Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), with one required on campus. Three-week on-campus options available. You choose either a thesis or capstone track.

12 Graduate Courses

  • Introduction to Sustainability and Environmental Management 
  • Proseminar: Critical Analysis of Environmental Systems
  • Three sustainability skill-set courses
  • Three sustainability electives
    • EXPO 42c is an option

Additional Thesis Track Courses

  • Experimental Design and Research Methods
  • Thesis proposal course (on campus)
  • Master's Thesis Part One
  • Master's Thesis Part Two

Additional Capstone Track Courses

You choose between the (1) independent research capstone or (2) consulting capstone. For either track you complete:

  • Three additional sustainability electives
  • Precapstone tutorial (noncredit)
  • The final capstone (on campus)

Search Sustainability Degree Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

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

  • ENVR 101 Introduction to Sustainability and Environmental Management
  • ENVR 210 Proseminar: Critical Analysis of Environmental Systems
    • 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.

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.

Eligibility: 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 sustainability or related field.

MITx MicroMasters Credential Admissions Pathway

If you have earned the MicroMasters credential, you may apply the credential toward admission and complete one additional course at the Extension School. Learn more about the MICROMASTERS PATHWAY

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second 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 two 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 10 more courses to take to earn the degree.

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


The Harvard On-Campus Experience

Many courses can be taken online, but you are required to come to Cambridge for at least one course—either the thesis proposal or capstone course—which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

Accelerated on-campus path (thesis track): complete the thesis proposal course either in our three-week January or three-week summer session. 

Accelerated on-campus path (capstone track): complete the capstone course during the three-week summer session.

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-week session. For more details, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

To Complete Your 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 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.

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: Sustainability. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May. 

Degree Guidelines and Policies

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