Choosing Courses

How Do I Determine What Courses I Need To Take? How Do I Fit In The Courses I Want To Take?

Course selection is a balance between pursuing your academic interests and exploring new academic areas, while keeping requirements and academic policies in mind. You will discuss your course selection with your academic adviser who will "sign" your Crimson Cart before you can enroll in your courses.

Course Decision Trees

In addition, the decision trees that are linked below can help you identify the courses that you may take in your first year. They are divided into the most common courses and areas that most first-year students pursue. 
Note: Click each image to expand. The underlined words in the boxes are helpful links!

exploratory courses decision tree
Do I know what I want to study at Harvard? (text-only version)

language decision tree
Do I want to study language at Harvard? (text-only version)

freshman seminar decision tree
Do I want to take a freshman seminar? (text-only version)

expos decision tree
What semester am I assigned to
take Expos? (text-only version)

math decision tree
Am I interested in a concentration with a
math requirement? (text-only version

How to Select Courses

  1. Review the Course Website in Canvas
    • Review the course syllabus to look for additional information about the course including assignments (response papers, problem sets, readings, etc.) and assessments (midterms, exams, final papers, projects, etc.).
  2. Review Course Evaluations if available
    • Ensure that the evaluation is for the same instructor as multiple faculty may teach the same course (e.g. Psychology 1 has three different faculty).
    • Review the evaluation as subjective information - every student is different and may have a different experience in a course.
    • Review the answers to the question, “What would you like to tell future students about this class?” which can give you a general sense about the course.
    • Compare information from the evaluation to the current syllabus as the faculty may have changed the course in response to course evaluation feedback.

How to Enroll in Courses

General Information (Policies)

  • Ordinarily, students may take 20 credits each term (five courses, 4 credits per course). Students wishing to take more than 20 credits in a term must obtain the approval of their Resident Dean. 
  • First-year students who wish to take more than 16 credits (four courses, 4 credits per course) in their first term must obtain the approval of their Resident Dean. 
  • Students may not enroll in more than 24 credits (six courses, 4 credits per course) in one term without Administrative Board approval.
  • First-year students may not cross-register for courses at other Harvard schools in the first term so that they may fully engage with the curriculum in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
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