Resources for International Students
Resources for International Students
- I will be teaching next year and I am still not confident about my language skills. What can I do?
- If I want to continue to develop my written and verbal English skills, is help available?
- Is it possible to discuss with someone specific questions about papers I am working on or general concerns about writing?
- I live in a GSAS residence hall. Is it possible for me to meet informally with other international students to discuss problems I face as an international student?
- I have been a graduate student for several years and would like to help new GSAS international students. What can I do?
- How can I meet students from other countries and other GSAS departments and continue to develop my English language skills?
- Whom can I talk with in GSAS about any academic or personal concerns?
- For travel within the U.S., do I need to carry documentation?
- What is January@GSAS?
- How do I keep up with information relevant to my graduate student experience?
You may want to improve your English language skills by taking courses offered by the Harvard Institute for English Language (IEL) Programs at the Harvard University Extension School or the Harvard Summer School. In all IEL courses, students read a novel and contemporary journalism as well as a wide variety of articles across the curriculum, and engage in a variety of speaking and writing tasks in order to expand their vocabulary, monitor and receive feedback on language problems, and gain wider cultural awareness. Brochures are available at the Extension School, 51 Brattle Street, or online.
GSAS will pay tuition for one non-intensive IEL course in the Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School. To obtain a voucher, print your completed registration form and bring the form to GSAS at Holyoke Center 350.
Another option for international students seeking to improve their English language skills is the ESL (English as a Second Language) Peer Consultation Program at the Bureau of Study Counsel. Undergraduate and graduate peer consultants work with international students who are non-native English speakers to help them improve their oral communication skills in English. Students work with peer consultants to fine-tune their general speaking and listening skills in English, understand American idioms, learn more about U.S. and Harvard cultures, develop social conversational skills, and practice for oral presentations for classroom or professional contexts. The peer consultants are not available to assist with writing skills or help with editing.
It is advisable to request a consultant as early as possible. Students interested in the ESL peer consultation program should call 617-495-1814 and make an appointment with Patrick O'Brien to discuss a referral to the Bureau’s ESP Peer Consultation Program. GSAS will provide a GSAS student with $925 of funding for a peer consultant.
In addition, the Bureau of Study Counsel offers the Harvard Course in Reading and Study Strategies twice in the fall (September/October), twice in the month of February, and once in the summer. Some of the topics covered in the Reading Course include the mechanics of reading, reading with a question, remembering what you read, and navigating longer texts.
Is this an ESL course? This is not an ESL course, i.e., a course in how to read English. It is a course in how to approach reading American expository texts at an advanced level (i.e., at an undergraduate, graduate, or professional level).
How should a student decide which version of the course to take? Any student is welcome to take either the term-time/summer version of the course or the January course tailored to non-native English readers. Many students for whom English is a non-native language have taken the term-time/summer version of the course and found it very useful. At the same time, many such students have indicated that they would value a course with a focus on the particular concerns and needs of non-native readers. Students in either version of the course can speak with their instructor about how to make the best use of the course given their particular needs and challenges.
What is the cost of the course? Is financial assistance available? $25 for students in Harvard College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; $150 for all others.
How do students register for the course? When and how do students pay for the course? Advance registration is required. Please register in person at 5 Linden Street, Cambridge, MA. We cannot accept registration by phone or email. Payment in full is required upon registration. Cash and checks are accepted. Harvard students may term bill (except students in the Harvard Extension School).
Is it possible to discuss with someone specific questions about papers I am working on or general concerns about writing?
The Bureau of Study Counsel offers a Dissertation Writers Support Group each semester to graduate students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Business School Doctoral Programs. The focus of the group is on the writing experience, rather than the writing content. The group provides support and problem-solving around issues such as time management, procrastination, task/work structuring, motivation, and managing the kinds of life factors that can interfere with the writing process. The group does not teach writing skills or read/edit drafts. If you are interested, schedule a half-hour pre-group consultation meeting with Niti Seth or SungLim Shin by calling the Bureau at 617-495-2581.
In addition to the dissertation writers' support group, graduate students may also sign up for other Bureau workshops (e.g., on perfectionism, speaking up in class, learning style, etc.) or make an individual appointment with a Bureau counselor (which, like the group, will tend to focus on the writing experience rather than the writing content).
For more information about writing resources for GSAS students, including international students, please go to http://gsas.harvard.edu/writing.
I live in a GSAS residence hall. Is it possible for me to meet informally with other international students to discuss problems I face as an international student?
Several Resident Advisors (RAs) have a particular interest in English as a Second Language and in assisting international students. You can contact any of the other RAs, as well.
I have been a graduate student for several years and would like to help new GSAS international students. What can I do?
We encourage international students to sign up to host an incoming international student in the Host Student Program. The goal of the program is to help incoming international students feel welcome and comfortable as they make the transition to life in the US and in GSAS. Look for an invitation to participate in your email in April.
How can I meet students from other countries and other GSAS departments and continue to develop my English language skills?
Get involved at Dudley House, your graduate student center, which hosts social events, intellectual/cultural events, arts outings, film series, literary events, public service opportunities, athletics, and musical groups.
- Garth McCavana, Dean for GSAS Student Affairs, has general responsibility for the welfare of graduate students and monitors students’ academic status and progress and is available to discuss any concerns that may arise. He will refer students to additional sources of assistance if necessary.
Offices: Holyoke Center, 3rd floor, 617-495-1814; Dudley House, 3rd floor, 617-496-3362; e-mail
- Ellen Fox, Director of GSAS Student Services, is the primary resource for all GSAS students about any academic or personal concerns. She serves in an advisory role and provides support and information about counseling and other services for GSAS students. Ellen supervises the Resident Advisors, one of whom resides on each floor of the GSAS Residence Halls.
- Darryl Zeigler at the Harvard International Office serves as the international student advisor for all GSAS students. He is responsible for advising students on matters related to their immigration status and is available to discuss any concerns that may arise.
Another good source of help is the Bureau of Study Counsel, a campus resource for academic and personal development. The Bureau offers individual counseling about the concerns that come up for students in their efforts to learn and live at Harvard. Counseling is free and confidential.
In addition, all Bureau counselors are available to discuss writing strategies and the writing process with students in individual counseling sessions.
Office: 5 Linden Street, 617-495-2581; bsc.harvard.edu.
When you travel within the boundaries of the United States, you will not normally go through immigration inspection procedures. If you travel by car or bus near a border area (for example the Canadian border) you may encounter immigration “spot checks.” It is advisable to carry your passport, I-94 card, and visa documents in these areas. If you are traveling within the United States by plane, you should also travel with all of your immigration documents, as you may be asked to show official identification. Finally, it is advisable to carry at minimum a photocopy of your I-94 card, visa document and the biographical page of your passport whenever you are traveling outside the Boston area.
January@GSAS is a flexible series of events designed to help you acquire essential research and professional skills, prepare for your career, master some new interests, or just relax and have fun. Given Harvard’s winter break, January is one time of year when things slow down, and that makes it a good time to turn attention to your own professional and personal development. Past January programs have included Personal Money Management, Computational Science Ventures, Business Applications for the PhD, Counteracting Stress, and Building a Powerful Online Identity.
As part of January@GSAS, the Graduate Student Council sponsors a series of mini-courses on a broad variety of intriguing topics. These noncredit courses, taught by GSAS students for GSAS students, engage topics of discipline-spanning appeal, designed for a diverse audience of nonspecialists. You can apply to teach a mini-course, or you can take one — enjoying an opportunity to step back from your own line of scholarly inquiry and step into other perspectives. Visit www.gsas.harvard.edu/january for information.
Please read the GSAS Bulletin’s print and online editions for news, features, and events. Consult our website for information about program requirements, policies, and resources for students. Each month, Dean Garth McCavana sends an e-mail newsletter to students with important announcements and timely events. Finally, we encourage you to participate in the activities offered by Dudley House.