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Harvard Extension School


Harvard Extension School appears in our ranking of the Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in International Relations Online.

Online Master’s Degrees Offered at Harvard Extension School

For students who are interested in earning a degree, the Harvard Extension School offers 13 undergraduate degrees and 12 minors, 24 graduate degrees, and 39 certificate programs. HES additionally offers coursework in pre-med and a number of non-credit professional courses that train students in topics, like marketing, business strategy and communication.

Recently, the school also began offering an accelerated BA-MA degree in Global Studies and Management. Four of the courses in the degree count toward both undergraduate and graduate credit, allowing students to save time and money on their degree. These joint degrees are available in any program that the Extension School offers.

Bachelor’s degree programs at HES include subjects, like English and Literature, Biology, Business Administration and Management, Government, Mathematics and History. Graduate students can pursue studies in Museum Studies, Dramatic Arts, Sustainability, Anthropology and Archaeology, Digital Media Design and Government to name but a few. Many of the graduate programs are also available as certificate programs. There are also graduate-level certificates in non-degree subjects.

Recent courses at the Harvard Extension School include 3D Digital Sculpting, Introduction to Motion Graphics and Story Visualization, Advanced 3D Animation and Virtual Reality, The Ancient Greek Hero, Planning Successful Websites and Applications, Project Management and Human Health and Global Environmental Change.

About Harvard Extension School

The Harvard Extension School arose out of the Lowell Institute, which John Lowell Jr. founded in 1835 as a way to offer free lectures to the public. Eventually, the Lowell Institute and Harvard University developed a collaborative partnership. This partnership allowed the Lowell Institute to offer courses to the public. The school had a bold goal. It was meant to serve members of the community who would like to attend college, but whose life circumstances prevented them from attending traditional programs.

Harvard Extension School (HES), one of Harvard University’s 12 degree-granting colleges, continues to meet the demands of the knowledge economy. Most of this college’s student body still comes from the ranks of non-traditional students. They might be mid-career managers who need a master’s degree or a stay-at-home parent who needs to get a professional certificate to train for a new job. While some of the school’s students may fall into the 18 to 24 age range, many more fall outside the age of the traditional college student.

The Extension School can meet the demands of this diverse student population by offering a variety of delivery methods for classes. HES offers some classes on Harvard’s campus, including during the summer. Other classes (and degrees) are available online. Still, other courses fall into the hybrid category, meaning that they sometimes meet online and sometimes in-person.

The school has about 13,000 students. However, many of these students are not seeking a degree at all. In all, between 600 and 800 people earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees each year. Another 1,000 earn certificates from the school.

Harvard Extension School Accreditation

The Harvard Extension School receives its accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education. Each year, HES courses are approved by Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Harvard Extension School Application

The Harvard Extension School offers open enrollment to students who want to take individual courses, as well as to students who are interested in earning a graduate certificate. For certificate students, they must choose the first class that they’ll take in the certificate program, create an online account and then register for graduate-level credit during one of the Harvard Extension School’s enrollment periods. They will then take classes until they earn their certificates.

Admissions for both undergraduate and graduate degrees begin very similarly. In order to be accepted as degree-seeking students, HES students must first take two or three courses toward their degrees. (They would follow the procedure above.) Once they have successfully passed a few classes, they can then apply for admission into the program of their choice.

Additionally, degree-seeking students must prove that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also send transcripts from any college or university they’ve attended before being admitted to Harvard Extension School. International students must have the HES evaluate the credits they’ve earned from foreign universities before being admitted to the university.

In order to be admitted into a degree program, students must earn a “B” or above in the HES classes they take prior to being formally admitted into their degree programs. Once students are ready to apply for a degree program, they’ll open an application on HES’s online portal. It costs $100 to apply to the university. All students must demonstrate proficiency in the English language in order to be accepted into the Harvard Extension School.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Once students are admitted into a degree program, (or the pre-med program), they have a variety of financial aid options available to them. US citizens and non-citizens who are eligible for financial aid may fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for financial aid. The criteria for aid for non-citizens include students who have been granted asylum, who are citizens of the Freely Associated States, permanent residents, refugees, Cuban-Haitian entrants or people who have been granted conditional entrance. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students only qualify for aid from the university. Students must have a valid social security number in order to apply for the Harvard Extension School.

Students have grants, scholarships, federal student loans and private student loans available to them. For Bachelor of Liberal Arts students, they can qualify for aid like the Harvard Extension School Grant, Federal Pell Grants, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Special Student Scholarship and grants from the State of Massachusetts. They also qualify for Federal Direct Loans and PLUS loans. Students who attend the Master of Liberal Arts programs can also qualify for Extension School grants, the Kwan Fong Scholarship, and loans. Pre-med students qualify for the HES grant and federal student loans and PLUS loans. Additionally, students can apply for grants and scholarships independently of Harvard Extension school.

The cost of attending HES is $1,840 for classes taken at the undergraduate level and $2,840 for graduate-level courses. The estimated costs for a certificate program are $14,200. Degree program costs range from $28,000 to $58,000 in total.

In order to maintain their financial aid status, HES students must show that they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree. Undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and graduate students must have a 3.0. Those who fail to show satisfactory academic progress may be disqualified from earning federal aid.

Additional resource: Harvard Extension School