Program in General Education

The Program in General Education — along with the concentration — is one of the two cornerstones of the liberal arts and sciences curriculum, and thus lies at the heart of the intellectually transformative mission of Harvard College. “Gen Ed” provides the opportunity to counter the narrowing effects of concentration by helping students to make intellectual connections, to look inward to themselves and outward to the world, and to understand the deep and sometime surprising importance of scholarly work to some of the most central aspects of life. Concentrations ensure that our students know a lot about something; Gen Ed ensures that they understand how to take that knowledge with them into the world. Gen Ed, in other words, is the intellectual fuel for the personal transformation we hope to facilitate in our students.

Students in the class of 2019 or earlier who entered under the current General Education requirements must complete one letter-graded course in each of the following eight General Education categories:

  • 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 

 Additionally, one of these eight courses must engage substantially with the Study of the Past.

Students in the class of 2020 or later will be transitioned to new College requirements - which include a new General Education requirement - in Fall 2019. 

There are no constraints regarding the timing of the requirements as long as all are completed by graduation.