Course scheduling is managed through the Registrar’s Office.

Required Curriculum

Academic courses in the first year of the MBA Program are prescribed by the faculty. A student is registered for RC courses automatically upon enrollment at the start of the RC Fall Term and then again upon enrollment at the start of the RC Spring Term. In the RC year, students may not register for electives in the EC Program, or any other Harvard University program.

Elective Curriculum

Academic options in the second year of the MBA Program include a wide range of elective courses, cross-registration opportunities, and field-based learning opportunities aligned with classroom experiences, immersive approaches, or pursued as independent projects. There are more than 100 different course options, with many offered in multiple sections. Students can customize their schedule based on their interests and goals.

The following topics all relate to the Elective Curriculum (EC). Students in Joint Degree programs may have different requirements in their EC. There are several course types available:

Type of Course Credits Sessions Other
Short Courses 1.5 credits 14* sessions in one quarter Exam or paper
Long Courses 3.0 credits 28* sessions in two quarters; weekly two-hour sessions in two quarters Exam or paper;
If the course has a project focus, some sessions may be set aside for presentations or teamwork.
Intensive Courses 3.0 credits 14 sessions with meetings twice daily in one quarter Exam or paper/project
Field Courses 3.0 credits 14 sessions in early quarter or may hold several meetings across term Project
Immersive Field Courses 3.0 credits Several on-campus meetings during Fall term; additional registration information required in September; January travel Program fee & travel costs (see details on financial aid eligibility in course description)
Independent Projects Non-classroom credit; 1.5, 3, 4.5, or 6 credits. Maximum of 9 non-classroom credits in total toward the 30 total credits in the year. Work with a team or on your own with a faculty supervisor Registration takes place at the start of each term and is not part of EC Preregistration.
Non-MBA Courses See Cross-Registration

*In Spring 2024, there are 27 sessions in total in term, with 14 in Q3 and 13 in Q4.

Immersive Field Courses

IFCs require a firm commitment and carry a financial obligation. Financial aid is available in the form of a student loan, a need-based HBS scholarship, or a combination of both depending on individual circumstances. The Add/Drop process at the start of the term is the mechanism for any IFC enrollment changes. After that point, the course fee is non-refundable.

Applying for Extra Credit

Students interested in adding a course for extra credit up to the limit of 18 credits per term must complete a poll by a specific deadline. Applications for extra credit will be processed after all MBA students have registered for the necessary number of credits for the term, in the order received. If the course requested is available, the student will see the addition on Canvas by the first day of the second week of classes. X/Y balance applies with extra credit courses; still no more than 10.5 credits on X or Y days. Courses taken for additional credit above the degree requirements, whether by application or through Add/Drop processing, are treated the same way as any other courses as it relates to course registration, determination of academic difficulty and academic honors, and any other academic and program policies.

EC Course Registration Process

The EC course registration process involves four key phases as outlined below:

  • Introduction to the EC/Preregistration (April/May of RC Year) - learn about courses and rank course preferences for the full year
  • Follow-Up Window (July before EC Year) - course offerings refined and rankings adjusted before assignment algorithm is run
  • Learn EC Results (August before EC Year) - courses assigned and schedules finalized for the full EC year; all schedule adjustments from this point forward are processed during Add/Drop
  • Add/Drop (Start of Term) - there is a round of Add/Drop at the start of each term (Fall/Spring) to request schedule changes


Audit enrollment is rare in the HBS Learning Model and does not result in course credit. Each faculty member may decide whether to accept auditors and how auditors will participate in the course. If a student has received faculty approval to enroll as an auditor, the approval must be forwarded to the Registrar’s Office. The request must include the course title and section number. Audit requests will be processed in the week following Add/Drop. Auditors are expected to join in person and may not attend remotely. Any addition of auditors to a course will be based on physical seat availability in the classroom. Please Note: Auditors are not guaranteed course materials due to inventory constraints. Please understand that case packets are provided for auditors only if supply allows; special orders cannot be placed for auditors and textbooks are not provided.

Late Course Drop Policy

The Add/Drop process in the registration tool at the start of each term is the mechanism for students to finalize course registration for the term and to make course changes due to schedule and content preferences. However, due to cross-registration deadlines at other schools and independent project plans that may require a different timeline, these types of course registration changes will be accommodated during the two weeks following the Add/Drop process and at midterm for 1.5 credit courses. Final deadlines for course registration changes for the 2023-2024 academic year are:

Fall 2023:

  • Friday, September 22, 2023: Full-term and Quarter 1 half courses
  • Friday, November 3, 2023: Quarter 2 half courses

Spring 2024:

  • Friday, February 9, 2024: Full-term and Quarter 3 half courses
  • Monday, March 18, 2024: Quarter 4 half courses

Any course change requests received after these deadlines will be considered on a case-by-case basis by petition to the EC Faculty Chair; the petition should note any extenuating circumstances. Courses dropped after these deadlines will result in a W (withdrawal) notation on the transcript. A maximum of two late course drops per academic year will be permitted.