The Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) degree requires 128 credits or 32 (4-credit) courses. You can transfer up to 64 credits.
- Explore the core requirements.
- Determine your initial admission eligibility.
- Learn about the three degree courses required for admission.
- Search and register for courses.
Concentration, Fields of Study, and Minors
To focus your studies, you will choose a concentration. You may narrow your focus further by choosing a field of study, and/or minor.
All candidates choose a broad area of concentration for maximum flexibility. You can take degree courses from any of the subject areas within a concentration.
The concentrations are:
- Humanities (which includes creative writing, English, philosophy, religion, visual arts)
- Science (which includes biology, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics)
- Social sciences (which includes anthropology, business administration and management, economics, government, history, international relations, psychology)
Fields of Study
In addition to your concentration, you have the option to declare a specific field of study (similar to a major). You complete courses in one subject area. Top fields of study are business administration and management, computer science, economics, government, international relations, and psychology.
You can earn up to two minors to complement your undergraduate degree. Minors are offered in twelve subject areas.
32 credits in your concentration or field of study taken at Harvard**
24-credit distribution requirement:
- 8 credits in humanities
- 8 credits in science
- 8 credits in social sciences
12 expository and/or speech credits, taken at Harvard**
- EXPO 15 recommended (can’t be taken after EXPO 25)
- EXPO 25 required
- A maximum of one speech course (optional)
8 foreign language credits
4 quantitative reasoning (math) credits, taken at Harvard**
4 moral reasoning (ethics) credits, taken at Harvard**
52 credits taken with Harvard instructors
60 credits of upper-level coursework
*Courses ordinarily fulfill multiple degree requirements. For example a government course could fulfill Harvard instructor (if designated), upper-level (if designated), moral reasoning (if designated), social science, and government field of study requirements.
**Credits taken either on campus or online at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School.
The Harvard On-Campus Experience
Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least four courses (16 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.
On-campus requirements can be completed through:
- 15-week fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus. Courses with the format “on campus or online” do not fulfill this requirement.
- Online courses with a required intensive weekend on campus.
- Active learning weekend courses (two credits each; you’ll need to complete two to earn full course credit).
- Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
- Three- or seven-week Summer School courses that meet only on campus.
Accelerated On-Campus Pathway
If you have limited flexibility, you can typically fulfill the requirement in four intensive weekends on campus; course selection may be limited.
International Students Who Need a Student Visa
To meet the on-campus requirement, you 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.
This overview of the basics can get you started and tells you where to find more details and additional information.
To be eligible to begin coursework for the degree program, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent that was earned at least five years prior (e.g., May 2017 to begin taking courses in fall 2022).
You can start on your three courses for admission in the following terms:
- Fall semester
- Spring semester
- Summer term
For registration and term dates, check the academic calendar.
Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission
To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application required—for the following three, 4-credit, undergraduate-level courses, which will count toward your degree once you are admitted.
Complete the 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
- This course has a reduced tuition rate of $1,000.
- Before registering, 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.
- 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
- We recommend that you take EXPO 15 and MATH E-3. These two courses cost $1,000 each.
- 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) count toward the degree regardless of transfer credit.
- EXPO 15 cannot be taken concurrently with or after EXPO 25.
Search and Register for Courses
To find degree courses in the DCE Course Search and Registration platform:
- Under Search Classes, scroll to Browse by Degree, Certificate, or Premedical Program.
- Select Undergraduate Degree.
- Choose Explore Program.
- Select a field of study or minor from the drop down button.
Applying to the Degree Program
During the semester of your third degree course, submit the official application to the program.
Don’t delay! Act promptly to ensure your progress, avoid the delayed application fee, and gain access to exclusive degree candidate benefits.
For more details about eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.
Completing Your Degree
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.
Field of study courses must be completed with a B- or higher without letting your overall field of study dip below 3.0. The same is required for minor courses.
Once admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. You can receive five withdrawals without them affecting your GPA. The sixth and any subsequent withdrawals count as zeroes (failing grade) in your cumulative GPA. 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, March, and May, with the annual Harvard University Commencement ceremony in May.
Learn more about special academic opportunities, student privileges, and policies.