The HMS Master's Student Council has prepared a helpful resource for incoming and current students. Curious about the Boston area? Check out our guide!


HMS Master’s Student Tips & Resources
Prepared by the HMS Master’s Student Council

First time at Harvard? No problem! We’ve got you covered.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you come across resources not mentioned here, please contact us so we can add them to this document.

Harvard’s Outings and Innings website contains student perks and discounts for events and other miscellaneous items.

Your Harvard ID card can also be used to pay for on-campus (and select off-campus) services. Some services include photocopy machines, soda/food vending machines, washing machines in Harvard Housing, and Medical School shuttle tickets when necessary. More information can be found here.
The Harvard College app (Harvard College Mobile - Apps on Google Play OR ‎Harvard College Mobile on the App Store) also has more information on Crimson Cash, along with a compact menu of other resources like dining, exercise, mental health, and student groups, to name a few.

On-campus housing:
Off-campus housing: (includes a Harvard-affiliated roommate search tool)
Hotels around HMS:
Hotels around Harvard University: (scroll to the bottom > Visiting Campus > Hotels Around The Square)
The Boston Globe Real Estate Rentals have many listings.
Craigslist has a comprehensive listing of available rentals in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Watertown. Although Craigslist often has cheap listings, be very wary of rental scams!
Padmapper provides a map version of the listings that is customizable based on your preferences.
Facebook Groups (list not exhaustive):
1.    Harvard University Housing, Sublets & Roommates
2.    Harvard MIT Housing
3.    Harvard Grad Market
With any housing decision, be sure you understand where the unit is located, and how long it will take to get to HMS (or your lab which may not be at HMS). The Boston area is quite large! Also be sure to ask whether heat is included in the rent or billed separately, as heating costs can be substantial in the winter months.

There are hundreds of student clubs throughout Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, and other Harvard schools, and you are free to join any of them. However, we do ask that you contact the club to confirm your eligibility, as some groups have limits to the number of HMS students they can allow. A few groups are given below:
●    Students Interested in Gastroenterology & Nutrition
●    HMS Culinary Medicine
●    Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group
●    HMS AI Lab (HAIL)
●    LGBT and Allies at Harvard Medical School  (LAHMS)
●    GSAS Harvard Biotech Club:
●    GSAS Science Policy Group:
●    Harvard Graduate Women In Science and Engineering (HGWISE):
●    MIT-Harvard Women in AI:
●    CampusGroups:
●    Science In The News:
All student groups at HMS:
These links also have additional lists of student groups:

While HMS doesn’t have an office for career services for Master’s students, the school has created a series of professional development workshops with topics ranging from applying to Ph.D. programs, preparing to apply to medical school, mock interviews, “charting your course” through graduate school, etc. These workshops have often been followed by networking events for graduate students. You can find more information at their website:  For specific questions please contact
The graduate Office of Career Services can help you connect with professionals in your field of interest:

Questions about citation? Structure? Flow? Looking for a second set of eyes before submitting that paper? Need assistance with a fellowship or grant application?
Whether you’ve just begun brainstorming your assignment or are nearing the deadline and final edits, send your work as a WORD attachment to Naomi Hein for writing feedback at
Meeting times are available Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm ET. If there is a time outside these hours you would like to meet, arrangements can be made.

COVID-19 Safety Training course:
Please visit the Harvard University Police Department website for details on how to stay safe at Boston and Cambridge: Make sure to register your laptop and bike with HUPD. 
Depending on the situation, you can request HUPD to escort you back home. For additional questions about Harvard University Campus Escort Program (HUCEP) please contact

Please save these numbers on your cell phones –
HUPD Emergency Number (Longwood campus): +1 617-432-1212
HUPD Emergency Number (Cambridge campus): +1 617-495-1212
911 is the emergency number for the police, fire department, and ambulance throughout the United States and Canada.
General tips for staying safe:
●    Walk in groups.
●    Do not walk with headphones in your ears.
●    If you are out after dark, use only well-lit routes, make use of shuttle buses, escort van, and HUCEP, and travel in groups when possible.
●    Know where the Blue Light phones are located on your route. If you use one, Harvard police will know your exact location.
●    Sign up for MessageMe.
●    When possible, share your location via your phone’s GPS (WhatsApp, Find My Friends [iPhone], Life360, TrackView, GeoZilla, etc.)
●    Keep an “In case of emergency” card with you containing the name and phone number of your emergency contact in case your phone is not accessible.

HMS/HSDM/HSPH Ombuds Office
The Ombuds Office (Ombuds Office | Harvard Medical School) is here to support faculty, staff, students, and trainees, and appointees at the affiliated institutions with any issues affecting work or studies. Their website includes self-help resources ( to help you navigate on topics from how to have difficult conversations, handling conflict to negotiating effectively.
To schedule a confidential in-person, phone or Zoom appointment, contact or call 617-432-4041.
Confidential meetings will be with:
HMS/HSDM/HSPH Ombudsperson, Melissa Brodrick,, 617-432-4040
HMS/HSDM/HSPH Associate Ombudsperson, Justin Neiman,, 617-432-4043
The Ombudsperson can help explore concerns about:
●    Career Management
●    Work/Academic Environment
●    Research
●    Fair Treatment
●    Interpersonal Relationships
●    Harassment
●    Discrimination
●    Policies and Requirements

Title IX:
The University responds to reports of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, as part of its efforts to stop the harassment and prevent the recurrence of possible sex discrimination. An individual who has questions or concerns regarding possible discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity should contact a Title IX Resource Coordinator at HMS. Mark Addison, Title IX Resource Coordinator for Students.

●    Harvard Transportation & Parking: Home
●    In most cases, and most weather, walking or biking will be your best option if you live near campus.
○    You can get a BlueBikes annual membership for $80 by following the instructions here.
■    However, if you have joined a research lab, check whether you can get a better price by joining through your lab (MGH members can get it for $40; find your lab here).
○    If you choose to buy your own bike, consider purchasing a Kryptonite U-lock (not chain lock) and helmet. The Kryptonite company will provide insurance should your bicycle be stolen (provided you have filled out their form). Register your bike with HUPD. You can buy helmets and bike lights at a discounted rate at these locations.
●    There is a Harvard University Shuttle Service between campus locations. HU Shuttle Services, like the M2 shuttle that connects Harvard University to HMS, are free to students and staff with HUID cards. There are routes that go to the Boston Medical area (Med School, Dental School, School of Public Health, teaching hospitals). You can download a Map of routes and “shuttle tracker” (TransLoc app) for your smartphone, as well as an interactive Campus map. Please note that the TransLoc app may not be 100% accurate.
If you live close to Harvard University, you can download the Harvard Evening Van app (more info here). It allows you to book a free shuttle to travel within the covered area (which you can see on the app).
●    MBTA issues student passes for the months of September to December, but the deadline to fill out the form is usually in August. This 4-month pass costs $320 ($80 per month).
●    You can rent cars by the hour at ZipCar. They have a discount for Harvard affiliates. More information here.
●    Parking is horrendously expensive in Cambridge, so don’t even think about driving to HMS on a regular basis.

All Harvard students have a free gym membership at Harvard University Recreation - Official Athletics Website. Right now, they offer virtual classes on Zoom. You can also get a personal trainer. The Recreation website also features sports clubs that you can join.
If you attend any Harvard sporting event, be sure to download the CrimZone Rewards App to win prizes! CrimZone - Apps on Google Play ‎CrimZone on the App Store 

●    Harvard provides support groups and yoga/meditation/pilates classes, which may be in-person or on Zoom.
○    Support groups: Workshops and Groups | Counseling and Mental Health Services
○    Yoga/meditation/massage: Our Services | Center for Wellness and Health Promotion
●    If you would like to consult with a therapist, you can book a consult on using your Harvard email. Therapy is covered by your student insurance.
●    If you require urgent mental health care, you can either call them at 617-495-2042 to talk or to schedule a same-day appointment with a clinician at the Smith Campus Center. More information: Find Help Now | Counseling and Mental Health Services

Students dress casually for classes (jeans or pants/skirt with a shirt or sweater). The temperature in the classrooms may range from chilly to hot, so you will be most comfortable if you dress in layers.
As you may have been warned, it gets COLD here in the winter. You will need the warmest clothing you have during the winter, including a warm coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and snow boots. Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful times of year in New England, and a light jacket will be sufficient for a while. Then you will need summer clothes come May.
Any clothing items you don't have can be purchased in Cambridge or surrounding areas, or online. See LLBean or LandsEnd for winter clothing.

The following items will also be useful:
●    A suit or other outfits appropriate for job or internship interviews
●    Dress-up clothes suitable for an evening reception
Shopping at stores offering discounts on name brand merchandise will save you 20% or more off the price of the same merchandise available in department stores or specialty shops. Listed below are some stores considered “discount” or “off-priced” stores. Clothes can be less expensive if purchased “second-hand.”
Stores in Boston and in the Downtown Crossing area (on the Red Line at the Downtown Crossing T stop)
1.    DSW – Brand name shoes at competitive prices with typical sale prices found at specialty retailers and department stores.
385 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108

2.    Macy’s – A nationwide department store chain that sells clothes, household goods, appliances, and many other items.
450 Washington Street (Downtown Crossing), Boston, MA 02111

3.    Marshalls – A large selection of discounted clothing and shoes, and some household items.
Many locations, including:
Downtown Crossing, 350 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108
500 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
22 Twin City Plaza, McGarth Highway, Somerville, MA 02143
Meadow Glen Mall, 3850 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford, MA 02155

4.    Primark – A large selection of discounted clothing and shoes
10 Summer Street (Downtown Crossing), Boston, MA 02110

5.    T. J. Maxx – A national discount store chain that sells clothes and some household goods.
Many locations, including:
Downtown Crossing, 350 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02109
Fresh Pond Mall, 198 Alewife Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02138
Assembly Row, 105 Middlesex Ave, Somerville, MA 02145
525 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446
Store in Kendall Square (on the Red Line at the Kendall Square T stop)
The Garment District – Alternative department store with inexpensive, trendy, vintage, and unusual clothing, and large “Dollar-A-Pound” section.
200 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Stores in Central Square (on the Red Line at the Central Square T stop)
1.    Keezer’s – Men’s clothing, including tuxedos at reasonable prices.
140 River Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

2.    Payless Shoesource – Sells inexpensive shoes.
Many locations, including:
367 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108
Cambridgeside Galleria, 100 Cambridgeside Place, Cambridge, MA 02141

Former students have recommended The Harvard University Employee Credit Union (104 Mount Auburn Street) and Citizens Bank (30 Brattle Street, Cambridge) as being particularly helpful and easy to work with.
Harvard University Employee Credit Union:
●    Only Harvard affiliates can open a bank account here.
●    International students can register for a bank account here: You can even register online without being in Cambridge.
●    Once you sign up, you will get a Shares account where you have to maintain $5 at all times. This is the price of the share you’re buying at the Credit Union.
●    Next, you can sign up for a checking account. Once you have a checking account, you no longer need to maintain a minimum balance in your Shares account.
●    Debit cards are issued in person, so you will have to visit the bank to receive it.
●    Everyone with an account, including international students, is automatically eligible to receive a credit card with a $2500 credit limit. All other banks take several months to issue credit cards, and sometimes they don’t come through.
●    HUECU ATMs are available on campus. If you need to withdraw money from another bank’s ATM, depending on your checking account, you may be able to recover the extra charges.
The biggest Boston/Cambridge bank is Bank of America. It has many convenient ATMs in the area, but relatively high fees. You may open an account online only if you have a US social security number at Bank of America - Banking, Credit Cards, Loans, and Merrill Investing.
Three smaller banks in Cambridge are the Cambridge Trust Company, the Cambridge Savings Bank, and Eastern Bank. Their fee structure is more reasonable, but since you may end up using the convenient ATM machines of Bank of America, you will want to ask what fees are charged for that service.
Here are some budgeting tools:
●    Smart About Money | Personal Quizzes
●    GreenPath Financial Wellness
●    The Motley Fool
●    Mint: Budget Tracker & Planner | Free Online Money Management

●    You can buy new furniture online at Amazon, IKEA, Walmart, Target, and Wayfair, to name a few. Note that you will have to assemble the furniture yourself when purchasing from these stores.
○    You can sign up for the 6-month free trial of Amazon Prime with your Harvard ID. Once the trial expires, you can continue at half price until you graduate. One of the perks of Amazon Student Prime is a free GrubHub+ membership.
●    Zinus sells good quality but affordable beds. If your budget is larger, you can check out Leesa, Casper, Gardner Mattress, and 1800Mattress.
●    If you’re looking to buy used furniture, you can try the Harvard Grad Market FaceBook Group, MIT/Harvard Student Furniture Exchange (re-opening soon), and Craigslist.
●    If you’re looking for free furniture and food, the Buy Nothing Cambridge FaceBook Group is a great place.
●    Staples is a great place to shop for office supplies, like notebooks, paper, printers, etc., though you may find cheaper options at Walmart or Amazon.
●    Several stores, including a large grocery store, an independent bookstore, and a hardware store, are located one stop north (outbound) of Harvard Square on the Red Line of the subway.
●    Cambridgeside Galleria, close to MIT, the Charles River, and the Boston Museum of Science, has stores for clothing, electronics, and home furnishings, among others.
●    Assembly Row shopping area has outlet stores (extremely discounted prices) for clothing, household goods, shopping. It also has restaurants, supermarkets, and an IMAX movie theater. Although farther away, this is a good option for quality brand items at cheap prices.
●    Home Depot is a chain home improvement retailer for tools, appliances, and other products.

Online grocery shopping:
●    Instacart – Has a HUGE selection of grocery stores you can order from, many that are cheap but may be very far. You’ll be assigned a shopper who will shop your groceries and deliver them to your house in an hour.
●    AmazonFresh – Select your groceries and schedule a delivery time convenient to you.
●    Peapod
●    FreshDirect
●    Walmart
In-person shopping:
●    The cheapest supermarket in the area is Market Basket, located at 400 Somerville Avenue. They carry many products used in cuisines of other countries.
●    Haymarket is a year-round fresh market located at the Green and Orange line Haymarket T stop next to Quincy Market. It opens on Friday late morning and closes on Saturday in the late afternoon. The produce is not local it comes from out-of-state and abroad. On late Saturday, the vendors are trying to get rid of their produce, so they start selling large quantities at a lower price.
●    There are many Whole Foods supermarkets. Use Google to find the stores closest to you. Whole Foods has beautiful produce and displays, but depending on what you buy, it may or may not be expensive. They were recently bought by Amazon, so you can shop on Amazon and pick them up in-store.
●    Trader Joe's is a favorite food shopping place for good value and good quality. It carries a lot of products under its own name. They carry some organic products. It sells specialty and international foods. Use Google to find the stores closest to you.
●    Shaw’s/Star Market: These two large stores carry everything you could need. They are owned by the same company and carry the same products. The Porter Square Star Market (open 24 hours) is the closest one to Harvard Square. Look for other stores on Google.
●    BFresh can be found in Alston, Brighton, and Somerville. It sells some organic foods.
●    Roche Brothers / Brother’s Marketplace: The prices are reasonable. They are located at 8 Summer St, Boston, MA 02110. They are near the Downtown Crossing stop on the Red Line. You can shop online. Not all stores deliver. Type in your ZIP code and it will let you know which Roche Brothers’ store will be delivering to your area. There is a flat charge of $9.95 for the delivery of groceries no matter what the size of the order.
●    Stop & Shop: This store is a large, slightly less expensive store with everything. In Boston, they are located at 181 Cambridge St., and in Jamaica Plain, 301 Centre St. Suburban locations include Arlington at 1043 Massachusetts Ave. and Medford at 30 Commercial St.
●    Costco.
Meat and Poultry: All of the major grocery stores sell fresh meat, fish, and poultry. If you are looking for something special, you might try a neighborhood butcher.
●    Mayflower Poultry – 621 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
They have both fresh and frozen beef, pork, lamb, goat, rabbit, and game birds, and some halal products.
●    The Butcherie sells Kosher meat at Coolidge Corner T stop, 428 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-731-9888.
●    Al-Hoda Market sells halal meat at Central Square T stop, 304 Prospect St., Cambridge, 617-441-7854.
●    Garden Halal Meat Market also sells halal meat at 114 Blackstone St, Boston, (same street as The Haymarket), 617-722-9969.
International grocery stores:
●    European/British: Cardullo’s (Harvard Square, 6 Brattle St., Cambridge) carries European and British specialties from candies to condiments.
●    Indian:
○    Madras Masala, 191 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446.
○    Shree Bombay Market, 359 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143 (very close to Market Basket).
○    Little India, 438 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143 (across from the Market Basket parking lot).
○    Punjab Mini Mart, 1576 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02120
○    College Convenience, 281 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
●    Italian: Try the North End (near Haymarket T stop) for fruit stands and butchers, and Italian markets like Eataly and Salumeria Italiana.
●    East Asian:
○    HMart sells a wide variety of Asian groceries.
○    Super 88 Market
○    Ebisuya Japanese Market
○    Japanese/Korean bakeries at Porter Square T stop, Porter Square Exchange, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. You need to walk deep inside the building.
○    Chinatown T stop
●    Middle Eastern and Greek:
○    Eastern Lamejun Bakers at 145 Belmont St., Watertown
○    Arax Market at 585 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown
○    Sofia’s Greek Pantry at 265 Belmont Street, Belmont
○    Sevan Bakery at 599 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown
○    Roksana Market (Super Hero’s) at 509 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown
●    Latin American: Sunrise Market, 152 Brighton Ave, Brighton (617) 783-1988
Bakeries: Baking on the premises.
●    Praline at 203 Belmont Street, Belmont
●    Massis Bakery at 569 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, (617) 924-0537
●    Iggy’s Bread at 130 Fawcett St., Cambridge
●    Tabrizi Bakery at 56 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown
●    Hi-Rise Bread Company
●    Quebrada Baking Company

There are numerous cell phone companies and plans to choose from. However, without a social security number, they can sometimes be a bit costly and complicated to set up initially. In the past, some students have joined forces to purchase a “family plan.” We strongly recommend that you shop around to get the best plan and price. Here are some possible options:
●    Verizon offers a discount to members of the Harvard community
●    AT&T offers a 10% discount to all members of the Harvard community on a monthly basis
●    T-Mobile
●    Community Phone, 31 Church St (Harvard Square)
●    Mint mobile SIM cards are available for free pickup outside the Harvard International Office at the Smith Campus Center. (Note that the HIO is currently closed but you can still pick up the SIM card.)
●    Phone cards are also available for long-distance and international calling. They can be purchased at many stores around Harvard Square as well as online.
You can purchase Apple products with a student discount at the Harvard University Apple store:
You can purchase discounted Dell products here: Shop for Dell products
For more perks, visit IT Perks and Discounts, which also includes free LinkedIn Learning.  

●    To learn new bioinformatics skills, register for workshops at Current Topics in Bioinformatics workshops | Training-modules.
●    Does your research require you to use the O2 Cluster at HMS? You can learn about O2 at a workshop conducted by the Harvard Bioinformatics Core (linked above) or at this link.
●    Learn or practice a new language at the Language Exchange Program!
●    For additional resources, view the Orientation Guide published by the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership (DICP) to help incoming faculty, fellows, residents, and students become acquainted with the Harvard Medical School campus, its affiliated hospitals, and the surrounding areas.


You can also download the guide as a pdf below:

hms_student_resources.pdf165 KB