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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 Policy Exceptions 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 (see the Academic Calendar section for more information). 

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 obtain the approval of the instructor for each “limited enrollment” course chosen. See the Academic Calendar for all relevant dates and deadlines. 

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 40 credits for the academic year (excluding the summer How People Learn course). In 2021, January Term courses will not count toward the spring 2021 credit maximum. Students are expected to meet all academic and financial degree requirements within one academic year (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 other rare circumstances. 
  • Ed.D. candidates are expected to be enrolled full time and complete all coursework (minimum 16 courses/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 completion of degree. 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 16 courses/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; one year of full-time residency and 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 to complete their academic and financial degree requirements.  

  • Students entering in fall 2020 must register for a minimum of 8 credits per semester in fall 2020 (6 credits in the ensuing semesters based on a policy change in October 2020) and may register for up to 10 credits per semester in order to maintain “half time” status. In 2021, January term courses will not count toward the spring 2021 credit maximum. Credits for courses taken during May, June, or July do not count toward the fall or spring minimums. However, students enrolled under the flat tuition rate may enroll in January, May, June, or July courses at no extra charge. All part-time students must meet the minimum requirement of 32 credits overall and not exceed the 40-credit maximum excluding the summer course, How People Learn.
  • Part-time students are expected to meet all academic requirements (i.e., completion of minimum of 32 credits and all Program requirements) in 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. Unless on financial aid, continuing students and any students using 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 website
  • 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 on the HGSE Office of the Registrar's website. Please note that petitions are not automatically granted. Prior to completing the form, students should meet with the associate director of master’s studies and other trusted program representatives (e.g., the master’s program administrator) or 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. 

Of note, students who switch to part-time status in academic year 2020–21 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.  

We strongly encourage students who are part-time for academic year 2020–21 and academic year 2021–22 to complete required courses during the 2020–21 year. This will ensure degree requirements are fulfilled without concern of a required course being unavailable — or unavailable virtually — in academic year 2021–22.  

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 program director and the associate dean for degree programs for an extension. 

Ed.M. students admitted for academic year 2020–21 during the summer admissions cycle or who switched to part-time enrollment after June 3, 2020 are expected to complete degree requirements in two years of online courses (academic years 2020–21 and 2021–22) and must make adequate academic progress (a minimum of completing 8 credits in fall 2020 and 6 credits in all ensuing semesters). 

Continuing Ed.M. students have the option of being billed per credit and may take up to three years to complete the degree. Like continuing students, students admitted in spring 2020 as part-time students or switching to part-time prior to June 3, 2020, as well as any students using TAP or transferring prior HGSE coursework, also have the option of being billed per credit and taking up to three years to complete the degree. Only courses taken within three years of matriculation as a degree candidate are eligible. 

Ed.M. degree candidates who reach the program duration limit without completing the degree requirements must petition the Degree Programs Office for an extension on the time to degree limit. 

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 interruptions. 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, and 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 inform their respective doctoral programs in writing to request this option. Requests should be submitted to the assistant director for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs or the assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program respectively 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 Leaves of Absence section below. 

Options for Ed.M. Students:

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

  2. Adjustment of academic clock with registration for at least two courses:
    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 below for additional details.  

Credit Limits and Course Options 

Credit Limit 

Full-time students may take no more than 20 credits per semester. The limit for January term is 4 credits. 

January Term Courses 

While students may take more than one module 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 advisors and the faculty instructors when considering such an option. 

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 associate director for master’s studies. Ed.L.D. students must obtain a signature from the assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program. This requirement is not designed to increase paperwork, but rather to ensure an added level of scrutiny. (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.) 
  • 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 8 credits of independent study, field experience, or combination thereof may count towards each degree (Ed.M., C.A.S., Ed.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. 
  • The supervisor of an independent study or field experience must be an HGSE faculty member with the title “Adjunct Lecturer,” “Lecturer,” “Senior Lecturer,” “Member of the Faculty,” or any level of “Professor.” 

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 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, including spring bill clearance and completion of spring course evaluations. 

Part-time students enrolling in summer 2020 courses are assessed tuition at the 2020–21 tuition rate. Full-time doctoral students are not assessed summer tuition. 

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 associate dean for degree programs. 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. Students seeking credit are required to submit the petition with the associate dean’s signature at least two weeks prior to the Harvard Summer School registration deadline. 

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

With the exception of Ed.L.D. candidates, an HGSE degree candidate may, by petitioning the associate dean for degree programs, 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. The courses may be those taken either at HGSE or through cross-registration as long as they were taken while an HGSE non-degree student. Students may obtain academic credit only (not financial credit) for courses taken while enrolled at another Harvard faculty, even if those courses were taken at HGSE, or for courses taken at 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 4 courses (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 course work 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 an 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 an 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 2020 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 director for release from a course requirement and may, with the approval of the program director 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 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 the examination period for each semester but the transcript will carry a permanent “DRP” notation for any courses dropped after the add/drop deadline. 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: 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 assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program 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.) 

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 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 $50 fee for petitions submitted after the deadlines. 

Although students may add or drop January term courses and modules through the respective add/drop deadlines in January, the deadline for doing so without penalty is early December (please refer to the Academic Calendar for the specific date). After December, students will be charged a $50 add/drop fee. 

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. 

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 four courses. Refunds for dropped courses are provided only to students being charged on a per-course basis. See Withdrawals section for more information. 

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. 

Students enrolling in courses through cross-registration are subject to the rules and deadlines of 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 an HGSE degree must be taken at the Graduate School of Education (please refer to program-specific course requirements). Any additional earned credits beyond the required number to satisfy degree requirements, are not subject to the 50% policy. 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 2021 grades for MIT courses may not be received in time to count towards May 2021 graduation requirements

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. 

Continuing students who do not complete all of their course evaluations will be prevented from registering for further courses until they fulfill the course evaluation requirement. Diplomas will be withheld for graduating students who do not fill out all course evaluations. 

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 as well as 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. 

Course Catalog and Contracts 

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. 

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. 

Students are expected to comply with all disciplinary rules from matriculation until the conferring of the degree. A degree will not be granted to a student who is not in good standing or against whom a disciplinary charge is pending. 

Attendance 

Regarding attendance in class and for examinations, Massachusetts law provides: “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.) Please note that class attendance policies are determined at the individual course level. 

The HGSE Policy Exceptions Committee 

The HGSE Policy Exceptions 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 of the change 
  • Dropping courses beyond the school deadline 
  • Grade option changes beyond the school deadline in cases in which the instructor approves of the change 
  • Waiver of processing fees and fines 

Membership

The HGSE Policy Exceptions Committee consists of the associate dean for enrollment and student services, the associate dean for degree programs, the director of financial aid, the registrar, the associate registrar, the senior associate director of student affairs, the associate director of master’s studies, and the associate director of student support services. 

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., an official letter if there is a relevant medical issue)

As part of the process, the committee also may contact course instructors or other school officials as appropriate for 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 the 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 cases of extenuating circumstances.

Students facing extenuating circumstances should meet with the associate director of master’s studies and other trusted program representatives (e.g., the master’s program administrator) or advisers to discuss their enrollment options. We also encourage students to seek support from the Office of Student Affairs. Leaves of absence are not permissible during a student’s first summer or fall term; in those instances, the student could instead consider shifting enrollment status or withdrawing from HGSE. Students who withdraw from HGSE may apply for reinstatement. Please see the Withdrawals section for more information.  

With respect to a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the associate director for student support services and/or the associate dean for enrollment and student 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 the GSAS Student Handbook. 

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. 
  3. Complete the form and obtain the signatures of relevant program staff member.  
    • Ed.M. students must obtain the signature of the associate director for master’s studies. 
    • Ed.D. and Ph.D. students must obtain the signature of the assistant director for Ed.D and Ph.D. Programs. 
    • Ed.L.D. students must obtain the signature of the assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program. 

The Office of the Registrar will provide a written response to the student within five 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 of the student’s program and the associate dean for degree programs. 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 associate dean for degree programs. 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 request is then forwarded to the student’s academic program faculty director and the appropriate Office of Degree Programs staff member for review and recommendation. 

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. 

The decision to place a student on involuntary leave is made by the associate dean for enrollment and student services in consultation with the associate dean for degree programs 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. 

A student is notified in writing that they have been placed on involuntary leave. The student may petition the associate dean for enrollment and student services 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 associate director of student support services for more details. 

Students on academic timetables must continue to comply with these 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 fall semester are not permitted to enroll in Winter Session (J-Term) courses. 

Access and Expectations for Conduct While on Leave of Absence 

Students on leave may not participate in HGSE co-curricular activities. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically approved in advance by the school. 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). Ordinarily, 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) 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: 

Fall Term 

Spring Term 

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

September 18, 2020 

February 12, 2021 

Full refund 

$6,488 

October 6, 2020 

March 3, 2021 

¾ refund 

$4,866 

October 23, 2020 

March 26, 2021 

½ refund 

$3,244 

November 10, 2020 

April 13, 2021 

¼ refund 

$1,622 

Thereafter 

Thereafter 

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 to have 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 associate dean for enrollment and student 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. The decision whether to allow a student to return is made by the associate dean for enrollment and student services, in consultation with the associate dean for degree programs, as well as with others at HGSE as appropriate. 

If the leave, whether voluntary or involuntary, was for medical reasons, then the student must petition the associate dean for enrollment and student 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 associate dean for enrollment and student services, in consultation with the associate dean for degree programs, 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 in the university again until all previous term-bill charges have been paid and no loan is in default. 

Withdrawals 

HGSE students who decide to discontinue their degree or non-degree program must file an official Withdrawal Notification. 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 Notification Form is filed, unless one of the following conditions applies: 

  1. If the date on which the student signs the Withdrawal Notification 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 (by fax, email, or phone) a staff member of the Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Affairs, Financial Aid Office, Degree Programs Office, or advisor that they are withdrawing before submitting the Withdrawal Notification, then the official withdrawal date is the date on which the student first notified such person, not the date on which the Withdrawal Notification 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 his or her 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. 

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 

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

Fall Term 

Spring Term 

Rate 

Amount Per Course 

September 18, 2020 

February 12, 2021 

Full refund 

$6,488 

October 6, 2020 

March 3, 2021 

¾ refund 

$4,866 

October 23, 2020 

March 26, 2021 

½ refund 

$3,244 

November 10, 2020 

April 13, 2021 

¼ refund 

$1,622 

Thereafter 

Thereafter 

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: Ed.D. Candidates 

To be eligible for reinstatement: 

  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; and 
  5. A current HGSE faculty member is willing to serve as the applicant’s advisor. (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 assistant director for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs for consideration. The applicant must present evidence that they have the ability to successfully complete the Ed.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.D. Steering Committee for review. 

Ed.D. Reinstatement Petition Procedure 

  1. Applicant contacts the assistant director for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs 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; and 
    • A reasonable timeline and plan for completing the dissertation proposal (if applicable) and dissertation. 
    The letter should be submitted to the assistant 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 assistant director reviews the request, along with the applicant’s file and transcript, to determine if the petition should go forward to the Ed.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 assistant 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 advisor, and agreements from two faculty members who will serve on applicant’s committee of readers. The documents are submitted to the assistant director for Ed.D. Steering Committee review. 
  5. The Ed.D. Steering Committee reviews the petition, and approves or denies reinstatement. The Ed.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.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: Ph.D. Candidates 

To be eligible for reinstatement: 

  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; and 
  5. A current HGSE faculty member is willing to serve as the applicant’s advisor. (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 assistant director for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs 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 assistant director for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs 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; and 
    • A reasonable timeline and plan for completing all remaining academic milestones. 
    The letter should be submitted to the assistant 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 assistant 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 assistant 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 assistant dDirector 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: 

  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 assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program 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 assistant director for the Ed.L.D. Program 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. Assistant 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 assistant 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 assistant 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: 

  • Applicant withdrew voluntarily; 
  • Applicant was in good academic standing at the time of withdrawal; 
  • Applicant has no outstanding financial obligations to Harvard University; and 
  • 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; and 
  • The academic rationale for the return to HGSE. 

The letter of petition should be submitted to the associate director for master’s studies at least three months prior to the semester in which the applicant hopes to register. 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 associate dean for degree programs in writing. A student who neither registers for any semester nor applies for an official leave of absence automatically will be considered to have withdrawn from the program. 

In addition to the reasons described above in the Annual Satisfactory Academic Progress Review section, 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 advisor. 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 the written comprehensive examination during summer 2020 through spring 2021, 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. 

Grievance 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 degree 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 Affairs Deans, Program Directors, Program Administrators, the Director of Admissions, the Director of Student Affairs, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student 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 him or her. 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 or her 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 are approved to graduate under the 3 Semester Plan will have their tuition costs adjusted to fulfill the tuition requirement in three semesters versus four. See the online petition form and Frequently Asked Questions for specific tuition amounts per semester. The total amount of tuition paid remains the same for all students regardless of time to degree.