Existing support for graduate students

Harvard University’s graduate students are an invaluable part of the Harvard community, and ensuring their well-being as students, first and foremost, is a priority for the University. The majority of the HGSU-UAW bargaining unit, approximately 70% of its membership, are PhD students enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who receive substantial financial support so that they may focus on their academics.

Financial support

GSAS offers a comprehensive program of financial support aimed at attracting the most qualified candidates while making the pursuit of a PhD financially accessible to all.

PhD students receive grants to cover tuition, annual stipends, fully subsidized health insurance, and other benefits guaranteed for at least five years. Harvard’s investment in each of these graduate students can add up to more than $330,000 during the course of their academic career.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, GSAS launched the Emergency Support Initiative (ESI), designed to help PhD students overcome academic disruptions caused by the pandemic. Through the ESI, GSAS has awarded more than $4.2 million in direct student aid.

Health benefits

Enrollment in the Student Health Program for students receiving guaranteed support is fully subsidized by the University. The program consists of two parts that work together: The Student Health Fee and the Student Health Insurance Plan, administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

The Student Health Fee covers most services on campus at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), including internal medicine, mental health, and specialty care. The Student Health Insurance Plan complements the health care provided through the Student Health Fee, covering hospital, vision, allergy serums, physical therapy, primary care, labs/radiology, and more. It also includes a prescription drug benefit and provides coverage throughout the United States and abroad. In-network coverage is provided with no deductible requirement for the student. This robust suite of health services is made available by Harvard to students at no or minimal cost. Medical Benefits 

With the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences subsidizing the Student Health Fee, the University’s Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are covered for PhD students, as well as the first eight of 52 visits for clinicians outside of CAMHS for students on the Harvard student BCBS insurance plan. CAMHS is covered by the Student Health fee, so there are no co-pays or costs within CAMHS. When students are referred to or choose community clinicians outside of HUHS, their visits are covered by the Student Health Insurance Plan. For those using the Harvard student BCBS insurance plan, the first eight of 52 visits to in-network providers have no co-pay, and visits nine through 52 cost $35 with a participating BCBS provider.

Community feedback

Benefits, policies, and procedures at Harvard University continuously evolve based on community feedback and involvement. At GSAS, graduate students are engaged and encouraged to voice their concerns, raise questions, offer suggestions, and seek help. Students reach out to GSAS administrators for support and guidance, meet directly with the Dean, serve on University-wide committees, and advocate for change through the Graduate Student Council. Over time, GSAS has improved the benefits available to graduate students, for example, introducing summer research funding, fifth year and dissertation completion support. Benefits have also resulted from direct advocacy by students. For example, the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support (PAFS) program was proposed by student leaders who wished to improve benefits for new parents. These students worked together with GSAS to launch PAFS in 2013, and later advocated for further improvements that were implemented in 2016. Learn more about resources currently available to GSAS students.