The Master of Liberal Arts, Systems Engineering degree field is offered online with 1 course required on-campus. Weekend options are available for the on-campus requirement.
The primarily asynchronous format offers the most flexibility for international students and those with variable work schedules.
Required Courses — New this year with admission applications accepted starting November 1, 2023
12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)
The degree is for individuals with strong technical skills and a solid understanding of computer systems.
- 1 web principles course
- 1 cloud communications course
- 1 cloud computing course
- 1 security and risk management course
- 1 database management course
- 1 IT management course (on campus)
- This requirement is fulfilled by completing an online course with a required intensive weekend on campus or via a 3-week summer course.
- 1 business analytics course
- 3 systems engineering electives
- 1 system engineering precapstone
- First offering will be summer 2024
- 1 system engineering capstone
- First offering will be fall 2024
The Harvard On-Campus Experience (1 Course)
Nearly all courses can be taken online, but you are required to come to Harvard University for the IT management course. You have two on-campus options:
- Accelerated on-campus option: online with a required intensive weekend on campus.
- Standard on-campus option: 3-week Harvard Summer School (HSS) course.
The Standard option 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 Harvard Summer School’s 3-week session. For more details, see International Student Study Options for important visa information.
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 globe), and, of course, Harvard Commencement (May).
You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific area to earn a certificate along the way. There are 3 graduate certificate options and 2 microcertificate options:
- Back-end Web Development
- Microcertificate: Database Management
- Data Analytics
- Microcertificate: Data Modeling and Ethics
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 systems engineering or a related field. Check your 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 2 graduate-level degree-requirement courses (available online):
- 1 cloud communications course
- 1 database management course
The 2 courses 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 2 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 second degree course, submit the official application to the program.
Don’t delay! You must prioritize the 2 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.
- 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 10 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.
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 enroll 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 online once a week for 2 hours, while January and summer courses meet more frequently in a condensed format.
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 2 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.
Courses Expire: Apply on Time and Finish Your Coursework in Under 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 5-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 2 degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a degree program.
Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the 5-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: Systems Engineering. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.