To earn the bachelor’s degree at Harvard Extension School, you must complete 128 credits and, after being admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, maintain good academic standing with a 2.0 or higher GPA. 

At least 64 credits must be completed at Harvard University (Extension School, Summer School, or the Faculty of Arts and Sciences). At least 32 must be completed at the Extension School.

You also need to meet the Online and On-Campus Course Requirement.

Area of concentration

Select an area of concentration in the humanities, sciences, or social sciences. You must pass 40 credits with a C– in your chosen area. At least 32 concentration credits must be completed at Harvard. You can use the degree course search to find courses.

Optional field of study

You may also pursue one focused field of study (similar to a major) in your area of concentration.

To choose this option:

  • File a field of study proposal form with the Undergraduate Office.
  • Earn a B– or higher in 32 Harvard credits in one field.
  • Maintain a B average in the field.

The following fields are available (alternatives are not considered). You can search for field-of-study courses using the degree course search

  • Anthropology and archaeology
  • Biology
  • Computer science (requires enrollment in graduate-level coursework)
  • Creative writing
  • Dramatic arts
  • Economics
  • English
  • Environmental studies
  • French
  • Government
  • History
  • International relations
  • Journalism
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Spanish
  • Visual arts

Optional liberal arts minor

You may complement your field of study with one liberal arts minor. Only if you have an approved field of study on file with the Undergraduate Program can you earn a liberal arts minor. You cannot count a course toward both a field of study and a minor.

To choose this option:

  • Submit a minor petition (which lists all approved minor choices; alternatives are not considered).
  • Earn at least a B− in 16 Harvard credits in the minor subject.
  • Maintain a B average in the subject.

All minor courses must have the specific subject code. For example PSYC if pursuing a minor in psychology, or HIST if pursuing history.

Also see how to earn a minor in a business field


  • Pass at least 8 credits with C– or higher in each of three areas—humanities, sciences, and social sciences.
  • And pass another 8 credits with C– or higher outside your chosen area of concentration.

Expository writing

In these courses, you learn the demands and conventions of academic writing. To meet the requirement, pass 8 credits of expository writing courses: EXPO E-25 or EXPO S-20 with B or higher, and another 4-credit expository writing course with a C− or higher. This requirement should be completed during your first 32 credits at the Extension School.

To support your expository writing assignments, review the Harvard College Writing Program’s strategies for essay writing at Harvard Writing Project and the Bureau of Study Counsel’s Resources.

Writing-intensive courses

Pass 12 credits of writing-intensive courses with C– or higher at the Extension School. Instructors in these courses assign short writing exercises or drafts, emphasize revision, and teach the core skills of academic writing in their disciplines, including analysis, argument, and the proper use of sources.

In writing-intensive courses you:

  • Complete multiple writing assignments, at least two of which must be revised.
  • Produce a minimum of 10 to 12 pages of writing—exclusive of the required revisions during the term.
  • Meet at least once with the instructor or teaching assistant (in person, by phone, or electronically) to discuss writing in progress.
  • Receive detailed feedback on both content and expression in drafts and revisions.

To support your writing-intensive course assignments, review the Harvard College Writing Program’s disciplinary writing guides at Harvard Writing Project and the Bureau of Study Counsel’s Resources.

Moral reasoning

The common aim of these courses is to discuss questions of choice and value that arise in human experience. To meet the requirement, earn a C– or higher in a designated moral reasoning course at Harvard.

Quantitative reasoning

In these courses you are introduced to mathematical and quantitative modes of thought, such as statistical reasoning and deductive logic. To meet the requirement, earn a C– or higher in a quantitative reasoning (QR) course at Harvard or pass the quantitative reasoning waiver exam.

When choosing a QR course note any prerequisites and placement test requirements. Quantitative reasoning courses do not count toward the distribution or area of concentration requirement unless you have already fulfilled the QR requirement.

Waiver exam

If you have prior coursework in statistics, you may arrange to take the waiver exam in the Undergraduate Office. If you do not pass, you must enroll in a QR course.

If interested in the exam, contact Mark Ouchida, assistant director. This requirement should be completed as part of your first 32 credits. See Forms to download the quantitative reasoning information sheet.

Foreign language

The foreign language requirement introduces you to the grammatical structure and pronunciation of another language, and offers an opportunity to gain cross-cultural insight.

To meet the requirement, pass 8 credits in one elementary-level foreign language with C– or higher (for example, French I and French II). Four credits in one intermediate-level foreign language also fulfill this requirement.

If you take the Extension School reading courses in French and Spanish (E-1x and E-1y) you must complete both terms in sequence to satisfy the requirement. Ordinarily, French and Spanish reading courses are offered in alternate years.

This requirement should be completed during your first 64 credits. It is waived for students who take the TOEFL for admission. Credit is not awarded for foreign language courses in your native language.

Upper-level courses

In these courses you build on introductory knowledge and look at subject matter in greater depth. To meet the requirement, pass at least 60 credits in upper-level courses.

Harvard instructors

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts is a Harvard University degree. Therefore, you must pass at least 52 credits in courses taught by instructors who have a teaching appointment at Harvard University.

The undergraduate program defines a Harvard instructor as a teaching member (for example, professor, assistant professor, lecturer) at one of the following schools:

  • Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Harvard Divinity School
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Harvard Law School
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Harvard School of Public Health
  • Harvard Kennedy School
  • Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Courses that are marked HI in the degree course search fulfill this requirement.