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Finance Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Finance degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), 2 of which are required on campus; weekend options available.

Getting Started:

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

Required Courses

12 Graduate Courses

  • 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
  • 4 finance electives
    • EXPO 34 is an elective option

The Harvard On-Campus Experience (2 Courses)

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 2 courses. On-campus requirements can be completed through any combination of the following options.

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.
  • 3-week January courses that meet only on campus.
  • 3-week or 7-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa, Summer Only

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- or 7-week courses. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.

Optional Certificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific topic within finance and earn a certificate along the way. There are 4 options:

  • Business Economics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Data Analytics
  • Real Estate Investment

Admissions

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 finance, including most MBAs, or a related field. Confirm your initial 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 3 graduate-level degree courses (available online):

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

The courses above, including EXPO 34, count toward the degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

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.

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 3 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.
  • ensure enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate priority courses.
  • 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. 

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

Alternative Admission Pathways

Search and Register for Courses

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 Harvard Extension Degree, Certificate, and Premedical Course Search.
  • Select Graduate Degrees
  • Choose Finance to explore program courses.

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. 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: 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.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the 5- or 6-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- or 6-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: 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.