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Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Cybersecurity degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), including a capstone. The 3-week precapstone course is held on campus.

Getting Started

  1. Review the required course curriculum.
  2. Determine your initial admissions eligibility.
  3. Learn about the 2 degree courses required for admission.
  4. Search and register for courses.

Required Courses

Prerequisite knowledge: The degree program is for individuals who know object-oriented programming using C++, Python or Java. If you need to strengthen this background, you can complete our programming certificate.

12 Graduate Courses

  • CSCI 61 Systems Programming and Machine Organization
  • CSCI 40 Communication Protocols and Internet Architectures or CSCI 145 Networking at Scale
  • 1 cloud computing course
  • 1 application development course
  • 1 compliance and controls course
  • 1 risk assessment course
  • 4 cybersecurity electives
    • EXPO 34 is an elective option
  • Precapstone
  • Capstone

You enroll in the precapstone and capstone courses in back-to-back semesters and in your final academic year. The capstone must be taken alone as your sole remaining degree requirement.

Precapstone: the Harvard 3-week On-Campus Experience

Although many courses can be taken online, you are required to come to Cambridge for the precapstone course, which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

The precapstone is ordinarily offered on campus during the 3-week summer session.

International students who need a student visa. To meet the on-campus requirement, you can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.

Cybersecurity Capstone

In the capstone, you work with an industry partner to execute a real-world cybersecurity project that you crafted and developed in the precapstone.

With other students, you form project teams based on interest and complementary skills, which allows you to strengthen your communication, collaboration, and project management competencies.

Capstone instructors work with student teams to select a project that focuses on either innovation (e.g., designing a new cyberattack alert system) or improvement (increasing security for online payments/confidential customer information).


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.

Initial Eligibility

  • Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a 4-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 cybersecurity or a related field. Check your eligibility.

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

Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following 2 graduate-level degree courses (available online):

  • CSCI 61 Systems Programming and Machine Organization
  • CSCI 40 Communication Protocols and Internet Architectures or CSCI 145 Networking at Scale

The 2 courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

You also need to obtain a passing score on our online test of critical reading and writing skills or complete the program elective EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric with a grade of B or higher. 

The courses above, including EXPO 34 if you take it as an elective, count toward the degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

Tip: Take the test of critical reading and writing right away, even prior to your first semester at Harvard, to help ensure timely admission.

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round. You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).

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 Graduate Degrees
  • Choose Cybersecurity to explore program courses.

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 2 degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • avoid the delayed application fee and lost of credit for expired course work
  • ensure your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses
  • gain access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page).

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.

To Complete Your Degree:

Required 3.0 GPA, 2 Withdrawal Grade Limit, and Repeat Course Policy

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the 2 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. 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 5 Years

Courses over 5 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

Further, you have 5 years to complete your degree requirements. The 5-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 2 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 5-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 5-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: Cybersecurity. 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.