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Bachelor’s Degree Program Requirements

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) degree requires 128 credits. You can transfer up to 64 credits, leaving you with a minimum of 64 credits (ordinarily, 16 courses) to complete here at Harvard.

The degree is offered nearly entirely online, with just eight credits on campus. Two or four weekend options are available to fulfill the on-campus requirement.

Getting Started

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The degree is fully customizable. After completing core requirements, such as writing, quantitative reasoning, and moral reasoning, you choose from hundreds of electives that meet your personal learning goals.

Many of these electives are taught by Harvard faculty. In fact, you are required to complete a minimum number of courses taught by Harvard instructors.

With online courses offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, you can participate in some courses on demand, and others live for real-time engagement with faculty and peers.

Concentration, Fields of Study, and Minors

To tailor your undergraduate studies, you choose one of three concentrations. You have the option to narrow your academic focus further by choosing one field of study and up to two minors.


We offer the following three concentrations:

  • Humanities 
    • Creative writing
    • Dramatic arts
    • English
    • History of art
    • Journalism
    • Philosophy
    • Religion
    • Studio arts and film
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Computer science
    • Environmental studies
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Social science
    • Anthropology
    • Business administration and management
    • Economics
    • Government
    • History
    • International relations
    • Legal studies
    • Psychology

All candidates choose one concentration. For maximum flexibility, you can take courses from any of the subject areas within that concentration. 

Fields of Study

In addition to your concentration, you have the option to declare one specific field of study, similar to a major. Fields of study are offered in 13 subject areas.

Top fields of study are:

  • Business administration and management
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Government
  • International relations
  • Psychology

See the complete list of all fields of study.


You can earn up to two minors to complement your field of study. Minors are offered in 12 subject areas.

Core Requirements

  • 40 credits in your chosen concentration with at least 32 of these credits taken at Harvard
  • 16-credit distribution requirement outside your chosen concentration (8 credits in each)
    • For example, if your chosen concentration is social science you need to complete 8 credits in science and 8 in humanities.
  • 12 expository and/or speech credits taken at Harvard
    • EXPO 15 recommended, but it cannot be taken simultaneously with or after EXPO 25.
    • EXPO 25 required
    • A maximum of one speech course (optional)
  • 8 or 4 foreign language credits (see below)
  • 4 quantitative reasoning credits taken at Harvard
  • 4 moral reasoning credits taken at Harvard

Of the 128 required credits (which includes core requirements and electives), 52 credits are taken with Harvard instructors and 60 credits need to be from upper-level coursework.

Electives are any additional expository writing, public speaking, science, social science, humanities, quantitative reasoning, foreign language, and professional courses from the ALB curriculum that you wish to take to earn the required 128 credits.

Courses fulfill multiple degree requirements. Courses ordinarily fulfill multiple degree requirements. For example, a government course could, if designated on the degree course search, fulfill Harvard instructor, upper level, moral reasoning, social science, and government field of study requirements.

Taken at Harvard. This means you complete these requirements on campus or online at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School. The other core requirements can be transferred in from another school (e.g., distribution and foreign language).

The Harvard On-Campus Experience

Nearly all courses are offered online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least 8 credits, which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

The on-campus requirement can be completed through our accelerated or standard options:

  • Accelerated. Two online courses with required intensive weekends on campus. These courses are 4-credits each, allowing you to fulfill the requirement in two weekends.
  • Accelerated. Four active learning weekend courses. These courses are two credits each, allowing you to fulfill the requirement in four weekends.
  • Standard. Three- or seven-week Harvard Summer School (HSS) courses that meet only on campus. These courses are 4-credits each, allowing you to fulfill the requirement in one 7-week session (taking two courses) or two 3-week sessions (taking one course per 3-week session).

The Standard option. This option is ideal for those who want a more traditional on-campus experience. HSS offers, for an additional fee, housing, meal plans, social activities, and a prolonged on-campus experience here at Harvard University. Learn more about campus life at Harvard.

Mix and Match. You can also mix and match any of the options to complete the 8 credits. For example, you can take one 4-credit online course with a required weekend on campus and two, 2-credit active learning weekend courses.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you choose the standard option and study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa for Harvard Summer School’s 3- and 7-week courses. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.


Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique earn-your-way-in admissions process to help get you started. Visit the Degree Program Admissions page for more details.

Initial Eligibility

  1. To be eligible to begin any Harvard coursework for our undergraduate degree program, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent that was earned at least five years prior (e.g., May 2019 to begin taking courses in fall 2024).
  2. If English is your second language, you’ll need to prove English proficiency before registering for a course. We have multiple proficiency options.
  3. You cannot already hold a bachelor’s degree or be pursuing an undergraduate degree at another institution.

Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application required—for the following three, 4-credit, online undergraduate-level courses.

These prerequisite courses are investments in your studies and help ensure success in the program. They count toward your degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

Complete the prerequisite courses with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0. 

EXPO 25 Academic Writing and Critical Reading

  • EXPO 25 is offered at a reduced tuition rate of $1,000.
  • Before registering for EXPO 25, you’ll need to first pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or complete EXPO 15 Fundamentals of Academic Writing with a B grade (which also counts as a preadmission course).
  • You have two registration attempts to earn the required grade of B or higher in EXPO 25 (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt).

Any other two courses from the program–you decide

  • While you can take any two ALB courses, we recommend that you take EXPO 15 and MATH E-3 as the other two courses because they are also offered at the low tuition of $1,000 each (similar to EXPO 25).
  • At this reduced tuition rate, you will gain the writing and foundational math skills you need to succeed at Harvard.
  • These courses (and EXPO 25) will count towards your degree once admitted regardless of transfer credit.
  • Please note that EXPO 15 cannot be taken concurrently with or after EXPO 25. You take this course as a prerequisite to EXPO 25.

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round to accelerate degree completion.

  • You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).
  • You can enroll full or part time. After qualifying for admission, many of our degree candidates study part time, taking 2 courses per semester (fall/spring) and 1 in the January and summer sessions.
  • Most fall and spring courses meet once a week for two hours, while January and summer courses meet more frequently in a condensed format.

To find degree courses, visit the DCE Course Search and Registration platform:

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your third degree-course, submit the official application to the program.

Don’t delay! You must prioritize the three degree-courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • Avoid the loss of credit due to changes to admission and degree requirements.
  • Ensure your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses.
  • Avoid the delayed application fee.
  • Gain access to exclusive degree candidate benefits.

Prospective ALB students can expect acceptance into the program by meeting all the eligibility and academic requirements detailed on this page, submitting a complete application, and having no academic standing or conduct concerns.

Applicants can register for courses in the upcoming semester before they receive their grades and while they await their admission decision.

Completing Your Degree

Grade Requirements

All core degree requirements must be completed with C- grades or higher. This includes courses that fulfill area of concentration, distribution, foreign language, quantitative reasoning, moral reasoning, and expository writing requirements. As noted above, EXPO 25 needs to be completed with a grade of B or higher as well as your other preadmission courses.

Field of study and minor courses must be completed with a B- or higher without letting your overall field of study GPA dip below 3.0.

Once admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

You can earn five withdrawals grades (WD) without them affecting your GPA. The sixth and any subsequent withdrawal grades count as zeroes (failing grade) in your cumulative GPA. Please note that a WD grade from a two-credit course will count as 1 of your 5 allowed WD grades. See Academic Standing.

Foreign Language Credit Options

  • 8 credits in one lower-level language (e.g., French I and II)
  • or 4 credits in the second semester of one language (e.g., French II)
  • or 4 credits in one upper-level language (e.g., Intermediate French I)

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) in Extension Studies. Degrees are awarded in November, February, and May, with the annual Harvard University Commencement ceremony in May.