Ed.M. degrees and will not include an online designation.  

How can I switch from full-time to part-time enrollment?

Students seeking to switch from full-time to part-time enrollment may submit their petition via this form. *Please note that students will need to log in using their original application credentials in order to access the form. Prior to beginning the petition process, students are strongly encouraged to connect with the HGSE Financial Aid Office to discuss financial aid implications, if applicable.

What things should I consider if I am contemplating going part-time?

Students considering switching from full-time to part-time status should first consider the financial aid implications. If you have received financial aid awards, they may change if you switch from full-time to part-time. To understand any potential aid implications, please contact the HGSE Financial Aid Office. Second, students who switch to part-time enrollment must be prepared to commit to two years of online courses (academic years 2020–21 and 2021–22) and must make adequate academic progress (a minimum of completing 8 credits per term). 

If I attend part-time, can I also hold a full-time job?

While the decision to enroll part-time and maintain full-time employment is a personal one, it is definitely possible for students to balance part-time HGSE coursework and full-time professional engagement. Part-time HGSE students must maintain minimum 8 credits per semester. Courses will run at various times of the day, though in many cases, students may choose which courses best fit their needs and meet their Program requirements. Between course sessions and outside work (class readings, assignments, synchronous class meetings and peer group work, asynchronous learning), a 4-credit HGSE course consumes on average 8 to 12 hours per week, meaning that part-time students should likely reserve a few hours during early mornings, evenings, and/or weekends to focus on schoolwork — which still leaves time for personal and professional commitments.  

Is it possible to work full-time and be a full-time student?

The decision to enroll full-time and maintain full-time employment is a personal one and will likely differ by individual. Full-time HGSE students must maintain minimum 12 credits per semester to allow for flexibility while meeting the 32-credits minimum needed to complete the Ed.M. within the academic year, and this will require a significant amount of time to devote to your studies. Courses will run at various times of the day, though in many cases, students may choose which courses best fit their needs and meet their program requirements. Between course sessions and outside work (class readings, assignments, synchronous class meetings and peer group work, asynchronous learning), a 4-credit HGSE course consumes on average 8 to 12 hours per week. Additionally, to take advantage of the full HGSE experience, you should be prepared to participate in other cohort and community activities. 

Is it possible to switch programs?

Students seeking to switch their master’s program may submit their request to gseadmit@gse.harvard.edu. Before submitting a request to the Admissions Office, we encourage students considering transfer to another program to seek advice of their current program administrator as well as the administrator of the program to which you would like to switch. Requests will be reviewed by the faculty director of the Ed.M. program to which the student is seeking entry.

What is the minimum/maximum number of credits I can take?

Students enrolled full-time must complete a minimum of 12 credits per the fall and spring semesters, with a maximum of 20 credits. These credits are all included in your flat full-time tuition rate. Students enrolled part-time must complete a minimum of 8 credits per the fall and spring semesters, with a maximum of 10 credits. These credits are all included in your flat part-time tuition rate. Please note that the How People Learn (HPL) course does not count toward the minimum/maximum number because it is a summer course.

If I enroll part-time, what does this mean for my tuition costs in academic year 2021-22?

Given the unprecedented circumstances, HGSE is petitioning the University to hold tuition for part-time students constant across academic years 2020–21 and 2021–22, for those who join the HGSE community as part-time degree candidates entering in fall 2020. We will notify students when this request is approved.

Deferrals, Leaves, and Withdrawals 

Can I defer until next year?

HGSE has a longtime policy of rarely granting deferral requests. Individuals who wish to enroll in fall 2021 will need to apply next year and will follow a modified application process. Information about our current reapplication process is available here

Why isn’t HGSE offering deferrals? I understand other schools are allowing their students to defer. 

Our long-standing policy has been to only rarely grant deferrals, and like most of higher education (including our education school peers), we have not changed our policy. We know that the Harvard Kennedy School, among other schools at Harvard, have decided to offer deferrals. However, those schools are not guaranteeing that everyone can defer until next year, the 2021–22 school year. Instead, students may have to accept a future year, like 2022–23, as there’s room for only so many deferrals in each class. 

To elaborate on our own thinking, given continuing uncertainty about many other things, including the longer term impact of COVID on residential education, how many students we will have this year (which could impact staffing), and how many students we’ll still be carrying over to next year due to the part-time option, we are very reluctant to set aside an unknown number of slots. We have also been in the process of redesigning our master’s program, and though it is not clear if it will still be implemented fully next year, it is yet another indication of the uncertainty we are facing. It is extremely difficult to give guarantees in the midst of tremendous continuing uncertainty. 

There are additional concerns about how a liberal deferral policy would impact the cohort, which has been carefully selected and balanced. Having the option to take a deferral would give the impression that we believe our online program will be “second rate” in some way, which is not how we feel at all. There are tradeoffs, of course, and being in residence has many of its own rewards; meanwhile, there are things we will be able to do in the online space that are not otherwise possible. Allowing a large number of deferrals also has equity implications for next year’s applicants due to the fact that we would need to reduce how many future applicants we could admit in order to hold a portion of the slots for those who choose to defer. 

If I decide not to enroll this year, what is the reapplication process? 

The process of reapplying is simplified. Students do not need to resubmit all of their supporting documents. Moreover, we are waiving the application fee for students who decline to attend this year and reapply next year. Students who were evaluated positively this year should expect similar treatment in a future process, though we cannot guarantee future admission for the reasons outlined above. 

I’m really not comfortable with online education but am reluctant to decline my offer of admission for this year. Any advice? 

We do understand that some students really do not want an online experience — perhaps due to individual learning style, aspects of their home situations that would make remote learning untenable, or some other reason. We are trying to be transparent about what we are offering so that students can make an informed decision, and we will be sharing more details as soon as we can. Please take advantage of the many opportunities to connect with faculty and staff to discuss your specific situation and what makes sense for you. And if you choose to instead reapply next year with the hope of instead entering HGSE for the AY21–22 school year, the application process will be streamlined for you. 

What happens if I need to take a leave from my studies, perhaps due to illness or a change in my family or job situation?

We understand that circumstances change, particularly during these unusual times. Students may petition for a leave of absence through the Degree Programs Office, which considers each request on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Office of Student Affairs. Depending on the timing of the leave and number of credits already completed, we will work with students to determine the best path forward to complete their coursework on an individual basis.

What if I decide not to attend HGSE?

If you decide not to join the Harvard community in academic year 2020–21, we ask you let us know by emailing gseadmit@gse.harvard.edu as soon as possible. This will help us in our planning for the coming year — we sincerely hope you will be part of it.

NOTE: students admitted in July 2020 should communicate their 2020-21 enrollment decision via the online response form (accessible via your online application account).

Summer Admissions

Why did you have a summer admissions round? 

We realize that some of our current students did not enroll this fall due to changes in personal circumstances or the move to being remote for AY20–21. As such, the summer admissions process allowed us to include additional students eager to join our community virtually. Our summer admissions round, coupled with the decision to operate remotely, also presented an unprecedented opportunity for us to extend the HGSE learning experience far beyond Appian Way — to students who may never before have considered joining our community due to difficulties of relocating or leaving their professional positions. We view this shift in learning modality as an extraordinary chance to increase access to the courses, cohorts, and community experiences that are typically confined to Cambridge. Opening our doors to additional applicants is our effort to expand our reach; to bring in educators and changemakers who possess the same academic, personal, and professional excellence we seek in the winter application pool.

I’m worried that the summer admissions process will lower the quality of my cohort. Were summer applicants evaluated the same way as spring admits? 

Our holistic review of academic readiness did not change, and we maintained our firm commitment to admitting and enrolling only those students capable of succeeding in our classrooms and in the field. The one change for the summer process is that we did not require the GRE, which would have been logistically difficult given the short timeframe and COVID-related disruptions. Making the GRE optional did not change the admission evaluation process because the GRE does not figure strongly into our admissions review. Instead, our practice for years has been to rely on other parts of the application to assess writing ability and other academic skills. We have already been considering making the GRE optional for the past couple of years.

Did opening up another admissions cycle make our classes next year much larger than previous years? 

We are committed to making sure that we have the capacity and resources to fully serve the students who enroll, so we are being very mindful of cohort size. We did not substantially grow the overall cohort size in terms of the number of full-time equivalent students. To ensure we retained a variable set of class sizes, our summer admissions decisions were directly informed by the enrollment decisions of our spring 2020 admitted students. As always, we are maintaining a mix of large and small courses, though we expect to have many more small seminars and tutorials during AY20–21 than in past years so students have multiple opportunities to engage in smaller classes.  

International Visa Issues

I am an international student. Because HGSE has decided to be online, I am not eligible to get a visa, and I worry that I will not have access to a high-quality experience. 

We do appreciate that this is a hard situation for international students, and the needs for those in our community who will be joining from abroad have been at the forefront of our minds. Early on during the COVID crisis, it became clear that visa issues were going to be a major concern for our international students, and we were instructed to prepare for the possibility that students needing visas would not likely be able to make it to campus in time for the fall semester to start due to closed consulates and embassies. As time has gone on, this situation has not improved, and now guidance suggests that even if we were able to open campus, international students would still very likely be unable to arrive for the fall semester. This is not something that is just affecting HGSE or Harvard — it is affecting all colleges and universities in the U.S.   

The dismal visa situation is partly what fueled HGSE to start focusing on the possibilities of remote learning because we are committed to serving our international students. The innovative online model we are building is our best chance to serve students, no matter where they live, in a high-quality, equitable way that enables all to participate in the HGSE community.

Will I-20s that have already been granted to recent undergrad international students be cancelled? 

Current federal government guidance allows continuing international students and students in F-1 or J-1 status transferring from another U.S. institution to continue their studies remotely and remain in valid visa status. While we expect additional government guidance in the coming months, HGSE will continue to process F-1 I-20 and J-1 DS-2019 transfer-in requests for the AY20–21 academic year for now. However, the current guidance does not apply to new students coming from overseas. 

Are international students who are in F-1 status and haven't yet transferred the SEVIS record to HGSE still be able to do so? Is there a potential risk because HGSE programs are all online, which might endanger its ability to issue I-20s? 

HGSE is still accepting transfer requests for the 2020–21 academic year. If you are currently in the U.S. in F-1 student or J-1 student status, please contact fincert@gse.harvard.edu to begin the steps to transfer your record to HGSE. HGSE and the Harvard International Office (HIO) can still process and send an I-20 to transfer-in students. As of the current guidance, transfer-in students, who are currently in the U.S., are permitted to remain in the U.S. while HGSE is offering online instruction. For any additional questions please contact the HGSE International Student Adviser Colleen Griffin directly. 

As an international student no longer eligible for an F-1 visa, am I eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT)? 

We regret to inform you that incoming international students currently outside the U.S. will not be eligible for OPT since they will not be entering the U.S. under the F-1 student status to attend HGSE. Currently, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world remain closed to all but emergency services, and the suspension of the processing of routine visas — including F-1 and J-1 visas — remains in effect. Moreover, we have received guidance that international students starting new programs (who are not transfers from other programs in the U.S.) should not come to the U.S. even if they are successful in getting an appointment and receive a visa. This unfortunate circumstance strongly influenced our focus on providing HGSE programs remotely next year. 

However, students who are currently residing in the U.S. and are transferring in with F-1 or J-1 student status are eligible for F-1 and J-1 work authorization benefits, such as F-1 Curricular Practical Training, F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training, and J-1 Academic Training.  

For international students, if HGSE is planning some non-instructional activities in the spring, we would need a visa to be able to participate. Will you be issuing the paperwork so we can obtain such visa? 

HGSE continues to actively monitor the public health crisis. If public health conditions permit, we would offer students an option to come to campus in May 2021 for a brief in-residence learning experience and Commencement. However, it would not be appropriate to issue an I-20 or DS-2019 for this optional event, as an I-20 or DS-2019 can only be used for entry to the U.S. to attend in-person classes full time. If we are able to offer a longer academic experience in residence (e.g., during summer or fall 2021), then we would pursue issuing visa documentation. 

As an international student, do I need to open a U.S. bank account now, or can I pay my tuition from my home country?  

Having a U.S. bank account is not a requirement for Financial Certification. If you are currently outside of the U.S., you do not need to complete the Financial Certification process since you are no longer eligible to receive an I-20/DS-2019 and may pay tuition from your home country. If you are currently living in the U.S. and plan to transfer your I-20/DS-2019 to Harvard, we will continue to require that your funds be held in a bank that has at least one ATM in the U.S. to ensure that you have immediate and easy access to your funds. If you have additional questions related to Financial Certification, please email fincert@gse.harvard.edu

Campus Access

What if conditions change, and students can safely return to campus?

As we look ahead, we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation to protect the health and safety of our community, preserve our ability to adapt to evolving circumstances, and ensure the continuity of our teaching and research mission. Harvard Graduate School of Education continues to retain the discretion to apply its considered judgment to the question of how best to pursue its educational programs during the COVID-19 crisis, including focusing on online instruction.  

If public health conditions permit, we hope to give students the option to come to campus next spring for a short residential experience and Commencement in May 2021. As we continue planning, we will honor Harvard University’s decision-making process about what will be feasible. However, please know that we are making a strong commitment to support an outstanding online experience for all of our students next year.

If I move to the Cambridge, MA area, or if I’m already local, can I access the HGSE campus? Will there be any on-campus curricular or co-curricular opportunities? 

Given our shift to a fully online learning model, there are no plans to engage in any on-campus programming during the upcoming academic year. Ultimately, we have redirected our efforts and resources to a high-quality online experience.  Student will have electronic access to the HGSE Gutman Library collection and resources.  Other activities will be online, including office hours with faculty and research opportunities; team-based projects; and co-curricular programming like social events and high-profile speakers, among many other many other features of a high-quality experience in a virtual environment. For the foreseeable future, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community and contribute to the broader societal effort of mitigating the spread of the virus by having our faculty and staff continue to work remotely.

Will I be able to access other Harvard facilities, such as the gyms and libraries? 

At this time, the plan for common spaces that serve the entire university during the academic year, like the gyms and libraries, is not yet clear. For cases where essential work can only be performed on campus, such as in the physical labs connected to the sciences (medicine, engineering, etc.), there is a re-opening process underway, with partial staffing at staggered hours.  However, students should not expect to use those facilities. Moreover, given the recent upsurge of cases in the U.S., it is highly unlikely that libraries and gyms will be open before 2021.