Non-Resident and Part-Time Study

Leaves of Absence

SEAS recognizes that there will be times when a student has to take a temporary leave from their graduate studies to deal with a personal or medical issue or to pursue activities unrelated to their degree program.  A student should request a Leave of Absence in these cases.  The field advisor or research advisor must be consulted and approve of the leave.  Leaves of Absences are generally approved for one year.  Extensions of a Leave of Absence requires the approval of the Associate Dean for Education, and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances.

Students who plan to return to SEAS after being on a Leave of Absence must have an active research advisor (for Ph.D. students) or an academic advisor (for master’s students).  Students who do not have an active advisor on record will not be permitted to return from a leave.

Part Time Study

GSAS normally does not offer part-time graduate degree programs. Under unusual circumstances detailed in GSAS Policies page, a full-time degree candidate may petition for permission to work temporarily as a part-time student.  Such part-time students usually register for two half-courses per semester.  Petitions for part-time status on grounds of outside employment normally will not be granted until at least one year of full-time graduate study as a SEAS degree candidate has been completed.  Terminal Master's degree candidates who need fewer than four half-courses to complete the requirements for the degree will be charged tuition on a per course basis if they wish to work at less than a full-time rate during their final semester.

Part-time students are subject to the same requirements and regulations as full-time students.  When granted temporary part-time status, a Master's degree candidate or a Ph.D. candidate who has not completed the course requirements for the degree and (for Ph.D. students) has not passed the qualifying examination will be permitted by the CHD to extend the normal deadlines for completing the corresponding requirements by one semester; in extraordinary circumstances, the student may petition the CHD for an extension of up to one year.

Dissertation Research in Absentia

Dissertation research in absentia is defined as research that is not done primarily at Harvard and is not done under the immediate direction of a member of the Harvard faculty.  Before discussing the regulations governing dissertation in absentia by SEAS Ph.D. candidates, several distinctions should be made: when a Ph.D. candidate is away from Harvard temporarily conducting fieldwork as part of their dissertation research, under the general direction of the research advisor, this is not deemed to constitute dissertation research in absentia.  Similarly, if the student’s research advisor is at MIT and the research is done primarily at MIT, it is not deemed to be dissertation research in absentia.

The following rules govern dissertation research in absentia, as defined above.  The student must have the consent of their research advisor, who must be a SEAS faculty member, and of their research committee.  The student must establish to the satisfaction of the CHD that there are compelling educational reasons for the research to be done in absentia.  Any financial advantage of working in absentia is not an acceptable reason.  The student must have completed all course requirements for the degree.  The research committee must have approved the dissertation topic and a proposed plan of research.  The student must register as a Traveling Scholar.  If employed at more than a ten hour per week rate, the student must submit a letter from the employer certifying that three quarters of the student's working time can be devoted to dissertation work.  The research advisor may add additional requirements before agreeing to direct dissertation research in absentia.  The completed dissertation, in a form ready for study by the research committee, must be submitted at least three months before the final oral examination.  All applicable regulations governing Ph.D. candidates in residence continue to apply.  In particular, the requirement for periodic committee meetings must be met; however, the research committee need not meet together as a group with the student if it deems that to be unnecessary and impractical.  Research completed while in residence at Harvard may be written up in absentia if all of the above regulations are complied with except those relating to CHD permission and employer certification.