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Finance Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Finance degree field is offered online with 1 degree requirement on-campus at Harvard University. Weekend options are available for the on-campus requirement.

Getting Started

Explore Degree Requirements

Required Course Curriculum

  • Two people on a zoom call.

    Online core and elective courses

  • School building.

    On-campus applied active learning elective

12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)

The customizable course curriculum covers a range of finance topics. With online courses offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, you can participate in some courses on demand and others live for real-time engagement with faculty and peers.

Required Core & Elective 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
  • 1 applied active learning elective (see on-campus experience)
    • 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.

Browse Courses →

Optional Graduate Certificate

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific topic within finance to earn a certificate along the way.

Graduate Certificates:

On-Campus Experience

  • Calendar.

    Choose between the accelerated or standard on-campus experience.

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Learn and network in-person with your classmates.

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).

Choose between two on-campus experience options:

  • Accelerated on-campus option: Complete two, 2-credit active learning weekends (ALW) in the fall or spring. ALWs are graded SAT/UNSAT to encourage creativity and risk taking. If interested, you may register for additional ALWs for your own professional development; however, a maximum of two ALWs (4-credits) count toward the degree.
  • Standard on-campus option: Complete one 3-week Harvard Summer School (HSS) course. Multiple 3-week courses count toward the degree; there is no limit. The first three-week course you take will satisfy the applied active learning elective requirement. After that, additional 3-week on-campus courses will fulfill other degree requirements. This option is ideal for those who want a more traditional on-campus experience. For an additional fee, 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

To meet the on-campus requirement, 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).

Admissions

  • Diploma.

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

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

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

  • Checking off a box.

    In the semester of your third 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

Earning Your Way In — Courses Required for Admission

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

  • 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

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! You must prioritize the three 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 nine 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.

Alternative Admission Pathways

We offer two alternative pathways to admission:

MITx MicroMasters® Credential Admissions Pathway

If you have earned the MicroMasters® Program credential in Statistics and Data Science, you may apply the credential toward admission and complete one additional course at the Harvard Extension School. Learn more about the MicroMasters Pathway.

HBS Online CORe Admissions Pathway

Through the Credential of Readiness (CORe) pathway, you may prepare for admission to the Finance Degree Program by earning the CORe credential from Harvard Business School Online and then completing one degree course at Harvard Extension School. Learn more about the CORe Admissions Pathway.

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 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. 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.

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 Under Five Years

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 any three degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a 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-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.