Requirements Explained

Social Studies 10a & 10b

Introduction to Social Studies. All students must complete both halves of the year-long introduction to the classics of social theory. 

Social Studies 98 (2)

The purpose of junior tutorials in Social Studies is to immerse students in a detailed and focused study of empirical, theoretical, or historical social questions. Junior tutorials also teach social science methodology, providing students with instruction on research techniques and offering them experience in conducting primary research in preparation for their senior theses. 

Students who study abroad can waive one of their junior tutorials if they submit a second major research paper, either written abroad or in a social science or history course taken at Harvard, to the Director of Studies. 

Social Studies 99

Seniors take two terms of Social Studies 99, the senior thesis course, and work one-on-one with a thesis supervisor as they research and write their thesis. 

Focus Field Courses (4-6)

The focus field must include a minimum of four, and a maximum of six half-courses, normally drawn from at least two social science departments and including at least one half-course on an historical topic. Students may petition the Board of Instruction to include social science courses given in non-social science departments. At least two courses must be taken in FAS.

Economics Requirement:

  • Economics 10a,10b, or both
  • Any economics course for which Economics 10a and/or 10b is recommended preparation

Statistics Requirement

  • A 5 on the AP Statistics Exam
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning 13
  • Government 50, 1000-1011
  • Psychology 1900
  • Sociology 156
  • Statistics 100, 104, 107, 110

Philosophy & Methods

Social Studies students are strongly encouraged to take Social Studies 40, "The Philosophy and Methods of the Social Sciences." But they can also fulfill the philosophy and methods requirement by taking one of the social or political theory or qualitative methods courses listed below:

  • Anthropology 1610
  • Government 10, 61, 62, 63, 1052, 1060, 1061
  • History 1323, 1324, 1330
  • Philosophy 6, 7, 14, 17, 101, 132, 139x, 174a, 177
  • Sociology 128
  • Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1210qt, 1213


These courses are current from the 2016-17 catalog. Courses that used to count for credit towards the economics, statistics, or philosophy and methods requirements but are no longer listed in the catalog will still count.

We will count all of these courses towards a student’s concentration GPA. So if a student takes more than one statistics course, for example, we will count both.