Secondary Field

The Department of English offers a Secondary Field for non-concentrators. Designed to be flexible enough to accommodate every kind of interest in this broad field, it requires six courses, which may be taken in any sequence:

  • one course in Early British Literature (4 credits)
  • one course in American Literature (4 credits)
  • one undergraduate seminar (4 credits)
  • three English electives (12 credits)

Early British Literature

Any course in English Literature before 1800 from the Department’s range of offerings will fulfill this requirement. Previous Early British Literature course offerings are available here.

American Literature 

Any course in American Literature from the Department’s range of offerings will fulfill this requirement. Previous American Literature course offerings are available here.

Undergraduate Seminar

At least one seminar is required, which could be a 90-level English seminar or a Freshman Seminar taught by a member of the English Department faculty. A seminar on Early British Literature or a seminar on American Literature may double count for both requirements, but you still must take a total of six courses. Please note: We advise you not to wait until your senior year to fulfill your seminar requirement, as limited enrollments means that spots aren’t guaranteed. 

English Electives

Three additional courses taught by English Department faculty complete the requirements. Two creative writing workshops may count toward the total of six.

Secondary Field Advising

Students pursuing a Secondary Field are urged to seek out members of the English Department faculty for advice on their specific course choices. For more information on the Secondary Field and for advising, please speak to the coordinator of the Secondary Field, Henry Vega Ortiz.

Students are free to explore the field by selecting a variety of courses; or they may focus on a genre or mode (such as poetry, drama) or a period (Medieval, Postcolonial) or any other aspect of the larger field. With the exception of Freshman Seminars, each course must be taken for a letter grade, with a minimum threshold of C-minus. 

You may count one summer school course in literary studies, or one course in literary studies taken for credit at another college or university, in the United States or abroad, toward the secondary field (as long as Harvard College gives you credit for the course). In these circumstances only one course not taught by a faculty member in Harvard’s English Department may count toward the total of six. Thus if a summer school course, for example, is taught by a Harvard English Department faculty member, it counts as would any English Department course. Any other summer school course (as with transfer credits or study abroad) will be limited to one.

Completing the Secondary Field

Students should check Secondary Field deadlines with the Registrar's Office. You may declare a Secondary Field in English once you have declared your concentration in sophomore year. 

How to Declare a Secondary Field in my.harvard