In addition to concentrations, many Harvard departments also offer students the option of pursuing a less intensive but still structured course of study called a secondary field, similar to what many other institutions refer to as a “minor”. If you find that your elective interests are clustering in a particular subject area and you think “I’d like to study this subject more systematically than by simply taking random courses,” but “I’m not interested in devoting all of my elective energies to a joint concentration,” then you may wish to consider pursuing a secondary field. In addition to the secondary fields offered in each department, there are also several stand-alone secondary fields to choose from.
Secondary fields are entirely optional. In considering whether this option is right for you, keep in mind the impact that any curricular choices you make can have on other opportunities you may wish to pursue. Secondary fields are wonderful learning opportunities, but they do reduce your overall number of free electives, including ones you might wish to dedicate to more advanced coursework in your concentration. On the path to deciding what’s best for you, be sure to discuss your larger academic goals – including the pros and cons of pursuing secondary fields – with advisers.