The Distribution Requirement

The distribution requirement exposes students to the diversity of scholarly disciplines at Harvard. Starting in Fall 2019, students graduating in May 2020 or later must complete one departmental (non-Gen Ed) course in each of the three main divisions of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS):

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Science and Engineering and Applied Science

The online course catalogue contains information about which distribution requirement a course will fulfill.

Courses used to fulfill the distribution requirement may be taken pass/fail, with the permission of the instructor. However, when the same courses are being used to fulfill a concentration or secondary field requirement, there may be limitations on pass/fail options. Students should check with their advisers.

All courses in every division will count toward the distribution requirement except elementary and intermediate-level languages, some graduate-only courses, courses in Expository Writing, and Freshman and House Seminars.

Transfer students may fulfill the distribution requirement with courses taken at their previous undergraduate institution. Courses taken during Term Time or Summer Study Abroad, and courses taken at Harvard Summer School may also count for the distribution requirement.

There are no constraints about the timing of this requirement, as long as it is completed by graduation.

Please consult the Harvard College Handbook for Students for more information on requirements for the Harvard College degrees. Questions about the distribution requirement may be sent to divdist@fas.harvard.edu.