Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Finance degree field consists of 12 courses, three of which are required for admission and four are required on campus. Weekend on-campus options are available.

12 Graduate Courses

  • 1 principles of finance or managerial finance course
  • 1 financial or managerial accounting course
  • 1 organizational behavior or business rhetoric course
  • 1 financial statement analysis course
  • 1 investment theory course
  • 1 corporate finance course
  • 1 business valuation course
  • 1 strategy course
  • 4 finance electives

Search Finance Degree Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

Admission Path A

To begin the admission process for path A, you simply register—no application needed—for the following three graduate-level degree courses (all are available online):

  • 1 organizational behavior course or EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric
  • 1 principles of finance or managerial finance course
  • 1 financial or managerial accounting course

You complete the three degree courses with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

Admission Path B

To begin the admission process for path B, you register for HBX CORe and one, graduate-level degree course (both are available online):

  • HBX CORe, Harvard Business School's online credential that introduces you to the language of business (noncredit or credit). You apply for CORe directly with HBX.
  • One organizational behavior or EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric.

Achieve a passing grade for HBX CORe and a B grade or higher in the other degree course—achieving a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher—and you qualify for admission.

Please note for either path, you need to possess an undergraduate degree before enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, and you cannot already have a master's degree in finance or a related field (visit How to Apply for details).

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester that you are completing path A or B, 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 path A, you'll have only nine more courses to take to earn the degree and after path B, you'll have 11.

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 courses, which gives you access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

On-campus requirements can typically 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-week or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

Accelerated on-campus pathway: If you have limited flexibility, you can typically fulfill the requirement in four weekends (four online courses with intensive weekends on campus).

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. The accelerated pathway is typically four 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 the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

Executive Education On-Campus Option

Once you are admitted and have achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher, you can apply to participate in a noncredit, week-long, on-campus John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education program. You'll earn an additional Harvard credential and have the entire on-campus requirement waived, allowing you to complete all of your coursework (12 courses) online. This option is open to international degree candidates. See Academic Opportunities.

To complete your degree

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

Earn a B or higher in each of the degree courses 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 before they affect your cumulative GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

HBX CORe and Degree Requirements

HBX CORe does not count for credit toward the degree (even the credit version) and does not replace the principles of finance or accounting degree requirements, which you'll need to complete once admitted.

Deadline for Finishing Your Coursework

If you are admitted using Admission Path B and have not completed any other courses that can be applied to the degree, you have six years to complete your degree requirements. The six-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete one organizational behavior course or business rhetoric course, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a degree program. 

Otherwise, 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.

For either pathway, 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: Finance. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May. 

Degree Guidelines and Policies

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