The requirements for each degree are summarized below. Please note that the SEAS graduate degree requirements are currently under review and are subject to change.
Please note that we strongly encourage any student who is considering ultimately pursuing the Ph.D. at Harvard to apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Students in our masters programs are not given preferential treatment in admission to the Ph.D. program.
Model Programs for Ph.D.
Model programs presents SEAS-wide course requirements for the Ph.D. degree with area-specific course requirements, guidelines, and model programs that are intended to help students develop programs with sound intellectual frameworks.
S.M., M.E., and Ph.D. Basic Requirements
Graduate students may work towards a Master of Science (considered, in most cases, a terminal degree), Master of Engineering (a terminal degree), and Doctor of Philosophy degree in one of four subjects—Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering Sciences. The requirements for each degree are summarized below.
Master of Science (S.M.)
The S.M. degree is awarded for the successful completion of eight semester length courses at Harvard. The S.M. degree is non-research based degree and no dissertation, foreign language, or general examination is required.
The S.M. is considered, in most cases, a terminal degree. Upon successful completion of the S.M. degree, any student planning to pursue the Ph.D. degree (see below), must formally apply to the Ph.D. program (see below). No preferential treatment is given to S.M. degree holders seeking admission to the Ph.D. program.
As students admitted to the Ph.D. program can apply for and receive S.M. on completion of the requirements for the master's degree, we strongly encourage any student who is considering ultimately pursuing the Ph.D. at Harvard to apply directly to the Ph.D. program.
Master of Science (S.M.) in Computational Science and Engineering
Requirements for the S.M. degree address these learning outcomes. They build on the requirements already established for the Graduate Secondary Field in CSE. A total of eight courses are required.
Each student's plan of study for the SM degree will include:
- at least three of the four core courses, including 1-2 from the Applied Mathematics core course and 1-2 from the Computer Science core
- between two and six CSE electives chosen from the suggested electives list, including at least one in AM and one in CS
- up to two “domain electives”—approved computation-intensive courses within a domain
- up to two semester-length independent research projects
- as a final requirement, an oral examination by a faculty committee
SM course requirements at a glance:
|2.||Applied Math electives||1||3|
|3.||Computer Science electives||1||3|
|5.||299R research course||0||2|
Master of Engineering (M.E.)
M.E. students are expected to complete the degree in two years. M.E. students are expected to take 8 traditional, lecture-style graduate courses for their M.E. degree. In addition, M.E. students are expected to do research and write a thesis that is reviewed and evaluated by two SEAS faculty members at the end of their second and final year in the ME program.
In addition to the 8 traditional courses, ME students can register for up to two 299r's (individual instruction courses built around a specific topic) and 300 level courses for their thesis research.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
The PhD requires a minimum academic residency of two years beyond the bachelor’s degree. Programs are individually tailored and approved by a committee on higher degrees.
Normally, students spend one-and-one-half to two years on coursework—10 semester length, including at least 8 disciplinary courses are required.
Depth and breadth of knowledge are important guiding principles in the Ph.D. program. The first year is ordinarily spent principally on coursework, although some students may begin research. The second year is usually divided between coursework and research, with coursework completed during the third year if necessary.
As soon as coursework is completed, students conduct research full time. Original research culminating in the dissertation is usually completed in the fourth or fifth year. No foreign language is required.
Oral Qualifying Examination
Preparation in the major field is evaluated in an oral examination by a qualifying committee. The examination has the dual purpose of verifying the adequacy of the student's preparation for undertaking research in a chosen field and of assessing the student's ability to synthesize knowledge already acquired.
Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, a committee chaired by the research supervisor is constituted to oversee the dissertation research. The dissertation must, in the judgment of the research committee, meet the standards of significant and original research.
Final Oral Examination
This public examination devoted to the field of the dissertation is conducted by the student's research committee. It includes, but is not restricted to, a defense of the dissertation itself.
Our graduate programs are administered through Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).
Part Time Students
Under unusual circumstances, full-time candidates for graduate degrees may petition for permission to study part-time, ordinarily at a rate of two half-courses per term. Similarly, candidates for the master’s degree who need fewer than four semester length to complete the requirements for the degree can arrange to be charged tuition on a per course basis. Visa regulations prohibit foreign nationals who are not permanent residents of the US from registering for part-time study.
Collaborative Programs with HST
Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Program
The five- to six-year Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Program (MEMP) program leads to the Ph.D. or Sc.D. in Medical Engineering or Medical Physics awarded by MIT, or the PhD awarded by Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The MEMP curriculum gives students hands-on experience in biomedical sciences and engineering to allow them to explore the fundamental principles underlying human biology and diseases, discover new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and ultimately ameliorate human suffering. The range of interests of students in the program is vast; a small sampling of topics includes molecular biology, modeling of biological systems, medical imaging and visualization, instrumentation, biomaterials, and cellular biomechanics.
Requirements and Dissertation
Although pathways through the MEMP program are intended to be individualized and therefore vary widely, there is a broad curricular and administrative structure that is common to all paths within MEMP. Curricular requirements fall roughly into three segments: pre-qualifying, clinical, and dissertation. Curricular tracks within MEMP are Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Systems Physiology and Medicine.
For more information, visit the SEAS Intranet site.