Investment Options

Harvard’s retirement plans offer you an investment lineup of carefully chosen options that lets you create an investment strategy that aligns with your timeline, preferences and financial goals. To provide you with a diverse range of investment choices, Harvard offers Vanguard target date funds, core funds from Vanguard and Schwab, annuities from TIAA, and a brokerage account option from TIAA. All of these options are available through the TIAA multi-vendor administrative platform. Learn more by calling the Harvard University Retirement Center (HURC) or log into your account at, click on “Actions” and “Research Investments.”

Target date funds

Harvard's offers target date funds from Vanguard through its investment lineup. Target date funds are considered a “best practice” approach to retirement investing. That's because they offer:

  • "Built-in" diversification. Investing in a variety of major asset classes—such as bonds, U.S. stocks, and international stocks
  • Automatic asset allocation and rebalancing. As you get closer to retirement, the fund manager gradually shifts the fund’s investment mix from higher-risk investments to lower-risk investments.
  • Low investment fees/costs. The Vanguard funds offers low management fees, meaning you keep more of your money.

The Vanguard Target Retirement funds are the automatic (default) investment for any newly eligible faculty and staff member who makes no other investment choice for University retirement plan contributions or for a TDA or 457(b) account. If you make no choice, you will be defaulted into a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund closest to the year you turn 65.

Core funds and Annuities

You can also create your own mix of investments by choosing from the plans’ selection of low-fee core fund investment options based on your long-term savings goals.

You can choose core funds in different asset classes – money market, bonds, U.S. stocks (including a social index stock option), treasury inflation protected security (TIPS) fund and international stocks – which can be combined to create a diversified portfolio with varying degrees of potential risk and return, depending on your selections.

Annuity Investments

In addition to the core funds, you can choose three annuity funds from TIAA:

  • TIAA Traditional Account
  • CREF Money Market Account R3
  • CREF Stock Account R3

Annuities are financial investment options that guarantee to pay you (or you and a spouse or partner) income for life; management fees for these investments are higher than those for target date or core fund options.

Brokerage account

You can also access thousands of additional mutual funds through the TIAA self-directed brokerage account. This option is for savvy, “hands-on” investors who are comfortable researching and selecting their own investments and managing their portfolios. Contact TIAA directly to set up a brokerage account. (This option is not available for the 457(b) plan.) Please note: Harvard neither selects nor monitors investment funds available through the brokerage account and TIAA doesn’t offer investment advice for brokerage accounts.

How to select your investments

  • Visit the HURC website or call 800-527-1398
  • Choose from the investment lineup — fund options are available from several vendors: TIAA, Schwab or Vanguard through the HURC website — for your allocations.
  • If you make no investment election, you will be defaulted to the Vanguard Target date fund nearest to the year you turn 65.

Required fee disclosure information

Required fee and investment disclosures are designed to help you make informed decisions, and include a Summary of Plan Services and Costs and Investment Options Comparison Chart (note that the chart may include funds in the retirement plans that are closed to new investors). If you have any questions concerning this material, please call the HURC or contact the investment vendors directly. You can see fee information for each vendor by going to Forms & Documents, select Total Rewards > Retirement.