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. Be sure to see if there are courses 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). Apply to the programs directly by their respective deadlines, and also request approval of transfer credit from Harvard by OIE's deadlines. Do this by clicking on the "Request Transfer Credit" button under the program listing on the OIE's programs page.

3. Make an appointment with the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Psychology UGO to discuss your plans at least two weeks before your form is due to OIE. This will be a 20-minute meeting where you will discuss your academic plan for studying abroad. 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 Psychology credit. The current ADUS is Katie Powers, whom you can e-mail at

If you are requesting concentration credit, e-mail the ADUS in advance and, if possible, bring copies of syllabi or course descriptions with you to this meeting. In some cases, we will approve courses automatically (see list of pre-approved courses). Courses that don't appear on this list may be petitioned, and must meet the requirements for a petitioned course. In most circumstances, we will not approve courses for specific requirements (Introductory Course, Foundational Courses, Research Methods, Statistics, or Sophomore Tutorial), but we are happy to consider courses for Advanced Course credit, either departmental or non-departmental.

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.

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. Often other institutions' course offerings change at the beginning of a semester, and 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.