Information About GSD Studio, Course & Research Travel

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 and other Harvard travel resources, including the latest information related to COVID-19.  Individuals traveling internationally should also review the Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy.

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.  

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. 

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. Students are required to sign a travel waiver and may be required to submit a COVID-19 Vaccination/Booster attestation in order to travel. 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.

If selected for a course or studio with a travel component, please bring a copy of your passport to the first meeting. Be sure to use your legal name exactly as it appears in your 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 are the responsibility of the individual student (including costs incurred).

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.

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.

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

    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. Complete a travel waiver (available at your respective academic department office) and, if required, COVID-19 Vaccination/Booster Attestation form.
    4. Register your itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry.

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

Passports and 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. Please 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 choosing to enroll 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 Enrollment webpage, under the Recommended Backgrounds section. 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 Offices 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. Each driver must provide their own license and credit card to the rental agency and should familiarize themselves with Harvard’s rental car guidelinesThose 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. 

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. 

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) 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 still 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 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. 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.



Last edited 6/7/2022