Harvard Extension School Overview

Here is a fact that will likely blow your mind; anyone can go to Harvard.  I don’t mean that anyone can work real hard, practically killing themselves to earn a perfect SAT score, get a 4.0 through high school, and of course have a ton of popular (but yet esoteric) extracurriculars.  I mean anyone, right now, can enroll in Harvard University.

Harvard University has a school called, the Harvard Extension School.  According to Harvard, the purpose of the Harvard Extension School is to “bring Harvard academics to the public through evening and online courses, and part-time programs”.

The admissions to the Harvard Extension School are simple, anyone over the age of 11 can attend.  Admissions into the degree program are a little different; you must have taken at least 3 classes at Harvard, and have earned no less than a B-.  That means no SAT scores, and no overly competitive admissions process.

For those who think this is a lower point of entry to Harvard, and therefore lowering the standards for the school, I would say they are missing the point of the admission standards.  The point of high admission standards is to admit only those students who have shown an ability to handle the level of work they will be given at Harvard University.  It’s hard to argue that a student who can earn a minimum of a B- in a Harvard class cannot handle classes at Harvard.

Of curse people can also attend simply to satisfy their own thirst for knowledge, which is what I currently do.  At this point of my life, I’m not really concerned about earning a graduate degree.  But I do see the need to always be learning, and I don’t think there is any place better to further my studies.

I learned about this program a little over a year ago.  To my surprise, this is not a new program.  The Harvard Extension School is  celebrating its 100 year anniversary, out aging many colleges in this country.

In doing some research I found some great discussions on the topic.  All the people I could find who have taken classes at HES had nothing but good things to say about the school.  They all described how challenging the courses were, but also how great the professors are.

I also found some heated discussions centered around the idea that for some reason the Harvard Extension School is not as good as any other school at Harvard University.  I can understand the animosity of some of the students.  After all, they sacrificed a good amount of their life for the sake of getting into the school of their dreams.  They are paying an average of $50k per year to attend.  And for a fraction of the cost, someone who partied in high school, never even showed up for the SAT, and never  had to go through the nail biting admissions process, is able to list a degree from Harvard University on their resume.

28 thoughts on “Harvard Extension School Overview

  1. Pingback: A Harvard Degree for $10,000 or under

  2. Hrvoje

    I worked so hard to get in to Harvard I got a SAT of 2400 and had the hole High School a GPA of 4.0 and did 7 AP Exams and the IB diploma and got 44 points. Now are people coming and doing 3 courses and get in to Harvard. Hallo is the wolrd now totally fuxxed up

    Reply
    1. filthylucre Post author

      Spend less time worrying about what other people have and more time being grateful that you had a great education. Also, spend some time educating yourself on proper use of punctuation, you're making Harvard look bad.

      Reply
  3. Hrvoje

    I worked so hard to get in to Harvard I got a SAT of 2400 and had the hole High School a GPA of 4.0 and did 7 AP Exams and the IB diploma and got 44 points. Now are people coming and doing 3 courses and get in to Harvard. Hallo is the wolrd now totally fuxxed up

    Reply
  4. Nick

    This is a great review. Thank you for posting. I have a Bachelors degree from a top university, and I am eligible to run for a Masters in many top universities, especially with my GMAT score. However, I'm a career professional, with wife and kids, just passed 40 years old, have an 'extremely busy' schedule. I honestly have no time to spend 2 years of my life doing the same gruesome rigorous process that I faced when I did my bachelors 20 years ago. Besides, I want to set up a good example for my kids. Harvard Extension School fits me perfectly here.

    Reply
  5. Nick

    This is a great review. Thank you for posting. I have a Bachelors degree from a top university, and I am eligible to run for a Masters in many top universities, especially with my GMAT score. However, I'm a career professional, with wife and kids, just passed 40 years old, have an 'extremely busy' schedule. I honestly have no time to spend 2 years of my life doing the same gruesome rigorous process that I faced when I did my bachelors 20 years ago. Besides, I want to set up a good example for my kids. Harvard Extension School fits me perfectly here.

    Reply
  6. Nick

    Other EMBA programs are also fine, but based on my trial to a couple of these classes, (this is just in my humble opinion, and I could be dead wrong, and I’m willing to stand corrected) they are more of a luxury than true rigorous education that I’m facing now at Harvard Extension School. What makes me sad is the constant elitist nose-thumbing from a several students and graduates of the other Harvard schools, mainly college and GSAS, not realizing that this will cause harm to them personally, and their school, and cause people to just walk away to Berkley or Texas instead, which do treat their Extension students with the same respect as everyone else.

    Reply
    1. filthylucre Post author

      Nick, thanks for the comment. I would agree with you. I checked a few programs, and found Harvard to be compelling, and not just for the name.

      The classes I took at Harvard were the most challenging I have ever taken at any college. I was able to earn an A in both classes I took last semester, but I am unlikely to take two classes at once again. They were far more difficult than I thought they would be, especially the computer science class.

      Reply
  7. Narae

    I’m still a high school student.
    I decided to attend HES for my undergrad degree.
    I see the comment on how hard is it to get B- in three of Harvard class, but I really want to get an advice on whether I should apply into other colleges just in case I don’t make the B-. I currently have 4.0 GPA in school but I got less than 2000 on SAT score.. And English is my second language (this is what I’m really worried about). Need help..

    Thank you for posting the review^^

    Reply
    1. filthylucre Post author

      Narae, the classes are not easy, but not impossibly hard. Have you taken any other college level classes yet?

      One suggestion is to buy the book ahead of time, and maybe ask the professor for an advanced syllabus, or maybe one from last year. I wouldn't try taking more than 1 for the first semester.

      Reply
  8. Narae

    I’m still a high school student.
    I decided to attend HES for my undergrad degree.
    I see the comment on how hard is it to get B- in three of Harvard class, but I really want to get an advice on whether I should apply into other colleges just in case I don’t make the B-. I currently have 4.0 GPA in school but I got less than 2000 on SAT score.. And English is my second language (this is what I’m really worried about). Need help..

    Thank you for posting the review^^

    Reply
    1. filthylucre Post author

      Narae, the classes are not easy, but not impossibly hard. Have you taken any other college level classes yet?

      One suggestion is to buy the book ahead of time, and maybe ask the professor for an advanced syllabus, or maybe one from last year. I wouldn't try taking more than 1 for the first semester.

      Reply
  9. Katherine

    I earned my BA from Harvard Extension and in the two classes I had with undergrads from the College I was surprised at how the pace of the teaching was slowed to accommodate them and, in one class — unfortunately — how disruptive and rude some of them were. I want to emphasize that I wrote that only some of them were ill-mannered; most of them were thoughtful, funny, and engaging. They enlarged my experience considerably and I was lucky to study with them.

    Dear Hrvoje:

    I sometimes think the Extension School is the best-kept secret in ivy education. And, yes, people have left the College to finish at the much, much cheaper Extension Program.

    Reply
  10. Katherine

    I earned my BA from Harvard Extension and in the two classes I had with undergrads from the College I was surprised at how the pace of the teaching was slowed to accommodate them and, in one class — unfortunately — how disruptive and rude some of them were. I want to emphasize that I wrote that only some of them were ill-mannered; most of them were thoughtful, funny, and engaging. They enlarged my experience considerably and I was lucky to study with them.

    Dear Hrvoje:

    I sometimes think the Extension School is the best-kept secret in ivy education. And, yes, people have left the College to finish at the much, much cheaper Extension Program.

    Reply
  11. IvyVet

    I've taken 7 courses at Harvard Extension, 3 via the distance learning option. If you're not ready to work really hard don't bother. The courses I've taken thus far are more demanding and rigorous than Princeton, where I took my BA. The computer science courses in particular are killers. In my classes there's been an average attrition rate of about 1/3, some leaving well after there was any hope of getting their money back. The people who make it all the way through the Extension degree programs have my respect. It really means something.

    Reply
  12. IvyVet

    I've taken 7 courses at Harvard Extension, 3 via the distance learning option. If you're not ready to work really hard don't bother. The courses I've taken thus far are more demanding and rigorous than Princeton, where I took my BA. The computer science courses in particular are killers. In my classes there's been an average attrition rate of about 1/3, some leaving well after there was any hope of getting their money back. The people who make it all the way through the Extension degree programs have my respect. It really means something.

    Reply
  13. SocialDarwin

    Agree with most of the comments above. Start by trying just one class. A lot of work involved, but worth the effort if you've got the time to devote to it.

    Reply
  14. SocialDarwin

    Agree with most of the comments above. Start by trying just one class. A lot of work involved, but worth the effort if you've got the time to devote to it.

    Reply
  15. arrowsmith

    I've read elsewhere that fewer than 5% of those accepted into the Harvard Extension School degree programs actually complete them. So while it's easier to get into HES than to Harvard College and some of the other Harvard graduate schools, it is extraordinarily difficult to "get out".

    Published numbers bear this out: the College graduates roughly 1500 ABs a year. By contrast, the Extension School typically graduates fewer than 130 ALBs.

    Reply
  16. arrowsmith

    I've read elsewhere that fewer than 5% of those accepted into the Harvard Extension School degree programs actually complete them. So while it's easier to get into HES than to Harvard College and some of the other Harvard graduate schools, it is extraordinarily difficult to "get out".

    Published numbers bear this out: the College graduates roughly 1500 ABs a year. By contrast, the Extension School typically graduates fewer than 130 ALBs.

    Reply
    1. Ed Shull Post author

      But you have to consider that many people take classes to just expand their knowledge on a subject, not earn a degree. This is probably especially true for online classes through HES.

      Reply
  17. Scott Young

    A GREAT school! I have learned some much in the field of Information Technology, and wouldn’t chose any other distant education program. If you love taking courses online this is the school from you.

    Reply
  18. Scott Young

    A GREAT school! I have learned some much in the field of Information Technology, and wouldn’t chose any other distant education program. If you love taking courses online this is the school from you.

    Reply
  19. Austin

    The course-load can be a shock if you haven’t done rigorous academic work recently. Try not to take two writing intensive courses at the same time unless you have 30 or 40 hours a week to devote to them (outside lectures and sections).

    Also, some students don’t take sufficient account of writing requirements before enrolling. This is a big mistake, even for courses that don’t specify writing related prereqs.

    Reply

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