Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) degree requires you to complete 128 credits or 32 (4-credit) courses. We accept a maximum of 64 transfer credits. The degree is highly customizable with requirements that have multiple options to support your learning goals.

Concentrations and Fields of Study

To focus your studies, you have two choices.

Concentrations

All candidates choose a broad area of concentration for maximum flexibility. You can take degree courses from any of the subject areas within a concentration. 

The concentrations are:

  • Humanities (including creative writing, English, philosophy, religion, visual arts)
  • Science (including biology, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics)
  • Social sciences (including anthropology, business administration, economics, government, history, international relations, psychology)

Fields of Study

In addition to your concentration, you have the option to declare a specific field of study (similar to a major). You complete courses in one subject area. Top fields of study are business administration and management, computer science, economics, government, international relations, and psychology.

Core Requirements*

32 credits in your concentration or field of study taken at Harvard**

24-credit distribution requirement:

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

8 expository writing credits

  • EXPO 25 is required
  • EXPO 15 is an option

8 foreign language credits

4 quantitative reasoning (math) credits, taken at Harvard**

4 moral reasoning (ethics) credits, taken at Harvard**

12 writing-intensive credits, taken at Harvard**

52 credits taken with Harvard instructors

60 credits of upper-level coursework

*Courses fulfill multiple degree requirements. For example, HIST E-1889 The Great War: World War I through Film and Literature fulfills Harvard instructor, upper-level, writing intensive, social science, and history field of study requirements.

**Credits taken either on campus or online at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School. 

Search ALB Degree Courses

“Earn Your Way In” Admissions

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application required—for the following three, 4-credit, undergraduate-level degree courses:

  • EXPO 25 Academic Writing and Critical Reading 
    • Before registering, you'll 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 have two registration attempts to earn the required grade of B or higher in EXPO 25.
  • Any two courses from the program

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

Eligibility: This program is designed expressly for working adults who wish to earn their degrees part time while they continue to advance in their professions. Before enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent that was earned at least five years prior (e.g., May 2014 to begin taking courses in fall 2019).

Tip: We recommend that you take EXPO 15, EXPO 25, and MATH E-3 to gain admission to the program. These courses count toward the degree regardless of prior transfer credit and will ensure you have the writing and foundational math skills to succeed at Harvard. To encourage this straightforward path to admission, these courses are offered at the low tuition price of $1,000 a course. EXPO 15 cannot be taken concurrently with or after EXPO 25. 

Applying to the Degree Program

Apply during the semester of your third degree course to ensure your progress and avoid a $300 delayed application fee.

If you submit a complete and timely application, you will be admitted. Degree courses completed before admission count toward the degree.

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 (16 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

On-campus requirements can be completed through: 

  • 15-week fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus. Courses with the format "on campus or online" do not fulfill this requirement.
  • Online courses with a required intensive weekend on campus.
  • Active learning weekend courses (two credits each; you'll need to complete two to earn full course credit).
  • Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
  • Three- or seven-week Summer School courses that meet only on campus.

Accelerated On-Campus Pathway

If you have limited flexibility, you can typically fulfill the requirement in four intensive weekends on campus; course selection may be limited.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in our three- or seven-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.

 

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. As noted above, EXPO 25 needs to be completed with a grade of B or higher.

Field of study courses must be completed with a B- or higher without letting your overall field of study dip below 3.0. The same is required for minor courses.

Once admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. You can receive five withdrawals without them affecting your GPA. The sixth and any subsequent withdrawals count as zeroes (failing grade) in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Foreign Language Credit Options

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

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) in Extension Studies. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard University Commencement ceremony in May. 

Degree Guidelines and Policies

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