Investment Options

To provide you with a diverse range of investment choices, Harvard offers target date funds, core funds, and a brokerage account option. Your investment selections should reflect your savings goals, timeline until retirement, and tolerance for risk.

Upcoming Changes to Retirement Investment Options and Administration

This April, Harvard is making some changes to the investment options and management available through the retirement programs, both those funded by the University and those you fund yourself. Among the changes:

  • A new simplified investment lineup that will include a number of the currently available mutual funds and annuities provided by Vanguard and TIAA, including the current default investment Vanguard Target Retirement funds, along with a new option of a TIPS fund from Schwab.
  • Harvard is moving to a single platform that will be managed by TIAA for retirement account administration and recordkeeping with one website where employees can view and elect investments and make changes. 


As announced previously, Harvard will introduce two changes in April: a streamlined investment lineup and a single, multi-vendor investment platform. This will begin as scheduled. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stock market volatility, Harvard has decided to postpone the transfer of existing balances at Fidelity and Vanguard to the new TIAA administrative platform until futher notice. This will also postpone the 15-business-day "blackout period" during which Fidelity and Vanguard participants would not be able to see or re-allocate their balances. Read the March 25, 2020 update letter.

There is no change to Harvard’s retirement plan contributions. Learn more about the changes and transition and attend an online information session.

Target date funds

Target date funds are the plans’ default investment. 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. Harvard chose specific lifecycle funds that have low fees

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 Fund closest to the year you turn 65.

Learn more about Harvard’s target date fund choices

Core funds

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

You can choose core funds in four different asset classes – money market, bonds, U.S. stocks, and international stocks – which can be combined to create varying degrees of potential risk and return.

Learn more about Harvard’s core fund choices

TIAA: Review the fund fact sheets for the core funds from TIAA

Vanguard: Review the fund fact sheets for the core funds from Vanguard.

Schwab: Review the fund fact sheet for the Schwab Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Index Fund (available as part of core investment lineup beginning April 3, 2020)

Fidelity: Review the fund fact sheets for the core funds from Fidelity.

Alternative Investments

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

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

Review the fund fact sheets for the alternative investments and contact TIAA.

Brokerage account

You can also access thousands of additional mutual funds through brokerage accounts with Fidelity and Vanguard. This option is for savvy, “hands-on” investors who are comfortable researching and selecting their own investments and managing their portfolios. Contact Fidelity or Vanguard directly to set up a brokerage account. (This option is not available for the 457(b) plan.)

How to select your investments

  • Visit the HURC website or call 800-527-1398
  • Choose from the investment providers —Fidelity, TIAA or Vanguard — for your allocations. You can invest with a single vendor or divide your contributions across two or more.
  • Call the investment providers or visit their websites to invest your contributions.
  • 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.