While Extension School courses are open enrollment, degree programs are not. You must meet admission criteria, including grade and GPA requirements, and apply to earn the degree.

To apply to the program:

  1. Complete the three required admission courses at Harvard.
  2. Meet all other admission criteria.
  3. Submit your application materials.

1. Complete the three required admission courses at Harvard.

See the degree course search, which is the only accurate way to choose admission and all other degree courses.

Grade requirements

Earn a 3.0 (B) or higher cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in all Harvard degree courses taken before admission, with no grade below B in the three admission courses.

If you earn a grade below B in a proseminar, you are only allowed to enroll in it once more for admission. If you delay application to the program more than two years after completing the proseminar, you must retake the course. When retaking the proseminar, choose a section taught by a different instructor.

These courses can be taken at the Extension School or Summer School and count toward the degree once you are admitted. 


  • Start off with one course to help ensure success.
  • Take the test of critical reading and writing skills by July 14, 2013, in the fall, November 17, 2013, in the spring, and February 23, 2014, in the summer. You need to know the score before enrolling in the proseminar on the first day of registration (see the calendar for registration dates). If you don’t pass the test, you may need to take EXPO E-42c/W. Delaying the exam can postpone admission.
  • If you don’t earn the minimum grades after completing the three admission courses, request that an advisor calculate your pre-degree GPA and offer advice about future registration. It may not be in your best interest to continue to register for courses in an attempt to raise your GPA. Log in to online services, choose “Degree Program Admissions,” then “Pre-Admission GPA Confirmation.”

2. Meet all other admission criteria.

  • Possess a regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent in an area of physical, life, or computer science. If you have a science degree, but no previous coursework in biology, it is strongly recommended that you complete BIOS E-1a and BIOS E-1b before attempting graduate-level biology classes that would count toward the degree. If you’ve earned an undergraduate degree outside the United States or Canada, have it evaluated by the Center for Educational Documentation (CED), World Education Services (WES), or the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to ensure that you are eligible for the degree prior to taking any courses. Three-year foreign degrees, including the Bologna bachelor’s degree, may be considered if the evaluation determines that the university is fully accredited. If you have an undergraduate degree from India, you must posses an honors bachelor’s degree or have completed a one-year master’s degree in addition to the three-year bachelor’s degree to be considered holding the equivalent of a US undergraduate degree.
  • Have postbaccalaureate experience.
    • If applying to the life sciences, bioinformatics, or bioengineering and nanotechnologies concentrations, you should be able to demonstrate at least one year of scientific research experience.
    • If applying to the management principles concentration, you should have two years of scientific research experience. (Candidates in this concentration often have hopes of breaking into the business side of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. This requires a solid understanding of research first, which can only be acquired by working as a researcher.)
    • The type of experience that qualifies includes laboratory, clinical, and computational research. A letter of recommendation from the research supervisor must accompany your application. Questions about this requirement should be sent to the program director, Cheryl Vaughan, via e-mail at cheryl_vaughan@harvard.edu.
  • Demonstrate English language proficiency.
  • Be in good academic and financial standing with Harvard University, with no disciplinary or administrative procedures pending.
  • Be in good financial standing—able to submit official transcripts—with other schools attended.
  • If you already hold a graduate degree, you may earn the master’s degree provided the two degrees are in different fields.
  • The Extension School will consider your disciplinary record at Harvard University in making admissions decisions.
  • Also see enrollment.

3. Submit your application materials.

We admit students to the program three times a year. Submit your application during the term you anticipate completing your admission courses.

Your five-year deadline to complete the entire degree starts at the completion of the third degree course (i.e., any course that can count toward the degree). It is crucial you register for the required admission courses as your first three courses and apply to the program as soon as possible.

See How to Apply for more information.

International students

The Extension School does not issue I-20s. If you need an F-1 student visa, you may be able to earn the degree through online courses and Harvard Summer School on-campus courses. See Online Courses and On-Campus Requirement.

Financial aid

Before you apply and are admitted, you can work with Student Financial Services to secure private funding to cover the cost of the first three courses required for admission. Learn about financial aid for nonadmitted students.

Once you apply and are admitted, you may be eligible for a number of loan and grant programs. Learn about financial aid for admitted candidates.