Degree Requirements

Required courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Anthropology and Archaeology degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), three of which are required on campus.

12 Graduate Courses

The degree is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose the anthropology and elective courses that meet your learning goals.

  • Proseminar
  • 5 anthropology and archaeology courses
  • 1 anthropology seminar or designated Harvard Summer School study abroad course
  • 2 general electives
    • EXPO 42b is an elective option
  • Thesis proposal tutorial
  • Master's Thesis part one
  • Master's Thesis part two

Eight of the above courses need to be taught by instructors with the Harvard-instructor designation. The thesis courses are taught by a Harvard instructor. The study abroad course must be chosen in consultation with your advisor.

Search Anthropology and Archaeology Degree Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following three, four-credit, graduate-level degree courses:

  • SSCI 100A Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies and Scholarly Writing in the Social Sciences—Anthropology and Psychology
    • Before registering, you'll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42b Writing in the Social Sciences.
    • You have two registration attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar, which cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.
  • 1 anthropology and archaeology course
  • 1 anthropology and archaeology course or elective (e.g., EXPO 42b)

The three courses don't need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

Eligibility: Before you enroll in any degree-applicable courses, you need to possess a four-year, US regionally accredited bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent before enrolling in any degree-applicable courses. You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master's degree in anthropology or related field.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your third degree course, submit the official application to the program. Don't delay! It is critical to your successful admission and degree completion to prioritize the three degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles.

If you submit a complete and timely application—which includes required Harvard courses, grades, and cumulative GPA—you will be admitted, after which you’ll have nine more courses to take to earn the degree.

For more details about eligibility, the application process, and the delayed application fee, visit Admissions.

Admissions

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 three courses (12 credits), offering you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

On-campus requirements can typically 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.
  • Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
  • Three-week January session courses that meet only on campus.
  • Three- or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School's three- or seven-week sessions. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

To complete your degree

Achieve an Average Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or Higher

Earn a B or better in each of the three admission courses and a B– or better in each of the subsequent courses, but be sure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher. You are allowed two withdrawal (WD) grades. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years

You have five years to complete your degree requirements. The five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any three degree applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a degree program. Moreover, courses over 5 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied.

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

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

Degree Guidelines and Policies

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