Harvard Extension School
|Dean||Huntington D. Lambert|
|Location||Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States|
Harvard University Extension School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the twelve degree-granting schools of Harvard University, offering professional certificates and liberal arts-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs aimed at nontraditional students, as well as open-enrollment continuing education courses in 60 fields. Admission to the undergraduate and graduate degree programs require successful completion of pre-admission courses and are subject to an application and admission committee process.
The School has its roots in the Lowell Institute, which was established in 1839, and it began offering courses at Harvard in 1907. The University Extension was created in 1910, and the first undergraduate degrees were awarded in 1913. Over the first 100 years of the Extension School's existence, partnerships were established with other Boston area universities, the US Navy, and with an Indian computer academy. Graduate degrees were first awarded in 1980, and graduate certificates two years after that. Many students are Harvard University employees taking advantage of the steep discounts offered by the Tuition Assistance Plan.
- 1 History
- 2 Academics
- 3 Undergraduate Degrees
- 4 Graduate Degrees
- 5 Student Life
- 6 International Students
- 7 Notable Alumni
- 8 Coat of Arms
- 9 Statistics
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Founded in 1910, by Abbott Lawrence Lowell, Harvard Extension School was designed to serve the educational interests and needs of the greater Boston community, but has since extended its "academic resources to the public, locally, nationally, and internationally."
After 100 years, an estimated 500,000 students have taken courses at the Extension School. While there has never been an entrance exam and fees were kept as low as possible to allow as many as possible to enroll, only .18% have ever earned a degree. Including certificate earners, 2.5% have graduated. Today more degrees are awarded each year than were awarded in the first 50 years combined.
John Lowell, Jr., a wealthy Boston businessman, became gravely ill during a camel trip across the Egyptian desert and wrote his will on the banks of the Nile River in Cairo. He died on March 4, 1836, shortly after arriving in Bombay, India, and his will was executed back in Boston. In it, he set aside half his fortune to be used for "the maintenance and support of Public Lectures to be delivered in said Boston upon philosophy, natural history, and the arts and sciences... for the promotion of the moral and intellectual and physical instruction or education of the citizens of the said city of Boston. Lowell also directed that lectures be given "on the natural religion showing its conforimity to that of our Savior," "on the historical and internal evidences in favor of Christianity," and "avoiding all disputed points of faith and ceremony" by directing the lecturers "to the moral doctrines of the Gospel."
The lectures were supposed to be free for those of limited means, and for those who could afford to attend more "abstruse" or "erudite" lectures, the maximum charge was to be no more than the value of two bushells of wheat. In an equally egalitarian measure, the lectures were specifically open to women as well as to men.
When the Lowell Institute, the foundation formed to sponsor the lectures, opened in 1839 the initial value of the fund was $250,000, or $5,309,180 in 2012 dollars. Annual interest on corpus of $18,000, or $382,260.96 in 2012 dollars. By 1897 the fund had more than $1,000,000 in it, with an annual income of more than $50,000. The Institute was to be headed by a single trustee, and one preferably a male descendant of Lowell's grandfather. The first trustee, John Amory Lowell, administered the trust for more than forty years.
When A. Lawrence Lowell succeeded his father as trustee of the Lowell Institute in 1900, he was already a trustee at both Harvard and MIT. He reorganized the lectures first as the School for Industrial Foremen at MIT, and then later renamed it the Lowell Institute School "under the auspices of MIT." In 1907 the Lowell Institute School began offering courses at Harvard, and the a course on literature had to turn people away because the largest hall Harvard had could only seat 300 persons. Two years later, in 1909, A. Lawrence Lowell was elected president of Harvard.
A. Lawrence Lowell wanted to serve the "many people in our community, who have not been to college, but who have the desire and the aptitude to profit by so much of a college education as, amid the work of earning their living, they are able to obtain." The courses he proposed, to be offered by a new University Extension, were to be identical with the regular classes offered by Harvard professors, and which were to be "followed by examinations of the same character and standard" as standard courses at Harvard College.
When the University Extension was announced it garnered major media coverage in Boston. James Hardy Ropes, the Extension's first dean, was quoted in the Boston Journal as saying that "our aim will be to give the young people of Boston who have heretofore been prevented from securing a college education the same instruction they would receive were they undergraduates at Harvard." Ropes' goal was "to supply a thorough university training to those who have previously been denied one and supply it at a very low figure" while "provid[ing] technical or culture instruction for persons who are unable to spend four years in college."
The first year of courses saw 863 students enroll, with 395 of them earning certificates. A. Lawrence Lowell, as both president of Harvard and trustee of the Lowell Institute, saw the University Extension as "a trust for the community, for the public, and we are nothing but a successive series of servants to the public."
When the National University Extension Association was created in 1915, Harvard was a charter member. Several years later, when Arthur F. Whittem took over as dean of University Extension, it comprised the Summer School of Arts and Sciences and of Education, the Commission on Extension Courses, and the Special Students office.
Despite falling revenue due to the Great Depression, A. Lawrence Lowell insisted in 1931 that the will of John Lowell, Jr prevented courses from costing more than two bushels of wheat. As a result, a half year course cost could no more than $5, and a full course no more than $10. However, increases in salaries required additional funding. To avoid an increase in tuition and the cut in Lowell Institute funding that would follow, an exam fee of $5 was added for those who wished to earn a certificate.
Unlike a similar program at Columbia University, the University Extension courses were to be taught by "the most experienced teachers that can be secured." Early faculty included Charles Townsend Copeland, Theodore Spenser, B.J. Whiting, William Yandell Elliot, Payton S. Wild Jr., William Langer, Oscar Handlin, Kenneth B. Murdoch, Perry Miller, William Enerst Hocking, Raphael Demos, John Kenneth Galbraith, Frank M. Carpenter.
Several years after retiring, President Lowell wrote that the Extension courses "have given a service to the public... which seems to me of the utmost importance."
Commission on University Extension
The popularity of the courses convinced A. Lawrence Lowell that they should be taken in a more systematic approach. He thus organized a Commission on University Extension with representatives from Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, MIT, Simmons College, Tufts University, Wellesley College, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
While the Commission was formed in 1910, it "had already lost some of its vitality by the time Dean Ropes retired as chairman in 1922, and when A. Lawrence Lowell stepped down as president of Harvard in 1933 the Commission had "lost most of its viability as a consortium," though it still existed in name. From that time forward "it functioned mainly as an umbrella for a program that was run by University Extension at Harvard."
In 1975 the Commission finally stopped functioning, and the University Extension began as a self-sufficient program. The Lowell Institute continued to give a contribution, though instead of paying for operating costs it was used to fund scholarships for local high school students and faculty to take courses.
From the beginning of the Commission, Harvard, Tufts and Wellesley all awarded an Associate in Arts degree, which was designed to be equivalent to a Bachelor's degree but did not require an entrance exam or residency at any of the various colleges. Two students, John Coulson and Ellen M. Greany, earned the degree in the first year it was offered, 1913. According to Ropes, there is then "in operation in Boston a kind of extension college, giving courses which lead to an adequately guarded degree, and administered by the joint action of the neighboring colleges."
In 1933 the Connecticut legislature considered and passed a bill allowing junior colleges to award Associate's degrees for two years study. In the 23 years that the University Extension had been in existence, 120 people had already earned an Associate's degree from Harvard for four years worth of work. A. Lawrence Lowell, upon hearing this news, was "uncharacteristically impassioned" and asked Dean Whitten, "What is the proper word for a person from whom his good name has been filched? For thou art that man. Read the enclosed and you will see that the name of Associate in Arts has been degraded, probably beyond recovery, by wicked, thievish, and otherwise disreputable institutions."
So as to differentiate itself from the lesser degrees being offered elsewhere, President Lowell decided to "invent a new degree which may retain its dignity until somebody by imitation steals it." On May 8, 1933 a new degree of Adjunct in Arts was created, and women were allowed to receive it at Harvard, not just at Radcliff.
The Depression had am impact on both enrollment figures of the University Extension and the finances of the Lowell Institute, which necessitated cuts in the number of courses offered. During the post-War era, however, the number of courses offered and enrollments were on the rise, including 12 consecutive years between 1951 and 1963.
In 1936, a survey found that 56% of students that year had never attended college before. A similar study in 1952 found that more than half had a profession, notably teaching, more than half had at least two years of college, and 75% enrolled out of general interest. In 1938 another survey found that 64% of all Extension graduates went on to do graduate work, a figure much higher than the number of graduates from the College. A total of 60 graduate degrees were awarded to alumni, as were six Ph.D's.
Harvard Extension was a pioneer in distance education. Beginning on December 5, 1949, courses were offered on the Lowell Institute's new radio station. New Englanders could go to college six nights a week at 7:30 in their living rooms simply by tuning into courses on psychology, world history, and economics. The first course on radio was by Peter A. Bertocci of Boston University. For 30 years he taught Extension courses, with never fewer than 100 students. He often over 300 students per course and once had over 400. Over the years Bertocci had at least 7,000 Extension students, "surely a record in the annals of Extension at Harvard."
The radio courses proved to be so successful that when the television station WGBH went on the air in October 1951 they began broadcasting an Extension class every weekday at 3:30 and 7:30. In the late 1960s, three of the televised courses were offered in the Deer Island Prison.
In 1963, students could earn a Harvard degree for roughly $1,000. This was, according to Phelps, "a bargain that simply can not be matched anywhere in the field of education." Adding to the value, study spaces, conferences rooms, library facilities, and a dining hall were set up in Lehman Hall for students in 1964.
In 1960 the United States Navy approached Harvard about adapting the television courses that had been broadcast on WGBH for use on Polaris submarines. A two year program, known as the Polaris University Extension Program, was developed with WGBH producing five to six courses a year in engineering, math, physics, foreign languages, and electives. Lab courses and in class instruction were provided to the submariners when the subs were in port. Those who finished the course received a certificate of completion.
Eventually the program spread to surface ships as well, being rechristened as the Program for Afloat College Education (PACE), and it "proved to be an effective and practical means of education for hundreds of Navy men." By 1963-64 there were 17 courses, with plans to have 32 within a few years, and 90 sailors enrolled. Just a year later, in 1964-65, there was 440 sailors taking courses, and in 66-67 there were 803 sailors enrolled.
By the time it ended in 1972-73, there were 5,903 registrations by Navy men in 40 classes. The Navy had anticipated huge enrollments, but the Vietnam war made it difficult for men to find the time to study. Additionally, the courses offered were weighted towards the sciences while classes in the humanities proved much more popular.
Occasionally, instruction was provided while the ships were at sea. During the 1967 "spring crisis in the Middle East," the Navy paid for five instructors to go to the Mediterranean to teach on the deck of the USS Little Rock. The next year, in February 1968, five instructors were flown by the Navy to Antarctica to teach at McMurdo Base.
Late 20th century
By the 50th anniversary of the University Extension in 1960, more than 1,400 courses had been offered and there had been more than 85,000 enrollments.
In 1970s the University realized it had a problem retaining employees, so it began the Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP). In the first year 238 employees took advantage. By 1982 it was 834 students, with 37 degree candidates. The program effectively solved the retention problem. In 1978 a survey found that the majority of students had a family income of less than $15,000, which was less than the national average of $16,000.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his 1930 graduation from Harvard College, Dean Reginald Phelps said of all his administrative duties at Harvard he "found Extension the most rewarding. Partly, this was, no doubt, because I could run a rising program with practically no interference; partly it was the feeling that a second chance in education for people passed by in the normal run of school and college is one of the finest aspects of American education; and partly is was the chance to establish and maintain friendly relations thorough our programs with black people in Boston, who would otherwise have not have had any contact with Harvard."
Graduates in 1982 went on to Harvard Law, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Kennedy School of Government, and top others. In 1983-84 the library moved to Sever Hall and saw a doubling of usage to nearly 30,000 student visits with 13,000 reserve books being circulated. Since the mid-1990s, academic and career services have been provided "that most traditional students receive, ensuring the education is commensurate." The Division of Continuing Education was created in 1985, the same year that the Extension School was officially established as a formal school.
In 1992 the Indian Computer Academy opened in Bangalore, India, a joint venture between the Extension School and an Indian businessman with offices in Bombay, India, and Dedham, Massachusetts. The program at the Academy was designed to consist of one year of full-time study leading to Certificate in Applied Sciences. From the beginning, the principals in India were treating it like a for-profit venture, and financially it was a failure. Harvard pulled out in 1994, but not before approximately 150 students were educated in the two years of operation.
Roy J. Glauber, a future Nobel Prize winner, began teaching the core curriculum physics course to Extension students in 1985. The course was designed for advanced high school students and their teachers. Over 150 students and teachers from 42 schools in the Greater Boston area took part the first year, and thousands more took part in the years to come.
Early 21st century
A proposal before the Faculty of Arts and Science in 2009 and 2010 to rename the school and the degrees offered was not accepted. A committee, led by Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis, proposed renaming the school the "Harvard School of Continuing and Professional Studies,” and to drop the words "in Extension Studies" from degrees, so that the School would offer Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. Some faculty objected, saying that those degrees were already offered by the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
There were 452 degree recipients in the 58 years between 1910 and 1968, and 481 in the 39 between 1969 and 2008. Including certificates, there have been 12,464 graduates in Extension's history. In 2013 there were 163 undergraduate degree earners, the largest class to date, bringing the total to 5,415 graduates.
As of 2009, the five most popular graduate programs are in government, biology, psychology, history, and English, accounting for 75% of graduates. Approximately 10% of ALM graduates have gone on to doctorates, including 16 at Harvard. Overall, there have been 250 students who earned an undergraduate degree at the Extension School and then an advanced degree at Harvard, including 30 doctorates. There have been 328 AA and AB degrees awarded to employees since TAP was started in 1978, 105 ALMs, and 166 certificates.
The University Extension had been awarding Adjunct in Arts degrees since 1933, but in 1960 a new Bachelor of Arts in Extension Studies was created to replace it. To earn one required meeting same standards as were required for a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College, but it was designed for specifically for adult learners. In 1971 an Associate's Degree was established, and the following year Bachelor's degrees were award with honors.
In 1963 the first Bachelor's degrees were first awarded to 14 people students, the largest class yet, and the total number of graduates rose to 299. This number would grow to 1,000 in 1976, and in 1982 the graduating class rose to more than 100 students for the first time.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the University Extension was strictly a liberal arts program with no intention of offering professional programs. In 1971, however, it was recognized that "our charter is too narrow, our staff too small" for what the world needed in that day and age, and a committee was appointed by President Derek Bok to review the "structure and purpose of Extension."
To meet the needs of the community, the University Extension was stretched from a traditional liberal arts program to "a community vocational arm of the University" with programs specifically designed for residents of Cambridge and Roxbury, as well as an Urban Studies program and a teacher training program. Upon his retirement in 1975 Phelps remarked that "with community needs in mind, Extension has moved a long way from the traditional path," but that "we need to reach far more of the poor than we do."
In 1980 the first Master's degree (ALM) was awarded. The next year restrictions were lifted on the degree, and 741 students enrolled in the program. Demands of the labor market meant new initiatives in professional studies had to grow along with the traditional liberal arts programs. A graduate Certificate of Advanced Study was established in 1977 for a full year of study in humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences. Due to the success of the ALM, however, this certificate was phased out after 1985.
The certificate's success prompted the creation of a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management in 1980 for students with a Bachelor's degree but no prior training in business or management. In 2007 it became an ALM in Management, which soon became the most popular program at the Extension School.
To meet the growing need for biotech industry staff in the Boston area, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Applied Sciences was established in 1982. In 1986 a Certificate of Public Health was launched, and first award to a Greek pharmacist in 1987. This was followed in 1989 by a Certificate in Museum Studies. In time museum studies would become a Master's degree concentration and the certificate was discontinued. The Certificate in Publishing and Communications was created in 1995, and the ALM in Information Technology was established in 1996.
In 2001-02 a pilot program was created to address the shortage of qualified math teachers in the Boston Public Schools. One in five middle and high school math teachers, for a total of 86 Boston teachers, took 117 classes. This led to the creation of an ALM in Mathematics for Teaching 2004. A Certificate in Technologies of Education was created in 2000-01 which grew to became an ALM in Educational Technologies in 2005-06. Also beginning in 2004, ALMs could be earned in biotechnology or environmental management. The following year the ALM in Journalism, the first journalism degree offered at Harvard, was established.
A pre-med program was established at the Extension School in 1980. Two years later, in 1982, five students applied to medical school, and 3 were accepted at the University of Massachusetts, Tufts University, and New York University. Of the 19 students who applied to medical schools in 1985, 15 were admitted, including two women to Harvard Medical School.
All 27 graduates who applied to medical school in 1989 were accepted, including three to Harvard Medical School and nine to the University of Massachusetts. Five years later, 90% of students were accepted to medical school, including 5 to Harvard. Only one in three were accepted nationwide. The Health Careers Program has sponsored nearly 1,000 students for admission to medical school since it was started in 1979-80, and more than 845 were accepted. This 85% success rate far exceeds the national acceptance rate of 35%.
The Extension School first developed their online Teleteaching Project in the 1980s. In 1984, a calculus course was offered via voice-data modem, kicking off an online education effort that continues to this day. In 1988 a joint venture was developed with Beijing Normal University on a five week course on artificial intelligence. It was taught in Harvard Square at nights, and the Chinese students students simultaneously took the class in what was the morning for them.
After the Extension School became a self-sufficient program and the Commission disbanded, the Lowell Institute funding was no longer used for direct operating costs and was instead turned into a scholarship fund for local high school students and teachers. In 1997-98, nearly 100 students, most of them high school students in far flung places such as Alaska or Hawaii, were taking one of six different calculus courses online. Their schools did not offer the course, and the Lowell Scholarships allowed them to take it at a greatly reduced rate. Beginning in 1997, courses were also being videotaped and then put online within 36 hours for distance students to view.
By 2000 online courses had evolved from an experiment to "an established academic program," and the following year 2001 there were 25 online courses with 2,200 student enrollments. Just two years later, in 2003, the program had expanded to 36 online courses, including six from Harvard College, and in by 2004 there were 43, including a Harvard College course on US-Europe relations taken simultaneously by Extension students, Harvard graduate and undergraduate students, and students at Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris.
In 2005 courses became available as podcasts downloadable on iTunes, and in 2006-07 there were 100 courses available online. Going online allowed professors to target their classes to specific audiences, such as Latino school teachers or museum professionals in certain regions, and by 2008 more than 25% of the online courses were Harvard College classes.
A $1 million grant was awarded in 2005 to build a 6,000 sq ft "of immerse, collaborative learning environments in five classrooms plus a state-of-the-art control room." They went online in 2007 and allowed "greatly enhanced opportunities for pedagogical experimentation." This experimentation and research would be continued with the creation of HArvardX in 2012.
In 2007-8 there were more than 7,700 course registrations in online classes, including 4,000 from students who never came to campus for class. 108 classes total, including 29 Harvard College classes taught by senior Harvard faculty. Today the Extension School's distance education program is a national leader and there is extensive research on what it takes in this medium for students and teachers to be successful. In 2013 it was ranked the second-best university for online education.
- James Hardy Ropes, Chairman of Commission on Extension Courses, Dean of University Extension, 1910-1922
- Arthur F. Whittem, Chairman of Commission on Extension Courses, Director of University Extension, 1922-1946
- George W. Adams, Chairman of Commission on Extension Courses, Director of University Extension, 1946-1949
- Reginald H. Phelps, Chairman of Commission on Extension Courses, Director of University Extension, 1949-1975
- Michael Shinagel, Director of Continuing Education and University Extension, 1975-1977, and Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension, 1977-2013
- Huntington D. Lambert, Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension, 2013–present
Harvard Extension School is overseen by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Undergraduate degree programs are based upon the curriculum for Harvard College students; these requirements include expository writing, quantitative reasoning, foreign language, moral reasoning, writing-intensive classes, and courses in the student's area of concentration. Students who wish to earn degrees must be formally admitted to the Extension School, while students may audit courses without being admitted. Harvard Extension School offers more than six-hundred on-campus and online courses, taught by both Harvard faculty and instructors from the Greater Boston community. Harvard Extension School also offers more than 200 online courses  in two formats: asynchronous video courses (lectures are recorded and uploaded within 24 hours of on-campus class meetings); and live web-conference courses (courses are streamed live, and typically allow for synchronous participation from students via a secondary online platform).
Students may enroll full or part-time, and classes may be taken on campus, via the Internet, or both, but in order to earn an academic degree, students must complete a minimum number of on-campus-only credits at Harvard. Non-degree seeking students have access to resources through Harvard’s Grossman library, electronic resources through the Harvard Libraries Portal and select computer facilities. Admitted degree candidates are granted full privileges to Harvard's libraries, facilities, student resources, as well as access to Harvard's museums and academic workshops. Graduates of the Extension School are alumni of Harvard University.
Awards and Honors
ALB students may graduate with Latin honors (Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, etc.)
ALM students may, upon graduation, be included in the ALM Dean's list for Academic achievement, based on GPA requirements.
The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Master of Liberal Arts thesis is awarded during commencement ceremonies, and includes a medal, a certificate, and a monetary award. It is awarded to a student whose graduate thesis "embodies the highest level of imaginative scholarship." In addition to the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding ALM Thesis, there are four other major academic prizes — the Phelps, Crite, Langlois, and Small prizes — as well as the Bok, Aurelio, Yang, and Wood prizes.
Associate in Arts Requirements
AA Degree candidates must successfully complete 64 credits and maintain good academic standing (3.0 GPA) in order to graduate. Upon admission into the AA degree program students cannot transfer any credits from other accredited post-secondary institutions and all credits must be completed at Harvard. AA degree candidates must complete 8 on-campus-only credits at Harvard and earn a minimum of 32 credits in courses that are taught by Harvard instructors.
Bachelor of Liberal Arts Requirements
Once admitted as an ALB degree candidate, students must successfully complete 128 credits (Harvard courses are typically 4 credits each) and maintain good academic standing (3.0 GPA) to meet graduation requirements. Upon admission into the ALB program, students may petition to transfer up to a maximum of 64 credits from other accredited post-secondary institutions, but 64 credits must be completed at Harvard University (Extension School, Summer School, or the Faculty of Arts and Sciences). Students must also select one of three 'areas of concentration' including: Sciences; Social Sciences; or Humanities. Students must earn 40 credits with at least a B– in their areas of concentration. ALB degree candidates are also required to complete a minimum of 16 on-campus-only credits at Harvard; students must also complete a minimum of 12 credits in "Writing intensive" courses, and earn a minimum of 52 credits in courses that are taught by Harvard instructors. In addition to a concentration, degree candidates have the option to pursue one of twenty 'Fields of study', (akin to a traditional major). In order to successfully complete a field of study, students must earn a B– or higher in 32 Harvard credits in one field, and maintain a B average in the field. Students may also complement their field of study with a maximum of one liberal arts minor.
Undergraduate degree programs require preadmission courses as well as a formal application process. Students applying for degree candidacy must first complete three 4-credit liberal arts courses at Harvard (Extension School, Summer School, or the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) with at least a B grade in each, and maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. One of these three pre-admission courses must be an expository writing course. To enroll in this course, students must pass a placement test, which measures critical reading and writing skills. Students who meet all these criteria are then eligible to submit an application for admission into either of the Extension School's undergraduate degree programs.
Harvard Extension School's Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies (ALM) includes nineteen Liberal Arts Fields of Study and seven Professional Degree Programs (Biotechnology, Information Technology, Journalism, Management, Mathematics for Teaching, Museum Studies, & Sustainability and Environmental Management). ALM candidates must complete 10 to 12 courses including a thesis or capstone project depending on their degree program, which must be crafted under the direction of an instructor or Harvard faculty member holding a teaching appointment in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Generally, admission into a graduate degree program at Harvard Extension School requires a minimum of an accredited bachelor's degree (or foreign equivalent), as well as completion of three pre-admission courses with grades of B+ or higher and a minimum of 3.0 overall GPA. One of the three pre-admission courses must be the "Proseminar" course for the intended area of study, which is akin to a traditional research methods course. Certain disciplines have other specified pre-admission coursework, while some have specific coursework that is required before submitting a master's thesis proposal (e.g. biology and psychology fields must take a specific graduate statistics course). Prior to registering for a proseminar, students must successfully pass a placement test, which measures critical reading and writing skills. Students who meet these criteria are then eligible to submit an application for admission into the graduate degree programs.
Once a student has met the three course requirement, he or she is then eligible to formally apply to the ALM program. Typically applicants must submit a completed application, proof of an accredited bachelor's degree (or foreign equivalent) plus transcripts, resume, two essays, and a nonrefundable application fee. Some programs require additional specific classes to be part of the initial three before formal admission. Students will be denied admission indefinitely if they fail to earn a grade of B after twice enrolling in the Proseminar course.
Some programs have additional requirements, including specific pre-admission courses and supplemental application materials. For instance, the Literature and Creative writing candidates must submit original manuscripts. For example, the ALM in Management, offering a concentration in either General Management or Finance, requires a higher coursework GPA for admission than other ALM degree programs. A minimum GPA of 3.33 (B+) must be maintained while achieving no lower than a B in three specific classes (organizational behavior, economics, and accounting for the Management Track; organization behavior, financial accounting, and finance for the Finance Track) taken before being considered for admission.
Admitted degree candidates are granted access to Harvard's athletic facilities, dining services, on and off campus apartment housing, career services and student life organizations. ALB candidates are eligible for membership in the Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA). Established in 2001, the HESA's mission is to build and maintain a sense of community among Extension students. In partnership with many other organizations on campus, HESA provides a variety of social activities, educational events, and forums that enrich student life and experience. All degree and diploma candidates in good standing at Harvard Extension School are voting members of HESA. Alpha Sigma Lambda, a national honors society for nontraditional students, established the Phi Beta chapter in 2002-03.
Upon graduation, students are eligible for membership in the Harvard Alumni Association and the Harvard Extension Alumni Association (HEAA). The HEAA was founded in 1967-68 by Ella Smith and Edgar Grossman, both members of the class of 1966. Graduates also take part in the commencement ceremonies with all other schools of Harvard.
In 2000 there were 14,216 students with the youngest in their early teens and the oldest in their late 80s. There is often a span of 60 years between the oldest and youngest students, and students as young as 11 years old have taken courses alongside those old enough to be their parents or grandparents. Of the students enrolled at the turn of the century, 75% had a Bachelor's degree, and 20% had a graduate degree. More than 1,700 were staff members using the Tuition Assistance Program, and an estimated 10%-15% were exclusively online students. Of the 255 Certificate of Special Studies graduates that year, 163 were international students hailing from 39 countries.
In the early 2000s there were 208 students under the age of 18. Most attended local high schools, but a growing number of them were home schooled. Professor Paul Bamberg taught a class with both Extension and Harvard College students, and the top two students were from the Extension School, with the top student being a home schooled teenager. In 2007-08, more than 2,500 international students and nearly 2,000 employees were enrolled in classes.
Harvard Extension School accepts international students. To be admitted to courses or degrees, a student must prove proficiency in the English language. If English is not a student's native language then he or she must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score with a minimum score of 100 for the TOEFL or a minimum score of 7.0 for the IELTS. International students must also meet the on-campus-only course requirements as outlined above. The Extension School does not issue I-20s for the F-1 visa but the Summer School does.
Both the oldest and youngest graduates in the more than 375 year history of Harvard University received their degrees from the Extension School. In 1997 Mary Fasano became the oldest undergraduate degree recipient, and in 1983 Thomas Small became the oldest student to ever earn a Master's degree. Both were in their 90th year. The youngest degree earner in Harvard history was 18 year old Amit Chatterjee who earned an AB in 2002.
One of Small's classmates, Christopher Lohse, was selected to give the graduate commencement address. His speech, the 10,000 Ghosts of Harvard, was a play on both University's fight song and the fact that classes are taught after dark. In 1989 another ALM graduate gave the commencement address. Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. began his studies as a Providence city councilor, and at the time of his speech he was the Mayor of Providence. He went on to become Ambassador to Malta.
In 1936 one person had taken courses for 26 consecutive years, and two others had been students for 24 years. Other notable alumni include:
- Francesca Aguilar, CSS ’98 - Manager, Global Sports Partnerships, The Coca-Cola Company
- Jenny Allard, ALM '99 - Sportswoman
- Robert J. Allison, ALB - Professor of History, Suffolk University
- Linda Attiyeh, ABE ’61 - Director, McKinsey & Company Inc
- Bruce Berg, CSS ’04 - Director of Development Research, Northeastern University
- Sarah Buel, ALB '87 - Attorney
- Francisco Santos Calderón, CSS - Vice President, Republic of Colombia
- Rory Cowan, ABE ’79 - CEO, Lionbridge Technologies Inc
- Allan Crite, ABE '68 - Artist
- Nita Farahany, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University, ALM '07 - Member, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
- Kumiki Gibson, ALB'85 - Chief Counsel to 45th Vice President of the United
- Charles Harper, CSS ’97 - Executive Director and Senior Vice President, John Templeton Foundation
- T. Rose Holdcraft, CSS ’95 - Conservator and Administrative Head of Conservation Department, Harvard University Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
- Bradley Jones Jr, AA ’87, ALB ’88 - Massachusetts House Minority Leader
- Suzanne Koven, ALM '08 - Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School
- George Krupp, ALB ’95 - Co-founder, The Berkshire Group
- Levani Lipton, CSS ’05 - Executive Director, Ananda Foundation
- Robert Maginn, ALM ’81 - CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jenzabar Inc
- Shawn H. O’Day, ALM ’04 - Major, US Air Force
- Joseph R. Paolino, Jr., ALM '89, Ambassador to Malta
- Richard Peisch, ABE ’76 - Founder and President, Medical Data Processing, Inc
- Sal Perisano, ALM ’87 - CEO and Chairman, iParty
- Mark Plotkin, ALB ’79 - Ethnobotanist; President, Amazon Conservation Team 
- Elias Reichel, AB ’82, CSS ’99 - Vitreoretinal Surgeon
- Martha Rose Reeves, CSS ’98 - US Administrative Law Judge
- Matthew Ruggiero, AA ’82, ALB ’84 - Bassoonist, Boston Symphony Orchestra
- Jane Margolis, ALM ’85 - Author
- Commander Ted Johnson, US Navy, ALM '11 - White House Fellow, 2011-2012
- Janice Shields, ALM ’05 - Managing Director and Co-Founder, Shields and Company, Inc
- John Sullivan, ALM ’01 - Associate Professor of Administrative Sciences, Boston University
- Latanya Sweeney, ALB ’95 - Associate Professor of Computer Science, Technology, and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University; Editor in Chief, Journal of Privacy Technology 
- Álvaro Uribe, CSS ’93 - 56th President of Colombia
- John Vermilye, ALB ’80 - Founder and CEO, Travel Sentry, Inc
- J. David Williams, ALB '03 - CEO, General Jet International
- Marian Woodward, ALB ’00 - Miss Black USA 1995–96; Miss North America 1999
Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms for the Extension School were approved in 1983. At the top of the shield the three books spelling out Veritas represent graduate education, as the same device is found on the arms of the other graduate schools. Instead of a straight line separating it from the rest of the shield, as is found in the other schools, a line with six arcs pointing up was used instead. A silver chevron was used to represent undergraduate education, a device used in the shield of the College in the 17th to 19th centuries. Two bushels of wheat are included to represent John Lowell's stipulation that courses should not cost more than two bushels of wheat. A golden lamp is included to represent both learning and the fact that classes are taught at night.
(*From 1913 until 1932 Harvard offered Associate in Arts Degrees, and from 1933 until 1962 they awarded Adjunct in Arts degrees. Both were considered the equivalent of a Bachelor's Degree, but without the residency requirement.)
(** Only aggregate numbers were reported for these years.)
- Shinagel, Michael (2010), The Gates Unbarred: A History of University Extension at Harvard, 1910 - 2009, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674051351
- "Harvard Extension School Info Session 2013-14". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Harvard Extension School- Interview with Dean Lambert".
- "Harvard Extension School- About us". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Shinagel 2010, p. 220.
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- Shinagel 2010, p. 225.
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- Shinagel 2010, p. 124.
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- Shinagle 2010, p. 138.
- Suzanne Spreadbury (Fall 2013). "Transforming undergraduate education for 100 years". Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 141.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 159.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 161.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 162.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 173.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 140.
- SinJin (April 2010). "Official response about name change/nomenclature from Dean Shinagel - Extension Student". ExtensionStudent.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Harvard Looks To Rename A School". The Harvard Crimson. October 7, 2009. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 214.
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- "The 45 Best Colleges for Online Learning". Retrieved 2013-11-7.
- A Solid Foundation: Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies. Cambridge: Harvard University Extension School, 2012. Print.
- Li, Xianlin (2006-05-08). "Extension Students Seek Ivy Degrees". Thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- n.b. These requirements vary for each degree, from 4 classes in residency for the ALB or the ALM/Biology, two semesters residency requirement for the general ALM, and up to 50% residency requirement for the ALM/Management. It is therefore not possible to receive an academic degree solely through distance learning.
- Harvard Extension School, Degree Requirements. "Degree Requirements". Harvard University. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- Harvard Gazette. "Extension School recognizes outstanding grads".
- "Extension School Award Prize Winners".
- Shead, Mark. "Master's Degree Online from Harvard Extension School". Productivity501. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Applying to the ALM Program". Extension.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- HES Management Admissions Webpage
- "Harvard Extension Student Association : Official". Hesa.dce.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 208.
- A recent alumni survey respondent. "Harvard Extension Alumni Association". Extension.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Harvard Commencement with Extension School Graduates". Extension.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 212.
- Louise Miller. "Young Scholars Find Challenges, Acceptance at Extension School". Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- Gates 2010, p. 210.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 213.
- "International Students". Extension.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 211.
- Shinagle 2010, p. 55.
- [dead link]
- "Robert Allison, Professor & Chair". Suffolk.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Johns Hopkins Gazette | December 15, 2003". Jhu.edu. 2003-12-15. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- [dead link]
- "Suzanne Koven, M.D., Harvard Medical School | Gather". Suzannekoven.gather.com. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin: Fall 2005". Dce.harvard.edu. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Executive Management Team". Jenzabar. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Sal Perisano - Forbes". People.forbes.com. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- "Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin: Fall 2002". Dce.harvard.edu. 2002-10-18. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- HES Hub special page
- "Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Curriculum Vitae". Dataprivacylab.org. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Gates 2010, p. 137.