The Master of Liberal Arts, Biotechnology degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), two of which are required on campus. You choose a thesis or capstone track.
To pursue this degree, you must have an undergraduate degree in a science field (physical, life, or computer science); at least one year of proven postbaccalaureate scientific research experience; and an academic background in molecular, cellular, and organismal biology.
- Learn more about the curriculum and course selection.
- Determine your initial admission eligibility.
- Complete the 2 courses for admission.
12 Graduate Courses
- 3 biotechnology life sciences courses
- Ethics and Trends in Biotechnology
- 4 biotechnology electives
- EXPO 42c is an elective option
Additional Thesis Track Requirements
- Thesis proposal tutorial
- Master’s thesis (8 credits)
Additional Capstone Track Requirements
- 1 additional biotechnology elective
- Precapstone: Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Capstone: Biotechnology Business Ideas and Entrepreneurial Innovation
Capstone topics are subject to change annually. You enroll in the precapstone and capstone courses in back-to-back semesters (fall/spring) and in your final academic year.
Search for Courses
To find courses that apply toward the degree use DCE Course Search and Registration:
- Scroll through the search filters to “Courses in a Graduate Degree.”
- Choose “Biotechnology” to explore program courses.
Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.
- Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a four-year regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Foreign bachelor’s degrees must be evaluated for equivalency.
- You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master’s degree in biotechnology or a related field. Check your eligibility.
The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility.
Earning Your Way In
To begin the admissions process you simply register—no application needed—for the following two, graduate-level degree courses (available online):
- BIOT 200 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biotechnology and Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
- 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 two years old at the time of application.
- 1 biotechnology life science course
While the two courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, we highly recommend that you start with the proseminar. The two 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 second degree course, submit the official application to the program.
Don’t delay! You must prioritize the two degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll avoid the delayed application fee or the loss of credit for expired course work, while gaining access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page). Also, critical degree courses are only open to officially admitted candidates such as thesis proposal tutorials, precapstones and capstones.
Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree.
For details about full eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.
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 two courses (8 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.
On-campus requirements can ordinarily 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.
- Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
- Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
- Three- or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.
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.
International Students and Thesis Research
While your research question will be developed in consultation with your research advisor (RA), you will be responsible for finding a lab in your home country. The Harvard Extension School cannot sign institutional agreements, nor does the school provide research funding.
To Complete Your Degree
Prove Competency in Statistics
Prior to registering for the thesis proposal course or precapstone, you need to prove your competency in statistics through one of the following two options:
- Choose an upper-level, graduate-credit statistics course that appears under the elective option for the biotechnology degree and earn a B- or higher grade. This course will count toward the degree.
- Earn a B– or higher in one of the following undergraduate-credit statistics courses at Harvard: STAT 100, 102, 103, 109, 150, or 200. While the course fulfills the statistics requirement, it does not count toward the degree.
Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, Repeat Courses
GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the two 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 two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. 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.
If you earn a professional graduate certificate in bioinformatics or biotechnology management while a degree candidate and have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher, you may be able to pursue a 500-hour internship instead of a thesis or capstone. See Internships.
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 two degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the 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.