Study Out of Residence

Studying in a different country and culture is an invaluable intellectual and personal experience, and the Department of Psychology encourages students to consider studying abroad during either the academic year or the summer. In past years, our students have studied in places such as Australia, Spain, Italy, the UK, France, Switzerland, Fiji, Cyprus, Chile and Botswana, and many have received concentration credit.

Steps for Studying Out of Residence

1. Visit the Office of International Education (OIE) to find a program in the country of your choice and to learn about college procedures for applying to study abroad. 

2. Look at your chosen programs to determine what kinds of opportunities and courses they offer. Check to be sure there are courses that you are interested in taking. You do not have to take courses that count for concentration credit, but can if you wish (see Step 3 below).  You'll need to apply to the program(s) directly by their respective deadlines AND to Harvard by requesting approval of transfer credit by OIE's deadlines

3. Make an appointment with the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Psychology UGO to discuss your plans at least two weeks before OIE's deadline. This will be a 20-minute meeting where you will discuss your academic plan for studying abroad.  If you are studying abroad during term-time (i.e., the Fall or Spring semester), this meeting is required even if you do not want concentration credit for your coursework abroad. Include in your e-mail what countries you are considering, and whether you are hoping for concentration credit.

The current ADUS is Katie Powers, whom you can e-mail at

If you are requesting concentration credit, please email copies of syllabi or course descriptions to the ADUS in advance of your meeting or bring copies with you to the meeting.  Please note that Psychology will offer up to two courses (8 credits) of concentration credit for courses taken abroad.  These can be departmental or nondepartmental courses (up to the limit on nondepartmental courses for your track).  Nondepartmental courses would come from areas like sociology, anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, etc. 

We always give credit for some courses that have been previously approved (see this list: 

Courses that don't appear on this list may be petitioned, and must meet the requirements for a petitioned course.  We are happy to consider courses for Advanced Course credit.  We cannot consider petitions for courses that meet other types of requirements (Introductory Course, Foundational Courses, Research Methods, Statistics, or Sophomore Tutorial).  Typically, we are able to work with students to find a course that will count for concentration credit in most countries. You will have an easier time finding courses that can count in institutions with strong Psychology departments, such as insititutions in Australia, the UK, and France.

Following Harvard guidelines, Psychology cannot offer credit for courses that overlap too much with courses you have already taken at Harvard or wish to take in the future or courses that are too applied or pre-professional in nature (e.g., courses in areas such as medicine, business, journalism, etc.)

Please note that Psychology does not grant secondary field credit for courses taken out of residence.

4. Once abroad, send any course changes to the ADUS and upload them to the OIE for approval. Course offerings at other institutions may change at the beginning of a semester.  If you would like to substitute a new Psychology course for one previously approved (or add a Psychology course even if you had originally not requested any concentration credit), you should e-mail the ADUS a syllabus for the new course as soon as possible so we can determine if the new course can count toward the concentration. We will get a decision on the course back to you as soon as possible, but please get us the material as soon as you can. You will also need to upload all your courses to the OIE portal. Please complete these steps before you take the course, rather than when you return to Harvard.


Special Considerations for Thesis Writers

If you plan to write a thesis, you will need to coordinate your study abroad with your thesis planning schedule. You may even want to go abroad in the spring of sophomore year, although fall of junior year is also common for thesis writers. We urge you to consult our thesis manual and speak to your Concentration Advisor and the Thesis Advisor about these facets of thesis preparation.

The main concerns to address will be fulfilling your lab course, PSY 1901, PSY 985, and thesis application requirements...

  • Lab Course: You should join a lab as early as possible in order to determine a potential thesis topic and thesis supervisor. This course requirement must be met before studying abroad in junior year.
  • PSY 1901: You must take PSY 1901 before the start of your senior year. You may consider taking it the spring of your sophomore year.
  • PSY 985: This junior pre-thesis tutorial is an optional, but strongly recommended course for most honors students to take as an Advanced Course. The course can be taken in either the fall or spring.
  • Thesis Application: The application is due spring of your junior year, and requires you to have a thesis supervisor and a thesis prospectus (for details, see the thesis manual). If you go abroad in the spring, we advise you to submit your application before you leave or via e-mail while abroad.