Many employers and HR practitioners are unaware that (1) Harvard has an extension school ; (2) Harvard extension is indeed one of the degree granting schools within the University; and (3) Many Harvard extension alumni went on and did great things in their chosen field, one even went ahead and became the President of Columbia, others joined prestigeous companies such as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs.  Because Harvard Extension , unlike Harvard College or GSAS, has a unique evaluation and admission system, people who are not familiar with the Harvard system might think that it is easier to get a degree from HES. This is obviously wrong.  Master degree applicants at the Extension need 3As or Bs in 3 graduate level courses and a B or higher in a writing course to be considered for a spot, and even within that group very few people can graduate with a Harvard degree. Most end up giving up half way. Here’s why.

Anyone within the Harvard system will tell you a lot of admitted Extension applicants could not graduate because of the thesis requirement. The Extension thesis requirement is perhaps the most demanding among all Harvard graduate schools, while being accepted into GSAS, HKS or HBS programs almost gurantee graduation (many degrees from these schools require no thesis at all), very few people can graduate from ALM (Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies) as the thesis requires years to write. The admission selection happens before a student is accepted into a degree program at GSAS or HBS, at the Extension school, the real selection criteria is the daunting thesis requirement. That’s why when a student is motivated enought to finish this multi-year journey, he or she will be granted a Harvard alumni status, the exact same status granted to HBS and HLS alums.


2 Comments so far

  1. Caroline on August 8, 2009 12:28 pm

    So not just anyone can be accepted into the Harvard Extension?

    I mean I am a transfer student and I was planning on doing the program. What would I need to do in order to be even considered?

  2. Sam on August 12, 2009 11:12 pm

    Hello Caroline, in fact, all of the Harvard Extension School degree programs require formal applications – which means that the admission committee will carefully review your academic results at HES (must be all As and Bs), among other things, before making an offer. If you do not qualify you will not be accepted.

    The classes though are open to public. However if you want to enroll in a ALB/Masters program you must meet all the criteria.

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