Advanced Standing allows eligible students to graduate from Harvard College after only six or seven terms of enrollment in the College or, if accepted, to enroll for their fourth year in an approved master’s degree program. Pursuing the option of Advanced Standing may entail making choices that affect students’ academic programs from their very first year in the College. Here are some considerations that may help students to make their choices:
- Harvard distinguishes placement in courses from standing in a college class. Students will be advised to take the most advanced courses for which they are prepared, regardless of whether or not they intend to pursue Advanced Standing.
- Pursuing Advanced Standing may require choosing a field of study during the first year rather than the sophomore year. The College encourages students as much as possible to use the freshman year as a time for exploration, but a student who is seriously considering Advanced Standing may find that there is less opportunity to explore the curriculum in the ways that might allow for discovery of new areas of interest.
- Eligible students make the choice whether to activate Advanced Standing near the end of their fourth or fifth term of enrollment but should discuss their options with advisers and prospective concentrations in their first year.
- A student who has declared Advanced Standing may elect to stay in the College for four years but will need to rescind Advanced Standing.
- Students who are prepared for advanced coursework in a particular area and are eligible for Advanced Standing may apply for a fourth year master’s degree. Not all academic departments offer the fourth year master's degree to undergraduates. Students are strongly encouraged to speak with a faculty member in the relevant department for more information.
- Choosing Advanced Standing may put students at a disadvantage in competitions for certain prizes, awards, or fellowships for which eligibility is linked to class standing. Students are encouraged to visit the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships for more information.