History of Science

The Department of the History of Science offers a secondary field in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. This field gives students concentrating in other departments the opportunity to take a coherent cluster of courses in the history of science, technology, and medicine. The program is designed to give students, first, a foundational sense of the field, then, permit them to do more advanced work, including courses that will allow them to focus on particular interests and to do original research and other projects.

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits)

  1. History of Science 100: Knowing the World: Introduction to the History of Science.
  2. One "gateway" course: a course of wide scope but focusing on a specific area in the history of science, technology, or medicine. Gateway courses offered by the department include:
    • Culture and Belief 11. Medicine and the Body in East Asia and in Europe
    • Culture and Belief 34. Madness and Medicine: Themes in the History of Psychiatry
    • Culture and Belief 47. The Darwinian Revolution
    • Culture and Belief 61. Gender and Science: From Marie Curie to Gamergate
    • Ethical Reasoning 33. Medical Ethics and History
    • Science of the Physical Universe 17. The Einstein Revolution
    • United States in the World 13. Medicine and Society in America
    • History of Science 108. Bodies, Sexualities, and Medicine in the Medieval Middle East
    • History of Science 135. From Darwin to Dolly: A History of the Modern Life Sciences
    • History of Science 136. History of Biotechnology
    • History of Science 138. Sex, Gender, and Evolution
    • History of Science 140. Public Health on the Border: Race, Politics, and Health in Modern Mexico
    • History of Science 144. Medical Technologies in Historical Perspective
    • History of Science 146v. Bodies in Flux: Medicine, Gender, and Sexuality in the Modern Middle East
    • History of Science 176. Brainwashing and Modern Techniques of Mind Control
    • History of Science 178. History of the Psychotherapies
    • History of Science 179. The Freudian Century
    • History of Science 181. Humans in Space: Past, Present, Future
    • History of Science 188. Open Minds, Wired Worlds: Computers and Cyberculture
    • History of Science 192. The Empire Strikes Back: Science Fiction, Religion, and Society
  3. Three elective courses in the history of science, ordinarily chosen from the 100-level courses in the History of Science course search in courses.my.harvard.edu.
    • 200-level courses may be taken only with the permission of the instructor.
    • Students may use one of their three elective courses to take an additional gateway course.
    • One Freshman Seminar taught by a department faculty member may be counted as one of the three elective courses.
    • Students will be permitted to take one (but no more) of their three elective courses outside the department, choosing alternatives from a regularly updated list of approved courses posted on the department website (cross-listed courses in the History of Science course search in courses.my.harvard.edu count in this category).


With the exception of Freshman Seminars taught by department faculty members, all courses must be letter-graded. There is no minimum passing grade for courses to count towards the secondary field.

Decisions about whether courses from study abroad, Harvard Summer School, or other Harvard schools will count for the secondary field will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

In department courses with limited enrollment, first priority will be given to History and Science concentrators; students affirming that they are doing the secondary field in History of Science will have next priority.


Secondary field advising is offered by Alice Belser, Manager of Student Programs (ajbelser@fas.harvard.edu), and by Professor Alex Csiszar, Acting Director of Undergraduate Studies (acsiszar@fas.harvard.edu.