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Finance Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Finance degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), two of which are required on campus; weekend options available.

To get started in the program:

  1. Review the details below to learn more about the curriculum and course selection.
  2. Determine your initial admissions eligibility.
  3. Complete the 3 courses for admission.

Required Courses

12 Graduate Courses

  • 1 economics course (microeconomics, economics of business, 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
  • 4 finance electives
    • EXPO 34 is an elective option

Admissions

This overview of the basics can get you started and tells you where to find more details and additional information.

Initial Eligibility

  • 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 finance, including most MBAs, or a related field. Confirm your initial eligibility.
  • The Admissions Office makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

After establishing your initial eligibility, your admission is based largely on your academic performance in the Harvard Extension degree program courses required for admission.

Earning Your Way In

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

  • 1 economics course (microeconomics, economics of business, or managerial economics)
  • 1 finance course (principles or managerial finance)
  • 1 statistics course

The three 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 third degree course, submit the official application to the program. 

Don’t delay! It is critical to prioritize the three 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 below).

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 9 more courses after admission to earn the degree. 

For details about full eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.

Alternative Admission Pathways

The Harvard On-Campus Experience

Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience, which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

You come to Cambridge for at least two courses. On-campus requirements can be completed through any combination of the following options. If you have limited flexibility, you can typically fulfill the requirements in two intensive weekends.

  • Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
  • 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.
  • Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
  • Three-week 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 through Harvard Summer School. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.

To Complete Your Degree

Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, and Repeat Courses

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the three 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.

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.

Deadline for Finishing Your Coursework

Harvard courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

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 your third degree-applicable course, whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.

If you are admitted using CORe, you have six years to complete your degree requirements. The six-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any one degree-applicable course, 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- or six-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied.

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.

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.