I hear a lot of anxiety from prospective degree candidates about Harvard Extension School admissions. They are worried about whether or not they will be admitted to their respective programs at the Extension School. One recent example involved an out-of-state student who wanted to join the Museum Studies ALM program. He emailed me after reading my blog about Harvard Extension, and was clearly very worried, particularly because he felt his undergraduate GPA was too low. He also had taken classes at other educational institutions. Could he get in to the Harvard Extension School?
… Don’t worry about admissions. I have NEVER heard of anyone who meets the stated admissions requirements of an EXT degree program being rejected.
And the requirements for admission are very clear: If you meet the Extension School GPA and course requirements (3 Extension School classes, including the recommended classes, with a 3.0 average), have an accredited degree from an undergraduate institution, answer the essay questions and other admission packet requirements, and pay the fees … that means you’re in.
You graduated from [redacted] with a diploma; therefore your undergraduate GPA does not matter. Besides your undergraduate degree, as long as you have taken the required EXT classes and gotten the minimum GPA, there is nothing stopping you from matriculating.
Even if you screw up the admissions essay (unlikely for anyone who has taken the prerequisite classes and gotten a 3.0 GPA), they will send the essay back, tell you what’s wrong, and ask you to resubmit.
Your other grades from [redacted] and any other educational experience has no bearing on your application.
Seeing as that you have graduated from college, the most important thing for you to do to get into this program is to start taking the recommended EXT classes and making sure you do really well at them. You don’t have to be a Mass. resident to apply to the Extension School, but I advise any student interested in the Extension School to relocate to Cambridge in order to get a true Harvard experience and real interaction with Harvard faculty, students, and facilities. For the Museum Studies program, this is a requirement, as there are few online courses available for this major.
My piece of advice in the last paragraph about taking classes on campus applies to all programs. If you want a Harvard education, being on campus is crucial. I think the current forms of distance education at the Harvard Extension School are providing students with an incomplete Harvard experience, usually with little or no interaction with faculty and fellow students. I have written about this extensively in the past, including on my Harvard Extension School blog:
Online education is a huge growth area for the Extension School, but the technologies used today are not a suitable replacement for in-class instruction and discussion. Unlike traditional face-to-face classes at the Extension School, contact with Harvard faculty in the online classes is limited. Even though many distance education students work extremely hard on assignments and tests, watching videos on the Extension School website and participating in limited online discussions does not represent a “Harvard-caliber” academic experience, as the Extension School claims. I strongly disagree with the Extension School’s liberal online credit policies, which allow students in the undergraduate ALB and graduate ALM in IT programs to complete upwards of 90% of their coursework online, without ever sitting in the same room with their classmates or professors. Tellingly, neither Harvard College nor Harvard’s professional schools offer online classes to their own students for degree credit.
I have additional thoughts about online education at the Harvard Extension School here on the Ipso Facto blog.
One last thing: If you read the above information, and still have questions about Harvard Extension School admissions, don’t ask me. Pick up the phone, and call the Extension School to speak with an admissions advisor. It costs nothing, and will save you lots of time and unnecessary worry. The number is (617) 495-9413.