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COVID-19 FAQ

This page describes information related to COVID-19 and the Harvard Computer Science undergraduate program. For Harvard University information about COVID-19 see https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus; For Harvard College, see https://dso.college.harvard.edu/coronavirus.

This page last updated: Tuesday March 9, 2021. If you have a question that isn’t addressed below, please contact us!

Is Computer Science offering a tablet loaner program?

Courses that require an iPad/tablet and stylus should have this clearly stated on their Canvas site. Students, TFs, and course assistants may then borrow them from Harvard. To borrow equipment, please fill out this form.

How will remote learning be better than it was at the end of the Spring semester 2020?

Computer Science is planning on having higher faculty-to-student ratios than we usually do. Core courses with high expected enrollments will be team-taught (CS 124, CS 181). Unlike the spring 2020, we have now had time to prepare, and structure the courses to optimize for the online experience and better address issues such as students dispersed in many time zones. The Office of Undergraduate Education trained faculty in best practices for online learning over the summer.

Will there be extra support for students?

Yes, the TF-student ratio will be lower and several CS courses will be co-taught.

We are working on other programs, including expanding our Patel Fellows program and the Peer Concentration Advising program.

Will the courses be letter graded or Pass/Fail or Sat/Unsat?

In 2020-21, courses will be letter graded as in standard semesters. As always, you can, with instructor permission, take a course Pass/Fail. And CS50 can be taken either for a letter grade of Sat/Unsat. However, any course in academic year 2020-21 used to satisfy CS concentration requirements must be taken for a letter grade, with the sole exception of CS50, which can be taken Sat/Unsat.

How will we have a CS Community?

We appreciate that community is critical, and we will strive to ensure that we build community for students in Harvard CS and provide opportunities for students to interact with faculty, staff, and other Harvard CS students. Computer Science will work with the Peer Concentration Advisors and other groups to find ways to build community. We are also interested in having CS Nights return. This is work in progress, and we are open to your ideas and feedback for how we can best build community! Please let us know your ideas!

If you haven’t yet joined the CS Undergrad Piazza Forum, we encourage you to do so!

Can I continue/get involved in research?

Many of our faculty can provide remote research opportunities for students. As always, please refer to our research group Google Sheet for information faculty research interests and how to join their groups. https://csadvising.seas.harvard.edu/research/

Please note that the only undergraduates allowed to enter FAS or SEAS research labs will be students who are living on campus. Enrolled students living nearby may be able to participate in research in accordance with the policy described here.
Students who are on leave may not enter the lab and may not be hired for on-campus lab research.
This guidance only applies to labs in FAS or SEAS buildings.

Note that if you are on a Leave of Absence, then you will need Ad Board approval to be engaged in research, even if remote. See the FAQ below about Leave of Absences.

I'm a senior and I'm writing a senior thesis. Can I do this remotely?

Many of the CS senior thesis writers will be able to conduct their research remotely. However, some may need to do laboratory or practice-based work that cannot be done remotely. These students should have requested to live on campus.

Harvard CS will support students through the thesis process, even remotely. We hosted a thesis seminar series to help with the thesis-writing process.

Access to libraries for enrolled students writing a thesis will be addressed at the University level. The University’s latest guidance on libraries is here.

What about concentration advising?

Advising Faculty and the DUS team continue to have remote office hours throughout the semester. The DUS and ADUS office hours are available as described on our contact page.

SEAS, Computer Science, and the Peer Concentration Advisors will continue to host advising events throughout the year.

I'm an international student; will I be able to return to campus?

There was a webinar for international Harvard College students on Wednesday December 4, 2020. The recording is available at https://oie.fas.harvard.edu/international-student-advising. That page also links to an FAQ for international students.

I'm considering a Leave of Absence. Can I still be a TF or do research?

Current OUE policy is that Harvard students must be enrolled to be CAs or TFs. That is, under current policy, if you are on a Leave of Absence, you can not be a CA or TF. You should plan accordingly. If this policy changes, we will update this FAQ and post on Piazza.

Regarding research: while on a Leave of Absence you would need Ad Board approval to be able to engage in research. See the relevant section of the Student Handbook. While on Leave you will not be able to enter research lab buildings.

More information about Leaves of Absence is at https://college.harvard.edu/ourpathforward#leave-of-absence-advising.

Will I be able to cross-register for courses at MIT?

Yes! More information is available here.

Can I talk with the DUS’s over the summer?

Yes! You can always email us at cs-dus@seas.harvard.edu and or attend office hours.

How do Spring 2020 Emergency Sat/Unsat grades affect my concentration GPA and honors?

Background: There are two types of honors for undergraduates: Latin honors (summa, magna, cum laude) are determined by the College and English honors (highest honors, high honors, honors) are determined by concentrations. See this page for more. The College Coronavirus FAQ has information about how Latin honors are affected by SEM grades. It is up to each concentration to determine how SEM grades will affect English honors.

Harvard CS will strive to ensure that SEM/UEM grading in Spring 2020 does not adversely affect students’ eligibility for English honors. Recall that English honors involve an objective GPA cutoff and a vote based on a holistic view of the student’s academic and scientific achievements. SEM/UEM grading will change our treatment of GPA.

Specifically:

  1. If a student’s concentration GPA (calculated without Spring 2020 courses) is above the threshold, then the student will be eligible for honors.
  2. If the student’s concentration GPA is close to the threshold (i.e., would be above the threshold if the student had received A’s in Spring 2020 concentration courses), then we will consider other criteria, including qualitative feedback from Spring 2020 courses.
How do the Spring 2020 Emergency Sat/Unsat grades affect my AB/SM degree?

SEM/UEM graded courses from Spring 2020 can be used to satisfy requirements of a Computer Science SM. Note also that appropriate MIT courses graded P/F in Spring 2020 will be able to count towards SM requirements.

How do Summer School 2021 courses count towards a CS concentration or secondary?

Computer Science will count the following Summer 2020 courses at Harvard Summer School for concentration credit (and, where relevant, for secondary credit):

  • CSCI S-20: Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science (treated as equivalent to CS20)
  • CSCI S-50: Intensive Introduction to Computer Science (treated as equivalent to CS50)
  • CSCI S-91r: Reading and Research Course (equivalent to CS 91r)
  • CSCI S-109A: Introduction to Data Science (treated as equivalent to CS109A)
  • CSCI S-111: Intensive Introduction to Computer Science Using Java (treated as equivalent to CS50–only worth credit for one course)
How has the hiring freeze affected the CS faculty searches that were in place?

We were able to move forward with some of our searches to make offers, though not as many offers as we would have if the school’s financial situation was good. We have open searches in 2020-21 as well.

I have a question that isn't answered here!

Please post more questions on Piazza or email cs-dus@seas.harvard.edu.

I have some feedback for Harvard CS!

This is a form for anonymous feedback, for your ideas for CS to consider, or to let us know how you’re doing: CS Feedback.

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help and support you however we can.