Information About GSD Studio, Course & Research Travel

Many GSD students and faculty elect to engage in course, studio, or research travel, also referred to as site visits, while studying or working at the GSD. To ensure the best possible travel experience, be sure to review the information provided on this page along with the information available through Harvard’s Global Support Services and other Harvard travel resources prior to your departure. Students traveling internationally should also review the Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy.

Faculty electing to include a site visit as part of their course or studio are considered the “Trip Leader” and are responsible for carefully reviewing all travel materials provided by the GSD in advance of the trip. All course or studio travel, including dates and funding, should be approved by the sponsoring department at least one month prior to the start of the semester, and must be noted in the syllabus. Faculty leading a site visit as part of their studio, course, research, or other Harvard sponsored project should be familiar with these guidelines and may not commit the School to costs that fall outside of these guidelines.

Students may participate in one traveling course or studio per semester and are permitted to miss up to one week of GSD classes each semester to take part in a site visit. Students traveling in conjunction with an option studio are, therefore, not eligible to travel with other GSD courses that term. Students are responsible for notifying their instructors in advance if they are going to miss class due to a site visit and are responsible for obtaining and making up any missed classwork.

Some courses or studios may incorporate local day-trips into the curriculum. As noted above, all travel, including local day-trips, should be noted in the syllabus and approved by the sponsoring department at least one month prior to the start of the semester. When possible, local day-trips should occur during normally scheduled class times. Local site visits that are part of the required course curriculum should be coordinated to ensure they do not conflict with other required course curriculum; if conflicts are identified the program director should be notified, and if conflicts are unavoidable students must be given alternative work in lieu of the trip.

Travel is always accompanied by certain risks. International students should look into their personal immigration and visa statuses as it can be difficult for individuals from some countries to leave the U.S. and then return. Students are required to sign a travel waiver and may be required to submit a COVID-19 Vaccination/Booster attestation in order to travel. If you have questions about traveling internationally, including specific visa questions, be sure to speak with representatives from Harvard Global Support Services or visit the Global Support website for more information. While the site visit is a requirement, if you should be unable or unwilling to travel, your instructor will assign alternative work for you in lieu of participation in the trip.

Please note that all GSD students are required to do the following prior to participating in any Harvard-sponsored travel:

    1. Complete a travel waiver (available at your respective academic department office) and, if required, COVID-19 Vaccination/Booster Attestation form.
    2. For international trips:
      1. Review the guidelines below, as well as the resources and tools available through Harvard Global Support Services, including information about the country to which you plan to travel, and information about the International SOS program.
      2. Research and obtain any visas that are required for your trip, and ensure your passport expiration date is at least six months after the dates of travel.
      3. Register your itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry.

For information pertaining to GSD travel policies, contact Ashley Lang.

Course & Studio Travel

Students participating in a course or studio with a travel component must bring a copy of their passport to the first meeting. Travelers should use their legal name exactly as it appears on their passport for all transactions, such as airline tickets and hotel reservations.

There will be one set group itinerary planned and arranged for all students in a studio or course based on the educational needs of the site visit. Any modifications and associated costs are the responsibility of the individual traveler.

Students must be enrolled in a particular course or studio to be eligible to participate in the trip. Teaching Assistants are not permitted to travel unless they are enrolled in the course/studio that is traveling. Should a conflict in your schedule arise, please contact Pilar Raynor Jordan to discuss options.

Passports & Visas

Travelers are responsible for investigating and understanding the implications and requirements of travel, including verifying that they will possess proper identification, such as a valid passport at the time of travel, and obtaining any necessary visas. In general, passports must not expire within six months of planned international travel. Proceed immediately with researching and obtaining your visa as soon as you know about the upcoming travel. You can apply for a visa through an embassy or consulate in the U.S. or through a visa processing vendor. Due to certain country-specific requirements, vendors can’t assist with all visa and passport applications, such as when you are required to make a personal appearance at an embassy or consulate. For more information about applying for visas, review Harvard Global Support Services’ website.

Costs associated with passports and visas are the responsibility of each individual traveler.

Travel Costs

Students enrolling in a course or studio that includes a travel component should expect to pay up to $300 (term-billed) plus meals and incidentals. Travel fees associated with course travel will be noted in the course description, and travel fees associated with studio travel will be posted on the Option Studio Information webpage. Every effort is made to communicate travel costs prior to the course/studio selection process. The term-billed fees associated with travel go into a fund that supports studio travel, generally, as well as non-travel activities taken on by option studios without funding. This fee is separate from the cost of meals and incidentals incurred during travel, including visa costs. Local travel costs are considered incidentals and may not always be explicitly noted.

Reimbursable Costs 

In general, costs incurred while traveling are the responsibility of each traveler. Occasionally, students traveling in conjunction with a course will be permitted to book their own airfare. In such instances, approval must be granted by the Academic Affairs Business Office prior to booking. Individuals traveling on behalf of Harvard-sponsored research should expect to book their own flights. All travel costs must be approved in advance. Airfare purchased on behalf of the GSD is subject to the University’s travel policy, and all airfare for GSD studio, course, or research travel must be booked in economy. Please note that additional costs associated with flying, such as luggage fees, are considered incidental costs and are the individual responsibility of each traveler. If you have questions regarding costs incurred while traveling, contact Pilar Raynor Jordan.

When necessary, faculty may arrange a rental car(s)/van in conjunction with their research or course/studio trip which may qualify as reimbursable expenses. All car rentals must be approved in advance of travel by Pilar Raynor Jordan. Refer to the Car Rentals & Traveling by Ground section of this page.

Travelers can apply to receive reimbursement within 30 days of the completion of the trip. All travel costs, whether reimbursable or non-reimbursable, must be approved in advance of travel by Pilar Raynor Jordan.

Non-reimbursable Costs

Travelers are responsible for the cost of all meals and incidentals incurred as a result of any GSD-related travel. Incidentals may include, but are not limited to, visas, country-specific entry/exit fees, local ground transportation (such as trains, taxis, Ubers/Lyfts), and personal luggage costs. These costs are in addition to the term-billed fee charged to each traveler. If you have been informed by anyone other than staff of the Academic Affairs Business Office that any incidental costs will be reimbursed to you, you must confirm that it is the case in advance of travel with Pilar Raynor Jordan.

Car Rentals & Traveling by Ground

Car rentals should be used only in cases where taxis, rideshares, and public transportation are not available. Each driver must provide their own license and credit card to the rental agency and should familiarize themselves with Harvard’s Traveling by Ground website which provides information regarding rental cars, including preferred vendors and required insurance coverages; car services; and other ground transportation options. Those traveling with a studio or course may volunteer to rent a car on behalf of the group, but may not be required to do so. All car rentals must be approved in advance of travel by Pilar Raynor Jordan.

International car rentals are not permitted.

What Happens When Travel Plans Change?

There will be one set group itinerary planned and arranged for all students in a studio or course based on the educational needs of the site visit. By enrolling in a course or studio with a travel component, you agree to the dates of the trip as noted in the course description or on the Option Studio Information webpage. Any modifications are the responsibility of the individual student, including costs incurred, and must be coordinated directly by the traveler with Pilar Raynor Jordan and the GSD travel agent following receipt of their flight confirmation. Students who ultimately do not travel after tickets have been purchased will be required to pay the term-billed fee associated with that studio or course’s trip and may be required to reimburse the school for up to the full ticket amount.

All studio, course, and research trips are subject to security and safety considerations and may be canceled at any time.

Travel Sponsorship

Many site visits offered in conjunction with GSD studios, courses, and research are supported by private donors, researchers, or companies. Students with questions about studio sponsorship may inquire with their department.

Research Related Travel 

Students electing to embark on research-related travel sponsored by the GSD must complete the steps noted above, and should check in with their program coordinator prior to departure to ensure the necessary pre-departure steps are taken.

Last edited 1/11/2023