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Master's Degrees

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GSAS offers master of arts (AM), master of science (SM), and master of engineering (ME) degrees in a select number of programs. In addition, some programs confer a master’s degree en route to the PhD (also known as a “continuing” master’s degree, or a master's in passing):

  • Ordinarily, students may receive only one master’s degree from GSAS. In exceptional cases, a student may earn, with the degree-conferring program's approval, a second master’s degree if they have met the requirements for the degree and paid one year of full tuition.
  • A master’s degree cannot be granted in an ad hoc subject.
  • Master's degree students must meet all of the GSAS common requirements.
  • Master’s students who are no longer taking courses but have unfulfilled academic requirements for the degree (e.g., language exams, papers, or coursework to complete), must register either in residence or in a non-resident status until all requirements are completed.
    • Once degree requirements have been met, master’s candidates do not need to register for the term in which they submit their degree applications.
  • PhD students may receive an en route master’s degree without paying additional tuition if they earned a GSAS degree as a master’s student or through the AB/AM or SB/SM program.

Master of Arts

Students studying toward a master of arts (AM) degree must be enrolled full-time, complete a minimum of eight courses (32 credits) at the level required by the department, and pay full tuition for one year. Some programs have additional course requirements.

Master of Science

Master of science (SM) candidates must complete eight courses (32 credits) and pay full tuition for one year. SM candidates are not expected to continue to the PhD. Part-time SM students must complete the degree in two years.

Master of Engineering

The master of engineering (ME) degree is a two-year program of advanced courses with research leading to a master’s thesis. ME candidates must complete 16 courses (64 credits), including 8 research-oriented courses at the 300-level, complete a thesis, and pay full tuition for two years. ME candidates are not expected to continue to the PhD.

Credit Toward Other Degrees

At the discretion of the program, courses completed to meet the requirement for a GSAS master’s degree may count toward the academic requirements for the PhD:

  • Courses completed to meet the requirements for a GSAS master’s degree may not be used to meet the requirements for another Harvard degree.
  • Courses completed to meet the requirements for another Harvard degree (i.e. not at GSAS) may not be used to meet the requirements for a degree at GSAS.

Earning a Master’s Degree in a Different Program

A PhD candidate in one department may petition another department to award them a master’s degree if that department:

  1. has approved a policy of awarding master’s degrees to students in other programs
    1. has determined the requirements students must fulfill
      1. certifies that the student has met the requirements and
  2. has voted to support the student’s petition and application for the degree.



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