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General Education

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Learn to Think Critically, Act Ethically, and Engage

Designed to connect the spirit of free inquiry that defines Harvard life with career and civic life beyond college, the Program in General Education is a vital part of your degree. This set of courses from across the spectrum of liberal arts and sciences explores fascinating social, cultural, scientific, and historical topics while preparing you for civic engagement, encouraging critical thinking and ethical reasoning, and helping you understand the cultures and values that shape you.

To fulfill your general education requirements, you will select eight half-courses, one from each topical area: 

  • Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding—Learn to engage intelligently and critically with the world of art, literature, and ideas by analyzing works in a theoretical framework.
  • Culture and Belief—Examine how cultures and beliefs affect the identities of individuals and communities.
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning—Develop the ability to apply abstract principles and theories to concrete problems.
  • Ethical Reasoning—Examine the competing conceptions and theories of ethical concepts with a focus on evaluating their application to concrete ethical dilemmas.
  • Science of Living Systems—Explore a range of topics relating to understanding life, its origins, the way it adapts to and changes the environment, and the ways in which human interventions can affect its trajectory.
  • Science of the Physical Universe—Explore discoveries, inventions, and concepts in the physical sciences that have led to or underlie issues affecting societies across the globe.
  • Societies of the World—Develop an awareness of the diversity of ways in which human beings have organized their social existence.
  • The United States in the World—Understand this country as a heterogeneous and multifaceted nation situated within an international framework. 

One of these courses must also engage substantially with the study of the past.

Learn more about the program, as well as new course offerings and other developments, on the Program in General Education website.

VISIT HARVARD

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Stroll through Harvard Yard, ask Admissions staff all your questions, and feel the warmth of the Harvard community. See tour dates and times.