SM and ME General Course Requirements
[Part of the Policies of the CHD, August 2019]
The following course requirements apply to all SEAS S.M. and M.E. degrees. Note that the term "course" refers to a standard Harvard semester-length "half course", i.e., a 4-unit FAS course or its equivalent. 2-unit courses such as AP 299qr count as "half of a course" in the context of these requirements.
- Eight letter-graded courses are required for the degree (or twelve for the S.M. in Data Science.). As many of these as possible should be SEAS 200-level courses. M.E. students must take eight additional non-letter-graded research-oriented courses at the 300-level that result in the completion of the required M.E. thesis.
- At least four of the eight courses must be offered through SEAS or taught by a SEAS faculty member in another FAS department.
- At least five of the eight courses must be 200-level SEAS/FAS technical courses, not including reading and research courses (299r), seminar/project courses (298r, 297r, 294r), or innovation or communication courses. The remaining three courses should be from SEAS, FAS departments, other Harvard schools, or MIT. (Note: for MIT courses students should attach the course syllabus and the catalog description when submitting their program plan, indicating MIT G-level status).
- Up to three of the eight courses may be 100-level SEAS/FAS courses. As a guideline, having one 100-level course will generally not lead to any concern; having two 100-level courses requires at least some justification (i.e., that the courses are necessary prerequisites for 200-level courses); having three will generally lead to close examination by the CHD. Courses at lower than the 100-level, including all General Education courses, may not be counted towards the degree.
- Only one reading and research (299r), seminar/project (298r, 297r, 294r), innovation, or communication course can count among the eight courses. An exception is that two such courses are allowed in a CSE S.M. program plan. S.M. students who are writing a thesis may include up to two 299r courses.
- Harvard Extension School courses may not be included in the program plan.
- Transfer credit is not accepted toward the degree.
- No 300-level courses may be included in the program plan. ES 399-TIME and AC 399-TIME may not be included in an S.M. or M.E. Program Plan.
- Exceptions to these requirements are considered by petition to the CHD.
No course completed with a grade less than C (for the S.M. degree) or B- (for the M.E.) may be included in the Program Plan, and students must achieve a "B" or better average letter grade in the courses for the S.M. or M.E. degree.
For regular (terminal) masters students, failure to maintain a cumulative 3.00 or better average grade or receipt of any unsatisfactory grade may require that the student withdraw from the program, thus terminating degree candidacy.
A regular S.M. candidate whose average grade at the end of the first semester is between 2.50 and 3.00 normally will be warned that he/she will not complete the requirements for the degree at the end of the second semester unless a cumulative 3.00 or better average grade is achieved. Should the student fail to satisfy the requirements for the S.M. degree at the end of the second semester, continuation for a third and final semester will be granted provided there is reasonable assurance that the degree requirements can be completed at the end of that semester. A regular S.M. candidate whose SEAS average grade at the end of the first semester is less than 2.50 but who could achieve a cumulative 3.00 or better average grade at the end of the second semester, working as a full-time student, normally will be warned that continuation for a third and final semester is contingent upon a marked improvement in performance sufficient to provide reasonable assurance that the requirements for the S.M. degree will be completed at the end of the third semester. A regular S.M. candidate who could not achieve a cumulative 3.00 or better average grade at the end of the second semester normally will be required to withdraw at the end of the first semester, thus terminating degree candidacy.