FAQs for Abroad and Returned Students

How do I get concentration pre-approval for my coursework abroad?

Once you’ve enrolled in your courses abroad, you need to upload the syllabi for those courses to your account in the OIE Studio Abroad database. An automatic email will be generated by the OIE and received by Nicole Newendorp, who will review the syllabi. If she has any questions about the courses you are requesting for concentration credit, she will contact you by email. Keep in mind that pre-approval only indicates that the courses should count for Social Studies credit. Final concentration credit for any course cannot be given until a transcript has been received and processed by the OIE indicating that you:  a) took the course for a grade (not Pass/Fail) at your abroad institution, and b) passed the course. (By that point, however, you’ll most likely be back at Harvard! See below.)

The syllabi for my courses are in another language. Do I have to translate them into English?

No. Nicole can read French, Chinese, and some Spanish, so syllabi in those languages are never a problem. If a syllabus is in another language, please include a description in English about the courses you want for concentration credit. If Nicole has additional questions about the content or requirements for the course, she’ll email you to ask for more information.

How do I find a thesis supervisor while abroad?

Most students who study abroad junior fall will wait until they return to Harvard to begin their thesis supervisor search. However, if you already know of a particular faculty member or graduate student you hope will be able to supervise your thesis, you may want to go ahead and contact them before returning to campus for the spring term. Note, however, that initial conversations about thesis advising are usually best to have face-to-face with your potential supervisor!

For students studying abroad junior spring: hopefully you began the process of finding a thesis supervisor before leaving Harvard! If so, you can continue those discussions that you previously began in person through email or by using Skype while you are abroad. If you did not meet with any potential supervisors before leaving campus, you will have to conduct your search from abroad. You will follow the same process as other students—consulting the Social Studies thesis supervisor database, contacting professors and/or graduate students focusing on your topical interests, reviewing the information you received in the junior thesis workshop, and reading through advice offered in the handbook: A Guide to Writing a Senior Thesis in Social Studies. If you find that you are having difficulty ironing out the details involved with thesis supervision through email, see if your contacts are willing to set up a Skype interview to talk in more detail.

Do I still have to turn in a thesis journal ?

Yes! Although you can submit it to the office by email rather than in hard copy.

How do I submit a summer funding application while abroad?

Students who study abroad junior spring will need to coordinate the submission of their summer funding applications from abroad. Note: Because different programs have different processes for submitting funding applications, make sure that you familiarize yourself with the requirements for EACH GRANT to which you intend to apply! Many of the applications can be completed online through the CARAT system. However, some funding programs may also require that applications and/or reference letters be submitted in hard copy directly to their office. If you find that this is the case, then you may want to contact the program’s staff and ask whether you can submit an application online (or via email) instead. Some students ask friends or roommates on campus for help turning in hard copies of the application or picking up and hand delivering reference letters from faculty. Make sure that you give two weeks’ notice (at least!) to any faculty member you ask for a letter of support.

How do I get Harvard IRB approval from abroad?

You follow the same process that you would if you were in residence at Harvard. See http://cuhs.harvard.edu/ for more details. If you have other questions about your IRB application from abroad, don’t hesitate to email Nicole Newendorp with your questions.

How does my concentration credit get processed?

Once the OIE has received your official transcript directly from your abroad institution, then the OIE will notify Social Studies. We will evaluate the transcript and compare your final classes with those you requested for pre-approval. If any questions come up when we review this information, we will email you to request additional information. If you have additional questions about this process, please contact Nicole Newendorp.

How long will it take for my concentration credit to get processed?

We can only approve your concentration credit after the OIE has received your transcript. Usually transcripts are received by the OIE within a couple of months following your completion of your study abroad program. However, in past years, some students have waited considerably longer for their transcripts to arrive. It is your responsibility to follow up with your abroad institution if the OIE has not received your transcript! You can facilitate this process by making sure that you give your host institution the OIE’s correct address. If you have other questions or concerns about this process, please contact the OIE.

The courses I took abroad show up as Sat on my Harvard transcript. Can they still count for Social Studies concentration credit?

Yes. In all cases, the academic work that you complete for a grade abroad shows up as Satisfactory credit on your Harvard transcript. As long as you passed the course that you took for a grade abroad, you can still count it towards your concentration requirements. Social Studies will also have access to your actual transcript from your study abroad program and the grades you received on the work you did abroad through the OIE’s Studio Abroad database.

I wrote a long research paper (equivalent to a junior tutorial paper) while abroad. How do I get it approved to waive the junior tutorial I missed while I was studying abroad?

If the long research paper you wrote is equivalent to a Social Studies junior tutorial final paper, meaning it is 20-25 pages in length and involves primary source research, then you just email a copy of your paper to Anya Bassett for approval. You can submit papers written in languages other than English.

I was not able to write a long research paper while abroad. Is there any way I can still get my junior tutorial requirement waived?

You still have two options available for you to complete your SS98 requirement. First, you can submit a long research paper that you wrote for another class (not an SS98) at Harvard. Second, you can take an additional junior tutorial once you return to Harvard. Many first semester seniors choose this option, particularly if one of the fall tutorials is a good match for their thesis topic.

How do I count courses I took abroad towards my focus field?

Once we have approved the courses you took abroad for concentration credit, then all you have to do is include the courses on your senior focus field form when you submit it for review by the Board of Instruction in October of your senior fall.