Tips for Choosing Courses

Harvard Summer School offers more than 300 courses in nearly 60 fields. There is something for everyone. The following tips can help you determine which courses are best for you.

Read the course descriptions

Course descriptions vary, just as courses do. If you don’t find all the details you are looking for, check out the course syllabus, or contact the instructor. Secondary School Program students should pay particular attention to any restrictions, as some courses are not open to the Secondary School Program.

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Check course prerequisites and placement tests

Placement tests and other prerequisites are listed in the course descriptions. Take required or recommended placement tests as early as possible. Review other prerequisites to help you select courses for which you are sufficiently prepared. Keep in mind that English proficiency is required for all courses.

Review course syllabi

Faculty create syllabi and course websites throughout the spring. Beginning March 30, we add syllabi and website links to course descriptions as they become available. If you do not see a link to a syllabus or course website, you may wish to contact the instructor.

Preview course textbooks

Course syllabi will list required and recommended course textbooks and other course materials, as well as suggestions for where to purchase materials. You may also find course book lists online at the Harvard Coop.  

Find the course format that’s right for you

We offer many day and evening courses on campus, as well as courses with a variety of online options. Our online offerings include: on-campus courses that also have an online option, taped video courses, and live web-conference courses.

A few hybrid courses also are available, and these courses combine online or independent study with required on-campus meetings. Learn about our various course formats.

Use the course search to find courses with the format that interests you.

Choose the session that is best for you

Most of our on-campus and online courses meet during the seven-week session. We also offer a selection of intensive-learning courses in three-week sessions I and II, if you prefer to take a course in a condensed timeframe. All three-week courses are taught on campus and are not available to Secondary School Program students.

E-mail the instructor

If you have questions about course content, level, or prerequisites, e-mail the instructor. E-mail addresses can be found on syllabi or course websites. Many faculty addresses are also listed in the Harvard directory.

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