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Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Cybersecurity degree field is offered online with one 3-week course required on campus at Harvard University.

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Explore Degree Requirements


Upcoming Term: Fall 2024

Course registration opens July 22 at 9 a.m. Eastern time.

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Required Course Curriculum

  • Two people on a zoom call.

    Online core and elective courses

  • School building.

    On-campus precapstone course

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Capstone project

12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)

This degree program is for individuals who have a working knowledge of computer systems and are comfortable using programming languages such as Python in problem identification and resolution.

The program covers a broad range of cybersecurity topics, including risk assessment, compliance and controls, cloud computing, and application development. The degree culminates in an applied capstone project where you solve a real-world industry problem.

Online courses are offered in a primarily asynchronous format, providing flexibility for international students and those with variable work schedules.

Required Core & Elective Courses

  • CSCI 159 Introduction to Cybersecurity: Intrusion, Hacking and Detection
  • CSCI 155 Networks and Cloud Security
  • 1 cloud computing course
  • 1 application development course
  • 1 compliance and controls course
  • 1 risk assessment course
  • 4 cybersecurity electives

Browse Courses →

Precapstone Course: The 3-Week Harvard On-Campus Experience

Nearly all courses can be taken online, but you are required to come to Cambridge for the precapstone course. You and your team, along with an industry partner, create the research protocol for your final capstone project.

The precapstone course is offered on campus in the 3-week summer session via Harvard Summer School (HSS). The Summer School offers, for an additional fee, housing, meal plans, and a prolonged on-campus experience here at Harvard University. Learn more about campus life at Harvard.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School (HSS) for the 3-week precapstone course. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.

Don’t delay admission. Only officially admitted degree candidates can register for the precapstone course. To be eligible, you must be admitted to the degree program by February 10.

Capstone Course & Project

In your final online course, you complete a team-based capstone project. The capstone is taken as your sole remaining degree requirement, in the semester immediately following the precapstone.

Capstone Experience:

In the capstone, with your project team and industry partner, you execute a real-world cybersecurity project that you developed in the precapstone.

The team format allows you to strengthen your communication, collaboration, and project management competencies, which are critical skills demanded by employers.

Capstone instructors work with student teams to focus their projects on innovation, such as, designing a new cyberattack alert system or improvement, such as, increasing security for online payments or confidential customer information.

A Recent Capstone Project: Assessing the Transferability of Graph Neural Networks for Cybersecurity Threat Detection

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 world), and, of course, Harvard University Commencement (May).


  • Diploma.

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

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

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

  • Checking off a box.

    In the semester of your second 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. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.

Initial Eligibility

Earn Your Way In — Courses Required for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register — no application required — for the following two, 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.

  • CSCI 159 Introduction to Cybersecurity: Intrusion, Hacking, and Detection
  • CSCI 155 Networks and Cloud Security
    • You have 2 attempts in CSCI 159 and 2 attempts in CSCI 155 to earn the minimum grade of B (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt) and the courses cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.

The two 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.

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 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 9 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 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. Please note that a WD grade from a 2-credit course will count as one of your two 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, CSCI 159 and CSCI 155 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 a degree program.

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). Potential degree candidates must submit timely applications, or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work.

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, February, 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.