Harvard Extension School (HES), one of the twelve degree-granting schools of Harvard University, was founded by university President A. Lawrence Lowell in 1910. The school was originally an academic program designed to serve the educational interests and needs of the greater Boston community. It now attracts students globally as do the other divisions of Harvard. Harvard University's Extension School offers undergraduate and graduate liberal arts degree programs to nontraditional students. The Extension School is part of the Division of Continuing Education, which itself is part of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Degrees offered in Extension Studies
The Harvard Extension School offers two undergraduate degrees: the Associate in Arts
(A.A.) and the Bachelor of Liberal Arts
(A.L.B.). Both undergraduate degree programs are aimed at nontraditional students. The Harvard Extension School degree requirements are similar to that of Harvard College
, and a degree from the Extension School is often referred to simply as a degree from Harvard University. Harvard Extension students complete requirements in three areas: Natural Sciences
, Social Sciences
There is also an option of adding a major, or a Field of Study
, to one’s transcripts, which includes his or her primary field. Up to half of the coursework (up to 64 units) for the A.L.B. may come in the form of transfer credits from other accredited institutions; mostly these must be Liberal Arts courses. Students may petition to transfer outside credits once fully enrolled as an Undergraduate Degree student, but can not exceed a maximum of 64 transfer credits, total. For graduation, 64 credits must be completed at Harvard University; 52 credits must come from courses taught by Harvard Instructors. Degree Candidates may apply for Special Student Status, which allows them to take up to two classes per semester at Harvard College
or at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
. Admission to this special program requires faculty recommendations and at least 3.33 GPA.
Master of Liberal Arts
(A.L.M.) in Extension Studies, offers concentrations noted on the student transcripts in traditional arts and sciences fields such as government and biology, as well as relatively new fields such as information technology or business management. All fields require eight out of ten courses to be taught by Harvard Instructors. A.L.M. programs require a thesis, except the A.L.M. in Extension Studies, concentration in Management (it requires a capstone course), which must be written under the direction of a Harvard faculty member holding a teaching appointment in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the rank of senior lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor, or an appropriate teaching appointment in another Harvard professional school, such as the Law School, Graduate School of Education, or Medical School. While courses for the A.L.M. often meet at a separate time, they sometimes can be exact replicas of courses taught in other Harvard schools. HES students may exercise the option of taking courses in the GSAS for graduate credit, after applying for "Special Student Status." Admission to the program requires a ‘B’ or better in graduate proseminars, as well as two regular courses, one of which must be in the student’s proposed field of study. For admission, a formal application and two essays are required after establishing academic standing, with a 3.0 or better in one’s graduate studies generally being required for consideration for admittance. There are fifteen fields of study that a student can have the Harvard Extension School designate on their transcripts as a concentration area in the ALM in Extension Studies Program: Anthropology and Archaeology (physical); Biology; History of Science, Anthropology and Archaeology (social and cultural); Foreign Literature, Language, and Culture; Government; History; History of Science; Linguistics; Medieval Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Psychology; Celtic Languages and Literature; Dramatic Arts; English and American Literature and Language; Foreign Literature, Language, and Culture; Linguistics; Literature and Creative Writing; Medieval Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; and Religion.
Master of Liberal Arts (A.L.M.) degrees are awarded in the following areas: in Biotechnology, in Mathematics for Teaching, in Information Technology, in Environmental Management, in Journalism, in Educational Technologies, in Business Management, and in Museum Studies. These professional degree programs largely follow the same procedures as admittance to the graduate schools; however, some of the faculty may be adjuncts whose primary occupation may be in the corresponding industry. For instance, the Faculty of Journalism consists of editors of major publications such as the Boston Globe and the New York Times.
may be earned in Business Management
, Applied Sciences
, Environmental Management
, and Publishing and Communications
. The certificates are conferred only if the matriculated student holds a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
Open Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions
The Harvard Extension School has a policy of open enrollment for all its courses, which means that a student does not have to be officially admitted into a degree program to study at Harvard Extension. Harvard Extension School's aim, as President Lawrence A. Lowell deemed it to be, is "systematic popular education." In addition, the Harvard Extension School is among the lowest cost of schools the Boston area. As a result of the school's aim of popular education and its low cost, the Extension School has enrolled over 400,000 students--currently the school enrolls about 13,000 per year.
Students applying to be degree candidates must obtain at least a 'C-' average in three prerequisite courses and also pass Expository Writing E - 25 with a C- or higher. If additional courses are taken beyond the three prerequisite courses before a student applies, a minimum of a 2.5 cumulative GPA must be maintained for a student to be eligible to apply. When the above requirements are met, the student is given the opportunity to apply for the degree program formally.
Although Harvard Extension School has a policy of open enrollment for individual classes, potential students who would like to enroll in the degree program must go through an application process, including essay submission.
Harvard designed the Extension School for the commuter population . Harvard Extension students can attend athletic events, join many Harvard College student groups, and attend other events like theatrical events and dramas . Degree candidates at HES are eligible for membership in the Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) and for other opportunities at Harvard University. Established in 2001, the association serves over 13,000 students annually at Harvard Extension School. Its stated mission is to build and maintain a sense of community among students. In partnership with many other organizations on campus, HESA provides a variety of social activities, educational events, and forums that enrich student life and experience. All degree, certificate, and diploma candidates in good standing at Harvard Extension School are voting members of HESA. Upon graduation, students are eligible for membership in the Harvard Extension Alumni Association (HEAA), the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), and any of the Harvard Alumni Clubs. Graduates also take part in the commencement ceremonies with all other schools of Harvard.
- Álvaro Uribe, CSS ’93 — 56th President of Colombia
- Francisco Santos Calderón, CSS - Vice President, Republic of Colombia
- Mark J. Plotkin, ALB ’79 — Ethnobotanist; President, Amazon Conservation Team
- Rory Cowan, ABE ’79 — CEO, Lionbridge Technologies Incorporated
- John Elms, ALB ’95 — President and CEO, Azalea Networks
- Sal Perisano, ALM ’87 — Chairman and CEO, IParty Corporation