The Department of English offers one secondary field for non-concentrators. It is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate every kind of interest in this broad field.

Students are free to explore the field by selecting a variety of courses; or they may focus on a genre or mode (such as poetry, drama) or a period (Medieval, Postcolonial) or any other aspect of the larger field. See the list of sample tracks available on the department website, which suggests ways that individual students might organize their course selections around a guiding rubric, if they choose to do so.

REQUIREMENTS: 6 courses (24 credits)

  1. Early British Literature: Any course in English literature before 1800 from the department's range of offerings will fulfill this requirement. A seminar in pre-1800 literature can "double count" for the first two of these four requirements (although you must still take a total of six courses).
  2. Undergraduate Seminar: At least one seminar is required, which could be a 90-level departmental seminar or a Freshman Seminar taught by a member of the English faculty. You may take more than one. Please note: We advise you not to wait until your senior year to fulfill your seminar requirement.
  3. American Literature: Any course in American literature from the department's range of offerings will fulfill the requirement. A seminar in American literature can "double count" for two requirements (although you must still take a total of six courses).
  4. Three electives: Three more courses in English and/or American literature complete the requirements. They may include literature courses offered through other departments but taught by English department faculty.


The six courses may be taken in any sequence. With the exception of Freshman Seminars, each course must be taken for a letter grade, with a minimum threshold of C-. Only one course from Harvard Summer School or study abroad that is not taught by a faculty member in the English department at Harvard may count for the secondary field. No more than two creative writing courses may count toward the total of six. The secondary field in English is largely self-administered. The six required courses must be completed by the end of the senior year.


Students pursuing a secondary field are urged to seek out members of the English department faculty for advice on their specific course choices. For general information about the department, its faculty, and courses, please visit the department website.

For more information on the secondary field and for advising, please speak to the Undergraduate Program Assistant/Secondary Field Coordinator, Henry Vega Ortiz (617-495-8443, henryvegaortiz@fas.harvard.edu).