The current Gen Ed requirements are described below. New Gen Ed requirements will take effect in Fall 2018. See Requirements to learn more about the new Gen Ed program. See Advice for Students for information about choosing courses with these changes in mind. You can also contact us with any questions you might have.
The Harvard College Handbook for Students states:
Harvard has long required that students take a set of courses outside of their concentration in order to ensure that their undergraduate education encompasses a broad range of topics and approaches. The Program in General Education aligns these requirements with the educational needs of Harvard College students at the dawn of the twenty-first century. General Education seeks explicitly to “connect a student’s liberal education – that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry, rewarding in its own right – to life beyond college.” In addition, the Program seeks to provide new opportunities for students to learn – and for faculty to teach – in ways that cut across traditional departmental and intra-University lines.
Complementing the rest of the curriculum, this program aims to achieve four goals that link the undergraduate experience to the lives students will lead after Harvard
- to prepare students for civic engagement;
- to develop students’ understanding of the ethical dimensions of what they say and do.
- to enable students to respond critically and constructively to change; and
- to teach students to understand themselves as products of, and participants in, traditions of art, ideas, and values;
Students 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.
In general, students should plan to take one General Education course per term. There are, however, no constraints regarding the timing of the requirements as long as all are completed by graduation. First-year students often find that General Education courses are useful for exploring potential concentrations. Other students use the General Education requirements to add some variety to their course of study.
Learn about the eight General Education categories.
Learn about Program policies.