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Secondary Field

Information technology and computation has had a profound impact on many aspects of society, health care, and the scientific disciplines. As such, a foundation of formal training in computer science can benefit undergraduate concentrators in many fields of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. To provide this training, a secondary field in Computer Science requires that students with primary interests in other fields take four courses in computer science.

Key points

Here are the key points about the secondary concentration (see below for full details):

  1. You need to take four computer science courses satisfying:
  • At most two courses from the set CS 20, CS 32 or CS 50, CS 51, and CS 61.

  • All other courses must be numbered CS 96 or higher.

    (Students in the Class of 2023 and earlier may use the old requirements: any four courses from CS 50, CS 51, CS 61, or numbered CS 100 or higher.)

  1. All of the courses used for satisfying the secondary requirement must be Harvard Computer Science Courses. No MIT, study abroad or Harvard courses from concentrations other than CS are allowed. If a course is cross-listed as both a computer science course and a course in another concentration, then it counts even if a student takes the course under its other number. Computer Science courses offered by the Harvard Summer School may be used for a Secondary Field in Computer Science only if they would count for concentration in Computer Science (see here ).

  2. None of the four courses can be taken Pass/Fail.

  3. CS 50 and CS 32 can be taken Sat/Unsat but all other courses must be letter graded, and the grade achieved in these courses must be C- or better (i.e., a D+ is not sufficient).

  4. At most one course can be double counted for a secondary field and a concentration. (This is a College-wide requirement; see Student FAQs for Secondary Fields.)

Transfer students who wish to use some of their coursework in their prior institution towards secondary credit should contact the computer science DUSes.

You can declare or change your secondary through my.harvard, see this page for instructions.

Formal requirements

4 courses (16 credits)

Any four computer science courses satisfying:

  • At most two courses from the set CS 20, CS 32 or CS 50, CS 51, and CS 61.

  • All other courses must be numbered CS 96 or higher.

Computer Science 32 or 50 will count for secondary credit if taken for a grade of SAT, but all other courses must be taken for a letter grade, and the student must achieve a grade of C- or better in each of these courses.

Only courses with a Harvard Computer Science course number may be counted for secondary field credit. In particular no courses from other Harvard programs/departments, no MIT courses, no study abroad courses and no Freshman Seminars may be counted toward secondary requirements. Computer Science courses offered by the Harvard Summer School may be used for a Secondary Field in Computer Science only if they would count for concentration credit in Computer Science. A course from another Harvard program/department counts only if it also has an appropriate Harvard Computer Science course number (e.g., a Statistics course that also has a Computer Science course number 100 or greater). Only one course may double count for a secondary field and concentration.

Advising Resources and Expectations

Questions concerning this secondary field should be addressed to the Directors and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science (cs-dus@seas.harvard.edu). The Directors and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies are available to help students choose computer science courses that best meet their interests and objectives. Transfer students who wish to use some of their coursework in their prior institution towards secondary credit should contact the computer science Directors and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies.

More information on the Secondary Field in Computer Science

How to Declare

Follow the instructions here to declare a secondary in Computer Science via my.harvard. You are welcome (but not required) to contact the co-Directors of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in Computer Science (cs-dus@seas.harvard.edu) with a list of courses you plan to count towards the secondary field.