Policies, Rules, and Regulations

Students in Harvard College are expected to be abide by the College’s policies, rules, and regulations concerning academics and community standards. 

 For an overview of some of the key policies, rules, and regulations see below.  For the most up-to-date, complete, and comprehensive information on these and other College policies, rules, and regulations, please refer to the College’s official resource of record, the Harvard College Handbook for Students.

Academic Policies, Rules, and Regulations

Academic Performance

Harvard College students are required to maintain a satisfactory academic record and to meet the obligations of the courses in which they are enrolled.  Students are responsible for

  • ensuring that their written course work is submitted and received on time.
  • maintaining the highest standards of academic honesty at all times. For guidance on how to avoid any instances of academic dishonesty, see the Handbook. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with course instructors, course staff, or your academic advisers.

Attendance and Absences

Harvard College students are expected to attend all course meetings and related events and to remain on or near campus during Examination Periods and Reading Periods, as well as during term time. For detailed information, see the Handbook. If you anticipate any conflicts, be sure to discuss them well in advance with your Resident Dean of Freshmen or your Allston Burr Assistant Dean.

Exam Policy

For detailed information about the College’s policies regarding exam conflicts, missed exams, etc., see the FAS Registrar’s Office website and the Handbook.


If you encounter (or anticipate) difficulties completing any of your coursework, speak with your Resident Dean of Freshmen or your Allston Burr Assistant Dean as soon as possible. Consult the Handbook for more information.

Grades and Honors

    • What grading system does Harvard College employ?
    • When can I see my grades?
      • You will be able to see your grades in my.harvard.edu approximately six business days after the end of the final examination period.  If you complete online Q-evaluations for your courses sooner you may be able to see your grades earlier.
    • How can I achieve Honors?
      • Harvard College awards two types of honors, one in English and one in Latin. For detailed information, consult the Handbook.

    Leaves of Absence

    If you decide to pause in your studies any time before graduation, you will need to petition the College’s Administrative Board for a leave of absence.  Taking a leave, and preparing for your return to studies, requires advance planning.  If you are considering taking a leave, be sure to discuss your plans with your Resident Dean of Freshmen (if you are a freshman) or your Allston Burr Assistant Dean (if you are an upperclassman).

     For detailed information about the College’s policies concerning leaves of absence, consult the Handbook

     For information about the financial implications of leave taking, and about financial planning, consult the Griffin Financial Aid Office’s website.

    Reading Period

    Reading Period is a six or seven day stretch prior to the start of final examinations. 

    During reading period, certain courses may provide additional instruction.  Many courses offer sections or review sessions (or makeup classes for ones that were canceled on account of weather or other emergencies).  In general, reading period is a time for students to work on final course assignments and projects, and to prepare for final exams.

    For detailed information about the College’s policies concerning reading period, consult the Handbook.

    Requirements for the B.A. and B.S. Degrees

    • The requirements for your Harvard degree include coursework in

      • General Education
      • Writing
      • a Foreign Language
      • a Concentration

    These requirements ensure that every student achieves an appropriate balance of breadth and depth in their Harvard education.  They also leave room for you to pursue additional intellectual and creative interests through elective coursework.

    In fulfilling these requirements, you will be expected to maintain a satisfactory level of performance in your work.    

    Community Standards

    Conduct within the Community

    Harvard sets high standards for how the members of our community are to comport themselves in their interpersonal relationships. These include the expectation that students will make responsible decisions regarding their personal physical and mental well-being.

    There are many resources on campus to assist you in making your own best decisions – whether in times of distress, or in anticipation of possible future challenges – beginning with the members of your advising network, in particular your Resident Dean of Freshmen (if you are a freshman) or your Allston Burr Assistant Dean (if you are an upperclassman). For more information, see the Handbook.

    Policies Governing Dormitory Residency

    It is both your right and your responsibility to seek help in times of distress whether on account of academic issues or personal ones (e.g., to do with alcohol abuse, depression, or eating disorders), especially if these become disruptive to you or others.  Seeking assistance is something you are encouraged and expected to do on your own behalf, and also on behalf of others.  If you are worried about a friend or classmate, your obligations – as a responsible community member – extend to them as well.

    Sources of assistance on campus are plentiful, starting with your Proctor or Resident Dean of Freshmen (if you are a freshman) or your Resident Tutor and your Allston Burr Assistance Dean (if you are an upperclassman).  For more information, see the Handbook.