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 take at least four courses (16 credits) on campus. You may transfer up to 64 credits from another school.
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:
- Social sciences
You may also pursue an optional field of study or minor to further focus your studies.
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 the test of critical reading and writing skills or complete EXPO 15 Fundamentals of Academic Writing with a B grade.
- 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. While you’re completing your third admission course, you apply to the program. Learn more about degree program admission.
40 credits in your concentration (at least 32 credits at Harvard*).
32 credits distributed across the concentrations:
- 8 credits in humanities
- 8 credits in science
- 8 credits in social sciences
- 8 credits from outside concentration area
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 integrates 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.
- Hybrid courses that combine weekly online classes with an intensive weekend on campus.
- Three- or seven-week Summer School campus-based courses.
To complete your degree
All core degree requirements must be completed with C– grade 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 B grade or higher. An additional four-credit expository writing course must be completed with a C– grade or higher.
Once admitted with 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, additional withdrawals begin to count as a zero (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 may participate in the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.
Degree Guidelines and Policies
For information special academic opportunities, student privileges, and policies, see Completing Your Degree