Program in General Education Policies

Statement of Principles

Please note that these policies are for the current Program in General Education and apply only to students graduating under the current requirements. 

Minimum General Education Requirement 

Advanced Standing

Transfer Students

Term Time Study Abroad

Summer School

Statement of Principles

In all cases, these policies are designed to provide students with flexibility to pursue a variety of educational opportunities. In general, General Education requirements will be proportional to the number of terms a student spends in residence at Harvard. Students may not reduce their requirements by more than one category in specified clusters, thus maintaining breadth in their overall program. The Program in General Education has the authority to approve or deny requests for exceptions.

Minimum General Education Requirement

In all cases, students must complete a minimum of four courses in General Education through regular coursework at Harvard College, one of which must engage substantially with the Study of the Past. Please note that these policies are for the current Program in General Education and apply only to students graduating under the current requirements. 

Advanced Standing

The General Education requirement will be reduced by one course per term of Harvard College credit for students who have activated Advanced Standing. Students may not reduce their requirements by more than one category in the following groupings: (For example, no student will be excused from both “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding” and “Culture and Belief.”) 

  • Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding; Culture and Belief
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning; Ethical Reasoning
  • Science of Living Systems; Science of the Physical Universe
  • Societies of the World; United States in the World

 

Please note that these policies are for the current Program in General Education and apply only to students graduating under the current requirements. 

 

Transfer Students

The General Education requirement for transfer students will be reduced by one course per term of Harvard College credit granted for prior coursework, up to four courses. Students staying at Harvard for an “extra transfer term” must take an additional General Education requirement. Students may not reduce their requirements by more than one category in the following groupings: (For example, no student will be excused from both “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding” and “Culture and Belief.”)

  • Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding; Culture and Belief
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning; Ethical Reasoning
  • Science of Living Systems; Science of the Physical Universe
  • Societies of the World; United States in the World

NOTE: Transfer students admitted prior to September 2009 may not switch from Core to General Education requirements. 

Please note that these policies are for the current Program in General Education and apply only to students graduating under the current requirements. 

Term Time Study Abroad

The General Education requirement will be reduced by one course per term of Harvard College credit earned for term time study abroad. Students may not reduce their requirements by more than one category in the following General Education groupings (i.e., no student may be excused from both “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding” and “Culture and Belief”):

  • Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding; Culture and Belief
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning; Ethical Reasoning
  • Science of Living Systems; Science of the Physical Universe
  • Societies of the World; United States in the World

NOTE: A student must take one course to meet requirements in the Program in General Education for each semester on campus, up to eight courses. Thus, a student who has studied abroad for one term and is subsequently granted a ninth term in the College must meet the full complement of General Education course requirements.

Please note that these policies are for the current Program in General Education and apply only to students graduating under the current requirements.

 Summer School

Designated Harvard Summer School courses may count for General Education. Ordinarily, courses count if they are identical to courses that receive General Education credit during the academic year and are taught by the same Harvard faculty members who teach them during the academic year (or by a member of the same department). Other courses may count, as determined by the Committee on General Education. Harvard Summer Study Abroad courses will be subject to the same rules.

For questions, students should contact the General Education Office (gened@fas.harvard.edu , 617-495-2563, Smith Campus Center Fourth Floor).