Use of Harvard Name

Recognized student organizations enjoy the benefits of using the Harvard name and trademarks and bear the responsibility of using them accurately and appropriately. The following provides the philosophy that guides this responsibility and guidance regarding specific use by recognized student organizations.

Harvard Flag

Table of Contents

  1. Guidelines from the Trademark Program
  2. The Principle of Accuracy
  3. Student Organization Name
  4. Articulation of Affiliation
  5. Websites
  6. Social Media
  7. Publications
  8. Shield
  9. Website Address and Domain
  10. Conference, Tournament, and other Event Names
  11. Organizational Merchandise and SWAG
  12. Student Organization Business Cards and Stationery

Guidelines from the Trademark Program

"Harvard University" is one of the most widely known and respected trademarks of any kind. The commercial fruits of this fortunate reputation are largely attributable to the contributions of many generations of faculty, students and staff, and therefore should be allocated for the benefit of the University as a whole. All members of the University and the institution as a whole benefit when its name is well used, and suffer when it is not. The University and its members have a responsibility to ensure that any implied association with the University is accurate and that the activities with which it is accurately associated maintain standards consistent with its educational purposes.

One of the privileges of recognition by the College is permission to use the Harvard name under specific guidelines. These policies apply in all mediums and contexts, including but not limited to print, electronic, and organizational merchandising.

The Principle of Accuracy

The underlying principle of these guidelines is accuracy. The public often views Harvard as one entity. But in reality, Harvard is comprised of twelve schools, hundreds of departments, offices, and centers, and thousands of students, faculty, and staff. Therefore, it is important for an organization to always articulate where it fits into the wider Harvard context. This helps avoid confusion and misinterpretation regarding an organization’s affiliation with the University.

Student Organization Name

At the time of recognition, a student organization receives permission to use an approved name containing "Harvard College" or "Harvard Undergraduate" that is then listed in theHub for future reference.

  • Official Organization Name
    • Includes “Harvard College” or “Harvard Undergraduate”
    • For example: Harvard College Journalism Club or Harvard Undergraduate Journalism ClubThis name should be diligently used when representing the organization to the broader Harvard Community and the general public, as it provides context to the organization’s relationship to the University
  • Sort Name
    • Generally drops “Harvard College” or “Harvard Undergraduate”
    • For example: Journalism Club
    • This name is generally appropriate for use within the context of the College, where there is some familiarity with a group
    • This name is often used by the DSO for organizational listings, such as the Activities Fair

Changes to a approved student organization names require prior approval from the DSO. A simple change, such as dropping “College” or “Undergraduate” can suggest a much stronger relationship to and endorsement by the University than is present. For example, the Harvard College Journalism Club should not begin to refer to itself as the Harvard Journalism Club.

Changing an organization’s name should be an infrequent and thoughtful exercise. All proposed changes must be submitted to the Dean of Students Office for review and approval before use. When an organization changes its name, it does not retain any previous naming conventions that may have predated current student organization naming conventions. 

Articulation of Affiliation

A student organization should clearly articulate that it is both student run and recognized by the College. The recommended phrase is  “a student-run organization at Harvard College.” Contexts where this language should be used include, but are not limited to:

  • Organization website and social media accounts (see below for more information)
  • Fundraising letters, packets, and other solicitations
  • Conference advertising, including conference-specific websites and registration pages
  • Invitations to speakers
  • Invitations to award recipients and other honorands
  • Organization-sponsored scholarship materials


Student organization websites should include the following on the main page:

  • The full, official name of the student organization in a prominent location, typically in the header of the website
  • Articulation of affiliation "a student-run organization at Harvard College" in a prominent location and in a font size comparable to other fonts being used on the website, typically directly under the name in the header or in descriptive text in the body 
  • The statement on use of name and Trademark, typically in the footer of the website: “The Harvard College name and/or shield are trademarks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College and are used by permission of Harvard University.”  

Social Media

Accurate representation on social media is tricky, as character limits and short usernames present challenges. Student organizations should make good faith efforts to accurately represent themselves on social media platforms so that anyone publicly viewing a profile can easily determine its relationship to Harvard. Recommendations include:

  • Facebook Groups and Pages: Include the official name and an articulation of affiliation in the about section, in addition to a link to the organizational website in the appropriate field
  • Facebook Events: Create them through to the organization’s Facebook Group or Page so they connect back to a hosting organization, whose profile has a clear articulation of affiliation
  • Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels: Link to organizational website in the appropriate profile field using the full organizational name and “a student-run organization at Harvard College” when possible


Student publications must visibly display affiliation on the front page of any publication by stating that it is “a student-run publication at Harvard College."

On the copyright page (or relevant section), state: “The Harvard College name and/or shield are trademarks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College and are used by permission of Harvard University."


Student organizations are permitted to use the College shield, distinguished by its white chevron and the absence of a wreath, for organizational purposes. Download a high resolution image. Use of other shields, including the University’s shield, is not permitted.

The shield cannot be altered or edited. This includes modifying the colors of the shield or changing the lettering on the books.  

It is permitted to add embellishment around the shield, provided it does not touch or overlap with the image.  

Website Address and Domain

The organization’s internet address should mirror the approved group name in its entirety and be attached to the appropriate University domain (i.e. for Harvard College student organizations). In cases where student organizations choose to register a domain name outside of, the University requires that the domain name accurately reflect the officially recognized name of the student organization.

Any significant departure from the approved student organization name, including omissions or abbreviations, needs approval from the Dean of Students Office in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College, and in some cases, the Provost. Acronyms are acceptable in both internal and external situations. External domain names should be within the .net or .org domains.

Ownership of external domain names should reside with the student organization and not with an individual. The University reserves the right to require that any domain name with the word Harvard in it and which causes confusion with other university activities, or is otherwise inappropriate, be assigned back to the University.

Conference, Tournament, and other Event Names

The use of “Harvard” in the name of an event without additional context can give false impressions about event sponsorship. Since ISOs are recognized through the College, it is important that “Harvard” always be coupled with College or undergraduate in the title. Furthermore, the name of the sponsoring student organization must be featured prominently in all publicity.  

For example:

  • Harvard Undergraduate Journalism Conference or Harvard College Journalism Conference is appropriate, while Harvard Journalism Conference is not.

The phrase “at Harvard University” can be used to designate location, provided it is done in a way that is not misleading in terms of sponsorship. Appropriate examples include:

  • Journalism Conference, June 12-16 2015 at Harvard University
  • Harvard College Journalism Conference at Harvard University

In some cases, student organizations partner with offices, departments, or centers on broader initiatives where use of “Harvard” alone in an event title is permitted. In general, using "Harvard" (unadorned) in the name of an activity is appropriate when all of the following are true:

  1. The program or activity is university-wide, meaning its structure and governance has substantial faculty involvement from faculty from at least three separate schools
  2. The program or activity is university-wide, meaning its structure and governance has substantial faculty involvement from faculty from at least three separate schools
  3. It has institutional accountability in that it reports formally to university-wide officers, such as the President or Provost or a group of Deans from several Faculties
  4. There are not significant issues of confusion with activities elsewhere in the University (for example "the Harvard Project on Government" or "the Harvard Health Project" would raise concerns of this nature)

Organizational Merchandise and SWAG

Student organizations wishing to produce any items (t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, et. al) bearing its official student organization name or any other Harvard name or logo must receive permission from the Harvard Trademark Program in advance of ordering the product. The process is as follows:

  • Design the artwork, using the official organization name and College shield, if applicable

  • Identify a licensed vendor to produce the product

  • Email the Trademark Program with the following information, providing a minimum of 5 business days for review:

    • Organization’s name

    • The licensed vendor 

    • The type and quantity of item

    • What the items will be used for and to whom and when they will be distributed or sold. For example, “Shirts will be distributed for free to new members in September” or “Orders for sweatshirts will be taken in October and payment will be collected at that time.”

    • The proposed artwork

  • Upon approval from the Trademark Program, submit the order to the vendor

Student organizations may give away or sell items, with permission from the Trademark Office, on a royalty-free basis in the following circumstances:

  • for their own internal use;

  • to be given away to the members of that student organization;

  • to be sold on a limited and one-time-only basis to the members of the student organization and non-members as a fundraiser to benefit the student organization

Student groups may not sell products bearing any Harvard trademarks, including their student group name, directly to the public or to retailers for resale to the public.

Student groups may be granted permission to sell Harvard items not containing their student group name to the general public as long as they agree to take a license from the Trademark Program and pay royalties. Please contact the Trademark Program directly for permission and instructions.

Student Organization Business Cards and Stationery

Student organizations are permitted to print business cards for officers who represent the group. The Harvard Trademark Program provides a standard template for this purpose, which all student groups printing business cards must use. The business cards clearly identify the group’s affiliation with Harvard (“a student-run organization at Harvard College”) and do not use the Harvard logo or shield in any way. It is possible, however, to include an original, non-Harvard logo associated with the organization.

Harvard Mail and Print Services can assist students with business card requests. For more information and order form, visit the print services website

Print vendors require written permission to print the word “Harvard” on any business card or stationery. Student organizations may receive this written permission from the Dean of Students Office. Please review the Harvard Trademark Program Business Card Authorization Guidelines prior to submitting a request to the DSO.