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Testing & Tracing

Guided by public health officials and experts, Harvard is no longer requiring routine testing for COVID-19. However, all affiliates have the option of testing if they wish, by taking a self-administered test and submitting it via Color. Anyone with symptoms or known exposure should also continue to test and follow HUHS guidance.

The University’s testing plan is subject to modification based on community risk and the broader public health environment.

To learn more about the public health guidance related to optional testing, read the Gazette’s Q&A with experts. For other questions,  your local testing coordinator is your primary point of contact for logistics around accessing testing. If you have clinical or policy questions about testing, you should contact Harvard University Health Services at healthservices@huhs.harvard.edu.

To request a testing accommodation, employees should contact disabilityresources@harvard.edu or your local HR; students should contact your School’s local student disability coordinator.

View the University dashboard for the latest data on positive cases, total tests, and vaccination rates

How do I set up my Color account and get tested?

Harvard has partnered with Color, a health testing company, to administer the University’s testing procedures. These include providing testing kits and delivering test results to individuals. All testing is done through unobserved self-swabs.

1. Once you’re notified that you’re eligible for our testing program, you should create your Color account and enter your 8-digit HUID number when prompted for the email or ID that’s associated with the program. For questions about whether you’re eligible for this testing program, or technical questions about creating your Color account, email support@color.com.

2. If you have trouble establishing your account, review the Color End User Support FAQ. If your question is not answered there, or if you have other questions about your testing eligibility, contact your School or Unit’s local testing coordinator.

3. To learn more about the steps for self-testing, see the training module “How do I self-swab?” linked below.

Picture of a covid-19 test kit including a swab, vial, and instructions sealed in a bag

Where do I pick up my test kits?

You may have access to a local supply of test kits in your department, unit, or residence.

Staff, faculty, and researchers: check with your supervisor.

Students: check with your tutor/proctor/resident advisor, or unit or property manager.

You can also check with your School or Unit’s local testing coordinator for test kit pick-up locations.

See kit pick up information by School or UnitOpens new window

illustration of hand holding vial

How do I self-swab?

The Harvard University Clinical Laboratory has a brief manual on how to self-swab.

Read the guidance

How often do I test?

Harvard no longer requires routine testing COVID-19 testing, but Harvard affiliates have the option to test if they wish. You may do this via the Color testing program (if eligible) or using a home antigen test that you obtain on your own. Anyone with symptoms or known exposure should also test and follow HUHS guidance.


View the testing calendar for collection dates and times

Google map of test sample drop-off bin

Drop-off bins

Drop-off bins are available at multiple locations across campus to collect unobserved test samples. View the map and click or tap into each location to see last pick-up times. Test kits must only be returned to the designated drop boxes by the individual who tested; they should not be passed onto others or aggregated for group drop-offs.

Find a drop-off bin

Picture of a covid-19 test kit including a swab, vial, and instructions sealed in a bag

COVID-19 Testing and Tracing

Test Methodology

Harvard’s testing program utilizes reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests analyzed by the Harvard University Clinical Laboratory and the Broad Institute’s Clinical Research Sequencing Platform.

If you need to show proof of a negative PCR test (e.g. to fulfill a travel requirement), you can download your complete clinical report from the results page in your Color account.

A swab and a tube

COVID-19 Testing and Tracing

Data collection and privacy

Learn what data will be collected, how data will be used, and what the University is doing to protect your privacy.

Learn about privacy protection

Harvard test

How else can I get tested?

Anyone unable to test or looking for alternative options is encouraged to use rapid antigen tests, also known as “at-home” tests. Tests can be ordered for free at COVIDtests.gov, and are also offered by many local health departments. Individuals may also buy tests online or in pharmacies and retail stores, which may be eligible for reimbursement by private health insurance providers.

Other testing options include the Stop the Spread program (free to Massachusetts residents), the Cambridge Public Health Department program (free to people who live or work in Cambridge), and Boston COVID-19 testing sites.

If you’re traveling internationally, carefully research your destinations’ requirements for entry (e.g. testing, vaccination, quarantine, etc.)—which are changing on short notice. You also need to research the availability and cost of testing in your destination to ensure you can comply with U.S. re-entry requirements.

What should I do if I test positive outside of Harvard’s testing program?

Report your positive result through Crimson Clear and isolate as soon as possible. If your positive result was on an outside antigen or PCR test, you should begin isolation even before the HUHS Contact Tracing team emails you.

HUHS Testing, Exposure, Isolation, & Quarantine FAQs