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Biotechnology Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Biotechnology degree program is offered online with a one-week course required on campus at Harvard University.

Getting Started

Explore Degree Requirements

Upcoming Term: Summer 2024

Course registration is open March 4 – June 20. Learn how to register →

Fall 2024 courses and registration details will be live in June.

Required Course Curriculum

  • Two people on a zoom call.

    Online core and elective courses

  • School building.

    On-campus course: Genetown

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Capstone or internship

12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)

This degree is highly customizable. As part of the program curriculum, you choose either a capstone or internship track as well as the biotechnology courses that meet your professional goals, whether it’s biotechnology innovation, biotechnology management, bioinformatics, or project management.

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.

Required Core & Elective Courses

  • BIOT 100 Introduction to the Business & Science of Biotechnology
  • BIOT 200 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biotechnology
  • 1 biotechnology life science course
  • 3 biotechnology business courses
  • 2 biotechnology application and innovation courses
  • Genetown applied active learning course (see on-campus experience)
    • The first offering will be January 2025
  • 1 business cross-train elective
    • EXPO 42c Writing for the Sciences is an elective option

Browse courses →

Capstone Track

This track includes the following additional courses:

  • Precapstone: Business Ideas and Entrepreneurial Innovation
  • Capstone: Business Ideas and Entrepreneurial Innovation

In the precapstone, you complete preliminary research and discovery for your capstone project: the creation of a business plan for a new biotechnology company, a ground-breaking drug, or an emerging technology such as a diagnostic or medical device.

Capstone sequencing. You enroll in the precapstone and capstone courses in back-to-back semesters (fall/spring) and in your final academic year. The capstone must be taken as your sole remaining degree requirement.

Internship Track

This track includes the following additional courses:

  • One additional 4-credit cross-train elective
  • Internship: 4-credit internship

The 200-hour internship is an opportunity to apply newly acquired computation or biotechnology management skills to address a pressing business problem identified by a biotechnology employer. You are required to identify an internship-site supervisor at the place of business, who will oversee your work.

The option is ideal for those students who choose to earn a professional graduate certificate in bioinformatics or biotechnology management or a microcertificate in project management methodologies. Learn more about internships.

On-Campus Experience

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    Spend a week in Cambridge engaging with the local biotech industry.

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Learn and network in-person with your classmates.

Nearly all courses can be taken online, but the degree requires an in-person/on-campus experience. You come to Cambridge for the one-week Genetown applied active learning course offered during the January session.

Cambridge is home to over 250 biotech companies, more than 120 of which are within the Kendall Square zip code. This is why Cambridge is also called Genetown. In this course, you’ll engage with Genetown industry leaders during visits to local incubators, accelerators, companies as well as academic research institutions.

International Students

Currently, we are unable to sponsor student visas for Genetown. To meet the on-campus requirement, you choose a 3-week on-campus Harvard Summer School (HSS) biotechnology elective. Example electives may include: New Business Venturing, Economics of Innovation or Project Management. In addition, the program may provide co-curricular on-campus events relevant to the Genetown experience, such as a Kendall Square tour and industry meetups. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa for HSS 3-week sessions. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.

In-Person Co-Curricular Events

Come to Cambridge for Convocation (fall) to celebrate your hard-earned admission, Harvard career fairs offered throughout the year, HES alumni networking events (here at Harvard and around the globe), and, of course, Harvard Commencement (May).


  • Diploma.

    Confirm your initial eligibility with a 4-year bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

    Take three courses in our unique “earn your way in” admissions process that count toward your degree.

  • Checking off a box.

    In the semester of your third course, submit the official application for admission to the program.

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

Initial Eligibility

Earn Your Way In — Courses for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register — no application required — for the following three, four-credit, graduate-level degree courses (available online).

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

  • BIOT 200 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biotechnology
    • To register, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42c Writing in the Sciences.
    • You have two attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt). The proseminar cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.
  • BIOT 100 Introduction to the Business & Science of Biotechnology
  • 1 biotechnology life science course

The three courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester. All three courses must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

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 expired course work or 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 benefits.

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have nine more courses after admission to earn the degree. Applicants can register for courses in the upcoming semester before they receive their grades and while they await their admission decision.

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

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 Complete Your Degree

  • Trophy on a computer monitor.

    Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Clipboard with a pen.

    Complete your courses in five years.

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Earn your Harvard degree and enjoy Harvard Alumni Association benefits upon graduation.

Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, and Repeat Courses

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the 3 degree courses required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses. In addition, your cumulative GPA cannot dip below 3.0.

Withdrawal Grades. You are allowed to receive 2 withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. Please note that a WD grade from a two-credit course will count as 1 of your 2 allowed WD grades. See Academic Standing.

Repeat Courses. We advise you to review the ALM program’s strict policies about repeating courses. Generally speaking, you may not repeat a course to improve your GPA or to fulfill a degree requirement (if the minimum grade was not initially achieved). Nor can you repeat a course for graduate credit that you’ve previously completed at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School at the undergraduate level.

Courses Expire: Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years

Courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree. As stated above, the proseminar cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.

Further, you have five years to complete your degree requirements. The five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any three degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a degree program.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

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

Degree Candidate Exclusive Benefits

When you become an officially admitted degree candidate, you have access to a rich variety of exclusive benefits to support your academic journey. To learn more, visit degree candidate academic opportunities and privileges.