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Frequently Asked Questions

On June 3, 2020, Harvard Kennedy School announced that it will conduct its degree programs teaching and learning remotely for the Fall 2020 semester. For information on Executive Education, please visit the resource page. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers for students.

For Incoming & Returning Students      

Now that the fall semester will be fully online, will there be a tuition reduction?

Tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year will remain as published. For additional information on the student health fee and student health insurance plan, please visit the Harvard University Health Services website.

Now that the fall semester will be fully online, will my overall budget change? 

Your budget, also known as your cost of attendance, is divided into two different types of costs: direct costs and indirect costs. Direct costs are those charges that you pay directly to Harvard such as tuition, fees and health fees. Indirect costs represent an estimate of living expenses you incur during the academic year.  The published HKS indirect costs derive from a biennial student survey to assess the average expenses incurred by students living in the Cambridge area and federal regulations limit allowable indirect expenses to not exceed these amounts in most circumstances. However, in the current circumstances where many students are not living in Cambridge, students may find it possible to live on significantly less than the amount published by HKS. Since these costs are only estimates and will vary by student, we encourage you to use your own personal living costs to assess your personal situation and use the indirect costs section as a benchmark. Again, indirect costs are generally not the costs that you are paying to Harvard--they represent your own personal living expenses.

I am an international student, by what date do I need to complete my financial certification?

Because learning will be entirely online this fall, international student certification deadlines for students matriculating this academic year have been postponed. The financial certification requirement is a federal guideline instituted to ensure that international students studying in the United States on a student visa have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their education.  Since student visas are now not necessary for study at HKS this fall, international students will not be required to complete the financial certification process prior to beginning their HKS coursework this summer or fall. All students will be required to adhere to the tuition and fee payment due dates that will be communicated later this summer.  Conditions permitting, international students planning to be on campus for the spring term will need to certify financially by a date to be communicated later this fall.

As an international student, will I still be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Occupational Practical Training (OPT) since I won’t be learning on campus for two consecutive semesters?

Eligibility for OPT and CPT is determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We have not yet received information about the requirements for qualification. For questions, please refer to the Harvard International Office(HIO) website or contact HIO directly.

Will spring semester courses also be online?

We are hopeful classes can resume on campus next spring, but we cannot commit to that today given all of the uncertainties about the pandemic. In any case, we will offer instruction remotely during the spring for students who are still unable to travel to campus.

Where can I find the course catalog and class schedule?

You can find a listing of academic year 2020-2021 courses here. Please watch the HKS website for extended course descriptions and class schedule information in the coming weeks.

How will fall term classes be graded?

Our approach to grading is meant to reflect the quality of the work of our students, and the very high expectations that faculty members have for students, in their various courses. We also understand that, when students are learning remotely, their personal circumstances can vary in many ways. Although we have not yet determined the grading scheme to be used for the fall, we will be guided by these considerations.

Will I still be able to cross-register into courses at other Harvard schools?

HKS will continue to allow students to cross-register into courses at other Harvard schools in adherence with our normal cross registration policy, but the availability of courses for cross-registration will depend on the policies governing the school(s) into which a student wants to cross register. You can find more information on Harvard’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional Schools Fall 2020 plans here.

Where can I find information about housing?

You can find information on apartment buildings managed by Harvard University Housing (HUH), including answers to questions about lease start dates and the housing lottery on the HUH website.

Where can I find information about student health insurance?

Information on the student health fee and student health insurance plan is determined centrally. Please check the Harvard University Health Services website for more information.

For Incoming Students - Deferrals

Can I request a deferral of admission until next year if I don’t want to learn exclusively online this fall?

Yes. Until June 15, 2020, requests for deferral will be granted for any reason. To request a deferral, please complete this form. Because of space constraints on campus, if many people choose to defer, some may not be able to come next year and may instead need to wait until a subsequent year.

If I defer my start date, what happens to my financial aid, scholarship or fellowship funding?

For this year only, all financial aid awards offered by HKS will carry over to the start date you are assigned following your request for a deferral.

I am a two-year degree candidate and submitted a deferral request; when will I know my new start year?

You will be notified by July 2, 2020 with your new start year. You will have until July 7, 2020 to decide to accept your new start year or revert to starting in Fall 2020. 

I am a Mid-Career MPA candidate and submitted a deferral request; when will I know my new start year?

Notifications were sent on June 17, 2020 with your new start year. You had until June 19, 2020 to decide to accept your new start year or revert to starting in July 2020.

What is the process for determining my start year?

Your start year will depend on the overall demand for deferrals. HKS will take into account factors such as: degree program, length of time remaining to degree, and HKS financial aid award amount.

I am a Mid-Career MPA candidate; can I defer my start date after I have completed the Summer Program this summer?

The MC/MPA Summer Program is intended as a prelude to the academic year in which a candidate expects to complete their MPA degree.  In addition to providing academic preparation, it is a critical time for building community and connections with other one-year MPA candidates. Students with emergency situations who need to take a leave of absence following completion of the Summer Program will be permitted to request one, but more general requests for a delayed program start will not be accommodated at that time.

I am a concurrent degree candidate; can I defer my start until Spring 2021?

All deferral requests are for the full academic year. Students enrolled in concurrent degree programs will need to begin their studies at HKS during a fall term in order to comply with our rules regarding academic program pacing.

For Returning Students – Leaves of Absence

Can I request a leave of absence if I don’t want to learn exclusively online this fall?

Yes. Until June 29, 2020 11:59 p.m. EDT, requests for leaves of absence will be granted for any reason.  To request a leave of absence, please complete this form. Leaves of absence are permitted for the fall semester or the entire academic year. 

If I take a leave of absence, what happens to my financial aid, scholarship or fellowship funding?

All financial aid awards previously provided to you by HKS will carry over to your return date.

If I take a leave of absence, will that impact my non-HKS financial aid?

Yes. Students should consult with their financial aid officer to determine the potential impact on loan repayment before taking a leave of absence.

I submitted a leave of absence request; when will I know my new return year?

You will be notified by July 2, 2020 with your new return year. You will have until July 7, 2020 5:00 p.m. EDT,  to decide to accept your return year or revert to returning in Fall 2020.

If I take a leave of absence, will I retain my HarvardKey? 

Yes, students on a leave of absence retain their access to HKS and Harvard resources. You will also be able to access your HKS email, KNet, and other platforms as you will retain your HarvardKey.

If I take a leave of absence, will I have access to the Office of Career Advancement? 

Normally, students do not have access to OCA coaching appointments or services while on leave. Given the current circumstances, we have modified that policy. If you take a leave of absence during the academic year 2020-2021, OCA will offer windows of availability each term to support your professional development as you prepare for, navigate, and get ready to return from leave. You will continue to have access to the JACK career management system and jobs database as well as the Career Advancement Resources on KNet. Additionally, you may be able to join career-related events and activities that are not space limited, and you will continue to receive the OCA weekly newsletter.

If I take a leave of absence, will the Office of Career Advancement help me find a job that I can perform during my leave?

OCA career coaches are available to help you think through how you may want to use a leave of absence to develop additional work experience or skills. While coaches will not be able to assist you with identifying paid or unpaid employment for your leave period, they will be able to offer limited career advising each term to continue to support you in your professional development while you are on leave, and as you prepare to return to HKS. In addition, you will have access to the JACK jobs database as you seek professional opportunity for your leave. 

If I take a leave of absence, can I keep my on-campus job for the summer?

Yes. If you are employed at Harvard or HKS for the summer and want to take a leave of absence in the coming academic year, please submit your form prior to the June 29 deadline. We will wait to process your leave until the end of the summer.

What happens to my health insurance if I submit a leave request by the June deadline? What are my options for extending if necessary?

For information on the student health insurance plan, please visit the HUHS website here.

I am an international student on a visa, will I need to leave the country as soon as my leave request is processed?

For all questions related to student visas, please contact the Harvard International Office.

Remote Learning

For information and tips, visit the Harvard University remote learning site.

Other Questions

Where can I get information about student health insurance?

If you have questions about your health insurance visit https://hushp.harvard.edu/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-health-insurance-faqs

What is the guidance about student travel over the Summer?

Please see the latest guidance from Harvard University about travel.

Can I come to campus if I live nearby?

The Kennedy School campus is closed until further notice. Students should do their course work and participate in classes from their homes or another suitable remote location. HKS campus buildings are closed except for visits that are absolutely necessary. To determine whether a visit is necessary, please consult with Debbie Isaacson (for students) or Suzanne Cooper (for faculty).

Can I use the HKS Library on campus? 

No, the HKS Library is closed. However, you can still receive research support and many other services virtually. We are working to expand these virtual services to include software access for students.

Can I use HKS IT services?

The HKS IT walk-up help desk is closed, but you can still receive support online. 

Doctoral Students

I'm a doctoral student. What resources are available to me about COVID-19?

See the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences COVID-19 FAQ website for general guidance to the doctoral community: https://gsas.harvard.edu/coronavirus.  

I'm having a hard time coping. Where can I turn?

See the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences resource website for information on how to take care of yourself and others during this difficult time: https://gsas.harvard.edu/student-life/harvard-resources/coronavirus.

I have a financial hardship. Is there relief for me?

Students who experience extreme financial hardship as the result of an emergency may apply funding. See 
https://gsas.harvard.edu/financial-aid/emergency-funding for eligibility and application for funding. 

Is my health insurance impacted?

See Harvard University Student Health Program website for more information: