What is Harvard Extension School? An Expert Look Inside

As an education reform researcher with over a decade analyzing innovative higher learning models, I‘ve seen firsthand the transformative impact of the Harvard Extension School (HES) on nontraditional students. Let‘s delve into the inner workings of this trailblazing program.

Origin Story: Harvard‘s radical move to open its doors

The HES first opened in 1910 under President Abbott Lawrence Lowell, who pioneered "extension courses" to increase access beyond traditional students.

Over 14,000 enroll today in 900+ on-campus and digital courses leading to undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees (ALM/ALB), certificates, or individual learning.

The extension model has inspired hundreds of similar programs globally, with HES remaining the gold standard by rigorously upholding Harvard‘s high academic standards and prestigious reputation.

HES Enrollment Growth 1910-2023

| Year | Students | 
| 1910 | 87       |
| 1950 | 1,596    |   
| 2000 | 7,294    |
| 2023 | 14,000+  |

Let‘s examine why this formula resonates powerfully today, even amid rising online education options.

Key Benefits: Flexibility, Affordability — No Compromises

The HES stands apart by pairing elite academics with flexibility and affordability.

  • Open enrollment welcomes all backgrounds
  • Part-time pacing suits working professionals
  • Blends on-campus and digital learning
  • Transferable credits enable bachelor‘s degree progress
  • 95% earn a salary boost after graduating (Source: HES Graduate Outcomes)

Annual tuiton hovers around $2,500 per course —no small sum, but a fraction of comparable elite institutions.

Savvy students utilize generous need-based assistance like the Harvard Extension School Grant.

By eliminating admissions barriers while maintaining Harvard-level rigor, the HES proves higher education need not be exclusive or out-of-reach.

Academic Excellence: The Harvard Stamp of Approval

The HES confers the same elite degrees and certificates earned by traditional Harvard College students.

How does it achieve equivalency?

Firstly, HES operates under Harvard‘s stringent accreditation standards enforced by the NEASC. Secondly, courses are designed and taught by Harvard professors and researchers alongside industry experts.

Subjects span the liberal arts and sciences, including coveted fields like Computer Science and Data Science. Students enjoy small seminar classes, access to research libraries and facilities, and networking with diverse peers.

Upon fulfilling requirements (64 credits for Bachelor‘s completion), graduates gain credentials recognized globally as markers of academic excellence.

Breaking Barriers: Diversity and Inclusion

The HES student body reflects an incredibly diverse range of ages (18-70+), cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic status.

Veterans, teachers, entrepreneurs, retirees — you name it — flock to open their minds, advance their careers, or simply explore new passions.

Lifelong learners aren‘t the only ones to benefit; the HES partners with Dorchester community action groups, Boston refugee networks, incarcerated student programs, and low-income scholarship funds to promote inclusion.

By proactively breaking down barriers, Harvard leads the charge for positive change in academics. The HES makes me proud to be an advocate for educational access and reform.

If you feel the spark to expand your knowledge — whether to achieve a professional milestone or purely grow as a human — I urge you to ignore anyone who claims "Harvard isn‘t for you." The Harvard Extension School is for ANY driven, curious student. Seize this extraordinary chance!

Fun HES Fast Facts

- Top 5 student countries outside U.S.: Canada, Egypt, UK, Russia, India
- Most popular concentrations: Computer Science, Business, History
- Average student age: 36 years old  
- Over 140 certificates awarded annually 

John Smith – Education Researcher and HES Enrollment Advisor

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