Requirements Explained

Social Studies 10a & 10b

Introduction to Social Studies. All students must complete both halves of the yearlong 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 or 10b is recommended preparation

Statistics Requirement

  • A 5 on the AP Statistics Exam
  • Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning 20
  • Government 50 and 1000-1021
  • Psychology 1900
  • Sociology 156
  • Statistics 104, 110, 111

Philosophy & Methods

Social Studies students are strongly encouraged to take Social Studies 40, Philosophy and Methods of the Social Sciences,” which is designed to bridge Social Studies 10 and the rest of our curriculum, and to address the range of topics Social Studies students study.

However, students studying empirical (how or why) questions can take (instead):

  • Anthropology 1610
  • Government 61, 62
  • Sociology 128, 1157

Students studying political or social theory or intellectual history can take (instead):

  • Government 63, 1027, 1029, 1038, 1052, 1060, 1061
  • History 1300, 1301, 1323, 1324
  • Philosophy 102, 106, 122, 129, 136, 138, 159, 169, 172, 178Z
  • Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1210ft, 1210qt


These courses are current from the 2018-19 catalog. 

All of the above courses count towards a student’s concentration GPA (e.g., if a student takes Psych 1900 and Stat 104, both will be counted towards fulfilling the statistics requirement). Courses that previously counted for credit towards the economics, statistics, or philosophy and methods requirements but are no longer listed in the catalog will still count.