Degree Requirements

A Harvard degree has five required components:

  • an overall Credit Requirement that sets the minimum amount of coursework you must complete in order to graduate; how much of your coursework must be taken for a letter grade; and the grades you must earn in order to meet this requirement
  • an Expository Writing component that will prepare you for the rigor of college-level writing
  • a Foreign Language component that will expand your intellectual and cultural horizons and that may open opportunities for you to research, study, or work abroad
  • General Education component that will connect your work inside the classroom – in courses that range across the spectrum of liberal arts and sciences – to your life outside the classroom and after Harvard
  • a Concentration component that will deepen your understanding of a specific field, its questions and its methods, and that will hone your analytic, research, and writing skills

For information about each of these components, see below.

Credit Requirement

In order to graduate you will need to complete an average of four courses each term.  Read more…

Expository Writing

Every Harvard College student is required to take an expository writing course in the first year to learn the fundamentals of persuasive essay writing. Read more…

Foreign Language

Harvard College believes that proficiency in a foreign language plays a critical in your your personal, social, and intellectual transformation. Language study challenges you to rethink your long-held beliefs about the world, about others, and about yourself. It leads you to unfamiliar cultures, people, and places, and potentially to life-changing paradigm shifts. It also opens the door to internships, fellowships, and study abroad.  Advanced study of a foreign language can qualify you to earn a Foreign Language CitationRead more…

General Education

General Education (or Gen Ed) seeks explicitly to “connect a student’s liberal education – that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry, rewarding in its own right – to life beyond college.” Complementing the rest of the curriculum, every Gen Ed class is meant to connect to your life outside the classroom. Read more…


Near the end of your sophomore fall, you will be asked to declare your concentration. The equivalent of a “major” at other institutions, the concentration affords you the opportunity to delve deeply into the one field at Harvard that you are most excited to pursue. If your interests overlap substantially with two different fields you may elect, instead, to combine them in what is known as a “joint concentration”.  (Not all concentrations allow this option, but many do.) Read more...