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Does Harvard Offer Double Majors or Minors?

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What’s Covered:


Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, and admission is highly coveted around the world, with good reason. With renowned programs in a wide variety of topics and disciplines, the school sets students up for success in practically any chosen career.


Just what programs does Harvard offer? And are you able to choose multiple concentrations? Here’s what you need to know.


Overview of Harvard Academics


Including graduate programs, Harvard has 12 degree-granting schools, as well as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. All prospective undergraduates apply to Harvard College, although some may study at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Instead of majors, students pursue concentrations, which they must declare near the end of their sophomore year. Harvard offers dozens of concentrations, including separate tracks for some. In some cases, students have the opportunity to select an honors-eligible program within the concentration, which carries additional requirements.


Harvard has a comprehensive general education program, which aims to connect the disciplines students study to the outside world. The current program requires courses in four areas: Aesthetics & Culture; Ethics & Civics; Histories, Societies, Individuals; and Science & Technology in Society.


See our guide to Harvard academics for more information.


Are There Double Majors at Harvard?


Students may not pursue a double major at Harvard. Instead, they can undertake a joint concentration that integrates and combines two fields. Not all concentrations allow for a joint concentration; according to The Crimson, there are six departments that don’t, including Economics, Applied Mathematics, and Psychology. 


In this program, one of the concentrations is designated as a primary concentration, and both concentrations must agree that they are cohesive. The second subject must augment and help the student build upon their knowledge of the first. For example, someone interested in studying computer science might choose another concentration in engineering since the second field can help illuminate the study of computing. 


The requirements vary by department and concentration. (View the requirements for a joint concentration in Government and another field as an example.) However, all students wishing to pursue a joint concentration must formally apply and be reviewed by the Faculty Concentration Committee, usually with the primary concentration department’s support.


In 2017, about 7 percent of Harvard College students pursued joint concentrations.


Are There Dual Degree Programs at Harvard?


Harvard offers several dual-degree programs, in which students earn multiple degrees in a combined undergraduate program. This differs from a joint concentration in that the latter program awards one degree, while in the former, students earn multiple degrees in (usually) a shorter span of time than it would normally take to complete two distinct degree programs.


One example is Harvard’s dual-degree music programs, in which students receive both a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and a master’s degree from either New England Conservatory or Berklee College of Music. Students complete their bachelor’s degree at Harvard while taking courses and lessons at one of the two music schools, completing undergraduate requirements in their fourth year and graduate requirements in their fifth.


Another option is the Joint Undergraduate & Graduate Program, available through Harvard’s Extension School, in which students earn both a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree and a Master of Liberal Arts degree in any field Harvard offers in reduced time.


Harvard’s graduate schools also offer many joint and dual graduate degree programs, such as the JD/PhD Coordinated Program, in which students receive both a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

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Are There Minors at Harvard?


Harvard offers secondary fields, which are similar to minors at other schools. Topics span many niches, including Music, Chemistry, Economics, Government, Computer Science, and others. (View a complete list of secondary fields.)


As with a joint concentration, students must formally apply to complete a secondary field by the stated deadline. You should also speak with the secondary field that interests you.


Specific requirements vary by field. For example, the Department of Classics has a secondary field in Classical Civilizations that has a 20-credit requirement (five courses), including one semester of Classical Studies 97a or 97b and four additional courses in the Classics department. Students may receive approval from the director of undergraduate studies to count additional courses toward the secondary field. The requirements also stipulate that no more than two courses in Modern Greek can be counted, and only one course may be taken pass/fail.


Meanwhile, to concentrate in Classical Civilizations or Classical Languages and Literatures, the two tracks offered in the Classics department, students must complete at least 12 courses, with a number of specific courses, including two semesters of Classical Studies 97a and 97b and additional courses (see the complete review for more info).


What Are Your Chances of Getting into Harvard?


Harvard is one of the most selective schools in the world. Like its peers, it uses the Academic Index to filter out students based on grades and standardized test scores before considering qualitative factors like extracurriculars and essays.


We’ve made it easy to understand your chances by creating our Admissions Chances Calculator. This tool will estimate your real chances of admission to Harvard and hundreds of other colleges across the U.S. based on a holistic evaluation of your profile, including your grades, scores, and extracurricular activities. We’ll also give you tips to increase your odds of acceptance.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.