Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Biotechnology degree field consists of 12 courses, two of which are required for admission. You choose a thesis or capstone track.

12 Graduate Courses

The degree field assumes a strong academic background in biology (e.g., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Principles and Techniques of Molecular Biology) and is only for students who have at least one year of postbaccalaureate scientific research experience.

  • Proseminar
  • 3 life sciences courses
  • Ethics and trends in biotechnology
  • 4 biotechnology electives
    • EXPO 42c is an elective option

Additional Thesis Track Requirements

  • Crafting the thesis proposal
  • Master's thesis part one
  • Master's thesis part two

Additional Capstone Track Requirements

  • 1 additional biotechnology elective
  • Precapstone
  • Capstone

Biotechnology Degree Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

To begin the admissions process you simply register—no application needed—for the following two graduate-level degree courses (both are available online):

  • BIOT 200 Proseminar: Research Methods and Scholarly Writing in Biotechnology
    • To register, you'll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42c.
    • You have two registration attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar, which cannot be more than two years old at the time of application
  • A life science course

Complete both degree courses with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0. You need to have an undergraduate degree in a science field (physical, life, or computer science) to begin taking degree-applicable courses. You also need to demonstrate at least one year of postbaccalaureate scientific research experience.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, you submit an official application to the program. We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles.

If you submit a complete application—which includes, required Harvard courses, grades, and cumulative GPA—you will be admitted, after which you'll have only 10 more courses to complete to earn the degree.

How to Apply

    The Harvard On-Campus Experience

    Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least four of your courses, which gives you access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

    On-campus requirements can ordinarily be completed through:

    • 15-week fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus (online option courses do not fulfill this requirement).
    • Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
    • Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
    • Three- 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 information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

    To Complete Your Degree

    Prove Competency in Statistics

    Prior to registering for the thesis proposal course, you need to prove your competency in statistics through one of the following two options:

    1. Successfully complete the statistics waiver exam
    2. Or earn a B– or higher in one undergraduate or graduate statistics course at Harvard (this course does not count toward the degree).

    Maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or Higher

    Earn a B or higher in each of the two degree required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses, but be sure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher. 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.

    Internship Option

    If you earn a professional graduate certificate in bioinformatics or biotechnology management while a degree candidate and have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher, you may be able to pursue a 500-hour internship instead of a thesis or capstone. See Internships.

    Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years

    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 two degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program. Moreover, courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

    Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

    When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your degree: Master of Liberal Arts in extension studies, field: biotechnology. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.

    Degree Guidelines & Policies

    For information about special academic opportunities, student privileges, and policies, see Completing Your Degree.