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Management Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Management degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits) with at least four taken on campus (weekend options available) or, for the capstone track, two, three-week courses on campus.

  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

Core

  • 1 economics course (microeconomics, economics of business or managerial economics only)
  • 1 accounting course (financial or managerial accounting only)
  • 1 organizational behavior course
  • 1 finance course
  • 1 marketing course
  • 1 enterprise management course
  • 1 strategy course

Noncapstone Track Electives

  • 1 additional enterprise management course
  • 4 management electives
    • EXPO 34 is an elective option

Capstone Track Electives

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 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 management or business, including an MBA, or a related field. Confirm your initial eligibility.

The Admissions Office makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

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 (microeconomics, economics of business course, or managerial economics)
  • 1 organizational behavior course or EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric
  • 1 financial or managerial accounting course

Before registering for an organizational behavior or the economics course, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric.

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 eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.

Management Degree vs. MBA?

What is the difference between our management degree and a traditional MBA? Program director Laura Wilcox answers this question.

Alternative Admission Pathways

You may consider one of our two alternative pathways to admission:

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.

For the noncapstone track, you come to Cambridge for at least four 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 four 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.

For the capstone track, you come to Cambridge for two three-week courses offered in  summer and January. Summer housing is available for an additional fee.

The first summer or January term, you complete any of the core courses. Then, after completing all core courses and the precapstone, you’ll come to campus during the very next summer to complete the three-week capstone. The precapstone and capstone must be completed in back-to-back semesters (spring/summer).

International Students Who need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. We recommend the capstone track with two, three-week summer sessions. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School. For more information, see International Student Study Options page.

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 required accounting or organizational behavior requirement, 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 (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: Management. 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.