Student Support

We know that life does not stop while you are in graduate school and there are many reasons you may need academic, medical, and/or personal support and resources while at HDS. There are many people at HDS available to provide support and counsel during your time at HDS. The following are just a few of the folks and supports available to you. For Title IX information and reporting, please visit the Title IX and Identity-Based Resources page.

Katie Caponera, Director of Student Life (she/her pronouns), is a resource for students in the areas of community engagement and connection, student organizations, and student events/programs.  This includes oversight of Orientation for the Incoming Class, HDS Commencement activities, various weekly community gatherings, and student-facing communications such as the weekly community bulletin.

Kerry Maloney, HDS Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, (she/her pronouns) is available to faculty and students for spiritual support, direction, care, and counsel; for assistance in times of wonder or need of any kind; for referral to resources; and as the confidential Title IX resource for the HDS campus. Please see the Grief Support Resources section of the Religious and Spiritual Life pages for more information on how to find support in and around Harvard's campus.

Melissa Bartholomew, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging, (she/her pronouns) and Steph Gauchel, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (he or they pronouns), are available to faculty, students, and staff to provide support and resources for navigating challenges pertaining to race, religion, and other dimensions of diversity, and in the work of strengthening a personal commitment to cultivating a restorative, anti-racist and anti-oppressive way of being at HDS and beyond. Steph also support students on issues related to Title IX and other forms of identity-based harm.

Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services, (he/him pronouns) is available to students for support and counsel, especially related to enrollment decisions and degree progress, discernment and professional development, experiential learning, Title IX and other forms of identity-based harm, and grievances processes.

Health and Wellness

HDS students have different levels of access to Harvard University Health Services and Counseling and Mental Health Services through the Student Health Fee and for those who utilize the Student Health Insurance. The following are links and text provided by the Harvard University Health Services website and provide the most up-to-date information.

Medical Coverage
The Student Health Fee covers most services on campus at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), including internal medicine and specialty care. The Student Health Insurance Plan provides major medical coverage throughout the United States and abroad.
Mental Health Coverage
The Student Health Fee covers mental health services at HUHS, while the Student Health Insurance Plan covers both outpatient and inpatient mental health services outside of HUHS (limitations apply).
Understanding Health Insurance
Familiarize yourself with these commonly used health insurance terms as they will help you better understand your coverage, and how health care reform may impact you.
HUHS Patient Advocate
The Patient Advocate helps you:
  • Navigate the health care system
  • Explore choices for your medical care
  • Resolve or mediate problems
  • Discuss financial assistance options
  • Coordinate special needs arrangements
Medical Hardship Fund
Members may apply for financial support from the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) Medical Hardship Fund.


Harvard Divinity School is committed to providing a welcoming and accessible environment. Our collaborative approach helps ensure that students with disabilities may access and participate in the array of academic, cultural, and community activities available at the school and in the wider Harvard community.

In order to receive accommodations a student must register with the Assistant Director for Student Support. (While that position is vacant, please contact Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services.) Upon review of medical documentation, the assistant director for student support will determine eligibility and make accommodations to assist students with disabilities. The process may require consultation with treatment providers and the University Disability Office. The process is confidential and accommodations will be reasonable and appropriate to the academic context of each course or activity. Alterations that would fundamentally alter a degree program and requirements are not considered accommodations and accommodations cannot be made retroactively. More information on applying for accommodations (HarvardKey login required).

The Daytime Van Service is designed for persons who, because of physical impairment or medical condition, find it extremely difficult or impossible to use the regular fully accessible shuttle bus. This service operates year-round, except for designated holidays, throughout the Cambridge and Allston campuses and is available to faculty, staff, and students. For more information, please contact the Assistant Director for Student Support. (While that position is vacant, please contact Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services.).

Harvard University Disability Resources (UDR)

UDR welcomes students, faculty, staff and visitors with disabilities and is available as a central, university-wide resource on disability-related information and issues. Information on The Harvard University Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedure can also be found on the UDR website. UDR notes that the Harvard University Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedure is intended to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints involving discrimination on the basis of disability.

Learning and Writing Support

There is no one typical HDS student. Each cohort of students is made up of individuals with a variety of academic and professional experience and the rigors of the HDS classroom can be particularly challenging, especially for students who are coming back to school, changing disciplines, or are non-native English speakers and writers. The Assistant Director of Student Support coordinates learning resources and support services that are flexible and designed to meet the varied needs of our student population.

Learning Support

Graduate Student Learning Support (GSLS) is a program available to students in Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Law School, the Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, and the School of Public Health, and is designed to assist students with academic and learning concerns. These concerns may include, but are not limited to, struggles learning new material, reading comprehension, time management, and writing or test-taking difficulties. Through a referral by the Assistant Director for Student Support (or, while that position is vacant, by Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services), HDS students may meet with a GSLS Learning Specialist.

Referral may also be available for a neuropsychological screening with our GSLS Neuropsychologist, Dr. Sara Hoffschmidt. Sometimes students come to HDS having previously been diagnosed with a learning disability and with experience with accommodations and learning strategies. Sometimes it is during a student’s graduate studies where problems may surface that ultimately lead to diagnosis of a learning disability, as well as subsequent treatment and counseling. Dr. Sara Hoffschmidt does not conduct a full neuropsychological test, but can conduct a neuropsychological screening to help establish a baseline sense as to whether or not there are any underlying issues for a student and, if so, what accommodations are recommended.

HDS Student Referral and Guide for Writing Support

There are many reasons why an HDS student may need support around their writing, and you are not alone if you are feeling in need of this support. For example, some HDS students need support around writing in the humanities, returning to academia after some time away, developing strong theses or outlines for papers, and/or understanding writing styles and citations coming from a different field or as an international student.

Please visit Writing Resources on the HDS intranet (HarvardKey login required) if you would like to learn more about our resources. If you have any questions or would like to talk about resources please reach out to the Assistant Director for Student Support. (While that position is vacant, please contact Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services.).

International Students

The HDS Office of Student Life recognizes the challenges international students experience when becoming acquainted with a new country, culture, and lifestyle, as well as the adjustments associated with a new academic environment.

All international students should also be familiar with the Harvard International Office (HIO) which offers services related to immigration issues. Once accepted to HDS, each student will work with their HIO advisor throughout their academic experience to assist them with visa issuance, international travel documentation, work authorizations and others. Please visit the Harvard University International Office website for more information and to activate your immigration records.

The HIO International student advisor to HDS is:
Randa Meyer
Assistant Advisor to International Students and Scholars
Harvard International Office

1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Smith Center Room 864
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Phone: 617.496.2822