During their time at the GSD, students have the opportunity to take part in a range of extracurricular activities, both at the GSD and across the University. Making the commitment to explore events, places, and groups that align with their academic and personal interests, students find engagement and connections that enliven their experiences and extend beyond and across the classroom and studio.

Things To Do

Student Organizations

Student organizations are an essential part of life at the GSD. Each year, newly formed organizations join long-standing organizations in contributing to the academic and social discourse of the school. There are more than 60 student organizations at the GSD, and they’re not easily categorized. Cultural and social organizations spark rigorous academic discussions, advocacy and academic organizations know how to have fun, and a publication or exhibition can do both in an instant.

A crowd of students gathers in the Chauhaus.
At the beginning of the year, students can connect with existing groups and generate ideas for new groups at the Student Group Fair.



The GSD produces several publications on various themes, including Harvard Design Magazine, Incidents & A – Z; publications under the Harvard Design Press; and several student-produced publications, including New Geographies, Pairs, & Open Letters. 


Student groups sponsor a variety of academic and social events throughout the year. Popular social gatherings include Beer n’ Dogs, the Halloween Party, a Thanksgiving celebration, and the GSD’s lively semi-formal dance, the Beaux Arts Ball.

Arts at Harvard

A student dance performance on stage.
The annual four-day student arts festival is the culmination of a year’s worth of arts activity and features the work of over 2,000 students in more than 100 concerts, plays, dance performances, and exhibitions.


The Office for the Arts at Harvard offers several programs available to GSD students, like Learning from Performers, Arts First, and the Public Art Program. Other programs center around jazz, dance, and ceramics.


In addition to Museums around the city, Harvard’s museums include The Harvard Art Museums, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Museum of Natural History, The Harvard Semitic Museum, The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, and the Harvard Film Archive. 

Visitors walk through the halls of the Harvard Art Museum.
The Fogg Museum, founded in 1895, is one of three museums that comprise the Harvard Art Museums, along with the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. The Harvard Art Museums are free to all students with a valid ID and are just down the street from the GSD. Ongoing virtual events mean the Museums can also be enjoyed from home

Making Harvard Your Home

International Student Life

The Harvard International Office can help decipher the complexities of immigration, working in the US, and adjusting to living as an international student. In addition to a two-part Virtual Group Orientation, the HIO offers an Advisor-on-Call each day to answer entry-level inquiries. Since 1962, a Host Program has provided an opportunity for connection and friendship between Harvard international graduate students who are new to the United States and residents who live in the Boston area 

Family Life

Through playgroups, outings, and potluck dinners, many families have found the Harvard Students Spouses and Partners Association (HSSPA) to be a resource for building a community. Visit the HSSPA website for more information.

Spiritual Life

The Harvard Chaplains are a professional community of more than forty chaplains, representing many of the world’s religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions, who share a collective commitment to serving the spiritual needs of the students, faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and staff of Harvard University.  Morning prayers are held in the Appleton Chapel at Memorial Church. Harvard Divinity School, just a few minutes from the GSD, is a nonsectarian school of religious and theological studies. HDS organizes a variety of religious and spiritual activities for the Harvard community, including hosting speakers and services from various religious traditions, holding occasional retreats, and offering quiet spaces.


An interior view of Hemenway Gym.
Hemenway Gymnasium, one of several Harvard athletic facilities within walking distance of the GSD.


Graduate school is an intense and rigorous experience that can be stressful or overwhelming at times. The GSD strives to provide students with support and services conducive to a welcoming and accessible learning environment. OSA, the GSD’s Office of Student Affairs, provides students with support for a range of circumstances. University-wide resources also are available to students, including Counseling and Mental Health Services, Wellness and Health Promotion, and Harvard Recreation, where students can enroll in a Harvard gym membership or join a graduate club sports team. Yoga sessions are offered at the GSD as well as the ever-popular “de-stressing with dogs.”  

Working as a Student

There are many ways to earn money as a student. From teaching and research roles, to other on-campus job opportunities, take some time to explore your options. The GSD Office of Career Services manages CREATE, the GSD job and internship database that is accessible to students.

Where to Live

A row of houses on Beacon Street.
“Beacon Street” by Tim Sackton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


GSD students tend to live as close to the GSD as possible. With late nights, early mornings, and winter weather, nearby apartments mean students can stop at home for a quick meal, shower, or nap. Finding a place within a 15-minute walk of Gund is best. A small number of Harvard dorm rooms are available to GSD students but renting provides the greatest variety of options in terms of location, price, roommates, and pets. Students search online or try to find a room from or with another GSD student. A “Harvard GSD Housinggroup on Facebook offers a place to post and search for housing.

Getting Around the City

The MBTA is Boston area’s public transportation system – the subway and bus are the easiest way to get around the city year-round. Biking is another great option, just be sure to gear up. While there are a number of advantages to owning a car, parking can be a challenge. Harvard Transportation is free to students, offering shuttle and van services throughout the Cambridge and Allston campuses. Otherwise, Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, and taxis are all widely available in the area.

Local Neighborhoods

  • Davis Square

    Equal parts Cambridge and Somerville, Davis Square is a bit far from Gund, but students living here make it work by cycling and taking the T. A mix of trendy new restaurants and working-class diners surround the historic Somerville Theatre.

    Walking: 35 min
    Bike: 12 min
    Train: 13 min

    Photo Credit: “Somerville Theater” by Steven Isaacson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Exterior photo of Somerville Theater at night.
  • Porter Square

    Another great option for GSD students. It’s a five-to-ten-minute bike ride away or one T stop outbound from Harvard Square. What it lacks in charm, it makes up for in a convenient grocery store, hardware store, gyms, etc. — and the fantastic Japanese food at the Shops at Porter.

    Walking: 20 min
    Bike: 7 min
    Train: 10 min

    Shops and restaurants line a street in Porter Square.
  • Union Square

    Just up from Kirkland/Washington Street. It’s not on the T, but buses and bicycles make the commute quite quick. It’s got a good selection of music venues, restaurants, and specialty grocery stores.

    Walking: 20 min
    Bike: 8 min

    Photo Credit: “Union Square Farmer’s Market” by Todd Van Hoosear is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    People mingle at a farmer's market tent.
  • Inman Square

    Home to a number of bars and restaurants that are worth the short walk from Gund. Inman’s diverse resident population of locals, families, and students lends it a neighborhood feel.

    Walking: 15 min
    Bike: 7 min

    Photo Credit: “Cambridge – Inman Square” by Niklas Tenhaef is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    An intersection of streets at Inman Square.
  • Harvard Square

    Very close to the GSD, but its proximity to campus also makes for a high cost of living. Restaurants, bars, chain stores, and local boutiques fill the square’s commercial spaces. Students make up the majority of the surrounding neighborhood’s inhabitants, while tourists usually populate the square itself.

    Walking: 5 min
    Bike: 2 min
    Train: 0 min

    Students walk past a store selling Harvard merchandise.
  • Central Square

    Lies one T stop inbound from Harvard Square and anchors a cluster of live venues that host dance parties and rock shows, not to mention a plethora of bars, eateries, and clubs.

    Walking: 20 min
    Bike: 8 min
    Train: 10 min

    Photo Credit: “Central Square from above” by Eric Kilby is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    An aerial view of Central Square.
  • Kirkland Crossing

    At the intersection of Kirkland/Washington Street and Beacon Street. It’s densely populated with GSD students due to its relative affordability and proximity to the GSD.

    Walking: 8 min
    Bike: 3 min

    A busy street with cars, buses, and a cyclist.
  • Kendall Square

    This is MIT turf, but a number of GSD students live around there, too. For the past decade, MIT and the City of Cambridge have invested heavily in making this area a destination.

    Walking: 35 min
    Bike: 12 min
    Train: 17 min

    People stand and sit on benches along the sidewalk of a street.