Harvard Kennedy School to Offer In-Person Classes for International Students, Allow Limited Access to Campus


Harvard Kennedy School plans to offer a hybrid of in-person and remote classes to its students for the spring semester, Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote in an email Tuesday.

Although the school’s executive education program continues to be “fully remote,” the school will offer a “small number of in-person classes to a limited number of students,” Elmendorf wrote. The Kennedy School also plans to allow all “interested” students to spend a “modest” amount of time on campus.

Slots for in-person classes will be reserved for international students who do not currently hold U.S. visas. First-year international Master in Public Policy students will have the option to attend half of their class sessions in person, as will first-year international students currently without visas in the Kennedy School’s various Master in Public Administration degree programs.

The in-person course structure meets U.S. federal regulations for study to ensure international students will be able to apply for F-1 and J-1 visas, according to the email. However, the email notes that visa issuance and admission do not fall under Harvard's jurisdiction and encourages students to contact the Harvard International Office with concerns about their circumstances.


All international students will still have the option to continue their studies in a fully-remote format, along with HKS students in the United States.

In a shift from its fall policy, the Kennedy School will also allow all interested students limited access to campus in the spring, per Elmendorf’s email. The amount of time each student can access campus will depend on several factors, including the number of students who need to be on campus, the number of students who enroll in in-person courses, and the status of the pandemic in the Boston area.

Elmendorf wrote that HKS administration hopes each student will be able to spend “at least one day per week on campus,” and that the school will prioritize students not taking in-person classes.

The school is also developing a “Community Compact” before bringing students back to campus. The compact will include rules about mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing, and regular testing. The compact will also require students to sign up in advance before entering campus facilities or attending campus activities.

Much like College students living in residence, students who do not comply with the compact may “lose their opportunity to be on campus.”

The College dismissed three first-year students living in Mather House after learning they hosted a party in the house with at least three other guests.

The Kennedy School will be running a campus access pilot program next month, according to Tuesday’s email.

Elmendorf wrote that he “deeply respects” staff and faculty concerns about their health in coming to campus but emphasized that the current spring plans only require “small numbers” of additional personnel. He said he is “hopeful” that those faculty and staff members who come to campus in the spring will feel “comfortable” partaking in on-campus activities.

Still, most Kennedy School faculty, staff, and fellows will continue to work from home in the spring. They will be eligible to voluntarily come to campus for “modest” periods of time with approval from their managers.

Elmendorf wrote he is excited for the spring semester but cautioned that HKS affiliates will need to be “flexible” as plans are subject to change should health conditions at the Kennedy School or in the Boston area worsen.

“I hope everyone understands that, as long as the pandemic continues, there are tradeoffs between the objectives we share, and no plans could accomplish everything we want,” he wrote.

Elmendorf also cited the Kennedy School’s mission to “improve public policy and public leadership,” and said he was confident that the members of the school will fulfill that goal.

“As I look at our faculty, staff, students, fellows, alumni and friends, I firmly believe that our capability for advancing that mission has never been greater,” he wrote. “Let us proceed together.”

—Staff writer Raquel Coronell Uribe can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @raquelco15.

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at