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 connects to your life outside the classroom, and after Harvard, in one or more of the following ways:

  • Helping prepare you for engaged citizenship
  • Deepening your awareness of the role of cultural traditions in your life and in your communities
  • Preparing you to deal with a rapidly changing world
  • Broadening your ethical awareness and your understanding of different belief systems

Harvard requires you take courses in General Education because we believe that you are going to encounter the kinds of problems, issues, and challenges they deal with throughout your life, whether, for instance, you are seeking to understand the emerging impacts of climate change, or of natural or man-made disasters on human and natural systems; to understand the implications of income disparity and unemployment; or to understand the underlying motivations for sectarian conflicts.

Gen Ed courses present fantastic opportunities to explore old or emerging interests of yours.  For students in the first three terms who are unsure about which concentration they wish to pursue, Gen Ed courses can be especially helpful as you weigh different options. 

What are the Gen Ed requirements?

For a description of the current General Education requirements, click here.

In March 2016, the faculty approved new Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements which will take effect in Fall 2018.

To see how current Harvard undergraduates benefit from these future changes even now, go to the Program in General Education’s Advice for Students page and click on the link to advice for students in your class year.

How do I look for Gen Ed courses?

The most up-to-date listing of academic year offerings that satisfy General Education requirements can be found at my.harvard.edu, where you can search for courses by General Education category, Study of the Past, or term offered. You can use my.harvard.edu to view recent Q scores, directly link to course websites and add courses to your electronic Study Card.   To search in my.harvard.edu for General Education courses for a particular term, use the Advanced Search function, then select a General Education category or Study of the Past from the drop-down menu found under FAS – Additional Attributes.