Degree Requirements

Required courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology degree field consists of 12 courses, two of which are required on campus.

12 Graduate Courses

The degree is only for students who have an undergraduate degree in a science field (physical, life, or computer science), at least one year of proven postbaccalaureate scientific research experience, and an academic background in molecular, cellular, and organismal biology.

  • Proseminar
  • 2 Life science courses
  • Ethics and Trends in Biotechnology
  • 5 Engineering science courses
    • EXPO 42c is an engineering science option
  • Thesis proposal tutorial
  • Master’s thesis part one
  • Master’s thesis part two

Find Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Degree Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

To begin the admissions process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following two graduate-level degree courses:

  • BIOT 200 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies and Scholarly Writing in Biotechnology
    • To register, you'll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills, or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42c Writing in the 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 life science course

The two 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.

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

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, you submit the official application to the program. Don't delay! 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 10 more courses to complete to earn the degree.

For more details about eligibility and the application process, visit 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 two courses, which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

On-campus requirements can ordinarily 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.
  • Three- or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

International Students Needing 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. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

To Complete Your Degree

Prove Competency in Statistics

Prior to registering for the thesis proposal course, you need to prove your competency in statistics through one of the following two options:

  1. Successfully complete the statistics waiver exam
  2. Or earn a B– or higher in one undergraduate or graduate statistics course at Harvard (this course does not count toward the degree)

Maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or Higher

Earn a B or higher in each of the two degree courses required for admission courses and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses, but be sure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher. You are allowed to receive two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. 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 two degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program. Moreover, courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your degree: Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Field: Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May. 

Degree Guidelines & Policies

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