Student FAQs

  1. Are students expected or required to pursue a secondary field?
    • No. Secondary fields are entirely optional and may not be the best option for all students. A secondary field provides the opportunity for guided and recognized work in a field outside of the concentration. However, pursuing a secondary field will reduce the number of available electives and could prevent students from taking advanced work in their concentration, pursuing research, or spending time abroad. Students and their advisers should discuss why they want to pursue a secondary field before embarking on one.
  2. When and how do students sign up for a secondary field?
    • Please see here for instructions on how to declare a secondary field. No secondary field may be added to the degree after the deadline published in the Handbook for Students. The deadline is firm; no exceptions will be made. After students declare a concentration, they may notify a program of their interest. Some programs require that students notify them early; others have no such deadlines. Students should check the information listed under “Advising Resources and Expectations” for each program for more information.
  3. Can students design their own secondary fields, similar to a special concentration?
    • No. Secondary fields must be sponsored by a department, concentration, or other curricular committee of the Faculty.
  4. Can a student receive credit for more than one secondary field?
    • No, students may choose only one secondary field.
  5. Can a student who is pursuing a joint concentration also do a secondary field?
    • Yes. Students and their advisers should carefully discuss the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing a joint concentration and a secondary field.
  6. Do secondary fields appear on the transcript or diploma?
    • The successful completion of a secondary field will appear on a student's academic transcript, but will not appear on the diploma. Only the name of the department or concentration will appear on the transcript, not the specific subfield or specialty (if there is one).
  7. Can courses in a student's concentration count for a secondary field?
    • Only one course may double count for a secondary field and concentration. Courses count first for concentration, and then one may be double-counted for a secondary field. If a secondary field requires a full-year course that is also required by the student's concentration, the student may double-count that full-year course. [Revised January 2010]
  8. If the wrong courses are marked "conc" on a student record, what should a student do?
    • Only a student's concentration may change which courses count or not count in the student’s advising report. Students must contact the concentration, who will make the necessary exceptions to update the student’s record. Concentrations have different policies around accommodating students who want to do a secondary field, and some combinations may not be possible. Students should check with their concentration about whether or not they are willing to change what counts for the concentration in order for the student to do a secondary field.
  9. Outside of the concentration, are there any restrictions on double-counting courses as fulfilling more than one requirement?
    • Yes. Students enrolled in the Concurrent Masters Program may double-count no more than 16 credits (generally 4 courses). However, there is no limit to the number of courses that can double-count for the secondary field and General Education or any other requirement outside of concentration requirements.
  10. Can courses for study abroad or other Harvard Schools count for secondary fields?
    • Each program has its own rules about whether courses from study abroad or other Harvard Schools can count. However, if a program does accept courses from study abroad, students must follow the procedures set out by the Office of International Education in order to receive credit (see the OIE website for more information). These procedures parallel those required for students to receive concentration credit for study abroad.
  11. Can a student pursuing an AB/AM count “bracketed” courses for the secondary field?
    • No. Only courses that count for an undergraduate degree can count towards the secondary field.