Many GSD students will participate in course, studio, or research travel prior to graduating. To ensure the best travel experience for each student please review the travel information provided on this page, as well as the information available through Harvard’s Global Support Services. Individuals traveling internationally should also review the Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy.
Information About GSD Studio & Course Travel
While studio site visits are generally considered a required component of the coursework, students who are unable or unwilling to travel will be assigned alternative work in lieu of participation in the trip. Students who wish to enroll in a limited enrollment course with a travel component but who cannot participate in the travel component of the course should notify the instructor immediately to determine whether or not they can enroll in the course.
Travel is always accompanied by certain risks. If a studio or course includes travel outside of the United States, please keep in mind that 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. All students participating in international travel should investigate and fully understand the implications and requirements of travel, including verifying that they will possess a valid passport at the time of travel, and that they will be able to obtain any necessary visas. In general, passports must not expire within six months of planned international travel. Students who enroll in a studio or course which includes a site visit will be term-billed a travel fee of up to $300. This fee is separate from the cost of meals and incidentals incurred during travel.
Students selected for a studio with a travel component should bring a photocopy of their passport to the first studio meeting, typically the evening of studio presentations and lottery. All travelers should use their legal name exactly as it appears in their passport for all transactions, such as airline tickets and hotel reservations. Teaching Assistants are not permitted to travel unless they are enrolled in the course/studio that is traveling. There will be one set group itinerary planned and arranged for all students in a studio. Any modifications are the responsibility of the individual student (including costs incurred).
Students may only miss one week of classes due to course or research travel, and may only participate in one traveling course or studio per semester. Students traveling in conjunction with an option studio are therefore not eligible to travel with other GSD courses that term.
Faculty leading a site visit as part of their studio, course, research, or other Harvard sponsored project must be familiar with these guidelines and may not commit the School to costs that fall outside of these guidelines.
If you have questions about traveling internationally, including specific visa questions, please talk with representatives from Harvard Global Support Services or visit the Global Support website for more information. On the day of studio presentations and lottery, Harvard Global Support Services will also have representatives available in the lobby of Gund Hall immediately following studio presentations to assist with travel questions. For information pertaining to GSD travel policies contact Ashley Lang.
Please note that all GSD students are required to do the following prior to participating in any Harvard-sponsored travel:
- Complete a travel waiver (available at your respective academic department office).
- Register your itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry.
- 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.
- 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.
All 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 economy. Individuals traveling on behalf of Harvard-sponsored research may be asked to book their own airfare and receive reimbursement upon the completion of the trip. All travel costs must be approved in advance. Please note that costs associated with flying, such as luggage fees, are considered incidental costs and are the individual responsibility of each traveler.
Meals and Incidentals
Students 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, personal luggage costs, and museum entry fees. These costs are in addition to the term-billed fee charged to each traveler.
Students traveling for research purposes or with a studio/course may encounter the need to rent a car during their travels. Students electing to rent a car in conjunction with their research or course/studio trip must provide their own license and credit card to the rental agency and should familiarize themselves with Harvard’s rental car guidelines. Students 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.
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. Any modifications are the responsibility of the individual student (including costs incurred). Travelers requiring changes to the planned travel dates of the studio/course may coordinate changes directly with the travel agent responsible for booking the group tickets and are required to cover any expenses associated with the change. 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.
All studio, course, and research trips are subject to security and safety considerations and may be cancelled at any time.
Studio and Course Sponsorship
Many site visits offered in conjunction with GSD studios, courses, and research are supported by private donors, researchers, or companies. A list of studio sponsors can be found in the back of the printed course description booklet, typically available during studio presentations. Students with questions about studio sponsorship may inquire with their department.
Assistance with Travel Visas
Students are responsible for obtaining the necessary visas for any GSD travel, including all costs associated with these visa(s). Please proceed immediately with researching and obtaining your visa as soon as you know about the upcoming travel. To obtain expedited visa assistance at a discounted rate, please use the online visa services portal of Harvard’s preferred visa services vendor, Travel Document Systems, Inc. (TDS).