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Student Handbook

Student Handbook: Registration and Enrollment Policies

 Jump to: Time Status Definitions | Degree Program Duration Limits | Adjustment to the Academic Clock | Credit Limits and Course Options | The HGSE Review Committee | Degree Application | Leaves of Absence | Withdrawals | Candidacy Termination | FERPA

All HGSE degree and certificate candidates are required to register until the degree or certificate is awarded or until their candidacy is terminated. It is the responsibility of all students to meet registration deadlines. HGSE does not offer any dual or concurrent degree programs within Harvard or with other institutions. Aside from the Ph.D. in Education (offered jointly with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences), HGSE students are expected to be enrolled in only one degree program at a time, which is their HGSE degree program.

Exceptions:

  • Ed.M. and C.A.S. candidates who have “Incomplete” grades in courses for which additional course work is needed, but have no further courses in which to enroll, do not register for the semester(s) prior to graduation. 
  • Ed.D. students who have submitted an approved thesis prior to the fall course registration deadline are not required to register for the fall semester. 
  • Ed.L.D. students who have completed their third-year residency and have submitted an approved capstone prior to the fall course registration deadline are not required to register for the fall semester. 
  • Ed.D. students who have submitted an approved thesis prior to the spring course registration deadline, and Ed.L.D. students who have completed their third-year residency and have submitted an approved capstone prior to the spring course registration deadline in anticipation of a March degree, are not required to register for the spring semester. 

Check-In and Course Registration 

In order to be officially registered for a given semester, students are expected to complete the HGSE Check-In process AND submit their course selections by the appropriate deadlines. Students are required to enter the lottery-based enrollment event and rank their course choices for each “lottery enrollment” course chosen. See the Academic Calendar for all relevant dates and deadlines. After the registration deadline, all courses require instructor permission.

Registration is not complete until you have enrolled in your minimum required course load. To avoid being charged a late registration fee, HGSE students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits (full-time residential students), 6 credits (part-time residential students), or 8 credits (part-time online students) by the course registration deadline. Students have until the add/drop deadline to adjust their schedule. Failure to complete the course registration process may subject you to an involuntary leave of absence or withdrawal from your program. Late registration fees and deadlines will be posted on the Registrar’s Office site.

In-residence students are expected to reside continuously in the greater local area of Harvard University during the fall and spring semesters in order to participate in the in-class and co-curricular experiences planned for their program and (if applicable) concentration. In-residence students may only enroll in in-residence courses and online students may only enroll in online courses.

Time Status Definitions 

Full-Time

  • Full-time Ed.M. and C.A.S. candidates must register for a minimum of 12 credits and a maximum of 20 credits per semester and a maximum of 50 credits for the academic year. 
    • Credits for courses taken during June and July do not count toward the fall or spring semester minimums or maximums, though they do count toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits). 
    • Credits for courses taken during August Term do not count towards the fall semester minimum (12 credits) or maximums (20 credits), though they do count toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits). 
    • Credits for courses taken during January Term count toward the spring semester minimums and toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits). Courses taken during January do not count towards spring semester maximum (20 credits for full-time). 
    • Credits for courses taken during May Term do not count towards the spring semester minimum nor the overall degree program minimums (42), though they do count toward the max overall program credits (50). Credits for courses taken during May Term cannot be applied to a graduation in the same month. Credits for courses taken during May Term can be applied to a future graduation date. Students enrolled under the flat tuition rate may take June, July, August, January, or May courses at no extra charge. 
    • All Ed.M. students must meet the minimum requirement of 42 credits overall and not exceed the 50-credit degree maximum.
  • Full-time students are expected to meet all academic and financial degree requirements within one academic year (i.e., June, July, and August Term required courses two semesters) and may take up to three years if circumstances require a leave of absence or a transition to part-time study. Full-time tuition is assessed. Exceptions may be granted for those who are approved to take a semester-long leave of absence or for other extenuating circumstances.
  • Ed.D. candidates are expected to be enrolled full time and complete all coursework (minimum 64 credits), qualifying paper, and dissertation requirements within the seven-year program limit. 
    • Full-time tuition is assessed in Years 1 and 2, reduced tuition (50% of full rate) is assessed in Year 3, and an advanced doctoral fee (10% of full rate) is assessed each following semester until degree completion. Ed.D. students paying the Advanced Doctoral Fee are entitled to all the privileges of registered HGSE students.
    • Ph.D. candidates are expected to be enrolled full time at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and to complete all coursework (minimum 64 credits), comprehensive examinations (written and oral), and dissertation requirements within the seven-year program limit. Please visit the GSAS Student Handbook for information on tuition assessment. 
  • Ed.L.D. candidates are expected to be enrolled full time and follow the standard guidelines of: one year of core coursework; one year of additional coursework, including the L-200 course series and elective courses drawn from across the university, to complete at least 32 credits; and a required ten-month leadership development residency with a Capstone work, including the L-300 course series.
    • Full-time tuition is assessed in Years 1 and 2, and reduced tuition (50% of full rate) is assessed in Year 3. Students enrolled in the Ed.L.D. Program beyond the stated program duration limit (three years/six semesters) will be assessed a facilities fee of $250 for each additional semester in which they are enrolled. 

Part-time 

Part-time Ed.M. and C.A.S. students are those who are expected to take more than one academic year for Ed.M. and more than two years for C.A.S. to complete their academic and financial degree requirements. 

  • Part-time Ed.M. candidates must register for a minimum of 6 credits and a maximum of 10 credits per semester and a maximum of 50 credits toward the degree. 
    • Credits for courses taken during June and July do not count toward the fall or spring semester minimums, though they do count toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits). 
    • Credits for courses taken during August Term do not count towards the fall semester minimum (6 credits), though they do count toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits).
    • Credits for courses taken during January Term count toward the spring semester minimum and toward the overall degree program minimum (42 credits) and maximum (50 credits). Courses taken during January do not count towards spring semester maximum (10 credits for part-time).
    • Credits for courses taken during May Term do not count towards the spring semester minimum nor the overall degree program minimums (42), though they do count toward the max overall program credits (50). Credits for courses taken during May Term cannot be applied to a graduation in the same month of May. Credits for courses taken during May Term can be applied to a future graduation date. Students enrolled under the flat tuition rate may take June, July, August, January, or May courses at no extra charge. 
    • All Ed.M. students must meet the minimum requirement of 42 credits overall and not exceed the 50-credit degree maximum.
  • Part-time students are expected to meet all academic and financial degree requirements within two academic years (four semesters). Students cannot petition to complete the program in fewer than two academic years. Students may take up to three years to complete the degree if extenuating circumstances result in either a leave of absence or a reduced course load. Regardless of the number of semesters taken to complete the degree, the HGSE tuition requirement remains the same for all students.
  • For part-time students, tuition is assessed at a half-time rate1. For those who enrolled prior to fall 2020, tuition is assessed on a per credit basis. Ed.M. students admitted prior to academic year 2020-2021 and any students using the Harvard Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP) or transferring prior HGSE coursework have the option of being billed per credit.
  • In cases of exceptional circumstances (such as unforeseen medical conditions), Ed.D. candidates may be granted an exception to the full-time study rule. 
  • Ph.D. candidates may, under certain circumstances, petition the department and the GSAS Student Affairs Office for permission to enroll as a part-time student. Petition forms can be downloaded from the GSAS site
  • Ed.L.D. candidates are expected to enroll in full-time study. In cases of exceptional circumstances (such as unforeseen medical conditions), Ed.L.D. candidates may be granted an exception to the full-time study rule. 

Students are required to be registered at least half-time, and in some cases full-time, to be eligible for student loans, loan deferments, and financial aid. Teaching activities, research appointments, and other activities such as committee assignments are not included in the calculation of a student’s time status. 

Part-time students must add and drop courses according to the same procedures required for full-time students. Courses not dropped by the appropriate drop deadlines are subject to normal tuition charges up to the full-course charge. A course is not considered to have been dropped until the student has officially dropped it through my.harvard; informing the instructor of the course is not considered an official notification. 

Petitioning to Switch to Part-time Status 

Ed.M. and C.A.S. students may petition to switch from full-time to part-time status by completing the “Petition for Part-Time Study Ed.M. & C.A.S.” form available from the HGSE Office of the Registrar. Please note that petitions are not automatically granted. Prior to completing the form, students should meet with the Director for Master’s Studies and other trusted program representatives (e.g., the program Assistant Director) as well as advisers to discuss their enrollment options. We also encourage students to seek support from the Office of Student Affairs.

Students considering switching from full-time to part-time study who are currently receiving financial aid should also contact the HGSE Financial Aid Office to discuss their current package and how changing to part-time enrollment would affect their award. 

International students with an active F-1 or J-1 record should contact their adviser at the Harvard International Office before petitioning for part-time study as this change may impact their immigration status.

Degree Program Duration Limits 

Ed.D. and Ph.D. students must complete all degree requirements and graduate within seven years of first registration. Degree candidates who reach the program duration limit without completing all degree requirements must petition the Steering Committee for up to a one-year extension. Petitions should include the student’s reasons for not completing the work, current progress made, and a detailed, realistic timetable for fulfilling all remaining requirements. The student’s faculty adviser must approve and sign the petition, which will then be reviewed by the program Steering Committee. Extending study beyond the seven-year limit may have implications for financial aid packages.

Ed.D. and Ph.D. students without an approved dissertation proposal are unlikely to be granted an extension of the seven-year limit. Decisions on petition requests will be communicated by the Degree Programs Office and/or the program Faculty Director.

Ed.L.D. students must complete all degree requirements and graduate within three years of the date of first registration. Ed.L.D. students who reach the program duration limit without completing all degree requirements must petition the Faculty Director and the Director for Doctoral Studies for an extension.

Ed.M. students who received an offer of admission in March 2022 or who switched to part-time enrollment prior to June 3, 2022, may take up to three years to complete the degree. Ed.M. degree candidates who reach the program duration limit without completing the degree requirements must petition the Degree Programs Office for an extension, which may be no longer than one year.

Adjustment to the Academic Clock 

An adjustment of one semester of the academic clock may be made for medically documented severe illness, childbirth, or other major family-related disruptions. However, please note that international students considering such an adjustment must first consult with the Harvard International Office to make sure they are eligible. 

Options for Doctoral Students: 

  1. Adjustment of academic clock without a leave of absence:

    Students will register for the semester and be eligible for HGSE’s tuition and fees guarantee, Harvard health insurance, teaching fellowships (TF), and research assistantships (RA). Students must work out arrangements with faculty in advance for the fulfillment of TF and RA responsibilities.

    Ed.D., Ph.D., and Ed.L.D students must submit a written request to their respective doctoral programs. Requests should be submitted to the Director for Doctoral Studies via email, with a copy to the student’s academic adviser. 

  2. Adjustment of academic clock with a leave of absence:
    In some cases, a student might be better advised to take a leave of absence. For information about requesting a leave of absence, please see the Leave of Absence section of this handbook. 

Options for Ed.M. Students:

  1. Adjustment of academic clock with registration for one course:
    Enrollment in at least one course entitles a student to Harvard health insurance, but not financial aid. 

  2. Adjustment of academic clock with registration for at least sic credits
    Enrollment in at least two courses entitles a student to Harvard health insurance and eligibility for financial aid. 

  3. Adjustment of academic clock with a leave of absence:
    The student will have tuition and fees charges postponed until the student returns to registered status. Please note that when a student is on leave from Harvard University, the applicable student health insurance coverage will end the last day of the month of the official last date of attendance as recorded by the Office of the Registrar. See the Health Insurance Coverage While on Leave of Absence section for additional details.

Options for Online Ed.M. Students:

   *Online Ed.M. students will not receive Harvard health insurance.

Credit Limits and Course Options 

Credit Limit 

Full-time students may take no more than 20 credits per semester (fall* and spring), including credits taken in fall 1, fall 2, spring 1, and spring 2 modules. Part-time students may take no more than 10 credits per semester (fall* and spring), including credits taken in fall 1, fall 2, spring 1, and spring 2 modules. The limit for January Term is 4 credits. The limit for May Term is one (1) course.

Students may petition the Degree Programs Office to take more than 50 credits if needed to complete their chosen program of study (i.e., program, concentration, or fellowship). However, students may not exceed the fall and spring per-semester maximum of 20 credits for full-time students (or 10 credits for part-time students). 

*Foundations courses taken during June, July, or August will not be counted toward the fall or spring semester minimum or maximum credits.
 

January Term Courses 

While students may take more than one course during the January term, based on educational grounds, individual faculty may decide not to allow students to take their course and another January term course concurrently (including through cross registration). Students should consider carefully whether it is in their best interest to take multiple January term courses during one year due to the intensive and compressed nature of the coursework. Students should consult with their advisers and the faculty instructors when considering such an option. 

May Term

Credits for courses taken during May term do not count towards the spring semester minimum nor the overall degree program minimums (42), though they do count toward the max overall program credits (50). Credits for courses taken during May term cannot be applied to a graduation in the same month. Credits for courses taken during May term can be applied to a future graduation date. Students enrolled under the flat tuition rate may take May courses at no extra charge.

Independent Studies and Field Experiences 

Carefully crafted and well-supervised independent studies and field experiences can be a powerful learning experience. They offer students the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a program of special reading, research, or fieldwork to augment HGSE course offerings. Independent Studies (S-999) and Field Experiences (S-997) may be designed to carry either two credits or four credits, based on the scope of the work involved. 

The following policies apply to Independent Studies and Field Experiences: 

  • Students enrolling in an Independent Study (S-999) are required to file an Independent Study Contract, which must be signed by both the faculty member agreeing to supervise the course and the relevant staff member from the Office for Degree Programs. Ed.M. students must obtain a signature from the Director for Master’s Studies. Ed.L.D. students must obtain a signature from the Director for Doctoral Studies. Note that the S-999 Independent Study course is not available to Ph.D. students; instead, they can utilize EDU302 for independent study, up to 8 credits of which may count toward degree requirements.
    20
  • A full-time student is limited to a maximum of four credits of independent study or field experience per semester. A part-time student is limited to a maximum of four credits of independent study or field experience per year.
  • No more than eight credits of independent study, field experience, or combination thereof may count towards each degree (Ed.M., C.A.S., Ed.D. Ph.D., or Ed.L.D.). Independent studies and field experiences cannot be used to satisfy substantive degree requirements.
  • If a student chooses to take more than one independent study, field experience, or a combination, a maximum of four credits may be supervised by the same HGSE faculty member. Students may not be enrolled in two field experiences or independent studies concurrently.
  • S-997, Field Experience, is offered on a SAT/NCR basis only.
  • The supervisor of an independent study must be an HGSE faculty member with the title “Adjunct Lecturer,” “Lecturer,” “Senior Lecturer,” “Member of the Faculty,” or any level of “Professor.” In the case of a field experience, the supervisor is an assigned faculty adviser.
  • International students studying on F-1 or J-1 visas should check with the Harvard International Office about work authorization considerations before seeking any non-Harvard affiliated independent studies or field experiences.

Summer Courses and Institutes 

HGSE Summer Courses 

Continuing students who wish to take summer independent studies are expected to register and enroll on or before July 1. Students in programs requiring or offering enrollment in summer courses (June and July) will be notified about relevant registration and enrollment deadlines in advance. All students enrolling in summer courses are expected to meet the regular registration requirements. HGSE degree-seeking students cannot enroll in more than 5 credits during the summer (June and July). Non-degree seeking students may not enroll in How People Learn or other Foundations courses.

Students enrolled under the flat tuition rate may take June or July courses at no extra charge. Harvard employees enrolled under the Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP) will continue to be charged per course. Students transferring in prior HGSE coursework will continue to be charged per course. Students paying per credit are subject to the refund dates below if a summer course is ultimately dropped. 

Course
2022
Start Date
2022
End Date
2022 Credits Cost of Course 0% complete/ 100% refund 25% complete/ 75% refund 50% complete/ 50% refund 75% complete/  25% refund
How People Learn
 

June 3

July 20

4

 $5,216

June 3

 June 14

 June 27

 July 8

Harvard Summer School (Division of Continuing Education) 

HGSE degree candidates may count courses taken at Harvard Summer School toward their academic degree requirements only with prior permission from the Director for Master’s Studies. No reduction will be made in HGSE tuition requirements if permission is granted, and HGSE degree candidates taking courses at Harvard Summer School must pay applicable tuition to the Division of Continuing Education for any courses attempted. 

Credits for Prior HGSE Course Work and for Harvard Summer School Courses 

Students seeking credit are required to submit the petition with the signature of the Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies at least two weeks prior to the Harvard Summer School registration deadline. Credits transferred in from Harvard Summer School count towards overall degree maximums but do not count towards fall semester credit minimums or maximums.

With the exception of Ed.L.D. candidates, an HGSE degree candidate may, by petitioning the Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies, obtain academic credit only (not financial credit) toward the degree for selected courses taken within three years of matriculation.

Both academic and financial credit may be obtained for courses taken while enrolled as a non-degree student at HGSE before beginning the current degree program. Students may obtain academic credit only (not financial credit) for courses taken while enrolled at the Harvard Summer School.

Academic credit will be granted only if the prior coursework fits into the student’s academic program and if the degree program duration limit is met.

For the Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs, to be eligible for credit, students must have graduated from an Ed.M. or
C.A.S. from HGSE within three years of enrolling as doctoral students and may receive credit only for a maximum of 16 credits completed during their Ed.M. or C.A.S. course of study. Upon petition, these credits may count toward their coursework for the doctoral degree, though no guarantee is given in advance.

For the Ed.M. program, students may petition to have up to 8 credits of coursework count towards their degree. Only courses that meet the current program requirements and have been taken within three years of enrolling as a degree candidate will be considered. Students will still be subject to all program requirements and so prior coursework will not replace other necessary courses. 

If a continuing Ed.M. candidate plans to apply one course taken prior to entering a HGSE Master’s program, the student has two-and-one-half years from the time of matriculation into the degree program to complete the degree. Likewise, if an Ed.M. candidate plans to apply two courses taken prior to entering a HGSE Master’s program, the student has two years from the time of matriculation to complete the degree. All Ed.M. candidates who matriculate in fall 2022 will be expected to complete the degree within two years regardless of whether a petition to include prior coursework is approved.

Credits from other institutions are not accepted toward HGSE degree requirements. However, to avoid duplication of previous work, a student may ask their Program Co-Chairs for release from a course requirement and may, with the approval of the Program Co-Chairs, take a suitable replacement or more advanced course.

No agreement can be made before admission to the degree program that prior courses taken will receive credit toward the degree.

Course Previews

At HGSE, course previews are designed to give students an opportunity to get familiar with course structures, materials, and learning goals, and help them to finalize their schedule by the registration and enrollment deadline. Course previews happen before the first day of classes and are intended for students to make informed decisions prior to classes commencing. Attending course previews is not required in order to enroll in any particular course.

Lotteries, Petitions, and Enrollment Limits

Some courses have enrollment limits and are managed by either instructor permission or course lottery. Check course Canvas sites and my.harvard course descriptions for details about the process and the individual course deadlines. It can take some time for petitions to be approved, so be mindful of this as you approach the enrollment deadline.

Course Add/Drop 

Courses may be added to or expunged from a student’s record through the add/drop deadline for the semester, as designated in the Academic Calendar. After the add/drop deadline has passed, courses may still be dropped up to the last day of classes for each semester, but the transcript will carry a permanent “DRP” notation for any courses dropped after the add/drop deadline. (Fees may apply; see Associated Fees below.) In the event that an official grade has been posted by the instructor during the final examination period, dropping the course with a “DRP” is no longer an option. Similarly, modules must be added or dropped before the designated module add/drop deadline; if dropped after the deadline but before the module ends, the course will remain listed on the student’s transcript with a “DRP” notation.

Note for Ed.L.D. students: Due to the unique nature of the Ed.L.D. curriculum, Ed.L.D. students are not permitted to drop Year 1, 2, or 3 core courses. (In cases of extenuating circumstances, the Director for Doctoral Studies may grant permission for students to drop core courses and repeat them at a later time; however, all core requirements must be completed in order to earn the Ed.L.D. degree.)

Note for Ed.M. students: Due to the unique nature of the Foundations courses in the Ed.M. curriculum, full-time Ed.M. students are not permitted to drop the core Foundations courses How People Learn (HPL101), Leading Change (LCH101), Evidence (EVI101), and Equity & Opportunity: Identity in Context (EQO11). The second part of the Equity & Opportunity requirement, students’ choice from a list of Equity & Opportunity Foundations elective courses in fall, winter, or spring, may be dropped provided students fulfill their Equity & Opportunity Foundations requirement by taking another approved Equity & Opportunity elective course. Part-time Ed.M. students must fulfill all Foundations coursework within two years. (In cases of extenuating circumstances, such as a medically documented severe illness, childbirth, adoption, or other family-related disruption, the Director for Master’s Studies may grant permission for students to drop Foundations courses and repeat them at a later time; however, all Foundations requirements must be completed in order to earn the Ed.M. degree.) 

Note for Concentrations: Students must declare a concentration and add the relevant courses by the fall course registration deadline. Students may drop their concentration at any time before the graduation application deadline. Courses to fulfill the concentration requirement may be added or expunged from a student’s record through the add/drop deadline. After the add/drop deadline has passed, courses may still be dropped up to the last day of classes for the semester, but the transcript will carry a permanent “DRP” notation for any courses dropped after the add/drop deadline.

Courses and modules are to be officially added or dropped via my.harvard. Students who wish to add a course (or drop a course without incurring the “DRP” notation) after the add/drop deadline must submit a petition via a student appeal form with the Office of the Registrar. Ordinarily, such petitions are approved only in cases of serious illness, emergency, or other exceptional circumstances. If the petition is submitted after the deadline and is approved, a late fee will be charged. Late registration fees and deadlines will be posted on the Registrar’s Office website.

Students may add or drop January and August Term courses without a “DRP” notation on their transcript through the respective add/drop deadlines in January. (Please refer to the Academic Calendar for the specific dates). August Term drops only applies to part-time Ed.M. students and on rare occasion doctoral students enrolled in those courses. After the add/drop deadline has passed, courses may still be dropped up to the last day of class for the course and will receive a “DRP” notation on their transcript.

Courses taken at other schools through cross-registration may be added or dropped only until the HGSE add/drop deadline, unless the host school’s deadline is earlier, in which case the other school’s deadline supersedes that of HGSE.

Cross-registration at other Harvard schools and/or MIT is not available for online Ed.M. students admitted in March 2022.

Full-time students who have not been given official written authorization for part-time study remain at full tuition even if their semester course load is less than 12 credits. Refunds for dropped courses are provided only to students being charged on a per-course basis. See Withdrawals section for more information. 

Associated Fees

Late Fee Waivers

Fees for late check-in, late course registration, and change-of-course petitions are waived only when the University is responsible for the difficulty or when the situation involves a serious illness of the student (usually including hospitalization) or a death in the student’s immediate family. It is the student’s responsibility to meet the deadlines on the Academic Calendar to avoid being charged late fees. 

Late Add/Drop Fee

  • HGSE students who drop courses after the second course meeting and before the applicable module, term, and/or semester add/drop deadlines will be charged a late drop fee. HGSE students who drop courses after the January term registration deadline will be charged a late drop fee. Late registration fees and deadlines will be posted on the Registrar’s Office website.
  • HGSE students who wish to add a course (or drop a course without incurring the “DRP” notation) after the add/drop deadline must submit a petition with the Office of the Registrar. Ordinarily, such petitions are approved only in cases of serious illness, emergency, or other exceptional circumstances. There is a processing fee for petitions submitted after the deadlines. Late registration fees and deadlines will be posted on the Registrar’s Office website.

DRP Fee

After the add/drop deadline has passed, courses may still be dropped up to the last day of classes for each semester. The transcript will carry a permanent “DRP” notation for any courses dropped after the add/drop deadline. Late registration fees and deadlines will be posted on the Registrar’s Office website.

Financial aid cannot be used for associated late fees.

Cross-Registration 

Through cross-registration, students may take courses offered by any faculty at Harvard University (except the Division of Continuing Education), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions’ M.S. Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Ph.D. Program in Rehabilitation Sciences.

Courses taken at other schools through cross-registration may be added or dropped only until the HGSE add/drop deadline, unless the host school’s deadline is earlier, in which case the other school’s deadline supersedes that of HGSE. Students enrolling in courses through cross-registration are subject to the rules of the host school. HGSE students with accommodations who are cross-registered must notify the Senior Associate Director of Student Support Services to be sure the accommodations are communicated to the host school. Students interested in cross-registering are advised to plan well in advance, since some courses in other schools begin earlier than HGSE courses. 

No more than half of the courses taken toward an HGSE degree may be taken through cross-registration. For Ed.L.D. students, there is no limit to the number of cross-registration courses permitted in Year 2 of the program. For Ed.D., Ph.D., and Ed.M. students, at least 50% of the earned credits toward the degree must be taken at HGSE (please also refer to program-specific course requirements). Students are advised to visit my.harvard for information about courses offered by the other Harvard faculties, as well as for cross-registration information, including dates and deadlines, credit translations, and policies in effect at the other faculties. Grades issued through cross-registration are recorded as such and are not converted by HGSE.

Special Note: Due to differences in the academic calendars of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students are cautioned that spring 2023 grades for MIT courses may not be received in time to count towards May 2023 graduation requirements.

HGSE Foundations courses are only available to HGSE Ed.M. and Ed.L.D. students, as well as to Ph.D. in Education students by exception. Cross-registration and auditing are not permitted. 

Cross-registration at other Harvard schools and/or MIT is not available for online Ed.M. students admitted in March 2022.

Course Evaluations 

HGSE places a great deal of importance on the evaluation of its courses and programs. Course evaluations have four purposes: (a) to help instructors improve their courses and strengthen their teaching; (b) to provide information about courses to students; (c) to encourage student reflection on their own learning; and (d) to be used as part of the professional review process for faculty members.

It is an institutional requirement that students complete course evaluations for each class in which they are enrolled. (Note: some courses, such as independent studies, are not evaluated via the course evaluation process.) A student may view final grades for the semester only after submitting all course evaluations and/or after the fully graded date* published in the GSE Academic Calendar.

Continuing students who do not complete all their course evaluations by the published deadline will be prevented from registering for further courses until they fulfill the course evaluation requirement. 

Individual student responses to the course evaluation questions remain confidential at all times. Instructors are not given access to evaluation summary reports until grades have been submitted to the Office of the Registrar. New instructors and instructors teaching a course for the first time may elect to withhold publication of the evaluations for that course. Evaluations for fall semester courses are usually available midway through the spring semester; spring semester evaluations are usually available by the end of the summer. Course evaluations may be accessed electronically via my.harvard. For additional information, students may contact the Office of the Registrar

*Fully graded date is the date when all grades for the semester are displayed on my.harvard and on unofficial transcripts regardless of whether a course evaluation has been submitted or not.

Course Catalog

Changes and Exceptions to Course Catalog  

In certain courses, faculty may supplement the rules and regulations set forth in this handbook and information contained in the HGSE Course Catalog (available on my.harvard), by disseminating course outlines, notices, and announcements that deal with course-specific grading policies, examinations, or other academic matters. It is the student’s responsibility to be informed of any such supplementary information.

Attendance 

Class attendance policies are determined at the individual course level but are subject to Massachusetts law, which provides that “Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which the student may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of availing themselves of the provisions of this section” (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151C: Section 2B). 

The HGSE Review Committee 

The HGSE Review Committee is the administrative body of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) responsible for reviewing requests for exceptions to the school’s financial and registration policies. The committee is empowered to review requests for exceptions to policies and procedures pertaining (but not limited) to the following: 

  • Late registration 
  • Tuition refunds 
  • Adding courses beyond the school deadline in cases in which the instructor approves the change 
  • Dropping courses beyond the school deadline 
  • Grade option changes beyond the school deadline in cases in which the instructor approves the change 
  • Waiver of processing fees and fines 

Membership

The HGSE Review Committee comprises the Registrar, the Director of Financial Aid, the Director for Master’s Studies, the Director for Doctoral Studies, Director of Student Affairs Operations, Senior Associate Director of Student Support Services and Assistant Director for Community Building and International Student Support.

Student Responsibilities and the Appeal Process 

A student who wishes to request an exception to a specific policy, procedure, or deadline must submit a Student Appeal Form to the HGSE Policy Exceptions Committee, c/o the Office of the Registrar. Appeal forms are available on the Forms page of the HGSE Office of the Registrar website. Appeals must meet the following standards: 

  • The circumstances of the request are compelling, as determined by the committee
  • The student provides documentation of the circumstances

Decision Guidelines 

Committee members understand and work to preserve and maintain the standards and the integrity of HGSE. The committee’s decisions are guided by several considerations:

  • Students’ agreement to abide by the HGSE Standards of Conduct, as well as all HGSE rules and regulations as described in this handbook
  • Issues of equity and consistency, which are taken into account whenever a student is requesting an exception to a policy or procedure to which other students remain accountable (the committee will strive to have consistency in decision making based on previous cases and fairness so that students are treated equitably).
  • The school’s requirement to comply with governmental statutes and regulations
  • The strength of the appeal and degree to which special circumstances are relevant (including appropriate documentation, e.g., for a relevant medical issue)

As part of the process, the committee also may contact course instructors or other school officials as appropriate to gather additional relevant information.

Committee members understand and respect the rights and responsibilities of all individuals while supporting and protecting the principles of due process and confidentiality. The committee accepts responsibility for administering fair, thoughtful, and equal consideration of all financial and registration appeals. Students’ requests, supporting documentation, committee deliberations, and correspondence are treated confidentially. Students will be notified in writing of the final decision. Students who wish to appeal a decision of the committee will be referred to the Academic Dean. 

Degree Application 

All HGSE students are expected to apply for a degree via my.harvard by the designated deadline. Ph.D. students who complete the requirements for an Ed.M. degree while they are enrolled in a doctoral program are eligible to submit a degree application by the date indicated in the Academic Calendar for whichever degree award date applies (November, March, or May). 

Leaves of Absence 

Voluntary Leaves of Absence 

Students who need to interrupt their studies before completing degree requirements may request a leave of absence. Requests for a leave of absence may be granted by the Degree Programs Office in consultation with other officers of the School/University as appropriate. Please note that leaves of absence are granted only in extenuating circumstances. 

Students who wish to request a voluntary leave of absence should meet with the Degree Programs Office. To be eligible for a fall leave of absence in the first year of the program, a full-time residential Ed.M. student must have completed all summer and August courses required prior to the start of the program in the fall. Leaves of absence are not permitted during a student’s first summer; in those instances, the student should consider delaying their enrollment status or withdrawing from HGSE. Students who withdraw from HGSE may apply for reinstatement in accordance with the the policy on Withdrawals set forth in this Handbook. 
 
With respect to a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the Senior Associate Director for Student Support Services ordinarily will consult with Harvard University Health Services (which may consider information from the student’s current and/or former health care providers, if made available by the student), as well as with others at HGSE as appropriate. Please note that Ph.D. in Education students considering a Leave of Absence should consult with the Director for Doctoral Studies and the GSAS Student Handbook. International students with an active F-1 or J-1 record should contact their adviser at the Harvard International Office to discuss the potential impacts of a leave of absence on their immigration status.

Requesting a Voluntary Leave of Absence 

To apply for a voluntary leave of absence, HGSE students must follow the steps outlined below: 

  1. Obtain the Request for Leave of Absence Form, available electronically on the HGSE Office of the Registrar website
  2. Financial aid recipients: Consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine the impact of the proposed leave on financial aid status. International students: Consult with the Assistant Director for Community Building and International Student Support to determine visa status.
  3. Complete the form and obtain the signatures of relevant program staff member.  
  • Ed.M. students must obtain the signature of the Director for Master’s Studies.
  • Ph.D. students must consult the Director for Doctoral Studies and request leave through GSAS.
  • Ed.L.D. students must obtain the signature of the Director for Doctoral Studies.

The Director for Master’s Studies or Doctoral Studies may consult with others at the school and University and will then provide a written response to the student within five to seven business days. If approved, the effective date for the leave of absence is the date that the request form was received by the appropriate program staff member.

Students may be granted a voluntary leave of absence for a maximum of two semesters. Students seeking additional leave beyond two semesters must apply for an extended leave of absence (see below).

Requesting an Extended Voluntary Leave of Absence 

Students who are not actively working toward their degree and who need to be away from the University for more than two consecutive semesters are required to request an extended voluntary leave of absence. The maximum length of an extended leave of absence is four consecutive semesters. An extended leave requires approval of the Faculty Director or Co-Chair of the student’s program and the Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies. The Office of Student Affairs, the Financial Aid Office, and the Office of the Registrar are notified of an approved leave.

To request an extended voluntary leave of absence: 

  1. A student must first submit a written petition to the Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies. In the petition, students must explain the reasons for the extended leave along with how, and in what time frame, they expect to complete their degree.
  2. The Director for Master’s Studies or Doctoral Studies may consult with others at the school and University for review and recommendation and will then provide a written response to the student within five to seven business days. If approved, the effective date for the leave of absence is the date that the request form was received by the appropriate program staff member.

In most circumstances, the academic clock is not stopped for the duration of an extended leave of absence. However, exceptions will be made for a medically-documented severe illness, childbirth, adoption, or other major family-related disruption. Students on academic time tables must continue to comply with these deadlines; semesters on leave/extended leave are included in the calculation of the number of years a student has been in a degree program.

The Degree Programs Office will notify the student of its decision in writing. 

Involuntary Leaves of Absence 

Under certain circumstances, a student may be placed on an involuntary leave of absence. An involuntary leave of absence is not a disciplinary sanction. However, an incident that gives rise to a leave of absence, whether voluntary or involuntary, may subsequently be the basis for disciplinary action. A student who prefers to take a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons rather than to be placed on an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons is ordinarily allowed to do so. Transcripts do not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary leaves of absence. 

An involuntary leave of absence may be required for the following reasons: 

  1. Medical circumstances: (a) The student’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of any person, or has seriously disrupted others in the student’s residential community or academic environment; and (b) either the student’s threatening, self-destructive, or disruptive behavior is determined to be the result of a medical condition or the student has refused to cooperate with efforts by Harvard University Health Services to evaluate the cause of the behavior. The decision to place a student on an involuntary leave of absence for health related reasons is made in consultation with Harvard University Health Services (which may consider information from the student’s current and/or former health care providers, if made available by the student), after an individualized assessment of all of the pertinent factors, such as: the nature of the student’s conduct; the nature, duration and severity of the risk; the likelihood of potential injury; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will mitigate the risk. However, reasonable modifications do not include changes that would fundamentally alter the academic program or unduly burden the School’s resources or staffing capabilities or, with respect to the required level of care or monitoring, that would exceed the standard of care that a university health service can be expected to provide. 
  2. Alleged criminal behavior: The student has been arrested on allegations of serious criminal behavior or has been charged with such behavior by law enforcement authorities. 
  3. Risk to the community: The student has allegedly violated a disciplinary rule of the school, and his or her presence on campus poses a significant risk to the safety of others or to the educational environment of the community. 
  4. Indebtedness: The student’s term bill is unpaid and the student has not made arrangements acceptable to the school to address the issue. 
  5. Immunizations: The student has failed to provide medical documentation of required immunizations. 
  6. Unfulfilled academic requirements: The student has not met an academic requirement and has not taken steps acceptable to the School to meet the requirement. 
  7. Failure to register: The student has not registered as required at the beginning of each term. Not applicable for failure to register in June or July.

The decision to place a student on involuntary leave is made by the Director for Master’s Studies or the Director for Doctoral Studies in consultation with the HGSE Review Committee and other officers of the University, as appropriate. As noted above, in the case of an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the School will consult with an appropriate person at Harvard University Health Services.

Students are notified in writing that they have been placed on involuntary leave. The student may petition the Academic Dean for reconsideration and may appeal a final decision to the Dean of the School.

Policies During a Leave of Absence 

Academic Progress While on Leave of Absence 

In most circumstances, the academic clock is not stopped for the duration of a leave of absence. However, exceptions will be made for a medically documented severe illness, childbirth, or other major family-related disruption. Students should contact the Senior Associate Director of Student Support Services for more details. Students must continue to comply with degree duration deadlines; semesters on leave are included in the calculation of the number of years a student has been in a degree program.

Students who are on a leave of absence are not considered to be making continued progress toward the degree. While on leave, students do not have access to advising time, or other HGSE or Harvard University services and facilities. While on leave, Ed.D. and Ph.D. students may not submit proposals or dissertations to the Committee on Degrees, nor are they eligible for Teaching Fellowships. Ed.L.D. students on leave may not submit final Capstones or Capstone components, nor are they eligible for Teaching Fellowships. Students on leave during the spring semester are not permitted to enroll in January or May courses.

Access and Expectations for Conduct While on Leave of Absence 

Students on leave may not participate in HGSE co-curricular or extracurricular  activities. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically approved in advance by the School. If so instructed by the School, a student on leave must remain away from the University campus. Virtual access to my.harvard and the Harvard libraries (including unlimited library privileges, HOLLIS catalog and library e-resources) ordinarily will be available to students on leave, provided they are paying the facilities fee ($250/semester), though they will not be available to students on leave who are paying only the active file fee ($125/semester). Students on leave are ineligible to reside in Harvard housing. Students on F-1 and J-1 visas should consult the Harvard International Office concerning their status while on leave.

Students going on leave are reminded that all degree candidates, whether currently registered or not, are expected to maintain a satisfactory standard of conduct.

Following an individualized assessment, the School may require students who are on leave for medical reasons to comply with a treatment plan during their time away.

Health Insurance Coverage While on Leave of Absence 

When a student is on leave from Harvard University, the applicable student health insurance coverage will end the last day of the month of the official last date of attendance as recorded by the Office of the Registrar. Students with a last date of attendance between December 1 and January 31 for the fall term and between May 1 and July 31 for the spring term will retain coverage through the end of the health insurance period for that term.

Students are eligible to purchase six months of additional coverage (in three-month increments), effective from the first day without coverage. To initiate enrollment, the student must submit an enrollment application to HUSHP Member Services (617-495-2008, mservices@huhs.harvard.edu) within 30 days from the date of loss of coverage (or, in the case of students going on leave before a new term starts, by September 15 or March 15). 

The six-month extension of coverage is intended to facilitate a student’s transition from HUSHP to other outside insurance and is only meant to be for a limited duration. Students expecting to take a leave of absence should contact HUSHP Member Services as early as possible so that information regarding insurance options can be reviewed with the student in a timely manner.

For details, review the Leave of Absence policy on the HUHSP website or contact the Student Health Insurance Office, Member Services, at 617-495-2008. 

Tuition and Fees Refund While on Leave of Absence 

Any student who goes on leave of absence during the academic year is charged tuition and any applicable fees, including rent, to the end of the period in which they leave. The HGSE tuition refund policy is outlined below.

Ed.M. Students (AY 2022-2023)

Fall Term (2022)

Spring Term (2023)

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

August 17 February 6 Full refund $5, 216
October 10 February 27 3/4 refund $3,912
October 31 March 20 1/2 refund $2,608
November 21 April 10 1/4 refund $1, 304
Thereafter Thereafter No refund No refund

Ed.L.D. Students (AY 2022-2023)

Fall Term (2022)

Spring Term (2023)

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

September 19 February 6 Full refund $5, 216
October 10 February 27 3/4 refund $3,912
October 31 March 20 1/2 refund $2,608
November 21 April 10 1/4 refund $1, 304
Thereafter Thereafter No refund No refund

In lieu of tuition, students who are on leave will be charged either the $125 active file fee or the $250 facilities fee for each semester of leave. 

Important note concerning financial aid: Students on a leave of absence are not eligible to receive institutional or federal financial aid. In addition, students should be aware that a leave of absence counts toward the grace period on most student loans and that these loans may go into repayment during the leave. Financial aid recipients who are considering requesting a leave of absence are urged to contact the HGSE Office of Financial Aid to review their loan deferral options prior to submitting the request form.

Returning to HGSE after a Leave of Absence 

Students in good standing on a voluntary leave of absence are expected to return to registered status after the approved period of leave expires. It remains the student’s responsibility to ensure that they have adequate time to complete the degree within the time limits established by the School. Students who do not return and do not apply for an extended leave of absence will be considered administratively withdrawn from degree candidacy and will have to apply for reinstatement in order to continue their studies.

Any conditions set for a return from leave that are specified in the official notification of leave approval must be met prior to resuming studies.

Students who were not in good standing at the time the leave of absence was granted and students who were placed on an involuntary leave of absence must petition the Director for Master’s Studies or the Director for Doctoral Studies for permission to return to the School and must demonstrate that the circumstances that led to their leave have been satisfactorily addressed and that they are ready to resume their studies. The decision whether to allow a student to return is made by the Director for Master’s Studies or the Director for Doctoral Studies in consultation with the HGSE Review Committee. Of note, Ed.M. students who switched to part-time status in academic year 2020-21 should contact the Director of Master’s Studies for an academic plan to complete their degree. 

If the leave, whether voluntary or involuntary, was for medical reasons, then the student must petition the Director for Master’s Studies or the Director for Doctoral Studies, in consultation with the Senior Associate Director for Student Support Services, for permission to return to the School and must demonstrate that the circumstances that led to their leave have been satisfactorily addressed and that they are ready to resume their studies. In addition, so that the School may conduct an individualized assessment of their circumstances, students on medical leave ordinarily will be required to consult with Harvard University Health Services (and to grant permission to Harvard University Health Services to obtain their treatment records and communicate with their treatment providers) so that a professional assessment about the student’s stability and readiness to return can be shared with the School. Please also note that if the School learns of serious concerns about the health or well-being of a student who is away from School but not on a medical leave of absence, then the School similarly may require the student to consult with Harvard University Health Services (and to grant permission to Harvard University Health Services to obtain their treatment records and communicate with their treatment providers) so that a professional assessment about the student’s stability and readiness to return can be shared with the School. In all such cases, the decision whether to allow a student to return is made by the Director for Master’s Studies or the Director for Doctoral Studies, in consultation with the HGSE Review Committee as well as with others at HGSE as appropriate.

Any disciplinary matter must be resolved before a student on leave of absence will be allowed to return and, if the student has been required to withdraw while on leave of absence, then any conditions for return after a required withdrawal also must be satisfied.

Students returning from a leave who wish to apply for financial aid must notify the Financial Aid Office and file the necessary application forms by mid-April for the following fall term, and by October 1 for the following spring term. Late applicants cannot be assured that their aid will be available in time for registration payment deadlines.

Students who have been granted a leave and who have borrowed money through Harvard must submit an annual loan deferment form to the Student Loan Office upon their return to Harvard. Deferment forms may be obtained through either the Student Loan Office or the Financial Aid Office and must be completed and certified by the Registrar immediately following Registration. Failure to file a deferment form upon return will cause payments to be due on loans and could affect future borrowing eligibility.

A student will not be allowed to register at the University again until all previous term-bill charges have been paid and no loan is in default.

Contracts for Enrollment

The School may condition a student’s enrollment on certain terms, as set forth in a written contract between the School and the student, when the student’s conduct or circumstances have caused heightened concerns about the student’s safety and/or well-being and: (a) the appropriateness of the student’s continued enrollment; or (b) the student’s readiness to return to the Harvard community. The contract may include, among other things, compliance with a medical treatment plan, regular consultations with health care professionals, communication with administrators, and limited disclosure of relevant medical information, on a need-to-know basis, such as compliance with treatment and restrictions on certain activities. The decision to require such a contract is arrived at in consultation with Harvard University Health Services after an individualized assessment of the nature of the student’s conduct and circumstances and any other pertinent factors.

Withdrawals 

HGSE students who decide to discontinue their degree or non-degree program must file an official Withdrawal Form2. This form is available online from the Office of the Registrar website. For the determination of tuition and financial aid refunds, the official date of withdrawal is the date on which the Withdrawal Form is filed, unless one of the following conditions applies:

  1. If the date on which the student signs the Withdrawal Form is earlier than the date on which the form is received, then the earlier date will be the official date of withdrawal, as long as it is reasonably close in time to the date the form is submitted.
  2. If the student notifies (email or phone) a staff member of the Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Affairs, Financial Aid Office, Degree Programs Office, or adviser that they are withdrawing before submitting the Withdrawal Form, then the official withdrawal date is the date on which the student first notified such person, not the date on which the Withdrawal Form is received.
  3. If the student officially withdraws during a scheduled break that is at least five days long, the last day of scheduled classes before the break will be considered the withdrawal date.

If a student registers and subsequently ceases attendance without providing notification to HGSE of their withdrawal, the withdrawal date is the midpoint of the semester.

Important Note: Please keep in mind that the HGSE transcript includes a student’s complete academic history at HGSE, including courses taken as a non-degree student. If the student withdraws from HGSE, a grade of “WD” will be recorded on the HGSE transcript for all courses in the semester in which the student withdraws.

Administrative Withdrawals

Failure to register: Students who have not registered as required at the beginning of each term will be administratively withdrawn from their program and will be charged accordingly. See table in the Insurance and Billing Post-Withdrawal section.

Insurance and Billing Post-Withdrawal 

Health Insurance Coverage after Withdrawal 

When a student withdraws from Harvard University, the applicable student coverage will end the last day of the month of the official last date of attendance as recorded by the Office of the Registrar. Students with a last date of attendance between December 1 and January 31 for the fall term and between May 1 and July 31 for the spring term will retain coverage through the end of the health insurance period for that term.

Students are eligible to purchase six months of additional coverage (in three-month increments), effective from the first day without coverage. To initiate enrollment, the student must submit an enrollment application to HUSHP Member Services (617-495-2008, mservices@huhs.harvard.edu) within 30 days from the date of loss of coverage (or, in the case of students going on leave before a new term starts, by September 15 or March 15). Payment is by check only.

The six-month extension of coverage is intended to facilitate a student’s transition from HUSHP to other outside insurance and is only meant to be for a limited duration. Students expecting to take a leave of absence or withdraw from the University should contact HUSHP Member Services as early as possible so that information regarding insurance options can be reviewed with the student in a timely manner.

Billing after Withdrawal/Administrative Withdrawal

Students being charged on a per-course basis who drop a course, withdraw, or take a leave of absence by the dates shown below are eligible for the following per course refunds:

Ed.M. Students (AY 2022-2023)

Fall Term (2022)

Spring Term (2023)

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

August 17 February 6 Full refund $5, 216
October 10 February 27 3/4 refund $3,912
October 31 March 20 1/2 refund $2,608
November 21 April 10 1/4 refund $1, 304
Thereafter Thereafter No refund No refund

Ed.L.D. Students (AY 2022-2023)

Fall Term (2022)

Spring Term (2023)

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

September 19 February 6 Full refund $5, 216
October 10 February 27 3/4 refund $3,912
October 31 March 20 1/2 refund $2,608
November 21 April 10 1/4 refund $1, 304
Thereafter Thereafter No refund No refund

Students who withdraw after completing more than 60% of the term may be eligible to keep all of their federal financial aid; students should consult with the Financial Aid Office for more information. 

Reinstatement: Ph.D. Candidates 

To be eligible for reinstatement, applicants must meet the following conditions:

  1. Applicant has been out of the program fewer than four years
  2. Applicant withdrew voluntarily
  3. Applicant was in good academic standing at the time of withdrawal
  4. Applicant has no outstanding financial obligations to Harvard University
  5. A current HGSE faculty member is willing to serve as the applicant’s adviser. (This criterion only applies if the first four are met, and the applicant has been given approval by the degree program to apply for reinstatement. See reinstatement petition procedure below.) 

If an applicant does not meet the above eligibility criteria but believes there are extenuating circumstances that justify reinstatement, it is the responsibility of the applicant to present a compelling case in writing to the Director for Doctoral Studies for consideration. The applicant must present evidence that they have the ability to successfully complete Ph.D. program in a timely manner following reinstatement.

Exceptions will be granted very rarely and require the permission of the Academic Dean before they are forwarded to the Ph.D. Steering Committee for review.

Ph.D. Reinstatement Petition Procedure 

  1. Applicant contacts the Director for Doctoral Studies to ascertain reinstatement eligibility. As part of this initial request, applicants must include a letter with all of the following information:
    • Why they originally failed to complete the program
    • What have they been doing since they left the program
    • Why they think they can successfully complete the program
    • Their proposed research topic, should they be reinstated
    • A reasonable timeline and plan for completing all remaining academic milestones.
      The letter should be submitted to the Director at least three months prior to the semester in which the applicant hopes to register. Petitioners will be notified in writing of the decision. 
  2. In consultation with the program Faculty Director, the Director reviews the request, along with the applicant’s file and transcript, to determine if the petition should go forward to the Ph.D. Steering Committee for review.
  3. If the applicant does NOT meet the eligibility criteria set forth above or does not present a compelling case for reinstatement, the Director informs him/her that no reinstatement petition will be considered.
  4. If a reinstatement petition is invited, it must include a letter of support from a current HGSE faculty member who agrees to serve as adviser, and agreements from two faculty members who will serve on applicant’s committee of readers. The documents are submitted to the Director for Ph.D. Steering Committee review.
  5. The Ph.D. Steering Committee reviews the petition, and approves or denies reinstatement. The Ph.D. Steering Committee may require a revised timeline for degree completion and/or determine additional requirements.
  6. Applicants may only apply for reinstatement once. If an applicant has been denied reinstatement, either because eligibility criteria were not met or because the Ph.D. Steering Committee denied the petition, no further petitions will be considered.
  7. If reinstated, the student is charged an Active File Fee ($150 charged by GSAS) for each semester since the termination of degree candidacy (maximum charge of $1000). Academic reinstatement to degree candidacy, if granted, is contingent upon the meeting of financial and other obligations to the University, as well as any academic conditions imposed by the faculty.
  8. Once the reinstatement request is approved by the Ph.D. Steering Committee, students must apply for readmission to return to registered student status in the Ph.D. program. Completed applications should be submitted to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs.

Reinstatement: Ed.L.D. Candidates 

To be eligible for reinstatement applicants must meet the following conditions:

  1. Applicant has been out of the program fewer than four years
  2. Applicant withdrew voluntarily
  3. Applicant was in good academic standing at the time of withdrawal 
  4. Applicant has no outstanding financial obligations to Harvard University
  5. Applicant has successfully completed the first-year core curriculum

If an applicant does not meet the above eligibility criteria but believes there are extenuating circumstances that justify reinstatement, it is their responsibility to present a compelling case in writing to the Director for Doctoral Studies for consideration. The applicant must present evidence that they have the ability to successfully complete the Ed.L.D. program in a timely manner following reinstatement. Exceptions will be granted very rarely and require the permission of the Academic Dean before they are forwarded to the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee for review.

Reinstatement Petition Procedure: 

  1. Applicant contacts the Director for Doctoral Studies  to ascertain reinstatement eligibility. As part of this initial request, applicants should include a letter with the following information:
    • Why they originally failed to complete the program
    • What they have been doing since they left the program
    • Why they think they can successfully complete the program 
    • A reasonable timeline and plan for completing remaining degree requirements
      The letter should be submitted to the assistant director at least three months prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to register. Petitioners will be notified in writing of the decision.
  2. The Director reviews the request, along with the applicant’s file and HGSE transcript, to determine if the petition should go forward for Ed.L.D. Steering Committee for review.
  3. If the applicant does NOT meet eligibility criteria or does not present a compelling case for reinstatement, the Director informs the applicant that the petition will not move forward to the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee.
  4. If eligibility criteria are met and the Director has determined the petition can proceed, the reinstatement petition goes to the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee.
  5. The Ed.L.D. Steering Committee reviews the petition and approves or denies reinstatement. The Ed.L.D. Steering Committee may require a revised timeline for degree completion and/or determine additional requirements.
  6. Applicants may only apply for reinstatement ONCE. If an applicant has been denied reinstatement, either because eligibility criteria were not met or because the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee denied the petition, no further petitions will be considered.
  7. If reinstated, the student is charged an Active File Fee ($125) for each semester since the termination of degree candidacy (maximum charge of $500). Academic reinstatement to degree candidacy, if granted, is contingent upon the meeting of financial and other obligations to the University, as well as any academic conditions imposed by the faculty.

Reinstatement: Ed.M. Candidates 

Former Ed.M. candidates who withdrew voluntarily may apply for reinstatement to complete all degree requirements within three consecutive years from the date of original matriculation. Applicants beyond the three-year degree completion limit must reapply via the official Admissions process. After reapplying, should the applicant be admitted, up to 16 previously earned credits may be counted toward the degree at the discretion of the Academic Dean in consultation with the relevant program, the Degree Programs Office, and the Office of the Registrar.

To be eligible for reinstatement applicants must meet the following conditions:

  • Applicant withdrew voluntarily or were administratively withdrawn
  • Applicant was in good academic standing at the time of withdrawal 
  • Applicant has no outstanding financial obligations to Harvard University 
  • Applicant must be able to complete all degree requirements within three consecutive years from the date of original matriculation

To apply for reinstatement, the applicant must submit a petition that includes: 

  • A proposed study plan for the completion of the degree and program requirements 
  • A satisfactory explanation for the time away from the School 
  • An academic rationale for the return to HGSE

The letter of petition should be submitted to the Director for Master’s Studies at least three months prior to the semester in which the applicant hopes to register. The Director for Master’s Studies may consult with other members of the HGSE administration in making the decision about if a student may return from withdrawal. Petitioners will be notified in writing of the decision.

The School reserves the right to require additional information or documentation as part of a student’s reinstatement petition.

If reinstated, the student is charged an Active File Fee ($125) for each semester since the termination of degree candidacy (maximum charge of $500). Academic reinstatement to degree candidacy, if granted, is contingent upon the meeting of financial and other obligations to the University, as well as any academic conditions imposed by the faculty.

Candidacy Termination  

A student may terminate degree candidacy by notifying the Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies in writing. A student who neither registers for any semester nor applies for an official leave of absence will be administratively withdrawn from the program.

A student’s degree candidacy may be terminated if the student has exceeded the program duration limit for completion of degree requirements. In addition, Ed.D. candidacy may be terminated as a result of repeated failure of the qualifying paper or repeated failure to submit an acceptable proposal for the qualifying paper or dissertation. The Ed.D. Steering Committee takes this action only after consultation with the student’s faculty adviser. Ph.D. candidacy also may be departmentally withdrawn (equivalent of HGSE candidacy termination) if students do not pass the written or oral comprehensive examinations. (Please note: for Ph.D. students sitting for the written comprehensive examination during summer 2021 through spring 2022, this policy was amended in light of COVID-19. The amendment noted that students who do not pass the written comprehensive examination will not face department withdrawal from GSAS.) Finally, the Ed.D. Steering Committee, the Ph.D. Steering Committee, the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee, or the Master’s Student Review Committee may take appropriate action, including termination of candidacy, in matters involving academic discipline, professional and personal misconduct, or failure to meet specific requirements and deadlines. The Committees consult with the academic faculty adviser prior to taking any of these actions.

Upon termination, the student’s registration is canceled. Students who are academically eligible for a terminal Ed.M. or C.A.S. must apply for the degree within three years of their termination or withdrawal from the Ed.D. or Ed.L.D. program. Ph.D. students who have met all requirements for the degree may petition to be awarded a terminal A.M. from GSAS or a terminal Ed.M. from HGSE.

Appeals Procedure

Students may request review of the Ed.D. Steering Committee, the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee, or the Master’s Student Review Committee’s decision to terminate their candidacy by submitting a written appeal to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs for consideration by the Academic Dean. Appeals must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the course enrollment deadline of the relevant academic semester. The decision of the Academic Dean is not subject to further appeal. Ph.D. students must appeal to the GSAS Administrative Board.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended ("FERPA") is a federal law that gives students certain rights with respect to their education records.

Education Records

The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) routinely maintains records for its students that describe and document their work and progress. These education records generally include records such as permanent and local addresses, admissions records, enrollment status, course grades, reports and evaluations, completion of requirements and progress toward the degree, records of disciplinary actions, letters of recommendation, and other correspondence with or concerning the student.

Access

To be useful, students’ records must be accurate and complete. The officials who maintain them are those in charge of the functions reflected in the records and the offices where the records are kept. These ordinarily include the Registrar, as well as certain officers of HGSE, including, for example, the Academic Dean, The Director for Master’s Studies or Director for Doctoral Studies, Program Directors or Co-Chairs, Concentration Co-Chairs, Program Assistant Directors, Program Coordinators, Concentration Coordinators, the Director of Admissions, the Director of Student Affairs Operations, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Senior Associate Director for Student Support Services. All students have access to their own education records and may contribute to them if they feel there is need for clarification.

Students wishing access to their education records should contact HGSE Office of the Registrar. Ordinarily, students are asked to submit a written request that identifies the specific record or records they wish to inspect. Access will be given within 45 days from the receipt of the request. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student requesting access may inspect and review only the portion of the record relating to them. Students also are not permitted to view letters and statements of recommendation to which they waived their right of access, or that were placed in their file before January 1, 1975.

Students should direct any questions they have about the accuracy of records to the person in charge of the office where the records are kept. If questions still remain, the matter may be referred to the Registrar. Should it be necessary, a hearing may be held to resolve challenges concerning the accuracy of records in those cases where informal discussions have not satisfactorily settled the questions raised.

Directory Information

HGSE regards the following information as "directory information," that is, information that, under FERPA, can be made available to the general public: name, local address and telephone number, university email address, dates of enrollment, anticipated or actual date of graduation, degree and field of study, digitized image (please note that while Harvard classifies photos and images as directory information, these are rarely released to parties outside the University without the student's permission), and prior colleges and universities attended. For student employees, directory information also includes job title, teaching appointment (if applicable), employing department, and dates of employment.

Please note that Harvard University’s definition of "directory information," found here, may include elements in addition to those used by HGSE, and that requests for directory information received at the University level thus may result in disclosure of such additional elements.

Students may direct HGSE not to disclose their directory information, usually known as putting in place a "FERPA Block." To do so, a student must inform the HGSE Office of the Registrar in writing, and sign a form requesting that the information be blocked. A student who is cross-registered at more than one Harvard School must submit separate FERPA Block forms to each School. Students should be aware of the possible consequences of invoking a FERPA Block, such as missed mailings, messages, and announcements, non-verification of enrollment or degree status, and non-inclusion in the Harvard Commencement booklet. Students who have previously chosen to invoke a FERPA Block may decide to reverse this decision, also by informing the HGSE Office of the Registrar in writing.

Other Disclosures permitted under FERPA

In addition to permitting the disclosure of directory information, as set forth above, FERPA permits disclosure of educational records without a student’s knowledge or consent under certain circumstances. For example, disclosure is permitted to Harvard officials with a legitimate educational interest in the records, meaning that the person needs the information in order to fulfill his, her, or their professional responsibilities, including instructional, supervisory, advisory, administrative, academic or research, staff support or other duties. "Harvard officials" include: faculty; administrators; clerical employees; professional employees; Harvard University Health Services staff members; Harvard University Police Department officers; agents of the University, such as independent contractors performing functions on behalf of a Harvard School or the University; members of Harvard’s governing boards; and students serving on an official School or University committee, or assisting another Harvard official in performing his or her tasks.

A student’s education record also may be shared with parties outside the University under certain conditions, including, for example, in situations involving a health and safety emergency. In addition, HGSE will forward a student’s education records to other agencies or institutions that have requested the records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer. 

If HGSE finds that a student has committed a disciplinary violation involving a crime of violence or a non- forcible sex offense, then it also may, if legally permitted and in HGSE’s judgment appropriate, disclose certain information about the disciplinary case. The disclosure may include the student’s name, the violation committed, and the sanction imposed.

Student Rights under FERPA

As set forth above, under both Harvard policy and FERPA, students and former students may inspect and review certain of their education records that are maintained by Harvard. They also have the right to: exercise limited control over other people’s access to their education records; seek to correct their education records if they believe them to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of their FERPA rights; file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if they believe Harvard has not complied with the requirements of FERPA; and be fully informed of their rights under FERPA. Complaints regarding alleged violation of rights of students under FERPA may be submitted in writing within 180 days to the Family Policy Compliance Office, US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-5920.

1    Part-time students who were approved to graduate under the 3 Semester Plan in December 2020 will have their tuition costs adjusted to fulfill the tuition requirement in three semesters versus four. For questions regarding 3 Semester Plan tuition, please contact Miguel Sahagun (miguel_sahagun@gse.harvard.edu ). Note that the 3 Semester Plan was only offered during academic year 2020-21.
2  Ph.D. in Education students considering a Withdrawal should consult the GSAS Student Handbook.