Harvard Cancels Summer 2021 Study Abroad Programming


Harvard Summer School suspended all study-abroad programming for the summer of 2021, citing concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Administrators in Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education, the department in charge of summer study-abroad programs, determined that it would not be in students’ and faculty members’ best interests to carry out summer programming for 2021 given rising global COVID-19 case counts, according to DCE spokesperson Harry J. Pierre.

The decision falls in line with previously announced policy; University Provost Alan M. Garber, in a Nov. 17 email to Harvard affiliates, announced that all University-related international travel would remain prohibited until further notice.

“With COVID-19 cases rising across the United States and the world, the prohibition on University-related travel, both international and domestic, remains in effect until further notice,” Garber’s email read.


With study-abroad programming planned up to nine months in advance, DCE administrators also noted the challenges of anticipating the travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine measures students may have to take when they arrive at their destinations, according to Pierre.

Pierre also said administrators made careful determinations based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations, which advise that study abroad programs cease operations.

“The CDC recommends that Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) consider postponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs,” the State Department’s website reads. “In addition, the CDC recommends IHE consider asking current program participants to return to their home country.”

The agency’s warnings preclude any possibility of students to congregate in-person during their time abroad, according to Pierre, because social distancing measures and repeated lockdowns would interrupt in-person exchanges. Students abroad may also face difficulties going home should new travel restrictions, family emergencies, or health concerns arise, he said.

The CDC has a four-tier system with the highest, Level Four, advising that people avoid non-essential travel. As of Dec. 14, 2020, only 61 countries and territories are at Levels One and Two, according to the CDC’s guidelines. The United States is currently at Level Four.

Currently, United States passport-holders are not able to enter countries in the European Union. Countries that do permit American citizens require them to meet a variety of requirements before entry, including receiving a negative COVID-19 test result within 24 to 96 hours, undergoing a mandatory two-week quarantine period, or opting into a travel health insurance program.

The summer study-abroad program will announce information about Summer 2022 programming in Sept. 2021, according to the program website.

—Crimson staff writer Kevin A. Simauchi can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Simauchi.