Do students need to maintain a certain academic standard in order to graduate?

Yes, please see below.

Master in Public Policy (MPP) students must:

  • Earn a B- or better in all required core courses, including Policy Area of Concentration (PAC)/Concentration requirements. Any grade below a B- in these courses is a failing grade.
  • Earn a passing grade for the Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) and seminar.
  • Maintain a cumulative B average.

Students who fail two different core courses or who fail the same core course a second time ordinarily will be withdrawn from the school without the possibility of readmission.

Master in Public Administration/International Development (MPA/ID) students must:

  • Earn a B- or better in all required courses, including the Second Year Policy Analysis (SYPA). Any grade below a B- in a required course is a failing grade.
  • Maintain a cumulative B average.

Students who fail two different core courses or who fail the same core course a second time ordinarily will be withdrawn from the school without the possibility of readmission.

One- or two-year Master in Public Administration (MPA) students must:

  • Earn a B- or better in distribution requirements; those courses must be included in the 32 or 64 credits required for the degree. Any grade below a B- in a required course is a failing grade.
  • Maintain a cumulative B average.

Students who fail two different core courses or who fail the same core course a second time ordinarily will be withdrawn from the school without the possibility of readmission.

Are there other academic requirements students need to meet to make satisfactory academic progress?

Yes, they must:

  • Successfully complete at least 50 percent of attempted credits. For example, an MPP student who completes 28 credits within 40 credits attempted at the end of the first year is considered to have maintained a successful pace of completion. Courses are not considered to have been completed satisfactorily if students: withdraw after the add/drop deadline; receive an incomplete grade; earn a C+ or below in a required course; or receive a failing grade (i.e., C+ or below in a required course; E for an elective course).
  • Complete all degree requirements within a maximum of 200 percent of the required credits for the program of study. For example, the MPP Program requires 72 credits. Students must complete those 72 credits satisfactorily by the time they have taken a maximum of 144 credits (72 x 200% = 144).
What if students have not maintained satisfactory academic progress?

Students who fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress will be placed on academic probation at the end of any semester during which they receive:

  • Less than a B average cumulative in the requisite number of courses for their degree program.
  • C+ or below in any core course or distribution requirement course.

Students typically will have until the end of the next semester exam period to remedy this situation. Unless there are unusual and compelling circumstances, failure to do so will result in required withdrawal from the program.

Students who receive financial aid should refer to the satisfactory academic progress and financial information section.

What if students do not meet the academic requirements for graduation?

Students who do not meet the academic requirements for graduation by their anticipated graduation date may be required to withdraw from their program for a period of at least one semester.

Readmission is not guaranteed, but they may petition through their program director to be permitted to return. If permitted, they will have only one additional semester to meet the academic requirements for graduation. Tuition will be charged per credit in this situation.

Policy on Commencement Participation

Students must complete all of the requirements for their degree program in order to participate in Harvard and Harvard Kennedy School Commencement day activities, including the HKS diploma ceremony. Students who fail to qualify for their degree in time for Commencement but are four credits (or fewer) away from satisfying the requirements may petition the HKS Registrar’s Office for permission to participate in the HKS diploma ceremony. If permission is granted, they will not receive a diploma during the ceremony, but will instead receive an empty envelope while crossing the stage.

For students with outstanding term bill balances at the time of Commencement, the following rules will apply:

  • Students who owe $1,000 or more will not be granted a degree, given a diploma or permitted to participate in Commencement.
  • Students who owe more than $100 but less than $1,000 will have their degree voted, but will not receive a diploma. Students in this category will be permitted to walk during Commencement, but will receive an empty envelope.
  • Students who owe $100 or less will be granted a degree, awarded a diploma, and permitted to walk during Commencement.