Answered By: Kevin Lau
Last Updated: May 29, 2020     Views: 139

As long as a student has claimed their HarvardKey, they will have access to the courses, they have officially enrolled in or have been granted access to by the faculty as a guest, TA, or TF using their HarvardKey that is associated with their HUID.

This is true for past, current, and future alums of the GSD. The exception is when Harvard moves to a new Learning Management System (LMS); access is not guaranteed. LMS at Harvard has a life-span of 12-15 years (estimated based on prior LMS).

The GSD fully adapted Canvas in the fall 2015-16 academic year for all offered courses in the catalog. Between spring 2014 and AY2014-15, there were a dozen courses that worked with Kevin Lau as early adapters. All courses on the prior LMS (Course iSites) are no longer available.

Please note that because enrollment is only active for the current term, all enrollee related data are hidden. This applies to student-submitted work, discussions, enrollment listing, etc. Content uploaded into the Canvas by the faculty is unaffected.

There are some exceptions but are rare for the GSD. Faculty can unpublish their prior courses or manually delete contain when a course term is over (this is not common, and the practice is generally frowned upon).


I highly recommend these two methods to access Canvas course for Alums:

  • The first choice, find the course and tunnel into the website through the GSD’s course catalog listing at Just change the filter term/year to reflect the search.
  • The second choice, tunnel in from Harvard’s main course catalog search site at (a lot more clicking)

Why should you go through these portals, as suggested?

Both these methods do not require the end-user to log into any Harvard systems till the end. No My.harvard, etc. Alums have run into problems accessing their my.harvard portal since they no longer have an active status in the central Harvard ID system. Even if they were able to log into their My.harvard portal, I’ve seen too many questions such as “I don’t see my courses,” “only some of my courses are showing,” etc.

Going through the two suggested methods helps eliminate added layers of potential problems.  The first option gets you directly to the course website, challenging the user to authenticate into the Canvas site with the correct HarvardKey once.

If the end-user forgot their HarvardKey password, they could self-reset at

IMPORTANT NOTE: All verification messages will be sent to the email address that is on file and marked “official email address” with the end-users HUID. Students need to keep that email address updated before they leave Harvard.

Please note that Harvard can change the access policy at any time.
Last updated: May 5, 2020

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