Secondary Fields

In April of 2006, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences established secondary fields for Harvard College students. Secondary fields provide the opportunity for focused study (four to six half-courses) outside of the primary area of concentration, but they are entirely optional and are not required for graduation. A secondary field may complement the primary area of study in the concentration, or it may be entirely separate. Unlike a joint concentration, no integrative work between the secondary field and the primary concentration is required. The successful completion of a secondary field will appear on a student’s transcript, but no student may receive credit for more than one secondary field.

While secondary fields provide new opportunities for Harvard College students, they also come at a cost. Students who pursue a secondary field will have fewer free electives and may have to give up some advanced work or research opportunities in the concentration. Interested students should discuss the possibilities of work in a secondary field with the relevant adviser in the sponsoring program. They are also encouraged to discuss their plans with the Head Tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies in their own concentration, with their Allston Burr Resident Dean, or with other academic advisers before embarking on a secondary field program.

Each secondary field program has its own set of requirements, and some programs offer multiple options for a secondary field. A few rules, however, apply to all programs: only one half-course may count towards a secondary field and any other degree requirement or program (concentration, Core or General Education, language citation, language requirement, etc.); courses taken through cross-registration (if allowed by the secondary field program) will not count towards the College grade point average; and students must adhere to the guidelines and procedures for obtaining credit for study abroad in order to count such courses for a secondary field.

No student may sign up for a secondary field before declaring a concentration. Students are responsible for notifying secondary fields of their interest in the program, for tracking their requirements, for obtaining required signatures, and for submitting all electronic information and signed paperwork to the Office of the Registrar no later than the seventh Monday of their final term, as published in this Handbook. The deadline is firm; no exceptions will be made.

See Fields of Concentration and Secondary Fields or for a list of programs and their requirements. The online tool for tracking requirements and sending electronic information to the Registrar is also available on this site.