Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, offered exclusively to individuals who do not already have an undergraduate degree, consists of about 32 courses. The total required credits are 128. Online and on-campus course options are available, but you must complete at least 16 credits on campus (roughly four courses). You may transfer up to 64 credits from other schools. 

Concentrations, Fields, and Minors

To begin, you choose a concentration, which serves as the cornerstone of the program and guides your course selection. 

The concentrations are:

  • Humanities
  • Science
  • Social sciences 

You may also pursue an optional field of study or minor to further focus your studies. 

Admission Courses

To begin the admission process, you complete three admission courses (12 credits):

  • EXPO 25 Academic Writing and Critical Reading course 
    • To enroll in this course, you need to first pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or complete EXPO 15 Fundamentals of Academic Writing with a B grade.
    • You must earn the required grade of B or higher in EXPO 25 in a maximum of two course registration attempts.
  • Any two courses from the program

You complete all admissions courses 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 admission course, you may apply. We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles. 

How to Apply

Core Requirements

40 credits in your concentration (at least 32 credits at Harvard*). 

24 credits distributed across the concentrations:

  • 8 credits in humanities
  • 8 credits in science
  • 8 credits in social sciences

8 expository writing credits (including EXPO 25)

8 foreign language credits:

  • 8 credits in one lower-level language (e.g., French I and II)
  • 4 credits in the second semester of one language (e.g., French II)
  • 4 credits in one upper-level language (e.g., Intermediate French I) 

4 quantitative reasoning credits, taken at Harvard*

4 moral reasoning credits, taken at Harvard*

12 writing-intensive credits, taken at Harvard*

52 credits taken with Harvard instructors

60 credits of upper-level coursework

* “At Harvard” indicates either on campus or online. 

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 16 credits, which gives you access to faculty; campus libraries, laboratories, and museums; and the academic community.

On-campus requirements can ordinarily be completed through: 

  • Fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus (on-campus courses that have an online option do not count, even if you attend all of the class meetings on campus).
  • Active learning weekend courses.
  • January courses.
  • Online courses with a required weekend on campus.
  • Three- or seven-week Summer School campus-based courses.

International students

To meet the on-campus requirement, you should plan to study with us in the summer, either for three or seven weeks. 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.

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To complete your degree

Grade Requirements

All core degree requirements must be completed with C- grades or higher. This includes courses that fulfill area of concentration, distribution, foreign language, quantitative reasoning, moral reasoning, and writing intensive requirements.

For expository writing, EXPO 25 must be completed with a B grade or higher. An additional four-credit expository writing course must be completed with a C– grade or higher.

Once admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. It's important to limit how many courses you withdraw from. After five withdrawals, the sixth and any subsequent withdrawals count as zeroes (failing grade) in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

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

Degree Guidelines and Policies

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