Is Harvard Extension School Worth It? Acceptance Rate, Alumni, and More

Established in 1835, the Harvard Extension School was conceived to provide educational degrees and certifications for individuals who desire and aspire to learn. 

Being a leader in distance learning for over a century, HES has over 70 degree fields and certifications for students to choose from. Whether they’re pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees, students have the chance to learn from the school’s prestigious faculty, as well as industry experts from neighboring institutions like Princeton, MIT, and the University of Cambridge, England. 

Carrying the Harvard insignia, HES was constructed to be rigorous and challenging, producing top graduates in various fields. Even so, HES allows for students to balance their programs to accommodate their hectic careers and personal lives, while receiving a world-class education. 

Enhancing the online learning experience, the school features HELIX which is the Harvard Extension Live Interactive Experience. Students have the opportunity to enter a live classroom to interact with their instructors and peers, creating an immersive online experience. 

With a leading premedical program, HES prepares students with arduous coursework before applying to a medical school of their choosing. Whether it’s part-time or evening studies, premed students can structure the schedule that works for them.

The programs found at HES allow students to complete traditional degrees at a faster and cost-effective rate. Without imposition, the student can devise the pace, structure, and schedule of courses entirely. 

By simply enrolling into courses, professionals will have access to the top educators and resources of not only HES, but the larger Harvard University community. Access to on-campus resources will be provided for students to receive a broader experience.

Today, we are going to talk about whether Harvard Extension School is worth it, whether it is the same as going to Harvard normally, and more.


Is Harvard Extension School Worth It?

Harvard University
John Phelan, Harvard Yard, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, CC BY 3.0

The absolute benefit behind HES is the flexibility students can enjoy while pursuing their degrees. Even professionals with full-time careers can pursue a degree at HES.

Pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees at HES is a more adaptive process than traditional programs. Students aren’t expected to prove past credentials but rather showcase their knowledge through prepped courses.

Furthermore, the courses are built for students to implement what they’re learning in real time. Instructors encourage them to harness their studies to apply their skills to their careers. 

The large selection of courses prepares students for the careers they wish to enter, which can include certifications and degrees for industries that are currently in demand. Whatever studies students wish to pursue, they can rely on fresh and iterative courses, covering the latest developments across all sectors. 

With participants joining HES worldwide, students can expect a rich global experience, being a part of an international classroom. The school welcomes a community of peers eager to advance their knowledge through live interactions that deepen their educational experiences.

Professionals curious about funding their higher education can find many resources under the school’s financial wellness guide. The financial office can assist students to budget, fund, and finance their educational studies, accommodating their financial situations.

Once students have completed their courses, they can enjoy attending Harvard University’s commencement and walking among the entire Harvard community of students and faculty. Joining the Harvard Extension Alumni Association guarantees a rich postgraduate experience for students to enjoy for the rest of their lives.


Harvard Extension School Acceptance Rate

The advantage of HES is that the acceptance rate is 100%, seeing as anyone with the desire to learn can register for courses. 

All programs are open for students who submit the required enrollment materials. 

The enrollment process is straightforward, much like an online shopping experience. Students can add the courses of their choice to their carts and submit their registration. 

With three credit level options, learners can choose the level they wish to enroll in, which are undergraduate, graduate, or noncredit. For students who wish to take undergraduate or graduate courses, they must be at least 15 and 18 years of age respectively

From age 15 years and up, students can audit select courses by registering for a noncredit level. While grades and academic credit will not be given for noncredit courses, students can still expect to see these courses on their transcripts. 

However, before planning course schedules, it’s advised to ensure that enrollment for courses hasn’t filled up. In the event that a class has reached full capacity, students may have the option to join the waitlist until a spot becomes available. 

While flexibility remains in the structure of programs, courses can be offered seasonally through Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer terms. It is recommended that students frequently check the course catalog and verify which courses are offered per term and their availability. 

In addition, specific courses may require placement tests before registering. As an example, math diagnostic tests help students prepare for the level of coursework covered in mathematics and economics. 


Harvard Extension School Notable Alumni

Memorial Hall, Harvard University
Ario Barzan, Memorial Hall, Harvard University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Notable alumni come from diverse industries, which have even led some to become professors at Harvard University. 

With two teaching positions, Dr. Latanya Sweeney is the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Graduating with a degree in computer science from HES, Dr. Sweeney recently received a $3 million grant from the Ford Foundation funding her tech initiative, Public Interest Technology Lab. 

Mark Plotkin, a graduate of HES, is a world-renowned ethnobotanist and co-founder of the Amazon Conservation Team. In 2019, the HES alumni association awarded Plotkin with the Michael Shinagel Award for Service. 

Plotkin was inspired to continue his education at HES after taking a course by the leading expert in biocultural conservation, Richard Schultes. Continuing both of their legacies, Plotkin and Schultes introduced the first course on rainforest conservation, as co-teachers, at HES. 

In the art world, a notable alum is Boston-based artist Allan Rohan Crite. Earning his Bachelor of Arts at HES in 1968, Crite’s artwork, which spans over seven decades, depicted the daily experiences of African Americans in the greater Boston area. In 1986, Crite was awarded with the 350th Harvard University Anniversary medal. 

Jenny Allard is the current head coach of the Harvard University softball team. Allard is an alum from both HES and Harvard University, earning two master’s degrees in education and psychology, respectively. 


What is the Course Catalog At Harvard Extension School?

For students who are unsure about what curriculum to pursue, HES features courses that can assist students in finding their desired programs. Whether those courses are online or in-person, there are over 1000 offered through HES. 

A newly added and defining course at HES is the Academic Gap Year, where students can access the classes that will prepare them for their continued education. This year-long course focuses on all pertinent topics students will need to maintain momentum in their academic careers. 

An exceptional feature for students looking to pursue medicine is the school’s premedical program. Students can receive personalized programs, advising for the med school application process, and discounted online courses from Harvard Medical School. 

With over 20 fields to pursue, students have the incredible opportunity to earn a graduate degree of their interest. While admissions for graduate degree programs will require students to apply, prior education history is not required.

HES will only require graduate applicants to demonstrate their educational abilities at the time of application.

For students interested in attending online, in-person, or live courses, the course catalog provides a breakdown of classes for each category. Based on their preferences, professionals can structure how they’d like to learn that suits their lifestyle. 

HES offers an incredible joint degree program where students can receive their undergraduate and graduate degrees at once. Without taking gaps in between, HES provides the students an efficient way to build a full academic career in over nine fields of study. 


Should You Attend Harvard Extension School?

The Harvard Extension School is the ideal institution for students and professionals looking to advance their careers with both rigor and ease. While the courses and programs at HES will be challenging, students won’t need to upend their lives in order to succeed. 

Being enrolled at HES means having access to the greater Harvard University experience. Students can enjoy on-campus resources such as libraries, study spaces, and the community.

For degree candidates, unique study opportunities at Harvard University schools, and renowned institutions, are made available. Students can gain access to internships, workshops, and other exclusive events for specific programs.

With flexible online and live classroom experiences, learners of any age can find a program that’s compatible with their interests and mode of learning. There is a program for anyone with a passion for taking their education to the next level.

Attending HES means being a part of a leading institution on the edge of pioneering technology and innovation in the fields of medicine, technology, business, law, health, and beyond. For professionals, their education can lend itself to the advancement of these industries.

Career-ready certifications prepare students to pivot themselves to growing sectors. Professionals will receive guidance and support from launching into new careers postgraduate.

With a  global community of learners, students can experience more than just an education. The virtual classrooms build community and cross-cultural exchange that gives students a valuable international perspective.

At HES, there is something for everyone to learn, not only through their education but as participants in this growing global community.

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