The Master of Liberal Arts, Finance degree field is offered online with 1 degree requirement on-campus here at Harvard University. Weekend options are available for the on-campus requirement.
With online courses offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, you can participate in some courses on demand and others live that offer real-time engagement with faculty and peers.
12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)
- 1 economics course (microeconomics or managerial economics only)
- 1 finance course (principles or managerial finance only)
- 1 statistics course
- 1 accounting course (financial or managerial accounting only)
- 1 financial statement analysis course
- 1 investment theory course
- 1 corporate finance course
- 1 business valuation course
- 1 applied active learning elective (on campus)
- This 4-credit requirement can ordinarily be fulfilled by completing 2 two-credit Active Learning Weekends or 1 three-week summer course.
- 3 finance electives
- EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric is an elective option.
The Harvard On-Campus Experience
Nearly all courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard University on-campus experience. You have two choices for your applied active learning elective (4-credits):
- Accelerated on-campus option: Choose 2 two-credit Active Learning Weekends (ALW).
- 2-credit ALWs are graded SAT/UNSAT to encourage creativity and risk taking.
- Standard on-campus option: Choose 1 3-week Harvard Summer School course.
- The Standard is ideal for those who want a more traditional on-campus experience. HSS offers 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 choose the Standard on-campus option and study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa for a Harvard Summer School 3-week session. For more information, see International Student Study Options page.
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).
You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific topic within finance to earn a certificate along the way. There are 4 graduate certificate options and 1 microcertificate option:
- Business Economics
- Corporate Finance
- Microcertificate: Applied Fintech and Digital Assets
- Data Analytics
- Real Estate Investment
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 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 finance, including most MBAs, or a related field. Confirm your initial eligibility.
Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission
The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program. To begin, you simply register—no application needed—for the following 3 graduate-level degree courses (available online):
- 1 economics course (microeconomics or managerial economics)
- Before registering, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or complete EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric with a grade of B or higher.
- 1 finance course (principles or managerial finance)
- 1 statistics course
All 3 courses, including EXPO 34, are investments in your studies and help ensure success in the program. They count toward your degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.
Course sequencing and grading. The 3 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.
Search and Register for Courses
The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round to support accelerated 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 choose to enroll either full or part-time with many degree candidates, after qualifying for admission, choosing 2 courses per semester (fall/spring) and 1 in the January term as well as summer.
- Most fall and spring courses meet once a week for two hours, while January and summer courses meet more frequently in a condensed format.
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 3 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 enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate priority courses.
- pay the standard versus delayed application fee.
- gain access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page).
Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 9 more courses after admission to earn the degree.
The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility. For details about full eligibility and the application process, visit Degree Program Admissions.
Alternative Admission Pathways
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 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.
HBS Online CORe and Degree Requirements
CORe does not count for credit toward the degree (even the credit version) and does not replace the principles of finance or statistics degree requirements, which you’ll need to complete once admitted with a grade of B or higher.
For the accounting requirement, you’ll need to register for the non-CORe version of the Financial Accounting Principles course or choose Managerial Accounting.
Courses Expire: Apply on Time and Finish Your Coursework in 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 five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete your third degree-applicable course, whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.
If you are admitted using CORe, you have 6 years to complete your degree requirements. The 6-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 1 degree-applicable course, whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.
Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the 5- or 6-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: Finance. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.