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SM and ME Area-Specific Course Requirements

Area-specific S.M. and M.E. course requirements

In addition to fulfillling the SEAS-wide course requirements listed here, S.M. students are required to satisfy the applicable area-specific requirements.

MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences - Master of Science Course Requirements

Consistent with other SEAS Master of Science programs, in order to count towards the Master of Science degree requirements, elective course plans for MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences students must be approved by the SEAS Committee on Higher Degrees (CHD). 300-level courses and sub-100-level courses may not be included in the Program Plan. No course completed with a grade less than C may be included, and students must achieve a B or better average letter grade in the courses for the degree.


I. Master of Science Course Requirements - eight letter-graded four-credit courses:

A. ES 280: Systems Engineering

B. ES 234: Technology Venture Immersion 

C. ES 285: Integrated Design 

D. ES 292a: Launch Lab/Capstone I

E. ES 292b: Launch Lab/Capstone II

F. One 200-level SEAS or SEAS-equivalent technical elective (see II below)

G. One 200/2000-level SEAS or FAS technical elective regardless of the instructor (see II below for the SEAS metric for a technical course)

H. One additional course from the following:

  • 100/1000- or 200/2000-level technical elective from SEAS or other FAS departments (regardless of instructor but excluding GENED courses), or other Harvard schools. Courses below 100-level (e.g. CS 50) will not count.

  •  G-level MIT technical elective (see III below)

II. Technical Courses - By default, the following are considered to be 200-level SEAS or SEAS-equivalent technical electives:

  • Almost all 200-level courses offered through SEAS. Exceptions include seminar, project, or reading and research courses (e.g., any 294, 297, 298, or 299 course whether or not the number is followed by letters), courses focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, or written/verbal communication, and “Great Papers”-type courses (e.g. AC 221, AP 227, ES 236a/b, ES 238, ES 239, ES 256).

  • Any FAS 200-level technical course taught by a SEAS ladder faculty member ("SEAS-equivalent"). Most 200-level courses in natural sciences and quantitative fields will be technical, with similar exceptions as for SEAS courses (although FAS departments do not follow the same numbering conventions for seminar and project classes).

  • Physics 223 (Electronics for Scientists)

III. MIT Courses

  • One G-level MIT technical course may be taken as an elective, pending review by the Committee on Higher Degrees (CHD) for approval for technical graduate-level rigor and adherence to the applicable section of the CHD Policies: "Courses taken by cross-registration should cover subjects not otherwise available in FAS: that is, they should not be taken in place of or in addition to any comparable FAS course without good and sufficient reasons." 

  • In order to be equivalent to a 4-credit FAS course, an MIT class must count for 9-21 units.

S.M. in Applied Mathematics - for PhD and AB/SM students only

Ph.D students in Applied Mathematics may receive the S.M. in Applied Mathematics en route to the Ph.D by completing 8 courses from their approved Ph.D. Program Plan that meet the SEAS S.M. requirements described above. 

A.B./S.M. students who are candidates for the S.M. in Applied Mathematics, and Ph.D. students in other subjects who wish to receive the S.M. in Applied Mathematics en route to the Ph.D., must fulfill the following minimum area requirements:

  • Four 200-level AM courses, including AM 201 and AM 205 (unless one or both are not offered in a timely fashion).  Note that AM 104 and AM 105 are prerequisites for AM 201, and are effectively prerequisites for many other 200-level Applied Mathematics classes.
  • Two additional SEAS or FAS 200-level technical classes, whether from Applied Mathematics or not
  • Demonstration of breadth across the mathematical sciences.  At least one course in Statistics is strongly recommended, at the 100 or 200 level.
  • At least two of the non-AM classes must represent a specific application area

Students seeking an S.M. in Applied Mathematics should construct a coherent Applied Mathematics program plan with their assigned SEAS graduate advisor.  Questions can be directed to the Applied Mathematics Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Yiling Chen.

S.M. in Applied Physics - for PhD and AB/SM students only

Harvard Ph.D. and A.B/S.M. students seeking an S.M. in Applied Physics must fulfill the following area requirements:

  1. Four of the eight required courses must be 200-level Applied Physics courses or 200-level Physics courses taught by SEAS faculty.  ES 273, ES 274 and ES 277 count as 200-level Applied Physics courses toward this requirement.
  2. The remaining four courses must be technical/scientific.

Candidates for a terminal S.M. degree in Applied Physics (including the A.B./S.M.) are advised against including a 299r class in their Program Plan. Ph.D. students seeking the S.M. en route may include one 299r as a “technical/scientific” course in #2 above.

Questions can be directed to the Interim Director of Graduate Education, John Girash.

S.M. in Computer Science - for PhD and AB/SM students only

Harvard Ph.D. and AB/SM students seeking an S.M. in Computer Science must fulfill the following area requirements:

  1. Five of the eight required courses must be 200-level courses specifically covering topics in computer science. Generally this means they must be offered as courses in Computer Science. In particular, for Computer Science graduate degrees, Applied Computation courses may be counted as 100-level courses, not 200-level courses. The CHD may approve exceptions.
  2. At least one of these five 200-level courses must be in Theory. There is no specific list of Theory courses; this rule is enforced by the faculty advisors and the CHD. However, in almost all cases, any class with a course number Computer Science 22x is acceptable as a theory course.
  3. Just as we expect all students obtaining a S.M. to have experience with the theoretical foundations of computer science, we expect all students to have some knowledge of how to build large software or hardware systems, on the order of thousands of lines of code, or the equivalent complexity in hardware. That experience will be evidenced by coursework. In almost all cases a course numbered CS 26x or CS 24x will satisfy the requirement (exceptions will be noted in the course description on my.harvard). For projects in other courses, the student is expected to write a note explaining the project, include a link to any relevant artifacts or outcomes, describe the student's individual contribution, and where appropriate obtain a note from their class instructor.
  4. CS 290hfa/b cannot be used towards the S.M. degree.

Please note that 200-level courses in fields outside SEAS will be examined carefully. Generally, the CHD is looking for two things in such courses. First, it is expected that the course will be comparable in technical level to a SEAS course. Second, the overall program must be coherent. Taking a course in economics because it might apply to computing is not automatically considered coherent. Taking an economics course in game theory along with appropriate relevant 200-level computer science courses in Artificial Intelligence that apply that theory could be part of a coherent program.

Questions can be directed to the Computer Science Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Leslie Valiant.

S.M. in Data Science, and S.M. or M.E. in Computational Science and Engineering

Students seeking an S.M. in Computational Science and Engineering or in Data Science should refer to the programs' specific requirements. Questions can be directed to the Associate Director of Graduate Studies in Computational Science & Engineering, Daniel Weinstock.

S.M. in Engineering Sciences - for PhD and AB/SM students only

There are no additional course requirements beyond the SEAS-wide requirements. Harvard Ph.D. and AB/SM students seeking an S.M. in Engineering Sciences should construct a cohesive program plan in the appropriate subfield (Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science and Engineering, or Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering) with their assigned SEAS graduate advisor. Questions can be directed to the Interim Director of Graduate Education, John Girash.