The Distribution Requirement

With the revision of the General Education (Gen Ed) program legislated in spring, 2016, the faculty also voted to establish a distribution requirement for undergraduates.  The departmental distribution requirement will become part of the standard curriculum in the fall semester of 2019.  At that time, students will be required to take 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, and Science and Engineering and Applied Science.  To facilitate course selection, courses will be tagged with their divisional distribution in the online course catalogue, starting in fall, 2017.  

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.  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 the pass/fail options.  Students should consult with their advisers before choosing this option. 

In addition to these departmental distribution courses, students will be required to take four Gen Ed courses, one course in a to-be-determined Quantitative Facility field, as well as fulfill existing requirements in writing (Expos) and foreign language study.  Transfer students may contact us directly with questions on how to meet these requirements.  

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