Graduate Student Travel Policy

Graduate Student Travel Policy

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Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy

This policy applies to travel with Harvard sponsorship (i.e. travel or related activities involving academic work qualifying for Harvard credit, funded in whole or in part by Harvard, or organized or accompanied by a Harvard faculty or staff member acting in a Harvard capacity).

It has been adopted by each of the graduate and professional Schools. Contact your School’s official if you have questions.

Harvard University is committed to the safety of our students, wherever their intellectual pursuits may lead them. Physical safety is a necessary premise to Harvard’s core values of “free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change.” (University-Wide Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, adopted by the Governing Boards in 1970 and affirmed in 1977.) Harvard provides many resources to student travelers, some of which are described below. You’re expected to use those resources and others to make prudent, independent judgments about your safety and to take reasonable precautions, based on a thorough and honest assessment of the risks at your destination. When travel is Harvard-sponsored as defined above, the University has a special interest in overseeing your safety.

Global Support Services maintains travel risk ratings for high-risk, elevated-risk, and watch-list countries and regions. These three categories of countries and regions are the destinations directly affected by this policy. The risk rating lists are updated regularly.

Travel to High-Risk Regions with Harvard Sponsorship

If you're traveling to high-risk regions with Harvard sponsorship, you're required to complete the following steps. These steps are also recommended for all travelers to high-risk regions, whether or not the travel is sponsored by Harvard:

  1. Typically one month prior to travel, submit a Travel Safety Questionnaire to our International Safety and Security team. We’ll share your questionnaire with the designated School official.
    NOTE: If you're unable to log in to the Travel Safety Questionnaire with your HarvardKey, email Katherine Steevens, katherine_steevens@harvard.edu.
  2. Depending on the travel, we may request a follow-up consultation, usually a brief phone call.
  3. Based on our recommendations, and in consultation with you and any involved faculty, the designated School official may require additional safety measures and/or trip adjustments as a condition of receiving Harvard funding, credit, or other sponsorship. In exceptional cases where appropriate risk mitigation is found too costly or impractical, this may have the effect of deferring or canceling the trip.

Decisions regarding your travel will ordinarily consider your training and experience and the appropriate balance between safety concerns and the academic value of the project, consistent with the School’s risk tolerance, taking into account any alternative means to reach the academic objective.

Changes During Travel

Sometimes a country or region faces a significant safety deterioration while you’re in country. In those cases, our International Safety and Security team will assess the risks of remaining in the country and the risks of departure, consulting with you directly, if appropriate, and will make a recommendation to the designated School official. The University and the School reserve the right to require you to leave a high-risk country as a condition of maintaining Harvard sponsorship.

Student Judgement

Harvard recognizes and respects that students’ risk tolerances vary. You (and any student) may decline to travel to a particular place, or to remain there, if you have justifiable fears for your personal safety. Harvard and individual faculty and staff shall respect the decision and not pressure you to decide otherwise. This provision may apply whether or not Harvard has classified the place as high-risk.

Notify your designated School official or the Vice Provost for International Affairs if you believe there has been a violation of this policy.

International Travel Safety Information

Before traveling abroad, review the Travel Tools section of our website to:

  • Register your trip in the Harvard Travel Registry.
  • Review the “Before You Leave” guidelines and country-specific safety information.
  • Consult the Harvard GSS Travel Risk Ratings.

Some Schools have additional requirements or expectations for your travel.

Reporting Incidents Abroad

If you experience or witnesses a serious medical or safety incident while abroad, report the event to help us protect the safety and security of the community and ensure you receive the proper support.

Reportable incidents include illnesses and injuries (needing a health care professional), accidents, crimes of all kinds, missing persons, harassment, property damage, and incidents that forced a significant itinerary change.

If urgent:

  1. Call local police, fire or medical responders, if appropriate (local equivalent of "911"). Review the U.S. State Department’s global "911" list.
  2. Call Harvard Travel Assist at +1-617-998-0000 (worldwide, 24/7) for additional assistance and to report the incident. You can also email travelassist@harvard.edu with "Urgent" at the start of your subject line if it's an emergency. The phone line is answered immediately; an email response may take up to four hours for urgent requests and up to 24 hours for non-urgent requests.

If not urgent: Report the incident within 72 hours. See the incident reporting page for instructions.

School Officials

American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)
Julia Smeliansky
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)
Patrick O'Brien
Graduate School of Design (GSD)
Jackie Piracini
Graduate School of Education (GSE)
Liz Thurston
Harvard Business School (HBS)
Kelly Diamond
Harvard Divinity School (HDS)
Annie Russell
Harvard Extension School (HES)
Admitted degree candidates only
Rob Neugeboren
Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
Melissa Wojciechowski
Harvard Law School (HLS)
Sara Zucker
Harvard Medical School (HMS)
Sally Andrews
Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM)
Jane Barrow
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Stacey Herman