There is a range of resources available to the families of GSAS graduate students.


Paid Time Off for Childbirth and Adoption

  • Female and male students in PhD programs in GSAS are eligible for a Paid Time Off period of six weeks following the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Students are expected to notify their advisor, their Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean for Student Affairs at GSAS in writing at least four months in advance of the birth or adoption, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
  • Normally the time off period commences within two weeks of the birth or adoption.
  • During Paid Time Off, the student remains enrolled full-time. By remaining on full-time status, loan repayment schedules, eligibility for University housing, and student visa status, if applicable, will remain unchanged.
  • Students will receive academic accommodation during the time off period - including relief from academic requirements, such as postponement of exams and course requirements.
  • Students receiving financial support are entitled to continuation of the support during the time off period, as follows:
    1. Students receiving stipends from University funds are entitled to draw support for six weeks during the academic year.
    2. Students funded by government grants or other external sources are entitled to benefits as determined by the funding agency.
    3. Students who have TF appointments during the time off period will continue to be paid during this period
  • Students who take advantage of Paid Time Off will have their departmental G clocks adjusted by one year.

Family Leave of Absence Policy

  • Female and male students in GSAS may take a Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
  • Students may take a Family Leave of Absence for one or two semesters. Students' departmental G clocks will be adjusted by one year, whether the Family Leave of Absence is for one or two semesters.
  • Academic requirements (such as postponement of exams and course requirements) will be adjusted for the duration of the Family Leave of Absence.
  • Students are expected to notify their advisor and their Director of Graduate Studies as early as possible about their plans to take a Family Leave of Absence so that appropriate accommodations can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
  • Students are eligible for four months of health coverage through the Student Health Insurance Plan and the Student Health Fee (see HUHS website) from the point at which they take a leave. Students who take a leave must pay their own premiums, however.
  • Funding commitments from Harvard are deferred until students return from the Family Leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as governmental grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.




Recreation memberships are available to spouses, qualified domestic partners and dependent children (under the age of 25) of current GSAS students. Membership includes access to the Malkin Athletic Center, Blodgett Pool, QRAC, and Hemenway Gymnasium. These memberships may be purchased at the Murr Center Ticket Office. Ticket office phone number: 617-495-2211. Hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday– Friday.

Students should refer to the athletics department website for more information.


Library privileges for spouses of students may be arranged at the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library, Room 130 (Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–4:45 p.m.). This borrower card may be used at seventeen different libraries. The loan period for books is twenty-eight days. A list of the available privileges will be given to the spouse when the card is purchased. To purchase this card, a spouse must bring a photocopy of the student identification of his or her spouse, along with a photo identification card of himself or herself and proof of marriage, to Room 130 in Widener Library. For more information on this process, please call 617-495-4166.


The Office of Work/Life maintains a website of resources related to child care and schools. The website includes information about the six independent tuition-funded child care centers that operate on Harvard’s campuses. The centers, which are fully licensed with high-quality professional staff, currently provide full-time or part-time care for the 380 children of Harvard staff, faculty, and students, and families in the surrounding community. The centers vary in philosophy, parent participation, schedules, and cost. As separate, private, nonprofit corporations, they establish their own policies and budgets, and do their own hiring and enrollment.


Student Dependent Enrollment

Please see Chapter XIII for more information.


HSSPA is an entirely volunteer-run organization open to spouses and partners of all Harvard students, post-docs, visiting fellows, and other affiliates. HSSPA provides a way for its members to make friends, find intellectual stimulation, and, most of all, feel a sense of belonging within the University. HSSPA organizes a variety of outings, activities, and social events throughout the year. It is a great opportunity to get together, share experiences, and make new friends. HSSPA membership is free. To join, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information, please visit our blog.


GSAS Student-Parents Organization aims to enrich the academic experience and provide visibility and support for graduate student and post-doctoral fellow parents at Harvard. This will result in the creation of a more collegial and happy environment for the entire Harvard community and attract a diverse, well-rounded, accomplished and mature pool of graduate student candidates. The group advocates for increased institutional and financial support, and increases awareness of issues regarding housing, childcare, and community. The group also facilitates an email listserv, called the “Parentsgroup-list.” If you are a graduate school student, a post-doctoral fellow, or a partner/spouse of a graduate student or fellow, and a parent, you may subscribe to this list at Parentsgroup-list. Contact the group co-chairs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more information about this organization.


Auditing or “Sitting In” on Courses

Adult family members of international students and scholars may sit in on regular lecture courses in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and some of the other graduate schools, at the discretion of the faculty member. Arrangements for auditing are very informal. Those interested should choose the course by first consulting the FAS course catalog available online at the FAS Registrar’s website. They should attend the first lecture. After it is over, introduce themselves to the professor, explain their status at Harvard and ask that they be allowed to audit the course. This privilege does not apply to small seminars or language courses.

English Classes

The Harvard International Office can connect you to organizations that offer English classes in the Boston/ Cambridge area. Please visit the HIO website.

Information about Schooling for Children

The HIO provides information about enrolling children in public or private schools on its website.

Volunteer Opportunities

Many institutions, especially those that operate on a non-profit basis, depend on the goodwill of people who contribute their skills and time without pay. Volunteering is an opportunity to become involved in the local community, to meet people from outside the University, and to learn something about American society. Volunteering may also provide a way to keep active in a professional area when paid employment is not a possibility. Consult the Volunteer Solutions website for some volunteer possibilities.

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