What employers think about Harvard Extension School degrees

For more than 10 years, I have received questions from prospective Harvard Extension School students (and some current students) about whether or not Harvard Extension School degrees will help them get a job, and what employers think about them. Here’s a typical query:

I am considering the Harvard Extension School for Management. I really want your opinion if this will be worth doing in terms of getting a job. I am an international student and have one year of business experience. Do you get an internship in summer? Does the Harvard brand help?

The short answer is “maybe.” Aside from the Harvard or Harvard Extension School brand, there are a few factors employers typically consider:

  1. It depends on the person and what else he or she brings to the table in terms of job experience, specific technical/work skills, and whether or not he or she will be a good fit for the team.
  2. It depends on the field/location/position. It will matter less in a highly competitive field in a big city compared to a less competitive market in a rural area or overseas.
  3. It depends on the person’s network.

As for the brand: By itself, the Harvard Extension School degree is not an automatic signal to “hire this person because he/she has ‘Harvard’ in his educational background.” But it may help you get noticed. My ALM thesis director (a tenured professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) said the Harvard association and reputation — even for Extension School students — carries a lot of weight, and will help open doors that might otherwise be closed. He actually offered to help me find work related to my research (Chinese foreign policy analysis using computer-based research) if I was interested. I wasn’t — at the time I had a pretty good job in tech media and a young family, and becoming an analyst required moving to Washington, D.C.

Another thing that may help graduates get noticed are automated resume processing programs that search for specific keywords or phrases, which may include the name of famous universities … such as Harvard.

But when the resume gets passed to an HR screener or hiring manager, things start to get tricky for many HES grads. A lot of people do not make it clear that they attended the Extension School, and instead list “Harvard University” on their resumes, either in a misguided justification to hide the Extension School affiliation, or an outright misleading attempt to make it seem as if they graduated from Harvard College, the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), or the Harvard Business School. Here are just a few examples from LinkedIn:

Harvard BiologyHarvard ALB economicsHarvard ALM digital media

Not everyone does this, of course. It’s also possible to find people who proudly list their Extension School degrees on LinkedIn:

Harvard Extension ALM nonprofits

I’ve covered the issue of how to represent your Extension School diploma in the past, and it has been debated by hundreds of people on this blog and elsewhere. You can read more at Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines are bogus.

In short, while a Harvard Extension Degree is issued by Harvard University, it is not the same degree that is issued to graduates of other schools at Harvard such as a Harvard College AB degree, a Harvard Business School MBA degree, or a Harvard GSAS AM degree. The former has a rigorous process that makes students prove they can do the work before they are admitted, but the others are among the most highly selective undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States. Students are in classrooms with other high-achievers, which raises the level of discourse and focus. Yes, HES gets some high achievers as well (including graduates of Ivies and other competitive programs) but the classrooms are also filled with casual class-takers.

The curricula and graduation requirements are also completely different. The most obvious is the Extension School’s use of distance education for course credit and for many of the professional programs,  the fact that there is no requirement to take classes taught by faculty with actual teaching appointments at Harvard.

What this means is McKinsey or Bain won’t regard an HES ALB or ALM in Management grad the same way they will treat a recent Harvard College AB or HBS MBA recipient.

What HR and hiring managers think about Extension School grads

Several people involved in hiring decisions have commented how they regard HES grads compared to their counterparts from other schools. I’ll start with the positive evaluations, followed by some of the negative takes:

Josh:

I’m a hiring manager and I would hire an HES graduate any day of the week.

Paul:

As the president and founder of our company with final say in hiring/firing, the choice is clear. Being only book smart is not nearly enough to cut it as there are already too many book smart people out there to choose from. Candidate B’s qualities along with street smarts are harder to find and what the real world is looking for.

justanotheropinion:

If I had to hire one of two applicants for my accounting firm and one said hire me because I got good grades in high school and was active in the community (real Harvard applicant), and the other said I have years of experience in accounting and will work for three months to prove myself to you and if you don’t like what you see I will leave (HES applicant) I would hire the latter.

Why? Simple, the latter has shown they can complete a course of study, are working to better themselves and have decided to take on a great amount of additional responsibility.

But there are more than a few managers out there who have been burned by HES grads misrepresenting their degrees:

As somebody who has personally on-boarded somebody claiming an HES degree as a HGSAS degree, I can tell you that this is pure bullwack. What a complete waste of time and energy her fraud was. I wasted a ton of time looking into the issue. Harvard’s own standards have always made it clear to grads that their HES degree is not a Harvard College degree. Period… It’s willful ignorance on the part of HES grads that it will be overlooked. Anyone who doesn’t know how to represent an HES degree on a resume is a liar.

Another example:

It happens every few years where my firm gets an HES grad misrepresenting their degree. The latest “MA Anthropology – Harvard,” which after a little checking (we have learned to ALWAYS be suspicious), ends up being an MLA with a concentration from HES. When confronted they always plead ignorance and make the same BS argument about how they took classes on campus at Harvard taught by faculty and blah, blah, blah. Some are otherwise good candidates, but they are still committing resume fraud. I would take an honest UMass or UConn grad over HES any day. Had they listed their true HES credential on the resume and sold it in the interview, they would be fine.

As I have said many times in the past, HES grads should be proud of what they have accomplished and be proud to list “Harvard Extension School” on their resumes. If enough people do so and do as well in their careers as they did while at HES, the reputation of the Harvard Extension School will grow … making it easier for all Extension School grads to leverage ALB and ALM degrees to advance their careers.

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33 thoughts on “What employers think about Harvard Extension School degrees

  1. Hello, ALM (Software Engineering) candidate here. I work for a Google-backed startup and am pretty sure my studies at Harvard helped me get my job.

    This identity crisis topic has gotten so much unwarranted attention over the years, I’ve noticed, and people on the internet wind themselves up SO MUCH about the Extension School vs GSAS vs College vs Whatever hand-wringing, I just have to pitch in here:

    It’s way overblown and everyone would be happier and more productive if they stop trying to pigeonhole themselves and others so much.

    All of the seven courses I’ve taken so far have been from tenured (or tenure track) Harvard professors. I’ve had the privilege of attending class with a bunch of razor-sharp students. I fly to campus a couple of weeks every semester to attend in person and I’m treated like a royal guest by the profs and my classmates from GSAS or the College. AND IT’S GREAT – I can’t think of a better use of time and money!

    Professionally, I am open about being a student in the Extension program (when people want more information) and I’ve never been treated like I’m a walking forgery or any of those silly things that people fret over.

    Here’s the key: if you want to attend Harvard to improve yourself, don’t spend time thinking about it, just GET IT DONE. Spend your time thinking about what you’re studying and gaining knowledge. Don’t worry about how people regard the Extension School – instead, spend that time making yourself better through education.

    Look, territoriality is EVERYWHERE. Quick story: When I was a newly-matriculated MBA student at University of Chicago years ago, one of the student in their prestigious college actually gave me a hard time about it because I wasn’t part of the “real” University of Chicago. I couldn’t help but laugh at him – someone who doesn’t know me who had never met me before wants to pick a fight with me over my educational choices? Talk about insecure…

    • Dear DK –

      You have my infinite thanks for your comment. Sometime we need to be reminded of what is important, and as you said, the most important thing is getting it done.

  2. I have had all my classes taught by established Harvard Professors. I am happy to tell people I am a student at the extension school. I choose the extension school because I am getting a great education at a reasonable price.

  3. My employer hires graduates of the College as well as HES graduates. There is no difference in their eyes and some HES grads are in upper-level positions. Recently, graduates of the College have also achieved these higher ranks.

  4. What a crock of bull. Hiring managers, Harvard and people in general are creating second class students. The Harvard University Extension program offers Graduate and Undergraduate degrees that require on campus time. You sit in the same classrooms as “regular” Harvard students and you put in the same time. By claiming that you somehow have earned a “different” type of Harvard degree is underhanded and seriously elitist. I would have no problem putting on a resume that I earned an MA in such and such from Harvard University Extension. And, since I get alumni status I better well be treated equally.

  5. (I didn’t attend HES but am looking into a certificate program.) I’m a little confused as to why this is an issue in the first place. On my resume, for example, I list my degree as University Name, B.S. in Computer Science. Why wouldn’t someone simply put “Harvard University, Degree Name” on their resume? When a potential employer calls to verify an applicant’s education, will they not call the same number as they would for a “normal” Harvard student? I guess I understand the concern for a fresh new grad with no experience, but as an experienced professional, I’d be taken aback if someone wanted to know the specifics of which college my degree came from. Just me though…

    • The degrees have completely different names and are not the same as those given if you were accepted into the University as a non-online student.

    • Yes, it’s perfectly fine to put “Harvard University, Degree Name”.
      But do remember that the degree name is “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies”. It would be very hard to explain to your prospective employer why Extension Studies showed up on your background check but you didn’t put that on your resume.

    • The issue is that Harvard University is synonymous with Harvard College. If you went to the Harvard Extension School it should be proudly listed on your resume as such. Almost all employers will assume you went to Harvard college when they read “Harvard University” and when they ask for a verification of your degree they will see that it has been misrepresented on your resume. They are both fantastic schools in their own way but an extension school degree is not the same as a Harvard college degree. Once again, the degree is from the college you attended. For example someone who attended Harvard Law should not try to mislead people that he has a degree from any other college of Harvard University.

  6. Getting into the Extension School is easier than getting into the regular AB, MBA, etc. programs. As stated elsewhere, those are likely to be populated by high achieving students with a lot of intensity. That said, we have access to professors who are regular faculty at Harvard, so the opportunity to learn and achieve at the highest level is there, if the student wishes to take advantage of it.

    Much of the success of Harvard students comes from the fact that they were high achievers anyway, they are likely to come from families with other social benefits such as money, connections, and general know-how, and they form connections at school that can last a lifetime. So, when someone puts down the “Harvard”, he or she is implying all of these other benefits that are only partially available, especially to distance students.

    Perhaps someday the Extension school could set up monthly or bimonthly Extension weekends where some of this could occur.

  7. I completely agree with DK that the most important thing about higher education is the learning itself. It would be nice if the brand can give you a little lift during interviews, but at the end of day, it is still more about your attitude, your personality, your experience and your capability. The brand can help for sure, but it’s never just and only about that. All the negative comments from hiring managers in the article are not about HES itself, they are mostly about “lying and hiding” which I totally agree. Again, the degree alone doesn’t define you so just be confident and list HES on your resume! If any hiring manager questions about it, explain it proudly and they will see YOUR value as a honest and positive candidate.

  8. College degrees are mostly about signaling theory nowadays – class, iq, and conformity within a rigorous program. Without a strict admission process, the value is greatly minimized. For everyone who wants to learn practical skills or to simply better themselves, I am thankful that HES exists. However, I would first ask the candidate to reconsider if this is an attempt at resume deception or simple knowledge acquisition. If the latter, maybe coursera will help you save for your retirement a little quicker.

    I would bet that simply having harvard on the resume does move the needle a bit, even when the extension is clearly spelled out. We’ll have to wait for a social science phd to run a resume study and compare the two in a job search scenario.

    Much of the value of advanced practical degrees are the career services and networking with 1%’er students with prestigious families and connections. Do HES students have the chance to network with “normal” students on campus, or are they always segregated? I would be very interested if there are any placement programs set to help extension students with their career.

    • Mike, there are opportunities to join cross-campus student groups and other activities, but you have to work at it. I participated in a technology publication while I was a student, and I know others have joined arts or student government groups. I remember when Zuckerberg visited the campus a few years ago anyone studying computer science was welcome to attend, including HES students.

      The Extension School does have a career services office and some activities such as job fairs, but I don’t know how effective they are.

  9. Hold up everyone.
    Guys… anyone who is yapping about HES not being the “real” Harvard is a joke. The School of Continuing Studies is ONE OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY’s TWELVE SCHOOLS. All of my HES classes have required on-campus components as well. Just because a HES student made the choice to study at HES does not make that student a fraud. People with elitist attitudes have a real problem with Harvard keeping up with but times and offering live online studies. While you guys are fretting, Harvard is laughing at all of you and cashing in at the bank.

  10. “Just because a HES student made the choice to study at HES does not make that student a fraud.”

    That isn’t the debate here. Why would studying at ANY school, be it Harvard, HES or Bumblebee Community College, make the student a fraud?? No one on either side of the debate is claiming that HES students are frauds.

    The debate at hand is: Is an HES student who attempts to pass off his/her degree as one from “Harvard University” without making it explicitly clear that the degree is from HES a fraud?

    As a proud HES student, my answer to that question is a simple “yes.” Whatever quality differences, if any, actual or perceived, exist between HES and other Harvard schools is something for the prospective employer to decide upon. Any student who doesn’t make it clear to a prospective employer that his/her HES diploma is from HES as opposed to one of Harvard’s other schools is being deceitful. Ultimately, there is a huge difference between being honestly precise about one’s educational achievement then hoping/expecting that a prospective employer will value one’s HES degree highly and/or as though it was from one of Harvard’s other schools versus basically lying about the precise degree earned then just assuming that it doesn’t make a difference to the prospective employer.

    Ultimately, if a student isn’t clear about his/her degree being from HES, it is never an oversight and it is always an intentional act of deception. The decision about “how much of a difference” it makes that the degree is from HES as opposed to from a different Harvard school is not the degree-holder’s decision to make.

    I know how rigorous my own HES experience has been, and, given that, I am confident that there are employers who realize as much, irrespective of how an HES degree “stacks up” against one from a different Harvard school.

  11. I have a Ph.D. from Harvard GSAS, and I cannot emphasize how wrong-headed this post is. I’ll admit that I didn’t even know there was a Harvard Extension School until a few years into my graduate studies at Harvard, but it is no more or less part of Harvard than any of the other schools. And *requiring* people to flag their resumes in a non-standard way is absurd.

    I have only ever listed my degree as from “Harvard University” with Ph.D. and the subject area. I don’t need to list “Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.” If I had an MBA from Harvard, I would just list “Harvard University” with MBA — no reason to list “Harvard Business School” unless I wanted to.

    If you’d like to list “Extension School” on your resume, by all means, do so. Perhaps you *want* to emphasize that for some reason. And perhaps in some limited situations, it might be important to clarify that point on a written resume even before an interview.

    However, the argument that it is somehow deceitful NOT to list “Extension School” is ABSURD. You offer only two testimonies of managers who claim to frown on this practice, but they don’t say they frown on that practice — THEY FROWN ON ACTUAL LYING.

    (1) The first example states: “As somebody who has personally on-boarded somebody claiming an HES degree as a HGSAS degree, I can tell you that this is pure bullwack. What a complete waste of time and energy her fraud was.”

    Read the text, please. Someone claimed to have a Harvard GSAS degree! That IS fraud. That is apparently NOT someone who just wrote “Harvard University, Master of Liberal Arts with Concentration in X,” which would be a truthful and accurate statement.

    (2) The second person wrote: “It happens every few years where my firm gets an HES grad misrepresenting their degree. The latest ‘MA Anthropology – Harvard,’ which after a little checking (we have learned to ALWAYS be suspicious), ends up being an MLA with a concentration from HES.”

    Again, this is fraud, plain and simple. This person does not have a Master of Arts (MA or technically AM) degree from Harvard. They have a Master of Liberal Arts. This person lied on their resume and should be appropriately denounced.

    However, neither of these two examples speak to the actual ambiguous case you claim to address in this post (and others), i.e., someone just omitting the name of the school on a resume and only stating the degree (as most people would do for any other of Harvard’s schools).

    It’s absurd to claim that latter practice is deceitful or misleading in any way. It’s a degree from Harvard University. Harvard College does not offer a Bachelor in Liberal Arts. Harvard GSAS (and the other graduate schools) does not offer a Master in Liberal Arts. Just because a hiring manager can’t be bothered to do a search on a degree they aren’t familiar with doesn’t make it “outright misleading” as you put it.

    The appropriate place in most cases to address this (if it is even an issue) would be in a job interview if the prospective employer has a question about your degree. And frankly if an employer is petty enough to be offended that you didn’t list “Extension School” when no other Harvard school graduates would tend to list their school affiliate on a resume, you should not want to work for that employer. Period. It is a legitimate Harvard University degree, and its title (if given correctly on a resume) identifies uniquely what program it relates to, and the employer can query its admissions or degree requirements or anything else if said employer finds it necessary.

    Lastly, let me be very clear that I take this stance as someone very knowledgeable about the Harvard system and the relative quality of its graduates. There are colleagues of mine in GSAS who would laugh at the low standards of the Harvard Ed School or even occasionally the Harvard Div School. I have a friend who took a couple classes at the Ed School that he said were a joke compared to GSAS classes. Yet no one would require a student with an Ed.D. from Harvard University to state on their resume, “Oh, by the way, I went to the Ed School, which might not be quite up to snuff or has different standards in some ways from GSAS.” I have a friend with an Ed.D. from Harvard, and those in academia knew the standards of his program were different, and he was viewed accordingly. Those members of the general public would just know he had a “doctorate from Harvard” which is exactly what he had.

    Even worse, Harvard hands out master’s degrees like candy in GSAS. Seriously. They are absolutely meaningless degrees in most programs that have an ultimate Ph.D. You just get one “along the way” after completing most coursework, if you bother to apply for one. But look at someone who has a “Master of Arts” from Harvard in some field (with no Ph.D.), and THAT should be a serious resume flag.

    Why? Because — with the exception of a handful of terminal master’s programs — that means generally one of two things: (1) the person decided to quit the Ph.D. program, so was awarded a consolation “terminal master’s” (and thus has questionable commitment to scholarly endeavors) or (2) the person flunked some aspect of their qualifying exams or other upper-level requirements and was kicked out of the Ph.D. program and given a master’s as a consolation prize. (I have known both to happen.)

    Thus, a person who claims to have a “MA in Anthropology” from Harvard is very likely someone who flunked out of something. (Apparently there is an M.A. in Medical Anthropology that’s considered an “real” master’s degree from that department, but other M.A. degrees should not be terminal degrees if they are to mean anything other than that the person hung around Harvard for a few semesters and took a few courses.)

    Your examples of hiring managers thus not only show examples of fraud, but also ignorance of Harvard graduate programs that think they have the ability to evaluate.

    Bottom line: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with listing “Extension School” on a resume, and in a few rare instances, I think it might be useful for clarification. But it shouldn’t be necessary. Other questions can be handled in an interview. And you’re certainly correct to condemn those who misrepresent their degrees explicitly (as in the two examples you offer). But just listing your degree as “Harvard University, Bachelor (or Master) of Liberal Arts”? That’s literally what the degree is. Insisting that everyone write “Extension School” serves to create a second-class atmosphere around the degree that is undeserved, particularly with the number of meaningless Master of Arts degrees Harvard hands out anyway.

    The HES degrees are certainly more meaningful and don’t deserve to be singled out with a weird “extension studies” flag on a resume, which will lead employers to say, “Huh?” Nothing on a resume should lead an employer to say, “Huh?” You’re giving poor advice to people who worked hard for their degrees. Lots of colleges offer evening or summer master’s programs (often with more lax requirements), and I’ve never heard of another one that would like to require the graduates of said programs to flag them on their resumes as different unless the actual title of the degree is different. (And the degree IS in this case, which serves to identify the program uniquely on a resume.)

    Again, if your prospective employer’s reaction in an interview is to be offended or accuse you of fraud for listing your degree literally as what it is, you should stand up and walk out the door right then and there, because you don’t want to work for someone like that.

    • This is an amazing response. Thank you. Your insight and articulation of it hit on why I feel so drawn to Harvard, as an academic ideal.

    • I am actually considering the Harvard University Extension School ALM in Creative Writing and Literature as a second chance college student who did not earn their first college degree until the age of 30. My current career goal is to get into the adjunct instructor pool at the community college system where I live in rural Kentucky. I want to teach remedial courses and English/writing. I would hope that someone evaluating my resume would simply see Harvard as higher in status than someone that has a MFA from a regionally accredited online college or a master’s degree in English from a local college such as Eastern Kentucky University or Morehead State University.

      I have overcome great obstacles in life that most people can only imagine. My only goal with pursuing a degree from the Harvard School of Extension Studies is to show people that there is hope for something better: even if better just means earning a certificate or diploma from a rural community college.

      I have also always wanted to write a book so the degree might help me perfect my craft.

      • Go for it, Peggy.

        My first HES class was actually a creative writing class. The program and faculty is very strong, and when I did the class there were opportunities to get published in respected literary journals.

  12. Thanks for taking the time to explain the nuances of the GSAS masters/PhD universe. I think we agree on many points (e.g., earning a Harvard Extension School degree is something to be proud of), but I also think that graduates should be clear about their affiliation on their resume or LinkedIn profile for the reasons explained above. Transparency is important, and it really does matter when “Harvard” comes up.

    You brought up the example, “If I had an MBA from Harvard, I would just list ‘Harvard University’ with MBA — no reason to list ‘Harvard Business School’ unless I wanted to.” Most Harvard MBAs I know *do* list “Harvard Business School” on their CVs. I also attended business school (not at Harvard) and most classmates include the name of the business school and often the name of the program, too.

    Another question to consider: Why does the Extension School itself now insist that graduates use “Extension School” or “Extension Studies” when listing degrees on resumes?

  13. John— that’s a fantastic post. Thank you for your detailed explanation. I completely agree with you.

    With that being said, HES is looked down upon by the other 11 because we aren’t as selective or scarce. But let’s be honest here. Our experience and quality of education is typically NOT as rich and of the same quality as HBS or College. That’s the truth. We will never be seen as equals until we become more competitive by raising the barrier of entry. I would like to see our standards go up all around. Only then can we have a comfortable seat at the table instead of sitting on the floor.

  14. hello, ALM (Information Technology) here.
    Dear Ilamont, I am really appreciated that you had written a very informative article about the HES here; However, I feel like your opinion are no longer up-to-date, because:
    1) The world is now wisely accepted the value of online education: back in the 1990s, people have questioned the value of online-education as it is new and unproven. in the last 2 decades, online education has proven that it is as good as traditional education, many Harvard-professors had said that HES student had turned in better work than the traditional college student. a TA here had commented to proven that point.
    2) There are several goverment from several countries (Vietnam…) had issued a law to confirm that government’s officer will get paid the same salary for the same position regardless of their degree is online or tradition. It had become a law.
    3) HES is no longer required the student to list the Extention or ALM on their resume: HES website used to say that “MA in Anthropology” is “NOT ACCEPTABLE”, but now they said that you “MAY BE” listed it as ——, IMHO, this is a signal that online education had gained more acceptance at the table.
    https://www.extension.harvard.edu/resources-policies/completing-your-degree/graduation-honors
    4) Oxford University had confirmed that there is no difference in their online vs tradition degree. Why do we, Harvard, make our life harder?

    When I google that value of HES, this post comes up as the first that devalue of HES alumni. => “In short, a Harvard Extension Degree is NOT a Harvard”

    I KINDLY ASK THAT YOU, PLEASE, REWRITE THAT PHARES, so it not gonna show up in google search on the way that it may hurt our value. in case, our future employer search for HES.
    Thank
    T

    • Yes, I see that Google is excerpting that phrase with no context. I rewrote it.

      Regarding point #1: I don’t agree that online education is as good as traditional education, with the exception of convenience and certain technical features. I’ve taken online classes for credit myself and discussed this issue endlessly elsewhere, so I won’t repeat myself here.

      Point #2: That’s great. I know that many government jobs in the United States are also agnostic about whether the degree was obtained online or in a classroom.

      Point #3: The Harvard Extension School most definitely requires “Extension” to be included somewhere in the degree description, although it’s impossible to enforce. Here’s what the Harvard Extension School’s official guidelines say about listing resumes:

      On your résumé, the degree name may be listed as either:

      Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Harvard University Extension School.
      Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University.

      • Dear Ian Lamont,
        Thank for rewrote the phrase, I really appreciate it.
        regarding your comment on point #1: I had huge respect for you, as a historian, you had done a wonderful job capturing both sides of story during the “revolution of online education” of HES during “1910-2009”. your writing was very deep, careful, informative, and thoughtful.
        in fact, in 2011, my cousins had said behind my back that I only do an “online course” rather than a full master degree, because they don’t know if it is legit to do an online master degree. so, yes, I shared your concerns.

        Let not wasting any more time debate about the “online vs tradition” education in present (2019). I would like to invite you to debate about THE FUTURE.

        As an ALM(IT), I believed that in 2029-2039, online education will be better than traditional education because:
        #1) Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Microsoft Hologram, Magic Leap, AI, deep learning, robotic, … (you can google tons of very promising innovative technologies are underdeveloping here)… so, I am not only argued that online education will not only just as good as traditional education, but it will also capable to offer something that surpassed traditional education in term of visualization, experience, convenience, and effectiveness.
        #2) Many traditional universities will be closed down: there is a trend that many traditional universities are downsizing or bankrupting. Prof Clayton Christensen of HBS predicted that -“Half of American Colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years” because the cost-effective of online education drive them out of business. Only traditional university with strong research program will be survived. online education will beat the tradition education by quantity and cost-effectiveness.

        I would like to hear your comment about the outcome of this future.

        • I agree with your point #2 about traditional universities closing down, although not only because of online education. This country’s higher educational establishment faces a demographic cliff by 2025 as the number of college-aged children drops (following the decline in births after the 2008 recession). When coupled with the outrageous sticker costs of attending college in person, that’s when smaller and less selective universities will start closing in earnest. It’s already started in New England, including Mt. Ida College in Newton last year.

          Regarding #1: I’ve been watching remote learning technologies come and go for more than a decade. 90% fail to live up to the hype. 10+ years ago it was Second Life and Cisco Telepresence. Now it’s VR and “live” classroom techs which have their own problems (see “VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it“) . For the future I expect more hype and failed promises, and the in-class experience to continue to be superior on a number of qualities: visual and audio fidelity, engagement, on-the-fly reconfiguration, and opportunities to interact with faculty. The best technologies I have seen are those that incorporate live, low-cost two-way video. AR software overlays add little, except for very specific technical training, in my opinion.

  15. As HES ALM student and a PHD degree holder from traditional program, I only want to say I learned more from the HES program for my day to day life than the PHD.

    Those who laughed at HES program, please take the rigorous path to get yourself admitted before posting comments as people should not comment on something that they don’t know.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Alex. Critics of Harvard Extension academics should walk the walk before passing judgement. Many, if not most would never matriculate.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking about HES program , but I was worried that if I wanted to teach and/or move onto my Phd the HES degree would not be looked at the same as a regular MA program. Do you have any advice that i should take into consideration?

      Kelly

      • Quoting one of the senior HES administrators, Suzanne Spreadbury, of the Harvard Extension School: “ALB graduates have accepted to all top research universities in the United States. Harvard. Yale. MIT. Columbia. Princeton. UPenn.” https://t.co/lViAGoya1N (19:30)

  16. “…the fact that there is no requirement to take classes taught by faculty with actual teaching appointments at Harvard.”
    Actually, there is – from their degree requirements page:
    “52 credits taken with Harvard instructors”.
    Most of the HES classes are *exactly* the same as Harvard University courses, taught by the same instructors/professors. The only difference is the HES students can only participate in night classes.
    Sure, there are plenty of ‘casual course takers’ because anyone can audit a class there for a hefty sum. However, they do have requirements to earn your way into the degree program, which I’m sure most of the ‘casual course takers’ do not try to do.

    • “Harvard Instructor” doesn’t mean “Harvard Faculty,” and few Harvard Extension School classes are *exactly* the same as classes taught elsewhere at Harvard. For instance, in the huge ALM Management program none of the classes are the same as Harvard Business School classes or requirements, and no Harvard Business School faculty teach at the Extension School. Faculty tend to be from other universities — looking at the first page of the faculty directory, I see Hult International Business School, Southern New Hampshire University, and many people working in industry.

      Generally speaking, the liberal arts and science classes are more likely to have Harvard faculty, including tenured professors. But there are also professors from other schools in the Boston area. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I have described in my article about the “Harvard Instructor” requirement.

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