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There is a good deal of current debate, among both faculty and students, about the rigidity of Harvard's curricular requirements. Many concentrations require 16 courses for an honors degree, though some, such as Mathematics and Philosophy, demand only 12 or 13, even for honors. Sixteen-course concentrations enable students to achieve some truly remarkable senior thesis projects, as sophisticated as many Masters' theses. But is widely argued (and personally, I believe the argument) that 16-course concentration, combined with 8 Core requirements and requirements for writing and foreign language courses, use up too much of the 32 courses needed for graduation, leaving students too few options for electives (either one-course excursions or a suite of 3 or 4 courses in a particular area) or for capitalizing on interests discovered only late in a student's college career. The faculty is committed to working towards a reduction in overall requirements, though how long and what form such a rollback might take cannot be predicted.
“The later a student makes a change, the more costly it is in tuition and time,” Sharon Wiatt Jones, a former career counselor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the co-author of The Parent’s Crash Course in Career Planning: Helping your College Student Succeed, said. “In fact, at some state universities they require that you get permission to stay more than four years and the cost per credit is higher.”