There is plenty of information posted on different internet forums and blogs everyday. While some of them may contain useful facts, many are just badly written articles submitted by pay-per-post bloggers trying to make a quick buck from affiliate marketing. If you want to get unbiased information on important subjects as such health, law or education, believing every word you read on the internet is a bad idea. It will be wise for you to do some serious research yourself.

Some graduates from Harvard University’s extension school listed themselves as Harvard alumni on professional networks such as Linkedin, while some said they had no right to make such claims and doing so is a form of misrepresentation. The debate drew attention to the validity and quality of courses and degrees offered by Harvard’s division of continuing education. There are also rumors that Harvard Extension School grants degrees to anyone who applies and there is no formal admission procedure.

Any reasonable and pragmatic person who is interested in Harvard Extension would go directly to Harvard University and ask: “Is it really Harvard?”

According to Harvard University’s official website, the answer is a clear YES. The University offers only two types of undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies. Both are bona fide, real Harvard degrees and both have formal admission process. Contrary to popular belief, Harvard University has no open enrollment degree program. AB (Bachelor of Arts), offered by Harvard College, and ALB (Bachelor of Liberal Arts) offered by the Harvard Extension School, both require students to submit essays, transcripts and resume to the admission committee. Both programs require passing of an intensive writing course called Expository Writing.

AB degrees have very competitive admission criteria based on standardized test scores, while ALB degrees are less restrictive with their initial admission process. However, you should note that only less than 1% of people who enroll in the Harvard Extension School finish their degree requirements and graduate.

Being accepted into ALB does not require one to have powerful family ties or be a legacy student, one does not need wealthy parents to donate buildings or laboratories, admission is based solely on one’s ability to do honors level work at Harvard, defined as getting 3 Bs in 3 open enrollment undergraduate classes and passing the expository writing class.

Many students, often those who unsuccessfully applied to Harvard College, see ALB as a short cut to getting a Harvard undergraduate degree. After a semester or two of taking classes with top Harvard academics, and facing the real pressures of taking Harvard exams, many come to a rude awakening: ALB is really a Harvard program, with all the rigor, stress and competition that attach to earning an Ivy League degree.

Some ALB candidates are asked to withdraw from the program after failing the all important expository writing class twice, others simply cannot catch up with the intellectually intensive coursework and voluntarily withdraw from the program.

That’s why very few people receive Harvard diplomas every year – be it AB or ALB.


1 Comment so far

  1. Mike on May 19, 2009 6:20 pm

    Well said!

    Sure, the requirements for ALB and AB candidates have to be different. Take the person who had a stellar high school career and unexpectedly had a family. SAT scores are somewhat irrelevant in providing for a family. When that individual wants to return to school, she or he has been away from it for a few, and sometimes, many years. (and then one considers what value the SAT scores have once more) When one considers that the ALB degree was earned while raising a family and working on a full-time career, she or he has accomplished as much as, or even more than the AB candidate. (Screening process etc. notwithstanding)

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