Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines are bogus

If you are a graduate of the Harvard Extension School, how should you list this accomplishment on your résumé, or on LinkedIn?

That’s easy. You type “Harvard Extension School” in the place where the university name is supposed to go. For the degree name, write out “Bachelor of Liberal Arts” or “Master of Liberal Arts”, or type the official designation, ALB or ALM. Then add “Museum Studies”, “History”, “Biology”, “Information Technology”, “Management”, or other concentration in the place where the field of study is listed.

Simple, right? It clearly identifies the school you attended, the degree you received, and what you studied.

However, for some Harvard Extension School graduates, it is not so simple. For evidence of this, take a look at this comment on a recent Atlantic essay about the Extension School:

I have a master’s degree from Harvard obtained through the HES. My diploma says Harvard University (in latin no less). I have had headhunters and recruiters question me on it and state that it was misleading for me to list Harvard University as my school. My diploma says Harvard University, my classes were all taken on campus at Harvard (before online classes were popular), so many had to be taught by Harvard professors and not instructors, I completed all the degree requirements. I don’t see anything misleading and I don’t know how else to list it on my resume.

The headhunters are right. It is misleading. Every student and alumnus at Harvard identifies with the school he or she is affiliated with. Harvard Medical School students will tell people they go to the Harvard Medical School, or “the Med school.” Harvard Business School students identify with the “B-school” or HBS. Law School. Divinity. Ed school. Kennedy school. And so on.

To outsiders, things are a bit different. “Harvard” or “Harvard University” is synonymous with “Harvard College” in the eyes of the public, and many people in the corporate world. At the graduate level, “Harvard University” is associated with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences programs that lead to MAs and PhDs. The Extension School is very different than the College or the advanced programs in GSAS.

As for the comment that she doesn’t know how to list the name of her school on her resume, why not list “Harvard Extension School”?

This question gets to the heart of the identity issue. Some graduates don’t want to admit they attended the Harvard Extension School – even though Harvard Extension School transcripts enable some graduates to take up advanced study at Harvard, Oxford, and elsewhere, other Extension School graduates deliberately take advantage of the “Harvard University” umbrella to mislead people into thinking they attended highly selective College or GSAS programs. Indeed, every few years in The Crimson there are reports of Extension School students (matriculated or not) insinuating or outright claiming to be College students to other people at Harvard. It happens all the time.

But there’s another possibility: The Extension School tells its graduates that it’s actually OK to use “Harvard University” as long as graduates also include the bogus “in Extension Studies” designation when spelling out the name of the degree (NOTE: The guidelines changed in 2014; please see the update at the bottom of this post):

Harvard Extension School Resume Guidelines

No one at the Harvard Extension School majors in “Extension Studies”, so why do we have to state this on our résumés? The only reason I can think of is to compensate for the misleading use of “Harvard University”. But if you are clearly stating the name of the school (e.g., Harvard Extension School) instead of “Harvard University” there is no need to add this inaccurate and demeaning qualifier to the name of the degree.

The requirement to use “in Extension Studies” can cause real problems, as one ALB graduate found out a few years ago and described on a now defunct online Extension School forum:

Want to add my 5 cents to the problem. I graduate with ALB in 2014; currently enrolled in ALM, Software Engineering.

For the last 6 months I’ve been looking for jobs in the US (I’m a remote foreign student). HES doesn’t provide student visas for foreign students, so it was already a challenge to find companies that would even consider interviewing someone with a US degree, but without a temporary permit to work after graduation (so called OPT). I was aware of that from the very beginning, but didn’t expect to that so few companies actually work with foreigners without experience. In case you’re interested, I didn’t get a single offer in Boston even though I tried really hard to move there. Luckily NYC and San Francisco were much more visa-friendly cities.

After I found a couple of companies who were ready to interview despite the required visa sponsorship and almost lack of experience, I had to explain “liberal” part of the degree name (nobody actually paid attention to “Extension School” words). It wasn’t too bad since most HRs and engineers I talked to were more interested in my actual knowledge and whether I can confirm that I know the things I listed in my resume. Liberal/extension “flaw” wasn’t much of a concern for them (including big companies, e.x. Google, Microsoft). And I personally felt fine about that since my program of study really wasn’t that rigorous compared to the college one (I skipped a couple of math classes that I wasn’t interested in).

However, after I got a job offer and started to work with the lawyers the real troubles came into play. The degree officially says “in extension studies” rather than “in Computer Science” whereas the transcripts specify concentration (sciences), field of study (computer science) and a minor (thesis/research). The lawyers immediately saw an inconsistency between transcripts and the diploma. For a couple of days I was explaining to them how HES works, provided links to the web site and even contacts of HES admission office for further inquiries. In the end, my attorney said that they’ll have to send my degree for special evaluation to confirm Computer Science concentration because the transcripts specify one thing and the diploma a different one.

I’m sure it will all work out and I’ll get an additional paper from some evaluation service that will confirm that my degree is a real computer science degree, but Harvard should feel embarrasses that lawyers have to send a degree from Harvard with transcripts to verify the field of study mentioned in the transcripts.

In short, I don’t complain about “liberal” arts or requirement to specify Extension School in my resume and about frankly explaining to employers what school I attended and why. I slightly object the lack of F1 support because that wasn’t the case before 2009. However, I strongly feel that the degree conferred in Harvard Yard in Tercentenary Theatre with all other Harvard diplomas should not be a subject for any additional verification or legal doubts.

This young student is absolutely right. There should not be any doubt or questioning about the degree he received, yet he was subjected to something that graduates from other Harvard schools would never experience. Three stupid words — “In Extension Studies” — threatened his ability to work at a job that he was otherwise qualified to do. (Note, however, that some Harvard Extension School grads have been able to get jobs at major tech companies, such as this ALB grad who got hired by Google).

A convenient excuse

Of the Extension School graduates who do state “Harvard University” on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, most leave out the required “In Extension Studies” label that the Extension School demands. Their argument: “Harvard Extension School is one of the 13 degree-granting schools, therefore I have the right to use ‘Harvard University’.” It’s a convenient excuse that lets them sidestep the stigma and questions from colleagues and recruiters. The comment above as well as many of the responses to this blog post reflect this attitude.

There is an exception to the official Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines: People who have completed the ALM in Management (ALMM) program are supposed to use “Harvard University” and “Extension School”, but not “In Extension Studies”. Here’s the screen shot from the current Extension School website (NOTE: this is no longer accurate, see 2020 note at the bottom of this post):

Harvard Extension School ALM Management resume guidelines

Why this exception? My guess is the Harvard Business School got tired of fakers running around suggesting that they had completed the Harvard MBA program …. or the Extension School wanted to avoid friction with the B-School.

The Old Guidelines Were Bogus, Too

It should be noted that the guidelines have changed several times since I started the original Harvard Extension blog. For instance, the 2008 website’s official resume guidelines did not require “Extension Studies” or “Extension School” anywhere:

old Harvard Extension School resume guidelines

I never followed those guidelines, either. I felt “Harvard University, Master of Liberal Arts, Concentration In History” was misleading and not representative of the degree that I earned through the Extension School. It could easily be confused with a Harvard GSAS degree. I have always used “Harvard Extension School” on my LinkedIn profile and paper versions of my resume, and clearly state this fact on this blog and elsewhere.

Bottom line:

  1. Be proud of your school. As anyone who has completed the ALB or ALM programs know, it requires years of dedicated study and some extremely challenging academic requirements, from the Harvard Extension School admissions requirements to the ALM graduate thesis. People who take online classes have it even harder, as there are no nearby students to turn to for support and it’s often impossible to ask questions during class or interact with faculty.
  2. The Extension School’s official guidelines obfuscate the degree and serve no one except for those graduates who want to claim “Harvard” on their resumes while avoiding the actual name of the school (no longer true since the Extension School updated its guidelines to allow “Harvard University Extension School” while dropping “in Extension Studies”).
  3. If you insist on using “Harvard University” on your resume while knowing that most people reading it will assume it refers to Harvard College or GSAS, you’re either fooling yourself or are deliberately misleading people. When people find out, it not only makes you look bad, it reflects badly on all of us.
  4. Be clear about where you attended school at Harvard, and be clear about what you studied. People expect it, and it’s the right thing to do.

2014 Update: A comment on this post in October 2014 alerted me to the change in the official guidelines. The school now allows two methods of listing your Extension School degree on your resume:

  1. Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Harvard University Extension School. Include concentration or field of study, minor, and degree honors when applicable.

  2. Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University

Clearly the school wants alumni to include “Extension” somewhere in the listing.

2019 Update 1: Another comment on this post notes that the guidelines have changed yet again. Now, the concentration is removed:

On your résumé, the degree name may be listed as either:

Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Harvard University Extension School.
Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University.

But “Extension” is clearly stated in both cases.

2019 Update 2: An Extension School fan/follower says he received via email the following clarification from the Extension School regarding how to list degrees on resumes/CVs, which follows the 2014 guidelines:

Harvard Extension degree listing via Jay Waters 052219

However, as of May 22, 2019, the Extension School website still shows this:

Harvard Extension School resume listing May 2019

Meaning anyone who reviews the official Harvard Extension School guidelines on the Extension School website will still think it’s not OK to list the concentration. That is, it’s either “in Extension Studies,” or nothing.

As someone noted on Twitter, “It’s absurd to think it’s unethical to mention your concentration or field of study on your resume.”

2019 Update #3: The Harvard Extension School has reverted the language back to 2014, thanks to a persistent supporter and (I suspect) Dean Huntington Lambert being tagged in a Twitter thread about the issue. First, what the site now says:

Harvard Extension School diploma listing

Second, the context as explained in an email to a Harvard Extension supporter:

Resumes are important to HES alums and new grads, and it seem amazing that the web page explaining the official resume guidelines would be treated so cavalierly. I give credit to Lambert and his staff for quickly correcting this oversight, but it also makes me wonder what else has been stripped away from the official Extension School website in order to “reduce clutter.”

2020 Update: A comment by Laura alerted me to the fact that the official resume guidelines for ALM Management degrees are now grouped with the guidelines for other Harvard Extension School degrees.

See also:



270 thoughts on “Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines are bogus

  1. Thanks for the post. I am currently enrolled in my first course at HES and am wondering if I should pursue a degree through it given its “inferior” position next to a degree from Harvard University. Is it pride? Although, even an inferior degree from Harvard is better than one from most schools, both in the US and around the world. If this wasn’t the case, one probably wouldn’t see so many international students enrolled.

    I guess I will have to give it some more thought before I have to put “ALM” instead of “MA” on my resume.

    • You are right that the Ext. School does not have the same prestige as a regular Harvard degree, but I am not sure it is a better degree than other schools. I think a regular degree from U Mass or U of Chicago or NYU has a certain legitimacy as they are FT compared to PT/night school degrees from Harvard Ext. School. People get turned off when someone claims to have gone to Harvard and then you discover they are from the Ext School. (I am both a Harvard grad school alum and on the regular faculty.)

      • > It’s strange to watch the relevancy of a blog change over time. By that I mean considering the extraordinary costs, in 2016, of a traditional in residence four year bachelor’s degree, does that change anyone’s perception of an ALB through HES ?
        > I am one of the few people who went to Columbia General Studies undergraduate program and then transferred my Columbia credits to HES, when a job transfer from New York found me Boston and I discovered the Harvard Extension School. ALB, cum laude 1985. I don’t want to compare the two schools: Columbia GS and Harvard Extension except to say I loved my time and classes at HES and the degree got me into Rutgers Law School. JD 1990.
        > To me, the HES ALB is a terrific way to get into grad schools, if the degree, like any Liberal Arts degree, does not make a person employable the day after Commencement.
        > Have a look at some of the websites about “history of the Harvard Extension School”, or as much of Dean Shinagel’s book as there is online, and have a look at “history of the Columbia School of General Studies.” It seems to me that the term “extension” or “university extension” comes from an earlier period in the 20th Century and meant at that time what we today would understand as a division of “Continuing Education”. So it’s about a century old expression and there is no way the University could or should change the name of the school to ” Harvard University, School of Continuing Education”, which the 21st century reader might understand immediately. { I know continuing education is a division and not a school at Harvard which administers the Extension School and the Summer School.
        > Maybe it’s a misunderstanding of the term Extension.
        > Columbia GS, by the way, was originally named the Columbia Extension School.
        > In answer to your opinion Remy, I became a a staff member at Harvard in my last few years living in Cambridge, and availed myself of the TAP to attend Extension, I cross-registered with the College, and Extension accepted the credits, and with the ALB I took a class as a special student at HLS, did well, and in retrospect stack my ALB against any other Bachelor’s degree and I am an unabashed fan of HES.
        > But to answer your inquiry more fully, if I read it correctly, against the U-Mass degree, I’ll take the HES ALB. Against the Univ of Chicago or NYU full time residence BA programs, I’m not so sure but I don’t have the money for either.
        > My experience with fellow ALB alumni and alumnae is we do not fudge it at all, trying to make it sound like we went through the college. Extension and proud.
        > Heck, I even have my own Harvard.edu post email.

      • > People get turned off when someone claims to have gone to Harvard and then you discover they are from the Ext School.

        …you mean the Harvard Extension School? The degree-granting school, at Harvard? That these students went to?

        I don’t understand why someone would be upset that a student at Harvard tells people that they are a student at Harvard.

        • I agree. Harvard Extension is one of the 12 degree granting schools that comprise HARVARD UNIVERSITY! It is no more and no less a school than Harvard College. Unlike the snobbery who think otherwise, early members of the academy believed in the democratization of education and the value of “extending” Harvard to those who might otherwise have no had the opportunity of attending. How dare you diminish the accomplishments of an HES graduate (who took the same classes you did while juggling the responsibilities of adulthood). What do a bunch of inexperienced youth know anyway? I’m a hiring manager and I would hire an HES graduate any day of the week.

          • But the key is that Harvard itself makes the distinction. They ask that on resumés, graduates of HES indicate clearly that it was HES.

            It seems clear that the quality of instruction is equally impressive in both cases, but the caliber of students in the classes is not identical, which means a different level of discourse. It just does.

            No one is saying that a working adult who has returned to school isn’t as smart as plenty of 19-year-olds attending Harvard college as undergrads. But they are saying that it’s not the same student body. It’s its own thing.

            This isn’t bad or inferior — just different. Any HES graduate not willing to put the word Extension on their resumé is lying… says Harvard itself.

          • I think it’s the case of some out there still not accepting of online education or part-time education, therefore, Harvard must differentiate. There are still those, even in 2018, that think online education is not the same as sitting in a room for 3 hours each week. At the graduate level, research and writing is done on your computer accessing journals from….online, not in the class room, and we certainly do not use microfische anymore. It’s silly. As technology improves and online education becomes a staple at every university, then the walls will come down. It’s already happened at most universities where there is no distinction between online degrees and on-campus degrees.

          • I’m a little late to the party here, but I wanted to add my two cents to this topic. Some people do look down on HES because of different admissions standards, but HES students still have to take classes taught by Harvard faculty, and they are HARD. I had to take three classes in order to get admitted and they were NOT easy classes. So the idea that HES is less-than other Harvard schools is B.S. because you still need to bust your butt to get through the program.

          • Thanks for your opinion Josh. I am a student at HES and somewhere along the way started doubting my academic efforts given the “extension” nature of it. I have come across so many professionals among the top management of corporate world who respect the extension studies the same way as any on campus programs.
            I know how challenging and engaging the classes and academics are for online students.

        • I believe it is because it is not as difficult to get in to HES, it is merit based, but only on current work. Past transcripts are required (if there are any), but even flunking out of school in the past would not necessarily exclude a person from getting ‘in’ later. In contrasting their acceptance rates, it’s easy to see the vast difference! In addition, HES has a lot more leeway for students (5 yrs for a 2 yr degree, for example), and no residency requirement (so go ahead, live out of scramble our mom’s basement in Des Moins!). There are a number of other differences, but generally students in residency pay a lot more (or earn more to go, or scramble more for scholarships etc.). I’m an HES student and I do not consider myself a Harvard College student, but an extension student (I’ve taken extension classes at other Unis and felt the same). I love my HES work so far and will likely continue to get a degree, but I STILL won’t be a Harvard College grad. 😀 Loud and Proud as my Uncle Bill used to say!

        • Completely agree with you Dan. Students go through the same rigor and sometimes even harder situations handling their own family or work situations and still finding ways to go to class part-time.

      • Sounds to me like current students, prospective students and the general public have to work around and tackle issues created by Harvard’s desire to have its cake and to consume it.
        Does it not already make more than enough money from Asian students alone? It seems the expansion of online learning and MOOCs has spooked the marketing folks at Harvard into wanting to extend the brand in this direction. Get the money, but compartmentalize the value of the degree in very disingenuous ways. Pretty ridiculous and greedy from an institution professing “Veritas.”

      • I have just started taking courses at HES,
        your stance that it is a turn-off when you discover they are from the EXT school, is laughable.
        For one, it is a part of Harvard in any way that you look at it. For two trust and believe I would never feel inferior to you, based on which part of Harvard you graduated from.
        For three, at the end of the day you can’t stack your accomplishments against mine…when I am taking classes by some of the same professors you are, and claim mine are invalid because I wasn’t in the “real” Harvard. Come on what is this…second grade?
        Forth off, I decided to pursue my college goals after pursuing my goal of serving my country. I made a deliberate choice to give back to my Country, and then focus on school. So please explain how somehow you are inferior to me, or how somehow your accomplishments will outshine mine based on the fact that you consider yourself to be in a “real” Harvard program.
        Until you can convince me that somehow you are more intelligent-which this post does not do in the least, or somehow you will work harder than I will, which from what I understand the courses are just as rigorous, then your argument will always remain invalid.
        But hey what do I know, I am just a lowly HES graduate hopeful.

        • Nobody is saying you are inferior. Just that there are people who deliberately mislead others by giving people the impression they went to Harvard College when they went to HES. Yes, I have come across them. The fact is that HES students are not part of the greater life of the University the way Harvard College students or grad students are – they are not part of the Student Councils, the orchestra or theater groups, the athletic teams, nor do they live in the residential colleges. They often do not list the fact on their resumes they are in fact Extension School students. Incidentally, no one at Harvard College or the graduate schools keep arguing that they are legitimate Harvard graduates like the HES students do.

          • Perhaps that is because extension students are respectful of their fellow Harvard colleges and don’t endlessly attack them or make the ludicrous claims that they are not also Harvard. As I have mentioned below, nearly 2/3 of students in my ALM program already have Masters or PhDs. I have taken classes with HC students as well, and they are generally solid, but obviously don’t have the chops of the Extension students. So the arguments that HES students are not like other students is, perhaps, correct—but maybe not in the way many who claim this have in mind.

      • If resumes of 2 candidates came in for an open position we have, and:
        Candidate A graduated from Harvard College while candidate B graduated from Harvard Extension, I would hire the HES graduated for the following reasons:

        Candidate A probably studied at a time when he had no other responsibilities while mom and dad paid for tuition. He/she is probably book smart, but is an unknown, unproven quantity.

        Candidate B probably studied with the same professors in the same courses as Candidate A, but all the while raising a family, working full-time, and managed to pay his own tuition. That accomplishment is much more difficult. He/she likely possesses the qualities of responsibility, reliability, perseverance, resourcefulnesss, good time management, commitment, eagerness to learn, and so on. He has proven his metal.

        As the president and founder of our company with final say in hiring/firing, the choice is clear. Being only book smart is not nearly enough to cut it as there are already too many book smart people out there to choose from. Candidate B’s qualities along with street smarts are harder to find and what the real world is looking for. If you need a picture drawn, perhaps just watch Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happyness. Sorry to burst your academic bubble.

      • So does that mean since Covid started that students being forced to distance learn at Harvard College have lost legitimacy cause they had to sped 1/4+ of their degree time learning online?

    • The fact that HES is a part of Harvard University just like any other School at Harvard is something that many forget. an ALB is a great way to start if you are busy and starting late in life. The quality of the course if vetted by the University. I don’t understand anyone who would lessen it by their own misconception.

      The title on how you should present it is misleading.
      Harvard says Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies which is false since there is no such thing as ‘Extension studies’

      It should be labeled as (in my opinion):
      Harvard University
      Bachelor of Liberal Arts in (Management, Economics etc.)

      You don’t see a Harvard University Graduate say
      Harvard University
      BA in Govt studies (kennedy school) and you studies international relations

      Same should apply for HES student. You went to HES which is a school just like the kennedy school of govt at Harvard

    • There’s actually another explanation. Some foreign students (many in China) know the Harvard brand carries significant prestige at home and are lax when it comes to providing the clarity of which school or program they attended.

      I agree with the original author wholeheartedly. To avoid perpetuating the perceived problem of “inferiority” of the Extension School, graduates of that school need to own the brand and show how they are actually of high caliber and that the Extension School is similarly deserving of repute. It’s not easy, but brands aren’t built overnight.

      (Disclosure: I am a graduate of the College.)

  2. Jennifer: I think you will see from your classes on campus that the ALB and ALM/Liberal Arts programs deliver high-quality educational experiences. Having completed a very difficult degree program that took many years and a huge writing and research project, I am proud to list the Harvard Extension School ALM degree (concentration in history) on my resume.

    Good luck,


  3. “Inferior,” huh?

    Sounds like you’re suffering from the classic Marx problem: you don’t want to be a member of the group if they’ll let you in.

    Why don’t you take your pretty little self and get into the non-“inferior” Harvard instead of kvetching about it on some blog. Oh, it’s easier to do this, isn’t it?

    Enjoy life.

  4. I think that anyone who graduates from any college should hold their heads high!! That’s exactly what I plan to do when I graduate from HES.

    Keep moving forward, my friends!!

    • Let me get the admission under my belt first. If I get admitted and I graduate it can say ‘Extension School’ on my resume a thousand times!

  5. Interesting blog. I’m considering the HES ALM in Information Management Systems and looking at the degree requirements it’s very difficult. I’m not sure about the “inferior” aspect of it because Harvard College or no this is a tough program.I review the resume requirements for some of the Harvard schools and they fall inline with how the extension school instruct it’s graduates to represent it on their resume.
    Be proud of where you go to school and besides it is a Harvard degree confer by Harvard University through the Extension School.

  6. I’d like to contribute to this thread. I feel that Ian makes some very valid arguments, and I respect him for his position. I am an HSDM graduate and an HES (ALB) graduate. I’m also a non-degree Alumni of GSAS (because I was a special student who took 2 years of classes at Harvard College). I have read so many articles about the self-conscious HES student and the “inferior” outlook of the public and Harvard College toward HES. I feel that this has evolved as a result of the Harvard College’s/Harvard University’s reluctance to wholeheartedly view HES as one of their own 13 schools (which is not any good for them in the public’s eye because it gives them leverage to criticize the University) as well as HES’s failings in keeping (as many may perceive) or exhibiting the reputation of their school as one of selectivity. Overall, I think this is a difficult issue, and here are my diagnoses and solutions.

    Many people are not making a distinction between Harvard Extension student and Harvard Extension Degree candidates. HES holds responsibility in this area. I would propose that Harvard Extension initiate some sort of distinction to set them apart from a non-degree HES student who wishes to simply take a class (e.g. the non-degree student will be designated “Harvard Community Student.” Be creative, there are so many options).

    Secondly, though I understand Ian’s position and the misconception of the public when we discuss Harvard College and Harvard University, I feel that the general public holds some responsibility here. Anywhere where you see “Extension,” which is not an exclusive nomenclature to Harvard, is now more and more understood to be a “non-traditional” program. I’ve tested this on the public (informally). Bosses, I hope I can ask you to do your homework: If you see “extension,” do your part as an interviewer to find out what it means. Ask the employee about the designation (and we the interviewee should be proud and not ashamed to clarify). With all that is said and done, HES is one of 13 schools of Harvard University, so technically we should not be bashful about using Harvard University so long as we have also make clear that it was through Extension Studies. And again, there should be no shame. Harvard University taps into every representative group on planet earth to diversify their student population and to create leaders for each of their respective representative groups. That is the Harvard way. And yes, I believe they do so with the “non-traditional” population as well–it is an asset for Harvard. Harvard Extension is a long standing Harvard tradition (read former Dean Shinagel’s book), and as has been clear with my education at HES, there were and are many, many extraordinary nontraditional students that Harvard should be more than proud to have (or have had).

    Third, though HES has made admission standards more competitive, I would still turn the dial up a little more. I feel they must do so in order to attain the best minds from the non-traditional population and achieve/maintain/elevate both the public’s respect and the University’s respect. I’m sure there may be disagreements to my post, but I feel that with these diagnoses and solutions, all 3 parties (Harvard University, HES, and the public) will essentially come to accept and solidify the position of HES once and for all within Harvard.

  7. I find it harder and harder to see the distinction between the education be it traditional or extension.

    Here is why I make that statement, most syllabi are the same, the extension student has less available resources (reference library, other students, TA’s, Professors), a full time job, a family, and all the other fun things in life that don’t involve living in a dorm and eating in the student cafeteria.

    If I had to hire one of two applicants for my accounting firm and one said hire me because I got good grades in high school and was active in the community (real Harvard applicant), and the other said I have years of experience in accounting and will work for three months to prove myself to you and if you don’t like what you see I will leave (HES applicant) I would hire the latter.

    Why? Simple, the latter has shown they can complete a course of study, are working to better themselves and have decided to take on a great amount of additional responsibility. Everyone wants to be the Cheerleader, Quarterback, Class President etc. How many want to work at XXXX to learn teamwork, public relations, and other life skills to help carve a path?

    Harvard allows this HES isn’t really Harvard attitude to exist by clearly changing how an HES graduates list the accomplishment on resumes. Perhaps in some weird way Harvard knows that by being so selective on traditional entry, and lax on HES enrollment that it can guarantee itself a windfall of students paying $2K per class and not have to recognize them as Harvard alums.

    • “Perhaps in some weird way Harvard knows that by being so selective on traditional entry, and lax on HES enrollment that it can guarantee itself a windfall of students paying $2K per class and not have to recognize them as Harvard alums.”

      That is an excellent point. It’s like the right hand is stealing from the left hand. This makes no sense to me. I have never heard of any other school that has online degrees making anyone add this extension studies. Either you graduated from that school or you did not.

      • Christine: It’s not just online students. Even if you complete all degree requirements in Cambridge, the degree is officially in “Extension Studies.” It’s ridiculous and insulting.

        • Why is this “ridiculous and insulting?” That only holds if you believe the HES to be inferior.

          • It’s ridiculous and insulting that students who have completed very specific areas of study cannot have it listed on their diplomas, and instead are granted degrees “in Extension Studies.”

            This is the University and FAS that treat HES degree recipients as inferior. I don’t agree with it at all.

      • Preach Christine! – It is a darn shame all about a name written on a resume. I feel Harvard University should put a end to it and fully accept students who attend all of their schools and stop nick picking. I still have not completely decided to attend HES because of these issues. I am thinking in the end I will most likely attend a school in my state – Johns Hopkins University and be done with it period – end of story.

  8. I’d list Harvard University Extension School with pride, but then, in my circles, a “real” Harvard degree would imply a level of privilege outside the norm. Even if you had got through it on scholarship. Harvard Extension on a resume pretty obviously points to it being a “night school” type approach, a time-honored tradition for ambitious working stiffs. More at “I worked the factory line/front counter/flight line and put myself through management/law school at night, that’s how I got to where I am today, nothing was handed to me.” Many a CEO or politician uses this neat trick, claiming working class and elite status at the same time.

  9. HES is one of the 13 Harvard University schools. As such, anyone that attended HES also attended Harvard University. Anyone that graduated from HES also graduated from Harvard University. HES students need to list their degree per the HES guidelines.
    For what it’s worth, I have TA-ed 8 computer science courses at HES. There was no way for me to know if a student studies at the College, the Business School, etc. by looking at the submitted work. In fact, most of the exceptional work came from non traditional students.

  10. Alateos said:

    “HES is one of the 13 Harvard University schools. As such, anyone that attended HES also attended Harvard University. Anyone that graduated from HES also graduated from Harvard University. HES students need to list their degree per the HES guidelines.”

    The problem is most of the people who say “Harvard University” on their resumes *don’t* follow the HES guidelines, because they leave out the “Extension Studies” reference that the guidelines require.

    • Right, but that could just be because of the shifting requirements on listing the degree. It is fairly recently that people were required to put “Extension” anywhere on their resume. If you’re not avidly monitoring the HES website you wouldn’t know – and it’s darn hard to find the requirements on how to list your degree!

  11. Good article, and I understand where you’re coming from…however when I graduate from HES, I don’t see it as misleading stating the following on my resume/CV:

    School: Harvard Extension School – Harvard University
    Degree: Master of Liberal Arts
    Major: General Management

    The above states a fact — the specific school name is displayed, along with the university that the school is ‘governed’ by. In addition, my degree and major are clearly and factually stated.

    Would these simple facts on a resume be considered misleading?

    • John: As long as you are clearly stating the name of the school, the degree, and the concentration, there is nothing misleading. You included “Extension School”, an important detail which many graduates deliberately neglect to include.

      I also think “Harvard University Extension School” (per the official guidelines for the ALM in Management) is acceptable.

      Good luck with your studies!


  12. I am an Associate Degree Physician Assistant. I am looking for a Bachelor’s Degree completion program, which truly isn’t required in order for me to continue to practice. I would like to eventually obtain a Master’s Degree so I can teach at a PA Program later, should I choose to do so. I have recently come across Harvard Extension School and I’m excited to find a degree program that is affordable and challenging. I have been discussing enrollment at Boston University with an admissions counselor, but their program can cost almost $10,000 more than HES! Honestly, because earning a Bachelor’s Degree doesn’t and won’t affect my ability to earn a living, as long as it comes from an accredited program, it doesn’t make a difference where I earn the degree. That being said, I would be proud to have on my resume Harvard Extension School.

  13. Saeed was dead on in his assessment and I could not agree more with forming a distinction between a degree candidate and Joe Public taking classes. This is a GREAT suggestion!

  14. Wow. If you have to live in this discussion for the rest of your life after graduation, then why bother go to Harvard in the first place? Just take your degree from Berkeley, or Georgia Tech, and move on with life focusing on the education and getting things done. It looks like that Harvard people and recruiters are busy looking at how “exclusive” you are, instead of what you’ve learned. That gives a hint that there are a few losers that end up in Harvard College because of their parents money. Invest your effort somewhere else, where your school is a stepping stone to a better future, not the summit that you’ll stand on. Just an opinion.

    • “Just tak(ing) your degree from Berkeley or Georgia Tech” is much easier said than done. Many/most HES graduates would either not be admitted to those schools, or would choose not to go even if they were competitive enough to be admitted because those schools generally require full-time enrollment in most graduate programs.

      Unlike at HES, I cannot just decide that I’d like to take a course at Berkeley or Georgia Tech, and then ease straight into a part-time graduate program. I’d need to be admitted to a highly competitive masters program (Berkeley probably admits 10-ish percent of applicants to graduate programs in mathematics, history, etc.), which I’d then need to pursue full-time. Plenty of working adults need another option.

      Undergraduate admissions at Berkeley is similarly competitive, with about 14% of applicants gaining admission. So it’s a silly suggestion that people skip the Harvard Extension experience and “just” go to Georgia Tech or Berkeley.

      • And the ALM is apparently 15-20 percent according to the Wiki site. Aren’t you trying way too hard to make a point? It could even be seen as almost a contrived point given the admissions data you reference.

  15. I know this discussion is based on HES, but do graduates from all the other schools within Harvard have to list which school they attended or simply “Harvard University”? If it’s the latter I feel like there’s a double standard here…

    • Would you rather not get in? Because that is your other option. There certainly is a double-standard…and for good reason. Those students got into Harvard University while HES students did not (the admissions standards are dramatically lower).
      The fact of the matter is simply that HES students probably did not earn perfect scores (or anywhere near it) on their SATs, GREs, or other standardized tests. A major part of being a Harvard student is being surrounded by other students with

      • Eric,

        Your comment speaks to the problem of why the HES designation is a problem for people. It illustrates a profound narrowness of experience, point of view and an ignorance of the HES population. Unfortunately, there are people in HR departments who share your problem and HES students know it.

        You make broad generalizations about what HES students lack in comparison to Harvard College students. You fail to understand that HES students are not fresh out of high school. They are grown adults (mostly working/ have children) who have had to put off education for a number of reasons, finances, health, family, work experience opportunities, and in the case of international students, sometimes war. Sometimes it is an issue of the economy changing, therefore additional education or completing interrupted education is necessary.
        If you make presumptions that HES students are the HC “rejects”, you further the misunderstanding that unless someone has led a completely charmed life, there is something defective about them..or “less than”. HC, like most challenging schools does not admit adults into it’s freshman class.

        The only option for those who would have attended as a freshman, had circumstances been a bit different, is HES and programs like it. Those of us with great scores, great grades, no financial issues, legacy positions, and whatever else…who had circumstances happen.. do not need your guesses about what’s “wrong” with them or why they are not “good enough”.

      • HES candidates need to complete three graduate classes at Harvard from their degree program (my employee’s example: Fundamentals of Sequence Analysis, Medical Bioinformatics, Epigenetics) with a grade of B or higher in order to be admitted to the Extension School. That’s about a $10,000 application with countless hours of work to boot.

        As a Biopharmaceutical Manager in Cambridge, I not only want that candidate as my employee but I’ll also pay for his/her part-time education.

        In certain areas, the distinction is pointless. HES students have grit.

        • Remarque, I am in total agreement with you. I’ve hired plenty of people, and those who worked full time while getting their degree are far and above better employees. More motivated, harder working, and well educated. Grit, determination, and intelligence.

      • As a military academy graduate that turned down HC for my undergrad, I can tell you that there are many HES students that don’t fit your “bottom of the barrel” narrative, Eric. So far I have been extremely impressed with the graduate level HES classes I have attended, and any HES grad should be proud of their accomplishments. Unfortunately, the snobby elitist mindset of people like you in the area has left many HES students and Grads feeling “inferior” to their Harvard colleagues. Hopefully they don’t pay consideration to these petty jabs and focus on what really matters: the education.

      • I don’t think you fully understand what you are saying here. The extension school is significantly more selective in admission and graduation than Harvard College. You are not distinguishing between all of the people that take classes, and those that graduate with degrees. The degree holders are a very small minority of the class takers.

      • Not get in is your only other option? Tell that to the Harvard College graduates (and other elite universities) that are in some of my ALM classes. No one cares what their SAT scores were at that point. SAT scores are important to high school seniors, but quickly become irrelevant as we enter the real world–academically or professionally. And the admissions rate to HES is much lower than at a number of other Harvard graduate programs. Does that infer–by your fractured logic–that they can’t get into HES?

  16. Why take this so seriously?? Let them use it. No one cares. If you smart, it shows. We only live once.

    • Agreed! People who care so much about other people’s lives and what those people are doing to take away from your piece of the pie obviously have a sorry life.

  17. Hey Jay:

    1. One question mark.
    2. If you’re* smart, what shows?
    3. We live only* once.

  18. As an HES Graduate with my ALB, I agree that students should be sure to identify that their degree is from the extension school. Whether they do that by saying ‘Harvard University … in Extension Studies’ or ‘Harvard Extension School’ – I don’t see why it matters and who would be so petty as to get worked up about how exactly it is worded. In terms of the undergraduate degree – only two schools at Harvard award that – obviously Harvard University only awards it under the Extension School (where Harvard College’s mere name make that distinction clear). For the ALM or graduate degree, I agree that it becomes a bit more important to include the Extension School when listing it. While I have certainly seen graduates of the GSD (since that is the business I am in) list ‘Harvard University’ without listing the ‘Graduate School of Design,’ I think for graduate degrees it is important to note your school.

    But even so – it is pretty obvious that most extension school graduates work full time and would earn their degree on a part time basis after work which means it is pretty clear that they attended the Extension School. But again, it is a personal choice of each graduate how they want to list it, whether they feel it is misleading, and if that is a chance they want to take with a potential employer. Its not like it won’t come out eventually that – SURPRISE … they went to the night school.

    I think the constant debate and pettiness over how it is listed on resumes or on LinkedIn is silly.

  19. Ian Lamont is wrong. The degree programs aren’t “very, very” different from the day programs. It is OK to list your HES degree as being from Harvard. Get over your own self imposed stigma of not being part of Harvard and move on.

  20. Thanks for all of the information. I am interested in attending HES for concentration in English. I had a questions regarding your thesis. Without the interruptions, how long was it for your thesis? I was thinking I would be able to finish it in a semester but it sounds like it may be longer. Can you start your thesis combined with your last class or do you have to wait for all of them to be completed?

    • Renea: Thanks for your message. My thesis (in History) took more than 2 years to complete — I estimate more than 1,000 hours was spent on research, writing, revisions, etc. You can go to Harvard Extended and scroll down to “My ALM Thesis Experience: Top Ten Posts” to see the details. Note that my thesis was very labor-intensive owing to the huge amount of data I had to gather for my computer assisted content analysis, so I suppose some people spend less time on their theses if they are using traditional methods of research. But I don’t think it’s possible to finish it in less than a year, considering you need to find a thesis director and work according to their schedule and requirements. A thesis is not a long research paper — it really is much more structured.

      I would also suggest you ping the Extension Student online forum and ask other English concentrators how long it took to write, review, and complete their theses.

      Good luck,


  21. In my humble opinion, If the Extension School is one of the 13 degree granting institutions within Harvard , It is Harvard University.

    So by logic , if extension school is a subset of Harvard, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing:

    FirstName LastName
    Harvard University
    ALM Information Technology

    Are you misrepresenting your degree? No. Your diploma says Harvard University on it doesn’t it. And secondly take an example of Columbia University , they have Columbia Video Network. I am sure you will not see this debate out there. Matter of fact, you will not see a debate at any of the 12 parts of Harvard as well.

    To reiterate, I think it is perfectly fine if you decide to list your degree as:

    FirstName LastName
    Harvard University
    ALM Information Technology

    Case Closed!

    • Except that it’s not Case Closed, because Harvard states very clearly that either “Extension School” or “Extension Studies” need to be included on your resumé. So that’s really where the case closes.

      HES graduates work incredibly hard and earn legitimate degrees, and a VERY small percentage of Extension students actually graduate with a degree. Graduates should be proud of their degree, and be honest about what it’s called, per Harvard’s designation.

  22. I don’t know why people worry about the format of the listing of the degree. It’s all about the quality you bring to the table. I think the issue is that most people in HES have the wrong idea why HES was created or are trying to ride on the Harvard brand. I’m not saying that is bad, but you don’t need all the fuss if you know or can show the value you can readily add. What you should worry about is adding enough value to yourself to the point as to draw traffic on Linkedin or the attention of any hiring manager. Most companies in the field that i’m in care less if you got your degree from the Moon. All they care is can you keep operations running? Can you generate revenue? Can you save their jobs?

    I myself don’t like the attention with the H word. Then you have to start saying “huh, Harvard but not really.” I just like the quiet of personal accomplishment. I list it as Harvard Extension or HES, but many at times HES gets lost in my resume or profiles. Most people that contact me don’t even see that. So, key is think more about the value you can add to yourself or any environment.

    • I agree that since HES is one of the 13 degree granting schools at Harvard University, you should be able to use “Harvard University”.

      That being said, you are not receiving an ALM in Information Technology.
      You are receiving an ALM in Extension Studies.

  23. Afte reading all these discussions, I have a simple approach for people who are wondering about HES versus HC.

    – HES is part of Harvard University if we look at it rationally
    – It is not traditional because there are different ways fo someone to earn a Bachelors and it is made for mostly working and older people who don’t have the time to attend full time university.
    – The standard to get into HES is not low and Harvard would not want anyone to think that it’s easy to get into Harvard. Try taking EXPO 25 and tell me about it. The bar is high bt not the quality.

    Bottom line, you graduated from Harvard lets say with an ALB
    concentration business management.

    HES is the working man’s pathway to a college degree with really high expectations and hard work. The typical HES student has to not only work full time but also finds time to study and comple assignmnts.

    Your resume reads: Bachelors in Liberal Arts in Business Management – Harvard University

    Why do i say Harvard university?

    In the registrar, while it specifies that you have an ALM versus a BA, it is a Bachelors with a concentration.

    Your information is in the registrar ust like the HC graduate

    If someone had to verify your credentials, they would have to contact the same registrar to verify award. There is no seperate registrar for HES.

    So to conclude, you graduated from harvard with a Bachelors or a Master (ALB or ALM), be proud of it. It was not handed to you, you earned every credit towards that bachelors/masters.

    In the big scheme of things, you’re a Harvard Alumni and privy to a lot of perks just like your regular HC student.

  24. Correction to my post above:

    The bar is high bt not the quality.

    What i meant to say was ‘The bar is high but so is the quality of the course’

  25. I went to Extension at the same time friends of mine went to Harvard College. The biggest difference? I got professors at Extension. They got TAs. And, often, they were FLOORED at the professors that were teaching me.

    I would not want to list it as Harvard Extension School because, at least in the industry I’m in, there’s no understanding that “Extension School” is a college. To them it sounds like a GED course. Explaining an ALB is a struggle too. But I always list Extension Studies on there and I make sure to explain exactly the situation in every interview. In Boston I guess people get picky about Extension vs. the day program – once you’re out of Boston they don’t really care how you did it, just that you did it.

    So far as the debate goes, I just try to follow the rules laid out on the Extension site for listing one’s degree. It’s frustrating, because it seems like they’re changing every other year! I wish they would just settle on something. I don’t want someone to say I was misrepresenting myself just because I didn’t keep up with the latest change in how we are to present our credentials.

  26. Son of a bitch! I just went to the website after reading this and they’ve changed it AGAIN!

    On your résumé, the degree may be listed as either of the following:

    Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Harvard University Extension School. Include concentration or field of study, minor, and degree honors when applicable.
    Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University

    For the love of God, will someone just pick something and stick with it? I updated my LinkedIn last month based on what was on the website at that time and already I’m not in compliance with regulations.

  27. Thanks Taffygirl. I updated the post with the new official guidelines. It’s the third or fourth change I have observed since the mid-2000s.

    – Ian

  28. Hi:

    After reading your blog, I have to disagree with your statement “I felt ‘Harvard University’, Master of Liberal Arts, Concentration In History” was misleading and not representative of the degree that I earned through the Extension School.

    To be clear, people who graduated with an ALB or an ALM did not receive their degree from the Extension School; the Extension school is not allowed to award a degree directly through them like HBS. Harvard University awards the degree through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences administered by the Extension School.

    Since most ALMs require a thesis directed by a faculty member from GSAS or any other school except Extension, displaying “Master of Liberal Arts, History, Harvard University” is perfectly acceptable. Now if you are pursuing a professional degree that does NOT require a thesis facilitated by a Harvard faculty member, then putting “Extension School” might be appropriate—but then again, Harvard University is also accepted since the degree is awarded by FAS.

    • Except that Harvard does not agree with your opinion. So while you’re entitled to it, it’s still dishonest to leave the word Extension out of your resumé, regarless of how legit your degree is.

  29. I just found this blog post because I was researching the MLA credential after finding out about the HES with someone I brought into my organization here on the West Coast. The person listed MLA Harvard University in Anthropology on their resume and application and may be terminated. Their situation is even more precarious given some snobby comments made about schools out here like Univ. of Washington, because she “went to Harvard.”

    A friend who is CEO of his own company and has his PhD from MIT once said it best about why people hire from places like Yale and Harvard: “You’re not going to get fired if you hire a Harvard graduate and it doesn’t work out.” Somebody with an MLA from HES did not have to go through the same admission process (no GRE, no letters of reference, no competition for placement, no regard to undergrad institution or GPA, etc). Yet this woman would openly tell people about “getting accepted to Harvard.” What a joke!

    HES does not offer the same education either. An HES concentration is not a formal major with structured lower and upper division courses that build up the education. I looked at HES classes and they are limited compared to what’s available to an admitted major. I also highly doubt that tenured professors at Harvard are teaching HES classes.

    Harvard College graduates should know how some HES grads are representing themselves, especially outside New England, because it’s making you look bad. I’m not saying an HES BLA or MLA is a cakewalk or doesn’t provide a good education, but it’s no more selective and academically elite than Worcester State (probably less actually).

    • B.B, while I understand the nature of your employee making disparaging remarks about other schools, HES has Harvard faculty who also teach at Harvard College and at HBS as well.

    • B.B, while I understand the nature of your employee making disparaging remarks about other schools, HES has Harvard faculty who also teach at Harvard College and at HBS as well.

      HES does have Requirements and places requirements for those seeking admission. Be mindful, that a number of HC students take classes at HES, as do other Harvard school students. Think of it as attending the summer school/winter school during undergrad. The courses are taught by the same faculty, you use the library and other resources although not all resources may be available, the course is rigorous, you don’t get the dorm life and full “fall experience” not the coursework.

    • Hahaha. You hired someone and then decided to check out their credentials? The jokes on you buddy.
      But actually, why don’t you just admit it, you’re an internet troll who has never hired anyone in your life. If you did do the hiring, you would check before you hire. You wouldn’t check the internet for 5 minutes and then write a 3 paragraph post about HES on some random blog.

    • B.B, And yet, what you call a “selective” school gave us George W. Bush, a “c” student. How did he got to Harvard if Harvard is a “very selective school?”

      • John, are you insinuating that an educational institution should be ashamed of conferring a degree on an individual that later became a President of the United States? Also, shall we compare G.W. Bush’s “c” to President Obama’s ____. Oh, that’s right. He has refused/blocked access to his transcript. Why is that? Additionally, your grammar and punctuation are appalling. It’s safe to assume that Harvard’s standards were at least high enough to keep you out.

  30. I don’t follow. Are you out to prove she lied on her resume? It doesn’t sound like she did. Can’t you just terminate her for being a bad fit?

    You are correct HES admission doesn’t require GRE. They replace the requirement with first three courses, B or better. GRE would have been easier. I also had to supply references, transcripts, essays, etc. As for tenured professors, they taught my theory classes, but classes such as mobile programming were taught by well-educated industry experts. Frankly I’d prefer it that way.

    I’m in the program because it’s rigorous and relatively inexpensive, and a way for me to gain knowledge to complete an entrepreneurial project. And yet, I feel I can’t tell people where I’m studying because of this odd vitriolic reaction associated with my use of the “H” word. I end up saying “I’m getting my masters at night.” It saves me the aggravation of the Harvard-asterisk explanation that accommodates others’ insecurities.

  31. B.B.: If I were an employer and discovered that one of my employees had deliberately misrepresented educational credentials during the application process, I too would be very disappointed. Termination would be automatic at some firms. Others might let it slide.

    As for your statement “I also highly doubt that tenured professors at Harvard are teaching HES classes,” it depends on the concentration and the degree program. I have blogged about this topic in Harvard Extension faculty and the Harvard Instructor requirement. Anthropology is one of the fields that had a strong “Harvard Instructor” requirement, but as I noted in the other post the rules can be bent.

    • Seems the policy of automatic termination regardless of the nature of the misrepresentation is the easy way out. After all, no one is expelled from public school for cheating on one exam.

  32. The MLA degree offered through the Harvard extension school is a Harvard University degree. What is the problem? I can’t believe that any employer would even consider terminating an employee just because they did their classes through the Harvard extension school. At the end of the day, it is still a high quality Harvard University degree.

  33. The Harvard Office of Career Services actually has sent out letters confirming that the use of “Harvard University” for HES degrees is valid. Better check it out before putting down your own school.

    • Harvardiana:

      As noted in the post, the Extension School’s new guidelines state “Harvard University” is allowed as long as “Extension School” or “In Extension Studies” is included. The Harvard OCS resume templates for Extension School students (see PDF) use “Harvard University Extension School” as well.

      – Ian

  34. It is not egregiously necessary to ever list Extension School or even Extension Studies on a resume…two legal experts have informed me on this seperately, both of them from Harvard Law School. This is not deceiving! Since HU grants the degrees not Extension.

    Using MA or AB is deceiving and puntaive!

    ALM and ALB are representative of the actual conferred reality of the academically constituted degrees.

    Just as MFA or a BFA are distinct from an MA or BA.

    But if one is requested to designate which specific Harvard school, then leaving out “Extension School’ or placing in FAS is irreresponsible, dishonest and ethically unsound.

    If HES costs were equal to the rest of Harvard, this would not be an issue at all!

    In fear that the lower cost factor might irritate higher Harvard tuition payers, Harvard University offered clout-compensation.

    As a compromise the ‘Extension’ imprimatur was implemented and pushed to the public hilt.

    This was seen as tantamount to taking an expensive book which has been reduced in price and tearing the upper right hand cover corner to devaluate it a bit so as not to cause resentment by previous full price purchasers….that is all that is really going on here!

    It is for economic and consumer equity reasons.

    Harvard is Harvard! All the way!

    The faculty and the course descriptions and syllabi are in most all instances completely identical across the board in Extension and FAS.

    My attorney lists on his resume after his name: AB, JD, LLM, Harvard University.

    *n.b.,Extension degree holders are in no way ashamed of Extension, we just do not want to risk the descrimination that may potentially result from the uninformed ignorance by others, ones who may withhold deserving employment opportunities, by grossly assuming a substandard Harvard education (as if that is even possible).

    Thanks….a proud Harvard ALM holder!

  35. I also have an ALM in Anthropology from Harvard University – all of the classes I took were taught by a Harvard professors and my advisor was David Stuart, one of the foremost Maya epigraphers in the world.
    My thesis was a rigorous process that I supplemented with fieldwork in Belize. And after 17 years I’m still in touch with David and other colleagues in the field though I’m working in a different area full time and part time as a museum educator.

  36. Would someone please explain to me how HES is “very very” different from actually attending the college. I am currently taking a literature class via HES. The class is conducted by a Harvard professor, and I’m watching the same lecture and doing the same assignments as the students who are physically attending the lecture. The only difference I’m seeing is that I’m not sitting in the brick and mortar.

    Please explain.

  37. I have more comments. Why would Harvard establish and promote an embarrassing and inferior program and put its own name to it? They wouldn’t. Harvard wouldn’t set itself up for embarrassment.

    I took the Critical Reading and Writing Comprehension test and passed it. There was nothing simple about that test. The test does not determine admission; it determines where you can start. (And isn’t college supposed to be primarily about learning? You’re not there because you already know everything.)

    From there, a potential student has to take three classes and get a B or higher to be considered for admission. When that’s accomplished, a person may apply for admission.

    To pass the placement test and then accomplish a B or higher in your classes is proof enough as to whether a person will be able to cut the mustard at Harvard. They make you prove yourself, and not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do it.

  38. Tina,

    Let me say up front that I am neither a Harvard grad nor an HES grad, but have been involved in the hiring process of recent graduates.

    Biggest difference that I see between a Harvard grad and an HES grad? The years of preparation and excellence that went into a Harvard undergrad getting accepted and then getting through. People often want to talk about Harvard kids getting accepted based on privilege. This is a caricature. Don’t buy it. These are kids that have been paying their dues since 7th or 8th grade–learning languages, participating in athletics, plugging away at calculus while most kids are playing video games. For me, a Harvard/Stanford/Yale/Princeton/etc.etc.etc. degree is as much about getting into the system as it is about going through the system. Employers have the right to know the difference between those who have fared well in rigorous classes (Harvard College and HES grads), and those who have demonstrated a particular mindset necessary to break into a very competitive system (Harvard College students who have won acceptance over a broad set of their peers vs. HES students).

    I don’t think that this devalues the achievement of graduating from HES–it’s just inappropriate to pretend that two people (one Harvard College, one HES) have both accomplished the same thing.

    • You make an interesting point here. Up front- I am from a multi generation Ivy league family and a student at HES.

      You are correct about the kids who were born with high IQ’s, typically well rounded in multiple kinds of intelligences, and were likely healthy with no learning disabilities (yes, there are exceptions who had a lot of support to make it through), who were able to attend an elite college prep high-school acceptable to the HC admissions committee, who were self disciplined throughout high school.

      Your comments however, strike at the heart of why some HES folks get nervous about the distinction you make. Many HES students were on track to apply to Harvard straight out of high school, but had to work instead. Some spent years being critically ill. Some are intellectually gifted but had to spend more time remediating learning disabilities because prior to the 1990’s they were poorly understood.

      Many HES students have a “hardship” that disrupted their education. Not only did they have to overcome the hardship, they also had to find the courage to go back to school, and do it while working and maybe having a family. Once out of university and past a certain age, it’s very hard to get back in, often because colleges won’t re admit a student because they are concentrating on traditional freshmen.

      I know the discipline a 13 year old has to have to do homework every night while playing a sport and being in an after school club, at an elite college prep program. I was such a 13 year old.

      But that level of discipline pales in comparison to what it takes an adult with much less energy, no parents to ground us, and life already having dealt us some bad cards that we have to cope with.

      I am very proud of the people I know who went “smoothly” through elite college prep schools into Ivy League undergraduate programs, finishing on time and then “taking over the world”. But, the stars don’t align for every intellectually gifted, well rounded, hard – working person in that way.

      So you are correct when you say “I don’t think that this devalues the achievement of graduating from HES–it’s just inappropriate to pretend that two people (one Harvard College, one HES) have both accomplished the same thing.”

      Comparing mature, experienced adult learners who have already been through college prep programs, with inexperienced teenagers who come from from supportive backgrounds, with absolutely no responsibilities other than what they can do for themselves, and loads of energy, is comparing apples and oranges.

      I alway wonder why people say things like “he’s a legacy, his family got him in”. Ok maybe that does happen. But a person also has to pass every class in order to stay.

      And what you are doing in your comments is kind of the same thing. Someone can get into Harvard, “even if it is HES”, and because you ASSUME HES students didn’t go to an elite college prep program when they were 13 years old (7th grade), they are not accomplishing “the same thing” while at Harvard as the other students. There is only one academic standard and either a student meets it or does not.

      • Right? My academic journey includes skipping from first grade to fifth. It also includes a break I took as the result of PTSD following a violent crime that happened to me in my late teens. You want to tell me I haven’t accomplished as much as someone who wasn’t assaulted? I’ve got your dues right here.

        • OMG. I dont know who you are but I love you. “I’ve got your dues right here.” I can relate to your experiences…except.. I went to a community college. Eventually got my Masters but… whatever. My education is for me. My benefit. Mine. You have earned your pride. Let’s stop caring about what others think of us.

    • BL:
      You said: “Employers have the right to know the difference between those who have fared well in rigorous classes (Harvard College and HES grads), and those who have demonstrated a particular mindset necessary to break into a very competitive system (Harvard College students who have won acceptance over a broad set of their peers vs. HES students).

      I don’t think that this devalues the achievement of graduating from HES–it’s just inappropriate to pretend that two people (one Harvard College, one HES) have both accomplished the same thing.”
      Do you mean like George W, Bush?

      • You may have a point. Let’s expound on this, shall we? Let’s compare G.W. Bush’s “c” to President Obama’s ______. Oh, I guess we’ll have to table this discussion as “someone” refuses to supply their credentials and loses by default.

    • > The years of preparation and excellence that went into a Harvard undergrad getting accepted and then getting through.

      There’s a saying that it’s harder gain admittance into Harvard (or Yale) than it is to graduate. The hard part was already done years prior to receiving the coveted Harvard College acceptance letter.

      You also imply, and somewhat backup the above saying, that kids are playing the game that is elite higher education. Is the 7th grader truly interested in learning Arabic or is he (or his parents/guardian) making him learn it in order to pad his application?

      Once you know what they’re looking for (hint: they want a particular rising senior – the budding Pulitzer poet, the poor yet brilliant kid from diverse public high school, the suburban blond girl who wants to be the next Hillary Clinton, the Asian math genius, the girl from Kenya interested in neuroscience) tailoring begins.

  39. i honestly dont care anymore. this is never ending discussion.
    bottom line is, what is the salary range for graduate from MLA in software engineering concentration at HES, and what would be the salary range for masters from Harvard college?

  40. Well, the article places the issue with the students, but the students do not create the school’s policies. If I had to guess, I would say that since they are trying to start a new program in unexplored territory they probably want to use the prestige of the programs they already have established to lend credit to the newer ones. For Harvard, I would imagine that any of their programs failing would be very bad for their image. I’d be interested to see how rigorous the coursework at the extension school is in comparison to the other schools. If it’s the same coursework why does it matter? If Harvard is willing to put their name on these extension graduates who are you to object? Regardless of what any of us think, if Harvard tells the students they can present their degrees that way then the students are in no way being dishonest. If you want to point a finger at somebody (which is totally ridiculous by the way) then point it at Harvard.

  41. I came across this thread while looking at a GSAS program at the advise of my masters supervisor and am frankly appalled. I am not sure I want to attend university with students so blatantly flustered by the very thought of some undeserving cretan, in commencement alongside them, actually putting “Harvard” on their resume because they did their degree differently.

    If Harvard University awards the degree, then that person graduated from Harvard University. To claim otherwise goes beyond ridiculous and into offensive -both on the part of graduates and the university itself which puts its name on the diploma.

  42. Hi all,

    I actually really don’t agree with the thoughts you express in your blog.
    It is true nevertheless that people who lie about the program they have completed are hurting the integrity of other HES students. Unfortunately there are bad people everywhere, and not only at HES.

    But there is a whole difference between lying about the program you have completed and telling others that you attended Harvard University.
    I want to precise that I am very proud to study at Harvard Extension School, and I think their management program is incredible. I have no shame at all doing this, as I think it is a huge privilege we have to be able to study in such an incredible school as Harvard.

    That said, when you graduate from HES, you HAVE an Harvard degree, and you HAVE attended Harvard University. It doesn’t mean that you have the right to misrepresent your degree on your resume, but you have the right to say you are doing an Harvard degree and that you attended Harvard University!
    Otherwise, it is not the students that are misrepresenting what they do, but the school that is misrepresenting what it actually offers: Students pay a very high price to pursue this program, and so it is their rights to benefit from it.
    Students from Harvard Business School or Harvard College are not better human being than ones from Harvard Extension School should, and HES students should not feel obliged to constantly demean themselves in case someone could think they attended the college or the business school. We are ALL Harvard students. Above all I think that the Harvard Community should be very proud of its Extension School program, because the reasons that led to the creation of this program are very noble. If besides this, the Harvard Community is ashamed to consider HES students as Harvard University students, then they should shut off this program.
    Last but not least, when you say that you have a Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard University, and people understand that you are doing an MBA at Harvard Business School, I am not sure you are the one committing a mistake there! If they have a doubt they can check it up, as it is kind of their job to do so.

    Finally, I think that your blog is actually doing more harm to Harvard extension school students, as it is well referenced in google, than anything else because when employers search for Harvard Extension School on internet, they find your blog, and they end up thinking that Harvard Extension School students are liars.

    So I guess you probably did that blog to make you feel better about yourself, but by doing so you are actually the one who is hurting the most the HES community.

    • Thomas:

      Thanks for your long reply. I don’t agree with some of the things you said, but I think it’s worth exploring certain issues in more detail:

      It doesn’t mean that you have the right to misrepresent your degree on your resume, but you have the right to say you are doing an Harvard degree and that you attended Harvard University!

      I agree that graduating doesn’t grant people the right to misrepresent their degrees. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many (if not most) graduates of HES go out of their way to use “Harvard University” (without mentioning “Extension School” or “Extension Studies”) as an attempt to get others to think they attended the College, GSAS, or the Business School. If this is their intention, it is a misrepresentation and it’s dishonest.

      Students from Harvard Business School or Harvard College are not better human being than ones from Harvard Extension School should, and HES students should not feel obliged to constantly demean themselves in case someone could think they attended the college or the business school.

      As I said at the bottom of my post, Extension School degrees represent serious study and graduates should be proud of their accomplishment. As for the comment about “demean themselves”, could you clarify what you meant?

      When you say that you have a Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard University, and people understand that you are doing an MBA at Harvard Business School, I am not sure you are the one committing a mistake there!

      Usually the scenario that causes others to assume a Business School affiliation are HES ALM Management grads who state “Harvard University, Masters Degree, Business” or “Harvard University, Graduate, Management.” Would you blame HR staff, potential hiring managers, or colleagues for supposing that it’s an MBA from the Business School?

      I think that your blog is actually doing more harm to Harvard extension school students, as it is well referenced in google, than anything else because when employers search for Harvard Extension School on internet, they find your blog, and they end up thinking that Harvard Extension School students are liars.

      The only people who have to worry are actual liars, and it’s not because of this blog — it’s because their misrepresentations will eventually be uncovered.

      • I have a question-

        HBS’ executive program gives participants of its programs ;Owner management programs etc; the privileges of being called a Harvard Alumnus. Most of which take anywhere from 1week to 2 years to complete. Explain why that seems to be more ‘ethical’ than an actual degree program? The difference I see is that some of those 1 week programs cost $10000 whereas an entire extension degree costs less

      • Ilamon:
        Harvard University is not Harvard College. Harvard University has 13 schools: Business School – Divinity School – College – Extension School – Graduate School of Arts & Sciences – Graduate School of Design – Graduate School of Education – John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences – Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health – Kennedy School – Medical School – Law School – Radcliffe Institute – and the School of Dental Medicine.

        So, anyone who graduates from any of these schools is a Harvard Graduate, he/she got their degree from Harvard University that is comprised or made of all those 13 schools.

        If in my resume I put: ALM, Harvard University, I am not misrepresenting my degree, the ALM is only found at Harvard Extension and HR should do their job. A Harvard University degree is what it is, a Harvard University Degree, no more, no less.

  43. Hi,

    I appreciate that you answered my message.

    I see that we however have a strong disagrement. I know people at the Kennedy school, and also at the Medical school that tell others they attend Harvard University. There is no obligation to mention the exact school you are doing, which makes sense because beyond Cambridge, not so many people know that there are so many schools at Harvard.

    Secondly, I want to say that from the beginning, in the classes I have been attending to, my teachers always refered to us as Harvard University students, and always aknowledge that we were actually pursuing an Harvard Degree, and many of them are Harvard College or Harvard Business School teachers.
    Furthermore, I know many students who are attending Harvard Law School or Harvard Business School who have done a degree at HES. The admissions committees from either HBS and HLS admitted that HES degrees were as valuable as any other degree from Harvard. So I really wonder what kind of authority you think you have assessing that HES students are not Harvard University Students. Because according to the highest authorities at Harvard, they are.
    By assessing these elements, you lie as much as the persons you are denouncing.

    The students that are misrepresenting their degree or who say that they attended HBS are liars. Be sure they will have to pay the price one day or another. But it is not your call to condamn them on this blog.

    When you say that “most” of HES students misrepresent their degree, first of all it is a lie, and it is an insult to the HES community.

    Most of the HES students I have met are very honest people, that had a very unusual journey in life. They see HES as a way to become better and to the the best for the community.

    You should be ashamed of what you say and the way you present this community to others. You are actually as bad as the persons you try to denounce by doing so.

    Also, I understand why some HES students might be ashamed to say that they have attended HES, when I see how people like you or other Harvard students talk about this program. So the responsibility is on both sides.
    And the Harvard College or other Harvard students that criticize HES are the disgrace of Harvard more than any other impostors. Because when you have the privilege to study at Harvard, you have the duty to become a leader for the good of others. And when you are a leader, you know that you do good with others, not against them. The Harvard Community should embrace HES, not be condescending. The ones who are should not be at Harvard.

    Finally, we all know how so many students get into Harvard – with private tutors to do the SAT or the GMAT, with professors helping them to complete their application, and I am not even mentioning the ones who are the sons or the daughters of some people with influence, money, or power.
    HES has been conceived to democratize high education to the people who do not have access to it otherwise. HES is the pride of Harvard, not the other way around.

    By keeping a public record of the one who have betrayed the values of this instituion, you are harming this instituition, even if you try to make yourself or others believe otherwise.

    Would you keep a record of people that have done bad things or who have criminal records and who have attended HLS, HBS or other schools at Harvard? No, of course not.
    Once again, by pretending to give justive on this blog, it is a way to discriminate some by giving them another treatment.

    So not only what you say is false, it is a lie, and by doing what you do, you are not better than the one you denounce.

    You should delete that blog, because believe me, it is doing more harm than good to everybody, even you.

    • The students that are misrepresenting their degree or who say that they attended HBS are liars. Be sure they will have to pay the price one day or another. But it is not your call to condamn them on this blog. … Finally, we all know how so many students get into Harvard – with private tutors to do the SAT or the GMAT, with professors helping them to complete their application, and I am not even mentioning the ones who are the sons or the daughters of some people with influence, money, or power.

      So I can’t criticize Harvard students who misrepresent their degrees … yet it’s OK for you to criticize Harvard students who cheat on their applications?

      The Harvard Community should embrace HES, not be condescending.

      I’ve been writing about this for years (see “The Extension School’s 88% dilemma”) and publicizing the great things about the Extension School and the accomplishments of people who have gone through the ALB and ALM programs. Unfortunately, it will be hard to be embraced by the rest of the Harvard community as long as we are treated as second-class citizens by the University administration (for instance, matriculated Extension School students are the only students who are not allowed to cross-register) and students and graduates continue to deliberately misrepresent their degrees.

      When you say that “most” of HES students misrepresent their degree, first of all it is a lie …

      I don’t have proof. So I crossed out “most”. But judging by the 2015 HEAA elections (~50% of some two-dozen candidates did not use “Extension School” or “Extension Studies”) a large number of Extension School graduates don’t want to acknowledge they attended the Extension School.

      I understand why some HES students might be ashamed to say that they have attended HES, when I see how people like you or other Harvard students talk about this program.

      I publicly and proudly list my Extension School affiliation on this blog, Harvard Extended, and on LinkedIn, and have done so for the past 10 years.

      Do you, Thomas?

      • Ilamont,
        What’s so wrong with you? Do you realize that you went to Harvard University even if your school was the Extension School?

        Why don’t you write a blog about Kennedy School students or the School of Public Health students who say to anyone who wants to hear it, that they went to Harvard University, or who say that they graduated from Harvard University without mentioning the name of the school that they went to at Harvard?

        Are they misrepresenting their degrees?
        Why is that only Harvard Extension students have to mention “Extension School or Extension Studies” every time they talk about where they went to school?

        Are you a Harvard University graduate from the Extension School? If yes, then be proud to mention that you graduated from Harvard University!!!

        You sincerely need to know who you are and be proud of it. Why care about ignorant HR? Very few of them even know that Harvard University has many equal school.

        Again, Harvard University is a big umbrella made of 13 schools, one of which is the Extension School.

        You talk about the Extension School graduates who are giving a bad name to their school, and you are more that right to do so, but I wish you could also talk about those Harvard College or Harvard Business School who participated in bringing the U.S financial system to its knees because of their greed just few years ago.

        Write a blog about them too, if you can.
        Stop your nonsense and accept who you are, if you really graduated from Harvard Extension.

        • I agree.
          If you get a moment please have a look at a reply that I posted today (29 Feb 2016) to the Remy duBois blog, which appears at the very top of the wall here.
          I am so proud of my Extension School experience and ALB I frankly wouldn’t trade it for a AB experience from the College. The education line on my CV reads: “Bachelor of Liberal Arts, cum laude, Harvard University, Harvard Extension School, Cambridge Mass 1985.” I would not pretend to have an AB from the College nor, as I noted above, would I prefer the College over Extension and that’s a fact.
          Heres one more point: The money!
          The cost of a traditional 4 year Harvard College AB costs what in 2016 ? Close to $100,000 I’d guess.
          Is it worth it ? Not in my opinion. No way.
          Further, the University has to stand ready to give boatloads of financial aid to each College student who cant pay his/her own way. Harvard must be mired in student debt. (Ive seen in college application guidebooks the surest way to an easy HC accept is check the box on the application that says: “I will not be applying for financial aid: which means of course, Mommy and Daddy are rich and they are going to pay the whole nut for me. We don’t need or want any financial aid.
          But given that the majority of HC students need financial aid from the University (with the tuition, room and board costs in 2016) and also noting as we are all fully awate: that there is NO University sponsored financial aid for HES students, (we all either pay the freight ourselves or get our own bank loans)…..
          THINK of what a nice little cash cow HES has become for the University: HES $$$ is not capped off … there’s an unlimited enrollment at the start of every semester at (lets be honest) expensive tuition. Add the distance learning tuition, …. vs finances at the College: Enrollment is capped off at the number of seats available in each incoming class and the cash flows in what must be a huge outflow of Harvard money for the College’s University-given financial aid to the College’s students.

          > I love this blog. I plan to come back soon.

  44. nobody cares. get over it. i didn’t list “extension school” or “Extension studies” anywhere in my resume or linkedin. i don’t ever plan on. i’m a psychologist, self employed, and i can give two rats a$$e$ who bitches about it. my “harvard university” degree (people hardly read past the harvard part) on my wall earns me patients who would otherwise not pay 100+ an hour to sit and bitch to me about their lives. i worked my ass off for my clinical psych degree and i paid good money for it, i also attended the graduation ceremony with idiots who paid triple what i did for the same shit. this is harvards way of saying “you didn’t pay for the title”. while 90g is pennies to elite kids, 30g was a TON for me. i graduated at the top of my class in city college and earned a measly 10g scholorship from an outside source when i got accepted into harvard for my masters in psych. that was nothing considering i couldn’t afford the rest. so i deferred a year to work, and in doing so i learned about HES, yes please. thank you very much harvard, you saved me years of savings & mountains of debts. i paid for my HES courses as i took them (none were online, all were taught by harvard professors in harvard buildings), i finished in 2 years, and i went on to earn my doctorate, fully covered, in princeton (and yes, it’s the only time i listed HES next to harvard, i figured princeton would check.)

    i’d like to see someone come into my private office and tear down my harvard degree. i’d love to see that. this author is a harvard graduate or student who wants us HES grads/students to feel proud to be HES grads/students, i know the psychological mind game he/she is playing. you bitch about how we put harvard in our resumes without the HES note, and yet you end with the claim that we should “be proud”.

    proud? yes. i’m proud. proud enough to use HARVARD instead of Harvard Extension School on my resume.

    don’t whine about my punctuation, i don’t care, i didn’t write this to be graded on it.

  45. It’s not that simple:


    I agree with “don’t care to share,” as well as “Thomas.” Like “Don’t care to share,” I am Ph.D. student for Clinical Psychology (not Princeton, congratulations on that). It would be interesting to see a survey of responses from ALB and ALM alumni who have gone on to incredibly successful careers (Psychologist from Princeton would qualify, but we also have fellow alumni teaching at Carnegie Mellon, Emmanuel, Berkley, as well as acceptances at Harvard Medical and Law, Yale, Stanford, (apparently Princeton too). My point here is that these individuals have been HIGHLY successful marketing their ALM or ALB degree. And their choice to include or not include “extension” is probably less malicious than ilamont implies.

    The words of Ilamont, whom I appreciate for blogging and increasing awareness about HES IN SOME RESPECTS, mean little compared to overall success of the HES masses who have found (obviously) the best way to advertise their Harvard University affiliation (via Extension). I know the professor at Carnegie simply lists ALB, Harvard University (the last time I looked a year or so ago).

    I think the crux of the disagreement here is hard to pin down.

    ILamont is saying two things primarily:
    1. Dishonesty is not ok.
    2. To not advertise the word EXTENSION = dishonesty, and possibly a side of “shame” of our degree.
    (by attempting to pass as GSAS or HC grads)

    Thomas and others are saying these two things:
    1. Dishonesty is not ok. (agreed)
    2. Leaving off EXTENSION doesn’t inherently equal dishonestly or “shame.”

    So, since everyone agrees that dishonesty is not ok, I want to share my thoughts on point 2.

    I leave off “extension.” This thread is chock-full of reasons that others do (e.g., my degree really IS from Harvard, blah blah… which I agree with) but my reasons are a bit more practical, and certainly considerate:

    1. I really did go to Harvard – I’m being funny here.

    2. Most people outside of Cambridge don’t know the difference.

    3. Most people don’t care about the difference. Here is where ilamont will comment disagreement (admissions committees, and selective companies DO care!). So this reason deserves its own little bit of attention, which I’ll do in a second below.

    4. Even though they don’t care, if they SEE “extension,” (because it’s on the resume for all to see and be confused by lol) it becomes this big (boring) explanation about the differences between the ADMISSIONS processes, followed by even more explanation (in an effort the then RE-build up the value of the degree which I seemingly just explained away) about why the person with whom you are speaking (and just convinced that admissions is non-competitive) should non-the-less STILL HIGHLY VALUE the degree because the professors are the same, the credits are the same, the location is (often) the same, and the research component is more like a small dissertation than a thesis, etc, etc. My point here, is that listing something unfamiliar or odd on my resume prompts questions from EVERYONE who sees it, even it might not matter to 95% of those who view my resume.

    Now, a bit more explanation about points three and four, for me personally:

    So, I’ve established that I leave off “extension” for all the reasons that others do (I can, primarily, and am proud to have accomplished the rigors of a Harvard degree, not “just an extension degree”).

    But what about ilamont’s point toward POTENTIAL shame or dishonesty? There IS validity to this claim, so:

    We must make a professional judgement as to whether the person with whom we are speaking DOES care about the difference in competitive admissions.

    A. If I have an ALM in Marketing (which, I don’t) and I’m interviewing with a top hiring firm who is interviewing me for the SOLE REASON that they think I met the rigors of the ADMISSIONS process, then I should be ethical enough to explain the difference given that situation.

    B. If I’m applying to med school and did pre-med studies and obtained an ALB in Biology (which, I didn’t) and I’m interviewing at Duke (which I wouldn’t be since I’d obviously get into HMS *wink) and I feel like my notation of: “ALB, Biology, Harvard University, 2015” is what got me in the door for the interview, then I WOULD ABSOLUTELY take the time to explain to the admissions committee how the AB and ALB differ – likely this would become a HUGE selling point to why I deserve a spot in their program. However, this wouldn’t be a warranted discussion for every person who sees my resume.

    C. If I’m a Clinical Psychologist (which I will be and “Don’t care to share” already is) or an M.D., or a Dentist, or an Architect… all in the business of bringing on new clients and forming new business relationships, and I have an ALM in Psychology (which I do), or ALB in Biology (for the MD or DDS), or an ALM in History (for the Architect), I DO NOT want to spend time explaining the difference between the AB and ALB or AM and ALM. ……..BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: this audience values my education over my competitive entrance qualities. Let’s not kid ourselves, yes, I chose HES because it is prestigious and looks good on my resume and my clients will love knowing I received an education from Harvard, BUT, I also chose it because it provides THE ABSOLUTE BEST FACULTY ACCESS and research experience in the United States of America for an older working adult. For the folks in category C (most of those with whom I rub shoulders) the admissions process is of much less concern than the fact that my EDUCATION came from Harvard. Said another way: Competitive Achievement: Less Important. Academic Achievement: More Important. Examples A and B, are the reverse, and explanation is warranted (as my fellow alum appropriately did on his Princeton application, WHERE THEY WOULD CARE… if he applied to University of State at City, such would not be necessary, and would actually invite doubt).

    Should the “cost” of listing “Harvard University” on my resume be the time and confusion required to explain the ALM vs MBA every time someone sees my resume or my degree? Hell no. The cost of listing “Harvard University” was 20k and even more than that in time and hard work, and it’s paid. If I had received a M.Div, I would also list “M.Div., Harvard University.” I wouldn’t (personally) go into “M.Div., Harvard University, Divinity School.” Why? Simply because I know human behavior and I don’t want to invite confusion and doubt where none is warranted. If someone is interested or curious about the difference, I will PROUDLY discuss it.

    That is totally separate from a discussion of the quality of ACCEPTANCE COMPETITION into Harvard Extension (of which there is none). If the discussion centers around competitive entrance rather than academic rigor, then YES, I absolutely agree with ilamont that clarification is REQUIRED to be ethical, and ensure all around good person-ness.

    Where we DISAGREE is here:

    I more heavily weigh when a discussion of school-difference is appropriate vs. when it’s simply confusing and inapplicable to my client/interviewer/etc… I retain the professional judgement, I do not advertise it on my resume.

    Ilamont more heavily weighs disclosing the detail for all to see that Harvard has many schools, and not all degrees require the same admissions competitiveness, and the time needed to explain this to every person who sees the word “extension” is worth it.

    For other HES’ers reading, let me provide some go-to responses that I provide, since my resume does NOT indicate anything other than I went to Harvard for a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Psychology.

    “I haven’t seen you in so long! I hear you went to Harvard recently, what was that like!?”
    – It was incredibly rewarding, probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done with my life, but hands down, the best thing I have ever done with it so far.
    (In this situation, I’m not going to invite my converser to become UN-impressed with my hard work, simply because I was admitted to an open-enrollment program, which looks easy relative to other Harvard Schools, but in academic reality, is not easy at all. In other words, to this type of comment, I would never reply with an explanation of College vs. Extension – following ilemont’s logic, I would need to reply with: Yes, but let me explain that I went to Harvard Extension, which is… xyz… five minutes later… more xyz.).

    “Oh my God! I hear you GOT INTO Harvard! How did you do that!?”
    – Well first, “Harvard” is the overall school, and you can apply to any of 13 schools. Most people are more familiar with the College, Med School, and Law School. I got into the evening school, which really lets anyone in who wants to attempt it, AND can meet the entrance requirements. But they are also the “weed-out” school of the 13 schools. More people get into that one, but it also has the lowest percentage of graduates. People usually get the class portion done if they work hard, but can’t handle the intense research element, which is more like a small dissertation than a thesis!

    Professionally it may come up like this:

    “Oh, yea, I heard you got your degree at Harvard. I bet no other psychologists in town went to HARVARD did they!?”
    – First, I’m not a licensed Psychologist just yet. And actually, yes, I did get one of my degrees from Harvard. I got my Master’s degree from Harvard, and I’m so glad I did. My doctorate degree and second masters will be from X which has really provided me a good clinical grounding. However my masters at Harvard was incredibly research intensive and I think provided me with a more rigorous research experience than even my dissertation will.

    I should also note that if at ANY point someone seems interested to talk about Harvard University admissions, or Harvard Extension I will gladly (and very proudly) explain what HES is, and why it is in my mind, the most valuable school of the 13. I have tried to convince numerous people to attempt a degree at HES.

    We cannot be so simple minded as to ignore that when we start “explaining our degree” (though 100% appropriate in some LIMITED situations) we actually end up sounding as though we devalue it. Of course, Harvard College kids don’t have this problem. They simply say “Yea, I went to Harvard.” End of story. For us, because of the stigma, I think the only appropriate action is to list our degree from Harvard University proudly (as I would advocate for all of the 13 except the College, in which case I would list “Harvard College” because it’s clearly the top dog).

    “Yes. I am a proud graduate of Harvard University.”

    … wait

    … wait

    … if a question comes up beyond that, THEN is the time to detail my Harvard experience, but even then I must do so with the same pride that fuels my decision to list my ALM as simply a Harvard University degree.

    Ilamont, you point out that dishonesty and misleading tendencies may/do exist for some alumni.

    The problems with the way you about this are:

    1. You make the assumption that not listing “extension” dictates that the resume-reviewer will (or likely will) assume we went to Harvard College (etc.). Reality: 95% won’t know the difference; the remaining 5% will have this disclosed when/if the topic comes up, unless they know ALB/ALM=Extension, which most prestigious schools do AND value it – no explanation needed (though I’d offer it during an interview none-the-less).

    2. You make the assumption that not listing “extension” correlates with the graduate’s attempt to purposely fool the resume-reviewer (and you offer no weight to other side, which I have presented ad nauseum here: the fact that listing “extension” suggests we SHOULD/NEED to list it, which inherently equals devaluation in the long run).

    3. You lump all graduates (at least such is the general climate of this blog) who choose not to list “extension” for reasons I’ve pointed out, in the same category with those who leave it off for malicious reasons (again, leaving no room for other plausible reasons to leave it off the resume)

    4. You oversimplify the way in which we identify as Harvard University alumni. I.e, we should accept that because our admissions process is open, we therefore need to disclose this fact to ALL lookers-on, even if it does invite unnecessary damage to the HES value. This point is even more problematic when you consider that admissions is the ONLY substantial difference (you wouldn’t be oversimplifying if other differences existed: easier courses, sub-par professors, limited library access, uselessness of conferred degree… but they don’t, in fact I’d argue quite the opposite).

    5. This blog in particular (as Thomas says) actually does a disservice to the ALM and ALB for the above reasons of 1, 2, 3, and 4… generally your view is too rigid and people Googleing the HES degree will unfortunately read this one-sided (and quite inflammatory) view on “the intent of graduates who leave off the word extension.” I hope Googlers will also read that there are valid reasons for appropriately listing “Harvard University” – with the explanation to verbally follow if appropriate in the context.

    I know this has become a novel, but the HR person who commented above sadly suggested her fear that HES alums do not have access to the same world-renowned professors that the other 12 schools have. I wanted to share this:

    I studied creativity from Shelly Carson, an expert in this area.
    I took Anxiety Disorders from Richard McNally, any Psychologists knows this name and he is still a rockstar leading research, currently with a focus on PTSD, but earlier with a focus on phobias.
    Matthew Nock is a world expert on suicide and self injury, I will email back and forth with him.

    I hope this post has come across as genuine and both appreciative of Ilamon’s good work, but enlightening on the aspects that s/he oversimplifies.

  46. The day program at Harvard doesn’t offer an ALB or Bachelor of Liberal Arts so what’s the confusion? If someone puts ALB from Harvard it can easily be checked by googling that and it will take you only to the extension site as ALB is only awarded there.. Additionally, if a recruiter or employer has to ask for clarification if they went to the B-school or extension school when it clearly states “ALM” it’s obvious to anyone who can read the ALM in management isn’t an MBA from the B-school. Completely different letters.. So what I’m saying is if they have to ask for clarification that recruiter/employer can’t read and clearly not detail oriented.. truly this is all comical to me as its so plain to see.. Too many distute of understanding these days, yikes

  47. My understanding is that Harvard has been (successfully) sued over “Extension Studies” diplomas since the word “extension” does not denote any field of learning or academic discipline. I’m assuming that’s why the guidelines are “bogus.”

    • Hi Tom,

      They haven’t been sued. Extension Studies is a standard industry term in continuing education.

      In this case, the “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies with a concentration in XXX” is used because of restrictions place on HES by Harvard University at large. At some point in time, it was decided that only one college on campus may offer a particular type of degree (i.e. only one may offer the M.A. (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), only one the M.B.A. (Harvard Business School), only one, the M.Ed. (Harvard Graduate School of Education), etc.), the actual letters that follow the Management specialization are “A.L.M.” which is the Latin abbreviation for Master of Liberal Arts. It’s complete legit and equal to an M.A. It just can’t be called an M.A. So the verbiage is truly a weird formality.

      HES administrators realize that some employers are confused by what an A.L.M. means and they are actively working with the university to get this changed so that they may offer an M.A. degree. I don’t know when that will happen, but I feel confident that it will at some point.

      More on the HES history that brought us to this point as well as their rigor in other posts…

  48. This blog post is a little offensive by using the term “BOGUS”; even though I am not associating with Harvard Extension School or having an intention to attend.

    I think it is perfectly fine listing as the following in a resume:

    Harvard University
    College: Harvard Extension School
    Degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Software Engineering
    GPA: 3.51

    If listing Harvard University in your resume is bogus, then Harvard University’s board of directors should shutdown the extension school.

    My degree at Georgetown University does denote School of Continuing Studies in Latin.

  49. Listing Extension School is better than not listing it!

    As a student in Harvard Extension school..so far my experience is whenever i say that I am doing my Masters/ALM from Harvard University “Extension” school ; they assume I am from “THE Harvard university”; and then questions how you got admission , how much it cost etc. etc. and so I had to clarify..well its a part time course ; different from others. I have a cousin who completed her masters from HES and wrote her degree as “in Extension Studies”, and in interview she got responses like ..”oh thats misleading…we thought you are from “Actual Harvard” etc.

    Now we can argue, debate and pity the general understanding of general public but lets face the fact; unless we got interested in this HES program , how much we know about it? If somebody told us i have ALM from Harvard University ; would anyone of us really known he did it from Harvard Extension School ; part time? You can do more harm to yourself by trying to hide word Extension than do any good..as you can thought as someone who is deliberately trying to fake something ; even though it may not be technically true ! And how much good you can do yourself by trying to prove to your potential employer that you are “technically correct” and your employer is misinformed..lets face it ; you are not fighting a fact but perception. And we should know whats general perception is

    And I think it is also time to be little honest . Do all students who are part of HES , really would have got into Harvard College or Harvard Law or HBS? Lets not fool anyone. Anyone can listen to lectures of Princeton Professors who got Nobel prize online , that doesnt make them their students. And I say this knowing , fully well , that HES is no easy task …its difficult , requires hard work and commitment but I will still be honest that requirements for HBS are even more and most didnt make it and so doing this. There is nothing to be ashamed of about it. I think HES students do themselves harm by trying to compare themselves with HBS students .

    As a footnote this debate feels like something of Identity crisis of some HES student, they want to be recognized as IVY league but knows inside they arnt so have an inferior complex. Having known many “full time day students of both Harvard & Princeton , I can say most “decorated students and faculty” of Princeton & Harvard are extremely low profile and dont really care what HES students write on resume; the people who care are general public who dont know anything about it , who never went there (and that includes your recruiters ) and go by general perceptions & perception of a “Harvard University student” is still (rightly or wrongly) is of a “Harvard College Student” so i would always mention I studied in Harvard Extension School and I feel no shame in it as I completed my studies by earning & supporting my family ; taking time off & big student debt to do full time course is a not a luxury everyone can have but its also a fact that I dont envy those who are students of HBS. I respect their talent & hard work. Met an alumini of HES who later on became full time day student at HBS , and he is proud to be part of both , always proudly says he did Bachelors from HES and then Masters from HBS. If you hide HES you may have to face more questions instead try converting it to an asset , highlighting your struggle , hard work & commitment for learning and some may see you as more valuable than a rich kid born with silver spoon.

    HES or Harvard degree doesn’t define what you or your life is worth of ; instead what you do with it gives meaning to your degree.

  50. I have a question: Do the transcripts for HES graduates say ‘extension’ or anything about it? I see the degree does say it but wondering about the transcript? How does that read? Do all the colleges at Harvard list the college name on the transcript?

  51. It’s common sense rule that people forget. If you get schooling at Harvard University extension college you have yo mentioned extension on your resume. The degree has value as a normal traditional way in getting the degree on a full time basis. The school allows a non traditional way in gettting a harvard degree. There is a public misconception or prejudice to a non traditional way. When it comes to resume you have yo put extension so you don’t mislead a prospective employer.

  52. This is a hoot. I left a high quality university early and headed into executive land before most people graduated and never finished my under grad degree. The earned Harvard badge is more important these days for obtaining a $400,000+ job then before because each position has 40+ applicants. If Harvard extension uses Harvard School of Business Professors and you graduate with good grades then who cares about placing “extension school” in a resume. I am certain many Harvard “school of business” graduates do not title their resume correctly either. For me, Harvard and my degree title is what will be used. The degree title for extension school is different than a “school of business” degree title. My resume goes into the interview stack without hesitation of a CEO seeing the extension school addition and saying “wtf is extension” and I am happy to explain in interviews if asked about my degree.

  53. Good question about the transcript. Does it mention anything about the extension school or just the university?

    • Yes. Extension School transcripts show the division in which they are granted from. So the transcript’s letterhead shows “Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.” Then the transcript lists whether the class was taken through Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School (both in that division and both with courses that may be used toward the degree in HES). Lastly, when your degree is recorded on the transcript, it shows that it is specifically awarded by the Harvard Extension School with the full title of the degree.

      • So, does that mean the transcript explicitly says “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies” ?

  54. I think the only people that would have an issue with this would be the on campus students because they clearly want to think they are better than all others and if you didn’t endure the privileged life which allowed many to accomplish certain goals set by their parents, then you don’t deserve the same as they have. Then there’re individuals that didn’t attend and wish that they could’ve had that opportunity and wouldn’t take the time to consider the Harvard extension school due to their lack of real time ambition to successfully acquire self actualization. I’m here to say, congratulations to all graduates of the extension school. If it were up to me, I would give higher recognition to graduates of the extension school because it is a known face that online school is considered more strenuous than on campus. I hold a job that many Harvard graduates will aspire for but in reality, the Harvard degree will only be an upper hand to getting into the door, hard work and dedication (what is expected of a Harvard grad ) is what makes executives of the world. I didn’t have the privileged life to go to Harvard but I’m at the same board meeting as they are. What this means is that you can do the same without the Harvard degree so you don’t need the on campus degree, the extension which is a lower cost because there’s no real estate will teach you the same information as an on campus classroom. Thank you and hold your head up high.

    • Furthermore, just say Harvard Online, it’s the same degree as someone sitting in class. I doubt they would have a shortened masters for the extension school!

    • One last point, if an on campus student chooses to take one of their classes online, they will be taking the same extension course as you are.

  55. Columbia University has a School of Extended Education. I’ve never seen anyone at Columbia list their affiliated college to be sure to distinguish themselves from the extended education school’s graduate degrees. Columbia is Columbia. I’ve never seen anyone list any college on a resume. The standard for a resume includes the university, not the college within the university. I don’t list my degree from Columbia including “Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science”. That’s just nonsense, and reeks of insecurity. It seems best to just say what is on the diploma: MLA, Extension Studies, Harvard University. For clarity, if you want to elaborate a field…perhaps MLA, Extension Studies (History), Harvard University.

    • Just go to Johns Hopkins University. They offer online, part-time master degree programs. You can get a M.S. in areas like computer science, system engineering, bioinformatics, etc.

      And while these degrees are offered thru the Engineering for Professionals division, your transcript and degree do not distinguish your degree from the traditional degree programs.

  56. My son if finishing up his Associates degree at a regionally accredited college. He has completed most of his general eds this way. He is now interested in HES to complete his Bachelors. He is an actor and would like to concentrate in Drama. From the looks of it, he would have to take most of his drama/theater courses on campus (as one would expect). Does anyone have an opinion of HES’s drama concentration? Naturally I have concerns that some people think this is a “bogus” program, but he will be on campus taking courses from the best and making strong connections (hopefully) that a smaller, not-so-well-known college could never offer. Input?

    • Hello, I think HES is a fine option to continue undergraduate studies, especially if the courses are being taken on-campus — it allows for direct interaction with faculty, including many Harvard faculty who do not teach online courses. Browsing the drama offerings in the course catalogue, I see that several of the instructors are part of the Harvard faculty or instructor corps, which I think is a wonderful opportunity for your son. There are also many options on campus and in the Boston/Cambridge area to get involved with serious theatrical productions. I would try to contact the Extension School staff member responsible for the program to learn more and see if he/she can put you in contact with current students.

      Good luck!


  57. Whether you got your degree from hard University or a bubble gum machine, what matters is how well you perform in the cooperate the world. The former CEO from best buy had a high school diploma, but manager to raise to the top.

  58. @ilamont, thank you for this blog post. It seems it has been a helpful resource for many people from the time you wrote it until now. What would be your advice to someone who lives out West and is considering either pursuing the ALB at HES with an emphasis in philosophy & ethics or pursuing a fully online BA in Philosophy from ASU that is the same exact degree as on-campus? While the “name” of extension school is of little consequence to me I do want to pursue further graduate and possible doctoral work with the hopes of potentially teaching. The allure of a Harvard education is tantalizing but all of the drama surrounding the stigma makes me wonder if the ASU program is just as solid of an option with less travel headaches as well. What are your thoughts?

    • Jason, thanks for your message.

      The Harvard Extension School stigma matters most to people who are concerned about the name of the school on their resumes. What should be most important to a prospective student is the quality of the education.

      For what it’s worth, many Harvard Extension School ALB and ALM graduates have gone on to PhD programs elsewhere, and I believe an Extension School degree with a high GPA is an asset to applicants applying to advanced degree programs. I heard this from my thesis advisor (a Harvard FAS professor), and experienced it when I successfully gained entrance to a competitive graduate business program a few years after earning my ALM.

      The stigma becomes a problem in certain employment circles, especially when people misrepresent themselves and their exaggerations are uncovered. This is not likely to happen in an educational setting, not only because official transcripts contain the full name of the school, but also because the Extension School is a known entity in higher education circles. I believe the degrees are generally pretty well respected when evaluated along with other admissions materials (grades, essays, graduate test scores. etc.). An Extension School ALB degree won’t hold the same weight as a 4.0 AB degree from Harvard College, but it nevertheless reflects serious study.

      Regarding the ASU program: I don’t know anything about it, but here are the questions I would ask to evaluate any online program:

      Does the online program have a cohort experience?

      How do students bond/stay connected?

      Is it possible to interact with faculty? How responsive are they to remote students?

      What other resources are available for remote students?

      Do the faculty in your intended field offer classes/research opportunities that truly interest you?

      Are there opportunities to have a hybrid experience?

      What do graduates say about the program?

      The distance ed offerings at Harvard Extension School fare well on some criteria (hybrid experience) but poorly on others (cohort, faculty responsiveness to online students). As I have said on other blog posts, the course offerings in a few areas are superb and involve real Harvard faculty, but in other fields there are few courses and many faculty are from other universities.

      Good luck in your studies!

    • Jason, one other comment: If you want to talk with students who have recently taken classes at HES, you should visit the forum located at http://www.extensionstudentforum.com/. I am not sure if non-students can register; if they can’t you can try to contact them via email or Twitter.

    • Hi Jason,

      I previously worked at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Ed (i.e. Harvard Extension School’s division) and I will say two things:

      1. There is no concentration in Philosophy at HES. I considered continuing my education at HES while working there by seeking a special exception in concentration, but it’s a very clear rule that you can’t seek out a specialized degree. This is because of the “Harvard Instructor” requirement that you can read about on their website. They believe it is too difficult to complete all requirements unless they have set up the degree in advance…etc. So if you are okay with concentrating in another area while taking some of their philosophy courses as electives toward your degree, that’s a great idea. It really is a great option.

      2. I want to be clear to you (and anyone else reading this) that you cannot complete any degree within HES (undergraduate or graduate) completely online. In classroom learning is something HES refuses to compromise on. Though proposed by various administrators throughout the years due to the continuing demand for online education, HES honors the idea that there is an in-classroom experience that is necessary to provide a truly rigorous, complete degree. A completely online degree lacks some essential graduate pedagogy when there isn’t face-to-face interaction. I respect that, too. And, frankly, it gives the degree more clout.

      In summary, if you can manage the on-campus requirements, you’ll get great prep for a PhD degree. I certainly recommend going this route if you’re looking to take the first steps toward a PhD. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to concentrate in another area. This will be fine for graduate admissions offices for a PhD program who will be more interested in your performance in a humanities field than they will be concerned with your total coursework in Philosophy particularly. I state it as a preference for you. Should you go with HES, I recommend concentrating in Religion, History, or English for your purposes.

  59. Interesting article and comments. Is there no objective way to evaluate the HES curriculum and its graduates? Relying on personal opinions only reflects the biases of either Harvard College students or HES students, both who have some ground to protect.

    Can we measure, for example, how many HES undergrads end up at traditional graduate programs at competitive universities, or how many HES grad students end up at medical or law schools or other professional programs?

    Are there other ways to begin a process of evaluation. Possibly against other continuing education programs?

    I think the best way to position HES is that it is open to almost anyone, but to get to the finish line is difficult, and requires commitment and dedication—all things I see at true. Much like a special forces selection course in the military: anyone can try, based on certain initial standards. Many less complete selection.

    I’m not sure if it’s a perfect analogy, but in order for HES students to remove this unfair stigma, that we somehow have found a side door into Harvard and that the academic standards are laughable, a better narrative should be approached, and backed up by a refusal to lower standards and to maintain the integrity of the curricula and quality of faculty (another way of establishing exclusivity).

    Seems Harvard takes a very cautious approach when attempting to describe the program. Dean Lamberts comments on a recent article, “Extension Granted,” makes a neutral statement about the academic standards:

    We don’t particularly compromise on the integrity of the course just because they’ve been out of school for a long time, or are very young, or are much older.”

    With respect to the “worth” of the degree, Lambert says:

    “I think it’s very clear to employers what it means. The Harvard College degree is an intensive, highly selective, four-year residential learning experience. That’s pretty well reputed. I think employers understand that the people who come and do the undergraduate program at the Extension School are older … They come back to do that degree because they discovered later in life they have high intellectual capacity, and they desire to get ahead. And I think employers are very clear on what that is as opposed to a Harvard College degree.”

    That’s hardly a vote of confidence. These comments make me feel less confident that the dean of the school thinks that HES has much value in the real world.

    Either his lukewarm opinions are based in reality, or they are not. If they are, let’s call the program what it is: a degree of marginal quality. If these opinions do not give enough credit to the value of the degree, I think it makes sense to find ways to add objective value to both the degree and the curricula and faculty behind it.

    • Hi JF,

      Not gonna lie, I’m disappointed by Dean Lambert’s comments. I think they’re misleading. And individuals who work at DCE will tell you that Dean Lambert’s not the greatest rhetorician in the world. Keep in mind, Hunt came from Colorado College where he implemented, from the ground up, a completely online degree model that could be used as a template for state school’s across the U.S. He’s a business man. And after a gazillion years with a Dean that was merely a figurehead with no operational value and a fear of progressing with the times, this is exactly what DCE needs. Still, it’s a learning curve. He’s got work to do and other DCE administrators are doing a great job of getting him up to speed with the mission and standards. Like when he suggested that we make the masters degrees completely online, DCE administrators were foursquare against it and stood by the mission that there must be a residential component to all degrees to honor the complete learning experience, elite pedagogy, and, well, to legitimate them.

      And they are legitimate and rigorous, with one exception I’d say.* All degrees require a “Harvard Instructor” requirement. This is what that means:

      Harvard Extension School does not make faculty appointments. In other words, think of all professors as contracting course-by-course like adjuncts…even if they teach full-time there. that means, a significant number of courses are taught by esteemed visiting professors or adjuncts in other Harvard University schools.

      Then, there are “Harvard Instructors” who are those faculty members who hold an appointment in another Harvard school where they teach in addition to the Extension School. For example: http://www.extension.harvard.edu/faculty-directory/david-c-bell
      I ran into him at Starbucks one day and he was friendly enough to strike up conversation. We realized that we both knew the director of HES’s Biotechnology program (who is a badass) and we ended up getting lunch so he could tell me about his research. IT’S AWESOME. In order to graduate with a masters degree from HES’s Biotech program, you’ll have to take a specific number of courses from Harvard instructors like him. Seriously, look at that link and tell me that the quality of education isn’t legit.

      But, in all seriousness, there are more quantifiable statistics available from HES’s degree programs. They certainly track their graduate students the same way that other graduate programs do. They can give you percentages on candidates who make it through the program and alumni who go on to X field. I think you’ll find that students are very successful, but, of course, it looks different for every graduate.

      *The exception to this “Harvard Instructor” requirement is for the graduate program in Management–and that is a huge disappointment. Harvard Business School DOES indeed want to separate itself from the Extension School so it does not allow any HBS professors to teach at HES. So the instructors you get through the HES Management program can be sub-par. I’ve heard from friends who have completed the program that it is too heavy on the faculty from “the industry” and light on those from academia leaving much to be desired from the actual Managment degree. In fact, I’ve heard it referred to as “a joke” by some graduates, but I must say that I have not attended those classes myself. It could be a mixed bag.

      • WootWoot: Thank you so much for sharing an insider’s perspective of the Harvard Extension School and its degree programs. I would like to follow up with you on the “Harvard Instructor” issue. As I have noted elsewhere on this blog, it’s not just the ALM in Management program that lacks this requirement. It seems that many (if not all) “professional” programs have ditched it. I would expect this to be the case for programs that don’t have any equivalent FAS/SEAS departments or faculty such as Digital Media Arts, but I see that even the software engineering degree does not require any HI courses even though Harvard has a pretty robust slate of CS courses. My question is: Do you see the school continuing to diverge from the HI requirement, not only in the professional degrees but also in the liberal arts degrees? What does that mean for Extension School if so many students never step foot (virtual or otherwise) in a classroom with a Harvard faculty member at the helm?


        Ian (author of the blog)

  60. Hello WootWoot,

    I have another question, relating to online education. We’ve heard for years from students and some Extension School faculty that the lack of interaction with faculty is a huge problem (Professor Sandel: “I don’t believe that it’s possible fully to replicate the in-person classroom experience using new technology”). I have seen Harvard Extension School students complain about this (“The professor was not accessible and this was not explained prior to the start of the class. It might not have mattered if the TF was great, but he wasn’t.”) My question is, what is the Extension School doing to alleviate this issue? This is obviously an area of great concern for hard-working students who want a Harvard experience, and also an issue for Dean Lambert who seems focused on pushing online education as much as possible over traditional in-class education. Is the best students can hope for a faculty member who responds to email, or a TF who cares? Are there distance education technologies used by HES that can make a difference?



  61. Those who are critics of the HES program need to go do some research. I think this alone will straighten things out. Here is my interpretation of the facts based on my own research. I hope it will help enlighten others out there.

    1) HES is a charity program. This is something nobody in this blog seems to be taking into account. The tuition is much lower and the courses are accessible to common people from any age or background. Candidacy for degree programs is merit base alone. Harvard University wants to provide a “taste” of tier-1 education to the masses along with “some” of the prestige, and quite honestly should be commended for this as they don’t “have” to do it. We are lucky they still think it’s a worthy endeavor. As someone who has read The Gates Unbarred this is my view.

    2) Two Thirds of the students at Harvard University are graduate students transiting through eleven other degree-granting schools. Only one third of students (a minority) attend the College which most people associate with Harvard’s perceived prestige. Do you really think graduates from Harvard’s Seminary School will go on to make seven-figure salaries at Fortune 100 companies? No offense to Seminary students (maybe some will), but I don’t think they’re in it for the money or prestige.

    3) HES is over 100 years old. Do you really think Harvard forgot there was a accidental back-door hole in their otherwise exemplary university through which thousands of “commoners” have snuck in, and will shut it down as soon as some clerk figures it out? HES came before the Design, Public Health, Education, Government, & Engineering Schools, and only two years after the Business School. I’m pretty sure it is still there because it provides a vital function and is viewed as such by every Administration since.

    4) HES graduates are Harvard Alumni. Anyone who says otherwise needs to check their facts.

    5) Harvard is a research college (hence the $40 billion endowment). As such, they are always looking to the future and want to be a part of developing it. I think the Division of Continuing Education, of which HES is a part, is constantly looking to “Extend” the Harvard experience, whether by video or internet or whatever will come next. I think they understand the tranditional brick & mortar approach to learning will be heavily infused with online convenience in the future and they are constantly evaluating how to continue delivering a tier-1 offering in parrallel. To be fair, I don’t think any other University has figured out the best “extension” balance yet, however many who have graduated from HES praise Harvard’s unique approach.

    6) Is an HES degree the same as a BA from Harvard College? Of course not!! Anybody who has done even a little bit of research into Harvard University (previously called “New College”) would understand this. HC students are undergraduate students fresh out of High School and, while extremely intelligent, many are still lacking the wisdom which comes with living life. With the single exception of HES AB students, most of Harvard University students (approx. 14K) are graduate students who got their undergraduate degrees somewhere else and are attempting to include the “Harvard” brand on their resume along with many other prestigious institutions.

    7) Should a graduate of HES put Extension on their resume? Yes, I believe so. You have a “Liberal Arts” degree. This reflects that your program is bit more “diversified” than others at Harvard. The word extension on your resume simply reflects that your degree came from the Division of Continuing Education so you are part of a program designed for people who want to continue learning beyond just a bachelors degree in a very “open-minded” less rigid way. Liberal Arts degrees are designed to reflect diversity by giving many expanded options for building your degree plan. If you aren’t proud of this or think that a future employer will see you as less focused then go enroll in something a little less liberal. Simple as that.

    I have the greatest respect for anyone who attempts to become an HES degree candidate and, given the very small number of actual graduates from HES, believe they are “The Few and Proud”.

    • I agree with you that HES is sort of like a charity program. It was established as a kind of Boston area outreach program to provide higher education to those who had obligations that kept them away from traditional schools.

      In addition to that, HES acts as a kind of employee-incentive program. A lot of Harvard employees pursue HES classed and degree programs because they get a VERY discounted tuition ($40 a class).

      It lets employees pursue higher education, without having to open deal subjecting employees to the competitive admissions standards of Harvard’s non-HES schools.

  62. Excellent addition, Junko. Given Harvard’s roots as a training school for Unitarian clergy, I think they will always have some sort of accessibility program by where you can experience Harvard through merit alone. Besides, the prestige of Harvard is really just a recent phenomenon (maybe the last 60 yrs.?) given it’s long history of service in the American colonies. If you think about it, Harvard was originally designed to be an “Extension School” of it’s own since it was simply an extension of the English Oxford & Cambridge educational systems. Some of the ironies of it’s history are really quite entertaining. Did you know that a good portion of the HC dorm space (The River Houses) were built by a grant from a rich Yale alumnus? You won’t hear that one come up very often at “The Game”…..

  63. This post is not accurately reflecting the ALM. degree.

    In fact, 40% of the classes (up to 80%) is taught by the same professors. Exams are the same or harder for the remaining classes. Generally, there are more exams at HES due to specialized classes.

    There are very few online classes available, in summer none.

    The ALM is a continuing education program for older students. The age group is 28-45. Not 21-26. This means that you can expect to get a lead into another company when you graduate. You are not paid 55-60K, but 80-85K. Employment is close to 100%. HKS grads find it harder to get jobs.

    The university is trying to sell students a second degree once they graduate. Graduates receive a Master in Liberal Arts.
    The university is trying to cash it. That is what this is all about.

    When you employ a HES grad, you get amature student that has all thebenefits of a Harvard education. Visited classes, completed written exams and is able to get in touch with other Harvard grads.

    • Agree, I think what really chaps people are the undergrads who are supposedly borrowing the exceptional reputation of Harvard College. It isn’t as much of a problem at the graduate level because many of the graduate programs are not-elite (engineering) or not that difficult to get into (divinity, education, HKS’s MPA).

  64. The real problem is Harvard University’s administration. It is just wrong to ask HES students to caveat their degree with a bunch of qualifiers which are not so subtle reminders that “yes, technically this is a Harvard degree… but, you know, not the Harvard, Harvard”. It is just petty and ridiculous. No one is forcing Harvard to have a Cont Ed school, but, if they are going to have one (a very rigorous one at that, see thesis), they should accord the graduates full Harvard status. What Harvard is doing is totally out of the norm for elite schools. Penn, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern all have Cont Ed programs. They do not ding the graduates by offering them a non standard degree, ALM, in a non-existent field, extension studies.

    I am looking into getting a second masters degree. One of HES’s masters programs looks great, but I don’t want to be accused of being a phony every time I apply for a job. That is on Harvard’s admin. Either embrace HES or get rid of it, but pick one.

    • Sam, I think this is a great point. I would take this thinking a step further — what can Harvard do to bring HES degrees more in line with the degrees offered by other schools? Certainly it’s not possible to do this in fields where there is no equivalent (e.g., digital media) or resistance from the other tubs (HBS). But can it be done for HES undergraduate degrees (ALB) or liberal arts graduate degrees in social sciences, physical sciences, computer science, and other fields? What would it take to better align the curriculums?

      • I think the best approach is the obvious approach: Give the graduates a regular degree from the regular school. JHU, and Stanford’s cont ed engineering masters programs operate in this manner. Johns Hopkins and Stanford’s engineering programs are a lot more prestigious in engineering fields than Harvard, so it is not as though Harvard is some superior institution in engineering with more to protect. Just offer the degrees through the regular channels at night. Digital Media Design goes into Harvard’s Eng school. Harvard can tighten the admissions standards for these degrees, although there seem to only be a few hundred people actually graduating from HES anyway so not much of an issue.

        HES is just an odd initiative for Harvard. It appears that Harvard is being pulled in two directions. They want to be democratic, extend their resources as far as possible, educate as many people as possible and other things that sound good, but, at the same time, they want to protect their elite brand and other things which don’t sound as good. The result is this compromised school called HES. I don’t think they are really doing the graduates any favors though. HES grads are going to be having conversations like the one on this blog for the rest of their lives. It is also odd that the choice seems to be that HES is either fully Harvard, as good as the College or the medical school, or a total fraud. The reality is that it is somewhere in between (much like, btw, Harvard Ed, HKS, Divinity, etc). Still would you rather go to HES and constantly be accused of being a poseur or just go to BU or Northeastern and have people think, “Oh, that’s a pretty good school” without the drama. The whole thing just makes Harvard look bad regardless of which way you look at it. Either Harvard is taking peoples’ money, granting them degrees and then subtly sneering at their own graduates or, from the other perspective, Harvard is dilluting their brand.

        • >It is also odd that the choice seems to be that HES is either fully Harvard, as good as the College or the medical school, or a total fraud. The reality is that it is somewhere in between (much like, btw, Harvard Ed, HKS, Divinity, etc).

          I get what you’re saying but Harvard GSE is one of the top ranked educational programs in the nation. The same goes for HKS but in government/policy. I can’t speak for Divinity since I haven’t researched that school.

          The prestige of Harvard mainly derives from its graduate & professional programs (Harvard GSE is ranked #2 behind Stanford; HKS is ranked #3) and its single digit percent acceptance rate in the College.

          The reason that GSE and HKS may get flack is because of the large enrollment in each of their respective master’s programs. If one did the research GSE master’s programs are of quality, which is impressive because they’re only one year, and within the field of education a Harvard master’s can make an impact on employment (elite/strong high schools love to flash a fancy faculty) and educational entrepreneurship (many have started their own start-ups). Many from HKS are living in D.C. working in politics (think tanks) or leading non-profits.

          HES is unique specifically for its structure and its original mission. Is it pseudo-Harvard? No. It’s real Harvard, just a different path to the institution itself. If it was pseudo-Harvard then they wouldn’t be included in commencement and given Harvard degrees conferred by the university (as number have stated already HES is one of the 13 schools of Harvard). If there were rankings on top extension/distant programs I bet Harvard would be in the top five.

      • Also, how absurd are Harvard’s own instructions on how to list your degree on a resume? You can either have an ALM in extension studies from Harvard University or an ALM in history (insert your field) from Harvard University Extension School. Harvard is giving you permission to completely change your field of study, not a minor change, just so long as you blackball yourself somewhere on your resume. Would it be acceptable to write “ALM in history from Hravard University”, or does that not get the point across that you’re not as smart as the regular grads? Wow, does Harvard allow other grads to acceptably take their pick on a field of study?

  65. After reading these comments, I am now debating whether HES will be an expensive burden on my resume. I have little doubt of the quality of the HES degree or the students enrolled, but have now been slightly introduced to the stigma and ignorance of others towards HES grads.

    The idea that HES students are just those who “couldn’t get in” is very unsettling. It seems to be the norm of ideas of the general public or those with knowledge of the school. Growing up across from WTC during 9/11, I joined the military for five years directly after high school. Now in my last month of a traditional B.A. at almost 27, i don’t have the liberty of a 21-22 year old out of college with no responsibilities or extensive bills. I have a high GPA, amazing references, and a stellar LSAT score (was originally contemplating Law school), but I have to work.

    We all take different paths in life and no one should belittle anyone else because it is different than yours. I have worked AND interned continuously through my B.A. and it is not easy and requires skills and maturity not many traditional students have. In the future, we must all work to remove this stigma in the public eye and help many recognize that when you get a graduate from HES, you not only get a quality education but also an experienced individual. The school, of all parties, should be promoting this instead of worrying about what they put on their resume and hardly acknowledging HES grads.

    And until Harvard puts out a press release that they are making HES classes easier, stop having traditional professors teach at HES, no longer require you to take classes on campus, make HES syllabuses different than their identical traditional classes, and lower the credits required for HES degrees, Im putting HARVARD UNIVERSITY!

    • This is what annoys people. When HES students pretend not to know the difference between HC/GSAS and HES. HES is a good school and I’m sure a fair amount of their students are smart, capable, etc. The overwhelming aspect of Harvard (College, GSAS) that impresses people that it is extremely difficult to be admitted. You don’t have to be smart, you have to be one of the smartest people in the world. When people find out that you did not go through the admissions gauntlet (and people will look into it if you drop the H-bomb), they are going to think you are a poseur if you just write Harvard University with no mention of Extension. If you had just said I went to Harvard Extension School and explained what you just wrote, they would think it is impressive and an achievement. They won’t think you are, necessarily, a genius, but they will be impressed.

      • This is he best reply I’ve read, a distillation in agreement with the Original Poster’s most salient point, that Harvard Extension School admissions is nonselective (admittedly other than structurally, vis a vis an applicant’s discretionary wealth and time), whereas the impressive thing about Harvard College and The Graduate School of Arts and Studies is, in the public eye, the bare fact that a person was admitted in the first place. Some students say getting through Harvard is hard; getting in is harder. From my experience as a Harvard Extension School student, getting through is easy; getting in is easier. Now I possess a genuine “Harvard University” certificate in Teaching Higher Education from the Derek Bok Center. Some naive recruiters might be impressed that this Harvard Extension School certificate is on my CV. However, if I see it on someone else’s, I will not be. Furthermore, if it’s on a CV or resume as “Harvard” or “Harvard University” without elaboration, I’ll trust them no more.

  66. I think it’s important to look at the History of HES and the root cause of the fear of a growing number of HES degree candidates. In this way we can give some “context” to the problem. Firstly, when the Lowell Institute was created in the 1830’s (later HES in the 1900’s), the goal was to “extend” a tier-1 educational opportunity to those non-traditional students who couldn’t otherwise afford it, or meet the schedule requirements of the traditional classroom. Since Harvard only charged 2 bushels of wheat and didn’t make any money off the deal, it was seen as a charitable outreach program which the school didn’t necessarily need to provide, but at that time Harvard still had strong influences from their original charter as a training seminary for Unitarian clergy so “giving selflessly” was still a big part of the institution. Secondly, nobody has had much of an issue with using “Extention Studies” on a diploma until just recently with the advent of automated processes for pre-screening job applicants. Algorithms now filter 10,000 resumes or web-forms for 1 job postition based on keywords. These algorithms for example expect someone who claims to be an engineer to have graduated with a major or degree in “engineering” or from an “engineering school” (not in extension studies or from an extension school). Just 20 years ago, when job applications were read by human eyes and interviews were conducted in person instead of “Skype’d”, you had enough time to explain the differences. Now, with the advent of automated screening and knee-jerk reactions to resume’ fraud by HR recruiters who just finished attending 1 seminar too many on the topic, the previously assumed “face value” of a Harvard degree is coming into question when “extension studies” is observed. So now, you have an entrenched Harvard Corporation Board who looks back at the +100yr. of wisdom behind running this charity program (HES), and you have real-world prospective degree candidates who are debating the commitment/time/money to invest in what could turn out to be a bit of a foley if the board doesn’t step in and take action. Since the board probably doesn’t think this is a “real” problem just yet, and the degree candidates are just now starting to amass momentum (again), I think we are possibly looking at decades for final resolution (or in the blink of an eye by Harvard’s clock). Not much solace for today’s degree candidate. However, I think I have a solution (at least for graduate students) which could possibly satisfy both sides. This solution has to do with the way in which Harvard uses Latin on their graduate diplomas. You’ll notice on the HES graduate diploma, the “Master of Liberal Arts” is actually ALM or abbreviated backwards from “magistri in artibus liberalibus”. More details on that here -> http://www.harvard.edu/on-campus/commencement/degree-abbreviations So it turns out that the only schools at Harvard University that produces “Liberal Arts” degrees is HES (containing the word Liberal). This is only fitting since your school is giving you a more liberal way to design your degree plan. So this means you could say something like “Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in CONCENTRATION NAME, Harvard University” and the “traditional” Harvard community could derive from the required (ALM) parameter and the word “Liberal” that this is an HES degree. Also, wording it in this way would not trip up algorithms and most likely would be overlooked by +98% of clueless HR recruiters. If they asked about the (ALM) you could simply say it comes from how MLA is abbreviated in reverse from the Latin (without lying). So why can’t the board treat HES students exactly the same as traditional students? Answer: Because you are not a traditional student. You are participating in a “limited” Harvard experience with different entrance requirement and, most importantly, you wont pay as much for it. What makes up the difference? Well, try to put a price on prestige and you’ll know the answer. Because your an HES student you were never considered all that prestigious to begin with, otherwise you’d have found your way in through the “Front” door. Harvard is remaining true to it’s original charter for the Extension School and is selflessly serving the poor or disadvantaged. They’re doing something nice for the masses, yet the masses are complaining that the $35K degree isn’t the same as the $400K degree. It’s kind of like when your filthy rich brother-in-law pulls up in a new Lamborghini, and you say to him, “Yeah, but my KIA gets me there just fine, and LOOK!! It even has a HARVARD bumper sticker on it”……..I cant see you right now, but I’m pretty sure you know what I mean…..and you’re laughing……..

  67. Hey, that’s the American way unfortunately because where would we be if we couldn’t say sally so and so despite being underprivileged and attending college later in life can achieve the same level of success with hard work and sacrifice as susie so and so whose parents groomed her from the womb?
    Harvard definitely wants to prove the point that you cannot get in through the hard work door and obtain the same credentials, what a shame.
    As a working adult who had no other choice than to attend classes through online courses, I get the debate. My school, however, simply allows me to put their name on my resume without all the politics of dealing with rich folks who may not want to feel as if their kids will have to share the same status with others “less fortunate”. Do I feel bad sometimes about saying I graduated from the school because I went online? No, never and my school never made me feel bad about it. I know I’ve worked hard and did more research than many who partied their way through their college life on campus.
    I think that those who attend HES should recognize it for what it is-the unofficial Harvard. They should list it as is Harvard Extension School, Harvard University and not worry about what anyone thinks if they’ve worked hard and are proud of their hard work. If they have any reservations about it then simply do not go there and deal with this fight the rest of their lives. It is very unfair of Harvard to cause such a distinction amongst its own. It definitely points to elitism and division. In the end Harvard should just let graduates list their school and be proud of how hard they’ve worked and stop all the political nonsense in appeasing rich folks. Dropping my mic here.

    • Not really. If you get into Harvard College and you are from a poor/not wealthy family, Harvard covers the entire bill… the “Harvard College is for the rich kids, not the hard working kids” doesn’t make sense. Harvard College is for the scary smart kids. The Extension School is for everybody else.

      • >Harvard College is for the scary smart kids.

        You’re mistaken. That’s more so MIT, that other institution of higher education down the road from Harvard, and University of Chicago.

  68. Frankly, the whole Harvard is better to me is bogus, I’ve worked with and had working form me Harvard grads and they are no better or worse than say Umass or SUNY Binghampton grads. At the end of the year, it is all about work ethic and ability to adapt and get along with your peers. I have hired hundreds over the years and your schools pedigree is way down on my list although it is worth something, I’m just not sure how much.

  69. I always dreamed of going to Harvard…who hasn’t? No way on earth would I have been able to get into the “real H” with my grades and study habits. But once I became aware of HES, it did cross my mind to shortcut the process and get the same salary and recognition perks from unsuspecting recruiters or employers. However, I doubt not for second that my fictional employers would gain bragging rights to having employed “Harvard” graduates in their company. After I woke up from daydreaming I realized that the ‘xplaning to be done incessantly for the rest of my life was not worth the potential gain. I would be looking over my shoulder every minute of the day fearing someone would out me. On the other hand, chiropractors have no shame in calling themselves “doctors” and massaging that fictional doctorate to extract value from unsuspecting “patients” in particular or from other organization where the title “Doctor” carries weight—like reservations at a fancy restaurant, hotel, etc. The world has plenty of fakery all around. The fact people are reading or commenting on this blog is evidence of how uncomfortable they are and want reassurance of some sort. Sorry, I not with you on this one. HES should be scrapped. It’s like Harvard admin says “We’ll let you believe you went to the “real Harvard” as long as you keep it to yourself and don’t tell anyone”…forget it.

  70. As somebody who has personally on-boarded somebody claiming an HES degree as a HGSAS degree, I can tell you that this is pure bullwack. What a complete waste of time and energy her fraud was. I wasted a ton of time looking into the issue. Harvard’s own standards have always made it clear to grads that their HES degree is not a Harvard College degree. Period… It’s willful ignorance on the part of HES grads that it will be overlooked. Anyone who doesn’t know how to represent an HES degree on a resume is a liar.

    HES is non-selective, except that you have to maintain a 3.0 GPA. That means the level of selectivity is not the same. You also have a very self-determined, interdisciplinary approach to coursework. This is NOT the same thing as an academic major that is defined under the supervision of an Ivy League Dean.

    HES seems to attract people wanting to misrepresent themselves on their resumes, like dog crap attracts flies. That’s unfortunate, because I think HES is a great service and a proud accomplishment. That said, Harvard may want to eliminate the program just to control the flies.

    Representing an HES degree as “Harvard College” or “Harvard University” is resume fraud, period! Anybody smart enough to get an HES degree would know that.

    • Ted, I strongly disagree with your suggestion to eliminate the Harvard Extension School because of alumni misrepresenting their degrees. Extension School courses and degree programs provide a wonderful educational option that allows nontraditional students to study under Harvard faculty and conduct real research in various fields.

      That said, you have every right to be frustrated by someone who apparently misrepresented her credentials. Was it a case of someone actually stating she received a degree from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on a resume, or going with “Harvard University” and implying it was a GSAS program in interviews? How did you uncover the truth?

  71. This really is no surprise. People simply look for a reason to not enroll in continuing education programs. The mistake Extension, like online programs, make is when most people know they will be admitted, can afford it, and can do the courses after work the only excuse remaining is the program is somehow inferior to a person of their obvious intellectual greatness. “I would go, but it isn’t really Harvard. There, problem solved!”

  72. What it comes down to, is:
    The more advanced, accessible and economical from of education, the one that is and will be promulgating into all forms of education and life, is downplayed by ego of old fashion graduates and I beleave professors alike of Harvard itself, thus undermining basics on which Harvard was created. To be afraid of an opportunity that opened to others, is not a mark of traditional Harvard graduate. Havard graduate, he’s the best, so why is he afraid? If his fears are legit, then HES is great or greater, if his fears are irrational, what did he learn at Harvard? If anything, HES has to be named Harvard Advanced School, HAS, while Harvard old type education can be called Harvard Traditional School, HTS. Who in their right mind will fight the fact that computers and technologies will prevail? One can live in the dorm at Harvard and have online classes. One can sit in class and work mostly on computer. Are we moving forward or are we holding unto tribal cosiness? If anything, HES students should be embraced by Harvard graduates and be first to be hired into their respective companies, thus gloryfying even farther the powers of Harvard as one of US best Univercities.

  73. More so, Harvard can create and propagate field where Harvard degree is earned completely online and the compnaies where those particular graduates work are designed for them and are completely computer based. There is no lunch room, no college’s elbow nearby, you work the world or global science project, or secret service theme exlusively through online sources. I think that be a great experiment and successfull one.

      • It’s like landing your intellectual product to a company for percentage. So far expensive colleges squeese students for money, thus loosing enormous pool of talent, who can not afford, and know in advance that efforts of educators and educated will largely go wasted. What an enormous leackage of countries resources. 80/20. does that proportion scream at us that only miserly 20 % of those who got great education acheave something in life, instead of 80%. Because the way we utilize our educated population is to turn educational system around.

  74. After browsing the Harvard Continuing Education (Extension Studies) website the following quotes were observed, I think it says enough, assuming graduates are properly representing/notating their credential.

    “We are Harvard—extended to the world for every type of adult learner. Our students come to us from every time zone, every culture and career background, every age from 18 to 89”

    “As one of 12 degree-granting institutions at Harvard University, we teach to the largest and most eclectic student body”

    “We are a fully accredited Harvard school. Our degrees and certificates are adorned with the Harvard University insignia. They carry the weight of that lineage. Our graduates walk at University commencement and become members of the Harvard Alumni Association.”

  75. It happens every few years where my firm gets an HES grad misrepresenting their degree. The latest “MA Anthropology – Harvard,” which after a little checking (we have learned to ALWAYS be suspicious), ends up being an MLA with a concentration from HES. When confronted they always plead ignorance and make the same BS argument about how they took classes on campus at Harvard taught by faculty and blah, blah, blah. Some are otherwise good candidates, but they are still committing resume fraud. I would take an honest UMass or UConn grad over HES any day. Had they listed their true HES credential on the resume and sold it in the interview, they would be fine.

    It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, HES grads. You get the stigma, because some of your alums create the stigma. HES is great education and a great springboard to grad school, but when you present it as a terminal degree in the job market, you need to be honest. HES does not have selective admissions. It is not a formal academic major. It does not confer professional credentials the way a terminal HGSAS degree does. It is what it is. Period.

    • Robert, I’m going to disagree with you regarding selective admissions. You have to be smart enough to handle the academics. You take a reading & writing comprehension that you must pass, then 3 courses are required where you have to earn a B or higher. One of the required classes is expository writing. Then, you’re extended an invitation. From there, you have a significant list of criteria to meet for graduation. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I have a computer science degree, and the HES curriculum is the toughest I’ve encountered. I don’t know many people who could handle this curriculum, especially graduating with honors.

      I agree with you about the creation of the stigma and resumes should not misrepresent. However, I’m not in agreement with how the HES diplomas are written, either. I don’t blame you for passing candidates who misrepresent based on lack of integrity.

    • Robert, you should be aware that UMass and UConn students have been known to fudge their grades and accomplishments on occasion. A small sample, but maybe these instances should be generalized and applied to all graduates of these schools–a technique that a number of posters here seem to be fond of. Then shouldn’t all employers pass them over as well? BTW Harvard College undergraduates are a competitive bunch, and at my workplace, some have “embellished” their resumes as well. Again a small sample, but perhaps indicates that ALL do it, if I accept the logic employed here by some posters. Should we all spread the word about the students and how their schools are full of students committing fraud?

  76. Wow some serious snobbery in these comments. It makes me so happy to know that with my GED and technical certifications I make 80k a year at 25.. to all of you hating on the extension school (something I’ve considered multiple times and have since said **** it), please… please throw yourself off of that ivory tower that you so erroneously hold dear.

    Your truly,
    The Autodidact.

  77. Honestly, id rather invent a job than apply for one, id hope all colleges at Harvard would incentivize that! The (HES) is simply one hybrid college at Harvard out of 12 other schools which is not as “puritanical” as the traditional models. Personally i think its cool, and will probably see other types of schools pop up in the future at Harvard. Ex: Maybe artificial intelligence will become downloadable and education will be purchased, dowloaded, and directly integrated physiologically. I don’t know, do we keep computers out of the “think tank” and commit to brick and mortar? Id rather avoid the crazies personally on my way to school. The (HES) reminds me of California Schools which “thinks outside the box”. The school none-the-less will not let you graduate without attending brick and mortar classes so, save-up.

  78. I graduated from HES in 1985 with the Bachelor of Liberal Arts. I had a wonderful experience at Harvard Extension and I am very proud to carry: “ALB, Harvard University, Harvard Extension School, cum laude.” on my resume. I never understood why Harvard uses AB from the college for its Bachelor of arts, and ALB for Extension’s Bachelor of Liberal Arts, and not: “BA” It doesn’t really matter I suppose. My ALB from HES was good enough to get me admission to several law schools after graduation but that’s another story; I wish that I had stayed at Cambridge and went for one of the HES Certificate Programs instead. Really.

  79. Why would you think it is bogus – if the general public get it wrong by associating Harvard College with Harvard University?

    By that logic, my Diploma from University of Oxford isn’t really from UoO but from Kellogg College, right? Except since there is no Oxford College, no one should be putting that on their CV?

    Christchurch College me.

  80. This is one of the more immature discussions. Harvard wouldn’t have Harvard Extension if it didn’t take Harvard Extension seriously. If it were an embarrassment, they wouldn’t have it. It’s Harvard. They invest a lot of money in grants and scholarships for Harvard Extension students. That’s because they are taking it seriously. In the information age with online education on the rise and becoming more pragmatic than incurring the environmental issues and expense of travel and campus housing, of course university extensions are the norm and equal with brick and mortar. We’re in the 21st century, people, get with it.

  81. came across this blog trying to find out more about Harvard extension. I completed a certificate through UCLA extension years ago. In 2010 UCLA granted alumni status to extension graduates with all its privileges. We are recognized as UCLA graduates. Does Harvard grant alumni status to extension graduates? if so, then you are an alumni and on equal footing as those who went through the standard admission process and graduated. I don’t care if the snobs look down on me. UCLA granted me alumni status and I put that on my resume

    • Yes, Harvard Extension Alumni have the same general alumni benefits as those from other Harvard schools, and can use the alumni directory and email forwarding, join local Harvard alumni clubs, get Harvard magazine, etc.

  82. My son enrolled in HES at the age of 19. He is currently working his way through the program as an admitted undergraduate degree candidate focusing on Social Sciences, with the ultimate goal of applying to the Kennedy School and eventually working in Washington, D.C. (perhaps for a think tank or in some other public policy shaping role).

    The admission process for the ALB degree program was quite rigorous, especially for a young man fresh out of High School. Not only did he have to pass the notoriously difficult EXPO-25 (“Expository Writing”), he also had to complete two other courses from the school’s degree program catalog and maintain a B or higher average in all three. And since he was enrolling directly out of a secondary education institution, he had to submit his High School transcript (4.0 GPA) and also an essay describing the “impact that taking courses at HES had on his life so far.”

    Total up front cost was roughly $5K – for the 3 qualifying courses and the application fee. Since then, he has completed roughly half of the 128 required credits (at ~$1,500 per 4 credit course) to graduate and has maintained a 3.5 GPA despite taking some intellectually challenging courses on public policy and global economics.

    As for why he didn’t apply to the “traditional” Harvard College, it was because of geography (we are all American citizens but live on a small island in the Indian Ocean) and immediate family needs/commitments. Even if he was accepted to HC (which was not outside the realm of possibility), there was simply no way for him to attend in-person for the full four-year undergraduate term (the mandatory 16 credits he must earned on-campus we will stack towards the end of his academic program).

    Now, we would be lying if I said we haven’t wondered how the “extension stigma” will affect his prospects going forward – both in terms of graduate school (he wants to study at KSG) and eventual job prospects in and around D.C. His academic advisor has reassured us that an HES degree *is* a Harvard Degree, but it seems clear that not everyone at the university interprets it this way.

    Many Harvard College alumni seem particularly incensed that HES exists at all and clearly look down on those who graduate with the “inferior” ALB or ALM degree. Whether this is driven by a fear of the value of their own degree being somehow diluted or is just plain elitist “snobbery,” it has definitely caused us to question our decision to invest tens of thousands of dollars (so far) in our son’s HES degree. In a world obsessed with appearances, we worry that the “quality” of his education (which has been almost entirely under the tutelage of genuine Harvard Instructors, including some from KSG) likely won’t matter as much to outsiders as the “asterisk” that the Extension Studies nomenclature will signify on his diploma.

    Note: Both my wife and I are graduate degree holders from prestigious institutions (for example, my wife, who holds a PhD in microbiology, did cancer research for Harvard Medical School at Dana Farber Institute). We can both attest to how rigorous and demanding the HES courses are, and also how stingy the instructors can be when doling out full marks. Add to this the time zone difference (we’re 9 hours ahead of EDT, meaning our son attends live classes at 3 or 4 AM), and it’s no wonder to us why so few undergraduate degree candidates (we’ve heard it’s as low as 0.18%) ever see graduation day.

    Bottom Line: Our son will likely continue at HES for at least another semester. However, blogs like this one have opened our eyes to how much confusion there is about the merits of obtaining a degree through Harvard’s DCE programs. We would love to be able to say our son “graduated from Harvard.” However, he may be better served by transferring to another school where he can receive a degree that won’t be so easily “spit on” by snobbish elites and ignorant hiring managers.

    • Really appreciate that you took the time to share your son’s experience and your views about Harvard Extension School programs. Regardless of whether he stays or transfers to another school, good luck!

      – Ian

  83. I’m a prospective degree applicant, once I get the three classes done with and with the minimum grade required, and I like to joke that HES is college for those who don’t want the sex, drugs, and booze of a “traditional college experience”.

    Seriously though, I haven’t given a damn what people thought about me and will continue not to give a damn. If you ever pay attention, you’ll find that the biggest critics suddenly turn into your most ardent fans when you achieve the success you were aiming for. You start/finish HES and it’s all criticism and teases, then said degree(with your perseverance and hardwork of course) opens the door to a great opportunity, and suddenly these a-holes are running up to you talking about how they knew you’d succeed.

    If you’re willing to do the grind of finishing HES, most likely as a person who is already employed and even with a family, then all the naysayers can stick their snobbery up the orifice they do their thinking with. The mere act of pushing through all that work both personally and academically is a success by itself and demonstrates responsibility and motivation beyond the average.

    • If you were admitted to a focus/major, don’t expect Harvard to return the favor and list your major on the diploma. It’s going to say, “in Extension Studies” where your major was supposed to be listed.

  84. Here is the problem with “it isn’t a good degree” argument: the key stakeholders don’t agree with you. Namely, the professors (who teach at HES), the student body, and the admissions committees. Let me explain.

    1.) Professors. Since these professors are often world-renowned scholars teaching at other Harvard schools (HSPH, HMS, HLS) why would they waste their time at HES? If the professors from other Harvard schools (including the College) teach at HES, but HES isn’t challenging, one would have to accuse a professor from Harvard Medical School of failing to teach a rigorous course. I dare you to walk up to one of THEM and say that, it’s easy to look down on the students, it isn’t to someone with as much distinction as “Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Health and Indoor Habitation” Jack Spengler. A full list of professors that I’ve had who teach at another Harvard school are listed below. Please note I am in my junior year.

    2.) Admissions Committees. If HES doesn’t adequately prepare someone for life afterward, why do I have a friend from the ALB program that graduated from HSPH and is now at HMS? Why is my friend from ALM a PhD student at HSPH? Why are the post-bac alum’s getting in to all sorts of medical programs if “everyone in the know” look down on it. Everyone except Harvard itself, apparently.

    3.) The Students. If the program isn’t rigorous enough, why are so many of my classmates from Brown, Columbia, and Dartmouth? Why have they come to HES to prepare them for medical school? They already graduated from an Ivy league, they surely know the difference, yet they still commit TWO YEARS to the HES post-bac program– and love it. The only Ivy I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting in class class are, ironically, College graduates.

    In closing, no one is saying HES is as difficult to get in to as HC. That isn’t true, everyone knows it, and no one is arguing it. But we are arguing that it is academically strenuous – professors, students, and admission committees agree. It is a Harvard education, because Harvard certifies it with a diploma and goes out of their way to pull professors from other schools in to ensure the best education possible. It is worth every penny, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    List: (Name) (Other Schools) (Class at HES)

    Professor Spengler (HSPH)
    [Environmental Mgmt, Sustainable Building Designs]

    Professor Magnotti (HC) [Neurobiology]

    Professor Jakobs (HC) [Developmental Biology]

    Professor Roehrig (HC) [Organismic and Evolutionary Bio]

    Professor Tucci & McCarty (HC) [Gen. Chem]

    Professor Sieber (HSPH) [Human Pathophysiology]

    Professor Silverstein (HMS/HSPH/HC) [Social Medicine…]

    Professor Viel (HC) [Gene Expression]

    Joroff, Lecturer in Law [HLS]
    (Law & Policy of Climate Change)

  85. The myth that Extension is open admission is a big part of the problem. Attending class with HYP graduates–along with many from many other top schools– and knowing that nearly 2/3 of them hold Masters or PhD degrees already makes the posters who claim Extension is a community college or other nonsense look rightfully silly. The college students have no idea of the talent pool in Extension, and to call the degrees in “extension studies” is complete and utter nonsense. Time for the University to wake up to the world outside of the hallowed gates. The world has–and is–changing rapidly, and Harvard needs to keep up with that change.

    • If Harvard asks me to put “Extension” onto my resume, I expect them to put “Management” somewhere on my diploma. That’s common decency.

  86. I’m currently an ALM candidate at HES. I randomly came about this blog while searching for official guidelines on how I should list my degree on my CV. I already regret reading this blog post and the comments. Many people (including the author) on here seem to have a chip on their shoulder or an insecurity about what an HES degree should be called on a CV.

    As a current HES student, I agree wholeheartedly that the degree should include “Extension” somewhere in its presentation on a resume/CV. So does HES, as the current guidelines require this. If given the choice between “Harvard Extension School” or “Extension Studies, Harvard University”, I’m going to choose the latter, thanks. Contrary to the blanket generalizations and assertions the author of this blog makes, I’m not trying to deceive people. I’m pretty sure “Extension Studies, Harvard University” makes it quite clear what this degree is. I choose this option, rather, because Harvard University is the degree granting institution, and I’m getting an ALM from a school within that institution. I’m proud of my degree and I fail to see how either of the two official options is better or worse than the other, or more/less deceiving. “Master of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University” seems honest and accurate enough to me, and apparently, HES agrees.

    • I agree with your approach. The diploma states that the degree is in “extension studies”–whatever that means–and it is from Harvard University. Thus using Harvard University cannot in any way be disputed (if someone doesn’t like that, they should take it up with the University, not the author or posters here). That then is the final word.

    • “Contrary to the blanket generalizations and assertions the author of this blog makes, I’m not trying to deceive people. I’m pretty sure “Extension Studies, Harvard University” makes it quite clear what this degree is.”

      Exactly. And you’re doing it right, by making it clear what the degree is. Thank you for being honest and accurate about your Extension degree, and for being proud of the school.

      The problem is many, if not most Extension School graduates leave out the “Extension” part, thereby obscuring what the degree is. Whether by design or ignorance or something else, it’s deceptive.

      And it’s not just me. Look at some of the comments left by employers who feel that they had the wool pulled over their eyes.

      • “Many, if not most”–is there support for this statement? What about the postings of employers that are supportive of extension over the college?

        • There is.

          A few years back during the election period for the Harvard Extension Alumni Association (HEAA), I noted on this blog that approximately half of the candidates who had LinkedIn profiles neglected to list the name of the school (Harvard Extension School) or degree (… in Extension Studies).

          If half of these enthusiastic candidates who support the Extension School neglect to publicly acknowledge their Harvard Extension degrees on their public C.V.s, what do you think it is for the entire population of students and alumni? Judging by what I see and hear, including in the reactions in this comment thread, many, if not most students and alumni insist that listing “Harvard University” with no mention of the Extension School is acceptable.

          • The problem I have is there is no distinction between the different majors. I’ll compare two graduates who majored in different topics:

            Student A: graduated in 2017 with an ALM in Computer Science.
            Diploma received listed as: ALM, Harvard Extension School in Extension Studies

            Student B: graduated in 2016 with an ALM in Management.
            Diploma received listed as: ALM, Harvard Extension School in Extension Studies

            Now, you might feel that’s fair that every student who graduates does not major but rather graduates “in Extension studies”, but that’s not fair to advertise the diversity of studies and then on the back-end pull that distinction. Harvard is a for-profit corporation, and anywhere else where the advertisement does not match the final product, the general public will call it “false advertising”.

          • I still think “many if not most” is a strong statement that has negative connotations and thus requires correspondingly strong evidence. While I certainly appreciation your modifications to your original statement, the evidence cited could still be (rightly) debated as to its weight in supporting the statement.

          • “Student”: I made an attempt to put some numbers behind the trend. If you’re not satisfied with the evidence or my conclusion, why not gather your own evidence, make a determination based upon that evidence, and share it here?

            You could gather a sample of student or alumni names, and for those who have public LinkedIn profiles or have other online presences, see how they describe their Harvard affiliations. Then come back and let us know what you found.

            I would be honestly curious to know the results.

    • I happily applied “Extension” in my resume and CV. However, Harvard isn’t holding their end of the bargain by listing (on the diploma) of what I actually studied (Management). It’s really something to be asked to include something on a resume but fail to include any mention on my diploma what I actually studied. A piece of paper that says “ALM, in Extension Studies” is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Anyone who takes this program hoping for a career change or a first job application is going to be sorely disappointed when they realize their diploma mentions nothing of the major they studied.

      • I am in agreement with you there, Gunter.

        There are various alternatives to Harvard Extension that offer appropriate degree names and high school reputation.

        For example, Johns Hopkins has a lot of programs for working individuals (https://ep.jhu.edu and http://advanced.jhu.edu) with such degree names as an MS in Computer Science, an MS in Public Management, and an MA in Communication, to list just a few.

        Stanford University (https://online.stanford.edu) offers an MS in Computer Science, an MS in Electrical Engineering, an MS in Management Science and Engineering, among others.

        University of Pennsylvannia, another Ivy League school, has its own extension school called the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps). They offers such degrees as the Master of Chemical Sciences and the Bachelor of Arts in your actual major. Heck, they even offer a Master of Computer and Information Technology degree via Coursera now.

        None of this ALM in Extension Studies garbage. None of this lack of concentration being listed on your diploma.

        Instead, these and other schools provide to working adults real degrees with real degree names that anyone would proudly display on their resume and LinkedIn profile.

  87. A few things I’d like to note about HES.

    I’m in the HES program pursuing my ALM. This will be my fourth graduate degree and it is by far the most challenging. It’s Harvard classes taught by Harvard faculty and they don’t cut corners at all. It’s still a challenge.

    I don’t have any qualms saying I went to HES because A) I’m still a Harvard man regardless and B) all HES graduates have to work really hard, too. It’s not like HES students have it a lot easier; an ALM degree isn’t a participation trophy. If anything, we have to balance a full time job along with our studies.

    At the end of the day it’s apples and oranges to me. I’d never claim that I went to Harvard College, or HGSAS because A) I didn’t, and B) I had to do separate but just as challenging work in HES but for a different goal.

    • I think the HES is advertised as an opportunity to major in different topics, but as much as I’ve seen from other graduates, the degree doesn’t list major but only, “in extension studies.” The diploma received fails to match the advertised study. If I studied under the Management focus, I want the diploma to say it somewhere as “Management”. It won’t and it’s disappointing to be asked to list my degree a certain way on resumes but then refuse to list what I actually studied on the diploma.

      • If someone got master degrees in 2 different concentrations from HES, say Data Science and Management, hanging both diplomas on the wall would just look weird to others. Why get 2 master degrees in extension studies?

  88. I can find no reliable information that allows me to draw a bold conclusion that “most” Harvard extension students misrepresent their degrees. That says (to me, given research methods) that I cannot claim “they don’t” nor can I claim that they “do.” That is, I see no evidence to support either claim in a statistically acceptable way. Now, I could take a look at a number of blogs, etc. and find quite a few Harvard College students (and alums), judging from their usernames, that spread misinformation about Harvard Extension. If I conclude that all Harvard students (or most) lie about Harvard Extension, I can claim those blogs as the best evidence I have, and challenge others to find better evidence. (Would I prove my case?) But do we really want to strongly conclude this? Note here, I have used sketchy evidence to back my bold claim. If we accept this evidence, then should we spread the news that all (or most) are liars. Are we comfortable doing that? I, for one, am not. But I’m not comfortable with saying “most” Harvard Extension students and graduates lie about their degrees either, unless there is convincing evidence. The argument that “I have some observations so I can thus conclude . . . ” didn’t cut it in my Proseminar class. The Professor demanded much more of me (as he should have).

      • Data must be representative of the population that is being measured, sample sizes must be large enough to draw inferences, etc. I am not convinced that LinkedIn is neither of these, among other necessary characteristics. To draw bold conclusions then, in my mind, without rigorous methods amounts to “proof by repeated assertion.” Once we open that can of worms (as many on blogs addressing the subject of Harvard Extension do) then the blogs become noninformative. Again, should we start claiming that ALL or MOST Harvard College students lie to reporters (of the Crimson) and to others based on the sample represented in Crimson articles? Should we do it broadly and often enough to “prove” it by repeated assertion without applying the techniques that Harvard professors instruct us to use? I won’t. You and others will have to decide what is appropriate in your mind.

        • “Data must be representative of the population that is being measured, sample sizes must be large enough to draw inferences, etc. I am not convinced that LinkedIn is neither of these.”

          Being “not convinced” doesn’t cut it here, and would not cut it in the proseminar or any other academic environment where research is taken seriously.

          You are the one who called for strong evidence. I pointed where you should look. There are thousands of LinkedIn profiles of Extension School students with educational claims listed. Build a representative sample and test it, and let’s hear the results and your conclusion. As I said before, I’m honestly curious.

          If you are afraid the data will contradict your hypothesis, then consider taking another course on research and writing fundamentals and stop wasting everybody’s time here with your long-winded evasions.

  89. I’m a biased sampling: I earned the ALM in 2016. To me undergraduate Extension student should identify the Extension school. It’s something to be proud of, and not something to imply the Collefe of A&S.

    But ALM degrees are by definition continuing education. So why should Harvard ALMs describe their degree differently than Stanford ALMs who do not qualify their degree as continuing ed—it’s implicit. No one in the ALM world does so, not Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, U of Penn, et. al. University of Chicago ALMs reference the Graham School which is continuing Ed.

  90. This article was very interesting. I’ve earned my BS in biomedical engineering, followed by an MS and a PhD in related but different areas. I originally worked for large companies such as Intel, then went on to start my own company. I’m considering HES to further my knowledge base and earn another MS degree in a different area. I work full time, am raising four young children, and do a good amount of charitable work. I’m guessing I am typical of many HES students, so just for the record, I crushed both the general and subject areas of the GREs. I had no problem being accepted into excellent “traditional” graduate programs and completing them before having kids. I can’t imagine HES students being anything but intelligent, hard-working and forward-thinking. One hundred years from now, no one will remember any of us. Do your best and leave the world a better place after you’ve gone. In the end, it won’t matter what is on your resume or your LinkedIn account.

  91. So why not simply close off the “extension school” and add “extended options” to those who need it within the college. Harvard University IS the actual degree grantor while (like the college) HES is just a smaller fraction of what University offers. This is crazy. If you were to break down the 65k a year you pay at Harvard (full tuition and room &board), you’d quickly realize that you pay that anyway. The only real difference between the two are the admittance process, the fees and the time of day you attend. Lets break that down…

    • You give SATs (and what ever other testing scores) that prove during your adolescent years, you were able to be focus and can possibly handle the course load.
    • You compete with probably millions to apply (mostly because many arent fully aware of HES)
    • You live on campus your freshman year (and further if you so choose)
    • You pay out of pocket for 3 admittance courses proving that you CURRENTLY can handle the course load.
    • You don’t truly compete with another person’s life circumstances, its based solely on merit and currently ability.
    • You live off campus but you still pay 1500+ a month for a flat and your food (you just pay it to multiple parties instead of directly to Harvard)
    You see…theres not much difference. My niece goes to the college. We met Miss Atlanta (now Miss Grand Massachusetts) at a café in Harvard square. Naturally, Daisy knew who she was, and she was excited to meet her, but she was studying and Daisy was nervous to bother her. I encouraged her. A while later, she tells us about HES and how it made it possible for her to attend school AFTER raising her siblings since she was a child, AFTER fighting cancer TWICE and WHILE maintaining her already established career. (Yes I fact checked because her story is just so incredible) Of course my first thought was “why bother with college if you already have a great career?”. She proudly said “Because I need to finish what I started and this is MY time”. I asked her “why Harvard” and she responded with “I was always planning to go to Harvard, but life happened. I needed to be there for my brothers, then I got sick. Now that theyre getting ready for college and I’ve gotten control of my health…I still want Harvard. I want the best. Harvard is the best…HES makes it possible for me to get exactly what I want”. She explained how tough the admittance courses were and that a part of her wishes they actually would accept SAT scores. She currently tutors my niece so Daisy and my wife gets to see her homework. We all have agreed that doing SATS scores is A LOT easier than those 3 required courses. Not to mention, while HES is open admittance, the actual graduation rate is lower because the courses are so tough.

    My solution would be to simply:
    • have HES integrated into the college
    • Offer the option of SATS or Pay out of pocket (like HES students do) for the 3 admittance courses
    • Maintain the same over all requirements that both programs currently have; Keeping a b average…ect
    • Use the HES building for those who need night school
    • Continue to offer the online course for all who prefer that method but maintain that they MUST have a B average and MUST (as HES students currently do) have 16 credit hours ON CAMPUS-PER SEMESTER.
    This solution dissolves the extreme-elitism some elude.
    This solution balances the finical books for the school. Honestly, the room and board fees works out to be a lot less than if you didn’t live on campus so really you’re saving money by lumping it together. However, in reality, it just balances out because you save by living on campus BUT you share a bedroom. You spend more off campus BUT you only have to share a house (in most cases)
    If more students want to live on campus…this would be a ideal time for Harvard to purchase more property .

    There is much more to be said , but you guys get the point. There is a fair solution to this all. Many are correct when they said “society looks down on extension degrees”. I know this because I work for a fortune 500 company and polled around asking “Hey, we got a few applicants with extension degrees. What do you think?” and the often response was that people believe them to be the college equivalent to a GED. Until over all society changes, this will be the norm. Why put people through that?

    Lastly, Zuckerburg and a few other notables dropped out of Harvard to build their empires…imagine if the college made it possible (without making the students feel separated) to obtain their degrees WHILE they built their empires. I bet Harvard would have reaped the benefits 10-fold a lot sooner than they did.

  92. I’m currently enrolled in a four-course certificate program in Data Science that I think could be considered as being under the auspices of the Harvard Extension School, but also could be considered to be under the auspices of the Harvard Department of Continuing Education (DCE). The lectures are live streamed using DCE resources, and the piazza is also under DCE. So on my resume, can I say that I received a certificate in Data Science from the Harvard Department of Continuing Education? Would that be considered as a perfectly acceptable description of what I had actually done, not to be confused with a Harvard full-time regular degree?


    • Quite coincidentally, today I received a letter telling me that I need to have an email address on file. The sender is:

      Harvard University
      Division of Continuing Education
      51 Brattle Street
      Cambridge, MA 02138

      This suggests even more strongly to me that putting the following on my resume would be appropriate and not misleading:

      Certificate in Data Science, Harvard University
      Division of Continuing Education, 2020

      Any comments or clarifications?

      Thank you.

      • Richard, thanks for commenting. You have a good question for which I don’t have an answer, although it is indeed an offering of the Extension School academic offerings. My suggestion is to contact the DCE for guidance on how your accomplishment should be listed on a resume.

        Good luck!

        • Per the HES website regarding certificates…

          If you completed a professional graduate certificate, the certificate will state: Harvard University, Harvard Extension School awarded [Your Name] a [three-, four-, or five-] course Professional Graduate Certificate in [field name].

          If you completed a liberal arts graduate certificate, the certificate will state: Harvard University, Harvard Extension School awarded [Your Name] a [three- or four-] course Graduate Certificate in [field name].

          • So, at least you are not getting a stupid certificate name like “Graduate Certificate in Extension Studies”, but rather something like “Professional Certificate in Data Science” or “Graduate Certificate in American Literature and Culture”.

  93. From my resume:

     Harvard University, Bachelor of Liberal Arts,
    cum laude
    Harvard Extension School, Cambridge, MA

  94. I think that graduates from HES have the right to put Harvard University in their resume. If the headhunter knows his or her job; they should better ask, “What school did you attend at Harvard?” I graduated from Southern Methodist University, School of Engineering for a Master of Science in Telecommunications. Overtime, the school, changed its name to Lyle School of Engineering. Nobody knows Lyle School of Engineering…most people do not even know where over 4,000 university names and locations in the United States.
    If you think it is bogus HES graduates listing Harvard University in their resume. Then Harvard University’s degree diploma should be used as toilet paper.

  95. Hello Lamont. First, I wanted to say that I love your HES blog. I have visited this site multiple times over the years. Keep up the good work!

    Secondly, I think HES has changed their resume guidelines again. Now it specifies….

    On your résumé, the degree name may be listed as either:

    Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Harvard University Extension School.

    Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University.

    …They no longer want you listing the concentration whatsoever. So now you are listing just that you have an ALM, or an ALM in Extension Studies. Period.


    This and HES made the degree significantly more expensive. I find myself becoming less and less enthusiastic about HES nowadays.

    • Thanks for alerting me to this change. I have updated the blog accordingly. Removing the concentration field makes it even more difficult for graduates to communicate their areas of study, so this is a negative development.

      Regarding the 20% increase in total ALM graduate degree tuition: I wrote about this in Harvard Extension School now requires 12 courses for grad degrees, pushing the cost >$30,000. It’s a huge jump not only in cost but also in time required to complete the degree.

      Has ALB degree tuition cost gone up similarly?

      • My understanding there is more support for students at the ALB level to mitigate cost but that may be beyond the scope of knowledge I have nor do I know to what extent Harvard offers any financial aid.

        And, my understanding about the resume guidelines are that you can add your concentration. I see no reason why you would leave this information out because… How else will anyone identify and confirm what you did during your time in the program? This just leaves much to the imagination and that can go bad really quickly.

        • This just leaves much to the imagination and that can go bad really quickly.

          That’s part of the reason why this is so frustrating. The Extension School never explains its rationale behind the changes, nor does it give a shred of guidance of how people are supposed to handle listing their concentrations. So people have to wing it … and some will abuse it.

          • Update: The Extension School has apparently told a fan/follower of the Extension School that the concentration can be listed – see the screenshot of the email appended to the end of the blog post above (2019 Update #2) for the format and link to the source of this information. However, the Extension School website still shows only two possibilities: “in Extension Studies” or nothing. As the same person noted on Twitter:

            It’s absurd to think it’s unethical to mention your concentration or field of study on your resume.

    • Take the “guidelines” with a grain of salt. I am a current ALB Candidate and I will format my resume thus:

      Education =>

      Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
      [tab] Harvard Extension School — Bachelor of Liberal Arts
      [tab] [tab] Field of Study (major)
      [tab] [tab] Minor Field of Study (minor)
      [tab] [tab] Minor Field of Study (minor)

      On LinkedIn or for any one-liner, I will use: “Harvard University, Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Field of Study, Minor, Minor.”

  96. Nice post! I am prospective student to the Harvard Extension school. I have already completed a graduate degree and two bachelor of science degrees at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and my current employer has offered to financially support my desire to continue my education. I was looking into software engineering online programs and HES really caught my attention. However, I stumbled upon this blog after some confusion with the degree names. I have done further reading in addition to this post, and from an outsider looking in perspective, this is a really silly issue… Also, in my opinion, it is quite deterring as a potential HES student that this conversation needs to be had and to see that the expectations for graduates of the program in regards to properly listing their credentials on a resume is constantly fluctuating. I fear that if I were to register, have my employer foot the 30K bill, and complete the strenuous coursework under the impression that my degree be “X”, it will be changed to “Y” in the next year when their minds change again, which will not be what I signed up for.

    I do understand why it’s important to distinguish the extension studies though somewhere in the title. It is the same reason I distinguished UofM Ann Arbor at the start of this comment: Flint and Dearborn are not the same school nor of the same caliber. However, I am wondering now if the HES students are completing coursework that is only offered to those within the HES program? If I were to discover that HES students take courses that GSAS students are offered as well, then my opinion on distinguishing the ES in the name would shift drastically. If the programs are sharing course offerings, I would think that it is ridiculous and pretentious to force greater distinction between them other than just the simple degree title (i.e. ALM). In this case, adding “extension studies” is scarlet lettering someone simply because they decided to go a nontraditional route, and it is completely undeserved if they displayed the same academic capability as someone in the GSAS program. In addition, it is not a good enough argument to say that the ES is necessary because of the admissions differences between the two. Admissions decisions, at their core, are supposed to made on the basis of whether or not a student will be successful in a school and will fit in to the community. The trial period that ES students have to complete in order to obtain admission is essentially serving the same function. If anyone objects here, I would just like to point out that ivies face constant scrutiny over their “selective” admissions processes. Given recent media, it is highly questionable if any given student was actually granted admission based on their own merit. It seems it could be equally likely that dad made a large donation, mom found a spot for you on the rowing team (you know, after all of those years of not rowing), or something else that is entirely unrelated to academic potential. Hence, if this distinction boils down to just the desire to separate those perceived to be fit versus those who proved to be fit, that would be very aggravating.

    Just wanted to share my two cents. After writing this though, I am thinking it might be better to just go to a program not facing an identity crisis caused by institutions wanting take their money but not actually them.


    Master’s of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies in [insert concentration here], Harvard University.

    *boom* All issues solved.

    • Thanks for your comment. Distinguishing the degree is easy — just use “Harvard Extension School” or “Harvard University Extension School,” no need to use the ridiculous “Extension Studies” moniker.

      Regarding your question:

      I am wondering now if the HES students are completing coursework that is only offered to those within the HES program? If I were to discover that HES students take courses that GSAS students are offered as well, then my opinion on distinguishing the ES in the name would shift drastically.

      The curricula/requirements for the ALM in IT program is vastly different than the SEAS (not GSAS) masters programs in CS, which are not terminal degrees.

  97. Do you have a suggestion for how to list graduate certificates earned as part of an ALM?
    To give an example, I’m currently enrolled in HES pursuing an ALM in Management. Along the way, I’ll earn graduate certificates in Non-profit Management, Strategic Management, and Project Management. Should I list them each separately on my resume/LinkedIn, or note that they’re component parts of the ALM?

    • I would list them separately if they are certificates. I’m not sure of the format; I would reach out to the school to ask.

  98. Well, what do you think of a business consultant who did an online certificate course listing his education as Harvard University? It took a certain amount of hours which can be done in any country. It’s totally misleading to me and it is on every social media post and posting about this person (i.e. “went to Harvard University”) Where do you file a complaint on this kind of abuse

    • There is no place to report this, and even if you could, what would be the consequence? Harvard can’t stop people from exaggerating credentials.

      Hiring managers should quickly be able to determine that it is a certificate as opposed to a degree, and the people who earned a certificate from Harvard Extension School, Harvard Business School, or any other Harvard entity should make that clear on resumes, CVs, and LinkedIn profiles.

  99. Just thought there might be a governing body for “the brand” to protect the university from these things. When you think of the people who have actually got a degree from Harvard (put in the time and money), you would think that the university and alum would want to ensure that others can’t fake their credentials. I know that LinkedIn has an address to report people who have faked credentials, and my university has one as well. Thanks for the info!

    • Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development used to have a phone number that anyone could call to ask if a person was a Harvard graduate. They could only give a “yes” or “no” reply and it was up to the caller to use that information … Harvard didn’t or couldn’t do anything about the fakers. This was 15 years ago (I used to work in Harvard AAD, helping with the alumni website).

  100. Here’s a thought: Those of us attending HES should get MORE respect, seeing as we aren’t getting a Harvard degree by having rich parents make big donations and faking credentials. Just saying.

  101. The two people I have known who “say” they attended Harvard, both use poor grammar, verb and pronouns.

    Intellectually, my mind says neither attended Harvard.

    Someone please opine.

  102. “The headhunters are right. It is misleading. Every student and alumnus at Harvard identifies with the school he or she is affiliated with. And, like it or not, “Harvard University” is synonymous with “Harvard College” in the eyes of the public, and many people in the corporate world.”

    The above is absolute nonsense. Clearly, Harvard Extension is one of the schools of Harvard University (https://www.harvard.edu/schools). In addition, the ALB or ALM is a degree granted by Harvard University (https://www.harvard.edu/on-campus/commencement/degree-abbreviations). As long as you clearly articulate that the degree was obtained from the Extension School, it is not misleading to state on your resume that you graduate from Harvard University.

  103. I’ve read through the whole string and it’s been quite an interesting debate! Overall, I’m not clear why HES students are required to point out Extension if other HU students aren’t required to include that. (Are they? I tried to check but wasn’t successful). If by HU’s own admission, HES is one of HUs schools, why is there a double standard? Is there an official response from the University on this?

    1. I have certainly seen people misuse the title of Harvard (i.e. they take one course at HES or go to Harvard Summer School and then proudly proclaim they attended Harvard. THIS is misleading. Someone on the thread pointed out that there should be some distinction between those admitted to a degree program and those who are essentially auditing. The only distinction I’ve noticed is on the Harvard University ID cards. Those in the degree program says “Student” (across all HU schools) and those that are taking a class say “Class Participant”. This is obviously not clear to the public.

    2. Several people have already mentioned that HES students are different in terms of their life circumstances. I appreciate HES because it allows me to continue my independent research across the globe, yet I can find wifi in the city and connect to take my course without disrupting my overall research project. This is an immense gift and one that is allowing me to pursue my education in the way I see fit for me and my future career plans.

    3. There are two discussions that need to be separated – pursuing a bachelors through HES vs Harvard College and pursuing a masters. My resume/CV clearly lists were my undergraduate degree is from as such, if I list Harvard University with my masters, there should be no reason an employer (or anyone for that matter) should think it’s from Harvard College. The college is for undergraduates.

    That aside, the argument that listing Extension School to clarify any confusion about what school the masters is from just doesn’t hold water. If you google, for example, Masters in Government, the first three links you see will be from GSAS, Extension then Kennedy School – in that order. With the aforementioned logic, each school should have to list where their degree with. If anything, it can be argued here that ALM, HU is enough as Extension is the only school that grants an ALM.

    4. Finally, and this may not be the best place for this, I’m unclear of what “Extension Studies” means. My bachelors degree is in “Integrated Studies” but this is because I designed my undergraduate degree working with college faculty and staff, including the dean and professors. It was no walk in the park. I had to design then defend it before it was approved. As such, Integrated Study makes sense and I can explain it clearly. What exactly is Extension Studies? This title would make sense if we were also designing our Masters Degree but there are clear concentration pathways laid out. We should be able to call our degrees HU, ALM, Government (for example).

    5. There are a lot that have commented both on this blog and the interwebs that the Extension piece is merely a distinction between the price of attendance. I would argue that if the math were calculated as to what an HES student pays to attend vs other HU schools (especially College), taking into account actual pocket cost, time spent (work, family, travel, time differences, lack of access to resources available on campus, etc) the cost is likely equal if not more costly to HES students.

    6. And finally, as far as the rigor of admission, etc. HES students have all tried explaining that paying for 3 class (out of pocket, no financial aid or school loans), passing the courses with a B or higher (no exceptions), submitting required documentation and applying on time (in fact being penalized for applying late) and then of course, graduating within the five year (if I remember correctly) is no easy task. Sure if you have 30-35 grand, free housing and transport, no children, no job and all the time in the world to apply, get admitted and graduate – then yes, it’s a piece of cake. That’s the thing though – none of us have it like this. This is our veritas.

    Meanwhile, a recent article states, “From 2009 until 2014, the paper “Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard” finds, 43 percent of the Caucasian applicants accepted at Harvard University were either athletes, legacies, or the children of donors and faculty. Only about a quarter of those students would have been accepted to the school, the study concludes, without those admissions advantages.” You can read the full article here: https://slate.com/business/2019/09/harvard-admissions-affirmative-action-white-students-legacy-athletes-donors.html

    The whole Extension, no Extension thing is mostly about money, politics and privilege. Simply put, Harvard University should:
    1. Rename it’s degree so it is the field name and not “extension studies”
    2. Remove the requirement to include Extension School from any guidance unless it is going to require all the other schools to do the same.

    Thanks for this open and honest discussion 🙂

    • I do find the whole “don’t use Harvard University, use Harvard Extension School” thing kind of insulting.

      I graduated from MIT and Johns Hopkins, and I don’t know anyone who lists “School of Science” or “School of Engineering” instead of just listing “MIT” on their resume, or who lists “Whiting School of Engineering” instead of just “Johns Hopkins University”.

      Another thing annoying about HES is that there is no incentive to pursue more than 1 master’s degree there. Since neither your diploma nor your transcript indicate your focus, all you end up doing is earning multiple “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies” degrees at HES…. not separate degrees in data science, government, etc.

      At other schools, one can earn multiple, distinct master’s degrees. I would think that it would be to HES’ advantage to offer distinct master’s degrees to increase enrollment, for both those looking for a degree in a real major (not “Extension Studies”) and for those pursuing multiple master’s degrees.

      With Coursera now offering an Ivy League master’s degree for $25K (significantly cheaper than HES), and edX offering various master’s degrees, including 2 from Georgia Tech for about $10K, Harvard Extension School is becoming an even less compelling option, from a price perspective. And those other programs don’t give you a degree in “Extension Studies” or some nonsense like that.

      • I graduated from MIT, too, and use “MIT Sloan” on my LinkedIn profile. For BU, I have used “Boston University College of Communication” since creating the account more than 15 years ago.

        I agree with you on the pricing of Extension School masters degrees, which recently rose in price to the mid-30s and carry the problematic “in Extension Studies” qualifier which has proven to be a real problem for some graduates, as I have described on my blog.

        • I do agree with you ilamont that graduate business schools, such as UPenn’s Wharton School or MIT’ Sloan, tend to get mentioned explicitly, rather than the university. I also sometimes see that for law and medical schools.

          But I have not seen that happen all that often when it comes to most other graduate programs.

  104. One suggestion I have for HES, since they obviously want to keep “Extension Studies” in their resume guidelines, is to incorporate the field of study too.

    For example:
    Master of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies in Government, Harvard University
    Master of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies in Data Science, Harvard University

    This way, resume listings continue to use HES’ “Extension Studies” designation, while at the same time respecting the student’s field of study at the same time.

    My 2 cents….

    • This is a good suggestion, a stopgap measure that would be superior to “in Extension Studies” by itself.

  105. Hey ilamont,

    HES no longer allows those who focused in Management to list their degree as…

    Master of Liberal Arts, General Management or Finance, Harvard University Extension School.

    … that you mentioned in your “A convenient excuse” section of the blog post.

    They now want “in Extension Studies” listed too, just like the other focuses they offer.

    • Thanks, I’ll add a note. As you can see from the updates at the end of the blog post, staying abreast of official changes has been challenging, to say the least.

  106. It looks like the College owes HES big time. With the Coronavirus keeping students going to class in person, HES provided their online expertise. I guess everyone is getting an “Extension” experience this semester. Make sure to remind these Harvard College punks who’s boss and who’s saving their snotty behinds this semester.

  107. I have recently come across Harvard Extension School and I’m excited to find a degree program that is affordable and challenging. Honestly, because earning a Bachelor’s Degree doesn’t and won’t affect my ability to earn a living, as long as it comes from an accredited program, it doesn’t make a difference where I earn the degree. I appreciate HES because it allows me to continue my independent research across the globe.

    • I think choosing HES to pursue a bachelor’s degree is not a bad use case.

      An undergraduate education is generally considered a mix of broad, but not too in-depth topics, combined with a bit of specialization. As such, I think employers looking at bachelor’s degree holders are more forgiving about one’s undergraduate major.

      However, master’s degrees are suppose to reflect a more focused graduate education. And doctorates are even more focused and in-depth. As such, the major becomes more and more important.

      That is why I feel that HES’ “Extension Studies” major can be more a liability for graduate degree holders than for those who completed their undergraduate education.

      An employer may want to see what you focused your graduate education on, but a “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies” diploma does not immediately convey the same message to someone as, say, a “Master of Business Administration”, a “Master of Science in Computer Science”, or a “Master of Finance” does to prospective employers.

      You have to put more time and effort into conveying what your actual focus was, that unfortunately was hidden behind the “Extension Studies” moniker. Unfortunately, your resume might have already been sidelined for another candidate’s resume containing a more immediately recognizable degree major.

      Note that I am not bagging on the quality of HES’ education… just the title of the major that they confer.

      I looked at HES back when I was considering pursuing a master’s degree, but ultimately chose a different prestigious school that offered an MS in Computer Science.

      And again, I am re-looking at HES, now that I am about to receive a PhD in Computer Science and am considering pursuing a 2nd master’s degree part-time.

      I still dislike the “Extension Studies” moniker, but I think I can more afford to having a 2nd master’s degree from HES on my resume since I already have a BS, and MS, and soon a PhD in an actual major that employers will recognize.

      But, if I did not have the MS or PhD, I would be far more ambivalent about having a Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies as my one and only graduate education listing… from a career advancement perspective.

  108. I think that there is a big problem with Harvard Extension School, in which graduates are not recognized as Harvard University alumni like other granting schools within Harvard. They feel that HES graduates are entering their prestigious alma mater through the backdoor. It just likes someone is crashing an elite club party, and should not be reorganized as the elite club member. If HES graduates do not receive the same reorganization, then Harvard University just uses Harvard Extension School for a cash cow purpose.

  109. I am not a student of HES, but from another top 20 CS school offering “extension” studies. My school does NOT distinguish but I write it on my resume that its part-time degree and the rejection ratio by hiring managers/ recruiters is significantly higher compared to students bagging interview from mid ranked universities. With covid all around everyone is indeed in extension studies and I am hoping the online studies adoption and acceptance will pick up. I dissected my rejection as :

    1) Recruiters reject : recruiters definitely want to select the candidates who have had proven record for clearing bars, competition etc. Its their proxy for “if you will compete well with the rest of the candidates here”. This applies for extremely prestigious firms. Those here saying we studied same subjects and wrote same exam, I will say, it does not even matter much to them.

    2) Hiring manager reject: If already pursuing, might not focus well on job.

    3) Human bias : Well, most of us have taken online classes at sometime, and know how watered down they felt. Those who dont know your curriculum well, might feel you are just finishing bunch of online coursera kind of classes and university is packaging their degree for the sake of $$$. As an example, I had an interview with a bunch of professors from an ivy league university for a research assistant position ( with me checking all the requirements), they were more like “what kind of course are you studying for this masters” with some funny banter. Well its same kind of courses you did in your masters :P. But yes, I had to explain that its same as campus. So, people might be having burnt experience from students listing coursera certificate as university programs and failing in interviews.

    4) Gate keeping : Those who paid whopping price and left their lives to compete and secure the position, they will gate keep like anything. I had an interviewer who from an unknown private university with less experience, was not pleased with the fact that I am getting to “bypass” the masters requirement without “real” masters.

    So if you are doing HES for knowledge or hanging a Harvard degree on wall, go ahead. But no matter what you say, your degree with extension school tag will not be seen same as Harvard grad degree because recruiting is done my humans and humans have biases. People recruiting you, if they have been from HES experience, they’ll value your effort, but who knows the inferiority in them might make them pick an “actual” harvard grad over their inferiority complex.
    Lastly, Harvard should take steps to address this. Many ivy league universities are not distinguishing among their campus and online grads degrees because they believe their quality of education is same across (can say this for Stanford). Harvard has made distinction themselves, atleast for some programs. HBS management degree is different than HES general management. They want to sell the “Harvard” but dont give away either.

  110. I am not part of Harvard University. However, what I can say after reading all the comments in this post is, HES is indeed a part of Harvard University. Maybe HES should consider raising their requirement for students who wanted to apply for their degree program.

    Instead of acquiring three B’s for their admission courses, maybe set it to three A’s? Ask for GRE results, conduct some admission test and essays, and make sure students pass the CRWS? These are my two cents.

  111. Oh, stop. The only institution to issue these degrees, the ALM and the ALB, indeed *is* the extension school. Same even goes somewhat universally for other schools offering the same degree, such as in the example of Wesleyan, etc.

    It’s not up to the graduate to foresee and feed the employer’s personal ignorance and biases with fodder on a silver platter. Let’s face it, if a person doesn’t know that an ALM indeed is a degree issued by Extension school, then s/he certainly doesn’t have the credibility to say why the college distinction matters (because really, it doesn’t).

    It’s not even misleading or unethical to state it intentionally in this way (any of the accurate ways that omit use of the word “Extension”.) . It’s a red herring, non sequitur, and maybe a bunch of other fallacies to cite personal “insecurities” as a motivation for such a portrayal on one’s resumé. (And also, let’s be clear – it would not be personal “insecurity” as the motivation for this purportedly ambiguous portrayal, rather insecurity in the potential employer’s insecurities about the Extension School.) The school sanctions such portrayal, as does an appeal to accuracy.

    There’s something to be said about the need for more successful graduates to advertise their Extension School background in order to garner esteem for the school, but as is often the case with such things, one might be wise to selectively tailor his or her resumé to the situation and the mileu. Clearly, the wisest thing might be to advertise this background once some level of success has been already achieved.

  112. Also, and importantly – no, Harvard *doesnt* stipulate that the “Harvard University” moniker can be used only *if* a concentration in “Extension Studies” is also appended.

    Even according to the screen-captured quote from Harvard itself, the following is accurate and acceptable:

    Harvard University – ALM, Biotechnology, 2019

    The unbiased and incorrect assertion is a major premise of this article. Let’s get that straight first, even if anyone is to disagree with it.

    • Marielle: The screen-captured quote you refer to is more than 10 years old. According to the Extension School, it is neither accurate nor acceptable to state “Harvard University – ALM, Biotechnology, 2019” on your resume. Rather, current resume guidelines (as noted above) stipulate that “Extension School” or “Extension Studies” be included with “Harvard University”.

  113. I’d like to clarify – I don’t think the Extension guidelines ever “changed”. There is no official “format” the likes of APA, Chicago, etc. I think in all of the screen-captured cases, the major point of Harvard admin is to be accurate and correct, factually, in the representation of one’s degree. It never says that the given examples compose a *total* list of the various ways in which one can represent his or her degree.

    Heck, it would be somewhat “acceptable” (i.e. – non-fraudulent) to write – “Master’s, Harvard” though a potential employer might certainly think the candidate is unprofessional and non-thorough in this case.

  114. Guys and gals, I did around 10 college credentials (ranging from associate to master) in my life so far, my master and two of my bachelors are in engineering. If I do Extension School in Finance, it will just be about 10% of my academic portfolio. So whether it has value or not to me really does not matter (because my life probably will not depend on it). What puts me off a little is that the courses being taught at HES (from browsing the course catalog in Finance) has a quite large of a percentage of instructors who are not Harvard faculty. We can argue both ways but I don’t know if I can confidently call that Harvard education.

    • I go to Harvard University Extension School. Through this school, I’ve taken classes with Harvard College students, Harvard Extension students, students from other Harvard schools, and visiting students from other universities. Some of my Harvard College buddies transferred to the college after two years at other schools and brought their credits with them, entering Harvard College in their junior year and transferring, like me, 64 credit hours. One of my friends got out of the military, used the G.I. bill to go to a community college in Mississippi and then transferred those credits to Harvard College. This whole argument about whether to use Harvard University or Harvard Extension School seems a bit silly to me. I openly share with people that I’m in the E.S., but I don’t really care whether people say H.U. or H.U.E.S. or just E.S. We’re all Harvard. One of my friends got his ALB from Harvard (Extension, University, or whatever else you want to call it), and now he’s working on an ALM. Because he took so many psychology courses while working on his ALB, he’s now short of available psychology classes from the Extension School to apply to his ALM credits. Harvard’s solution? He was given special student status so that he can take psychology classes at Harvard Law, Harvard College, and Harvard Medical School to fulfill his ALM requirements. In the end, his degree will still be the ALM, the one some people are making such a big deal about being from the Extension School. That ALM candidate (who is also an ALB recipient) will have more time on campus at Harvard with more credits from Harvard professors from a larger collection of Harvard schools than my friend who transferred to Harvard College from Mississippi and is getting his AB. But if I’m following the logic of this thread, what really matters is whether or not the ALM candidate lists Harvard University or Harvard Extension School on his resumé. In my time on campus, including time living in the Harvard College dorms through Harvard Summer School alongside the Harvard College students who stick around for summer classes, this whole discussion, the one on this thread that’s been talked about for over a decade,
      doesn’t even seem to matter. All I’ve experienced is that we all just want to learn and better ourselves at Harvard, regardless of how we got to Harvard and regardless of which of Harvard’s schools we primarily attend. I work for what I get, and I take my coursework seriously. I work full-time while going to school, taking short educational leaves of absence from to take Harvard Summer School classes. Do you honestly think that I, a working professional well established in his career, with exceptional grades in courses taught by both Extension and College professors, am impacted at all by the stigma some of you seem to want to attach to upcoming degree because of its affiliation with the Extension School? I’m not at all. I’m posting my comments here as an encouragement to others who will read this in the future and are affiliated with Harvard through the Extension School. You worked for what you got. You either earned your degree or are working toward earning it. All these people who want to downplay the significance of what you’ve worked toward because of their own biases against H.U.E.S. are insignificant in the overall portrait of your educational life. You do you! Thankfully celebrate your accomplishments the positive people who encouraged you along the way. And forget all these nay-sayers and their attempts to pretend that your work and education is somehow less relevant than the work and education of someone else.

      • Very inspiring, particularly those students who go above and beyond to take advantage of educational opportunities across the University.

        What about BH’s point about the increasing number of HES courses taught by faculty who have no Harvard affiliation? A related issue: certain degree programs have no Harvard faculty requirement, or DCE is watering down the Harvard Instructor requirement. Do you think that’s a step in the right direction?



        • Hi ilamont,
          I can only speak to my personal experiences and the experiences shared with me by my friends and classmates. While there are courses taught at the Extension School by professors recruited from outside of Harvard, all degrees that I’m aware of have a requirement that each degree candidate must take a certain number of courses from Harvard faculty. Though I’ve been very impressed by the instructors the school has chosen as visiting instructors, if the Harvard faculty requirement is being reduced or eliminated, then no, I don’t think that is a move in the right direction. However, I am not aware of any such change, and my current academic progress report is still tallying my Harvard professors to meet the requirement. Also being tallied as part of my course requirements is the number of courses I take on campus. Harvard offers certificates as well as degrees through the Extension School. Maybe the Harvard professor requirement is not included as part of the certificate programs. Though I don’t know if that’s happening, I wouldn’t have a problem with it because those are not degree candidates; they are students wanting to learn a certain bit of information outside of a degree program, perhaps to better their skills in their career field.

          • Most Extension School students are on the same page regarding Harvard Instructor requirements being a positive aspect of the program, that not only guarantees quality but also brings students closer to the research and thinking taking place at the University.

            Unfortunately, DCE has gradually watered down those requirements for degree programs. It made no secret of this; a letter sent to students and alumni in 2010 announced the following:

            the professional programs’ affiliate requirement is being replaced by “advisory board oversight,” which the Extension School officer suggests will provide “better quality control”. The letter further suggests that the change will allow the Extension School to recruit more talented faculty from other area schools as well as working professionals from outside Harvard.

            I noted at that time that this move set a precedent for launching new professional degree programs that have no connection to the University’s existing areas of study, and opens the door to criticism that Harvard Extension School degrees aren’t “real” degrees because they no longer represent study under Harvard’s top-notch faculty.

            Both of these predictions have sadly come true. Some of the Professional ALM degrees have no Harvard instructor requirement, including the ALM Management degree (no Harvard faculty requirement listed), while others have reduced them, including some of the Liberal Arts ALMs. And, people are calling out this issue, as BH said in his original comment (“What puts me off a little is that the courses being taught at HES (from browsing the course catalog in Finance) has a quite large of a percentage of instructors who are not Harvard faculty. We can argue both ways but I don’t know if I can confidently call that Harvard education.”)

            My advice to current students: make every effort to take actual classes with real Harvard faculty. For some fields, it’s impossible because there are no Harvard instructors available or willing to teach in these areas. But for others, there may be course offerings from time to time. In the ALM Management program, it is possible to select some courses taught by tenured faculty, including faculty from the Harvard Business School.

            For everyone in the HES community: Demand Harvard DCE do more to hire real Harvard faculty and researchers.

  115. Two typographical errors from what I wrote are corrected here and bracketed for clarification:

    I work full-time while going to school, taking short educational leaves of absence from [work] to take Harvard Summer School classes. Do you honestly think that I, a working professional well established in his career, with exceptional grades in courses taught by both Extension and College professors, am impacted at all by the stigma some of you seem to want to attach to [my] upcoming degree because of its affiliation with the Extension School?

  116. I’m currently working on my thesis as part of the ALM Biology program at HES.

    32 of my 36 course credits were *required* to be taught by a Harvard instructor.

    I was allowed a single 4-unit course to be taught by a non-Harvard instructor. It was taught by a senior scientist (working at a Harvard-affiliated hospital) on-campus at Harvard Medical School.

    It’s highly program-dependent.

    While it’s unfortunate there isn’t a clear and concise way to indicate the academic similarities between my degree and a comparable MSc in Biology – nothing can overshadow the quality of education I received through the coursework.

    To JA’s point, I could care less about any stigma. I have a career already – and now I have more skills and knowledge at my disposal to elevate said career.

    • It’s highly program-dependent.

      HES should adopt higher standards across the board for Harvard Instructor requirements. The ALM Biology model should be something all programs aspire to in terms of incorporating Harvard-affiliated instructors. Unfortunately, the trend has moved in the other direction, with a few programs not having any HI requirements.

      The idea that you can receive a degree from Harvard without ever taking a class with Harvard faculty members is a major mistake. It’s a sharp deviation from the Extension School’s mission to offer a Harvard academic experience led by Harvard faculty members, and opens up the school and alumni to criticism that HES degrees aren’t “real” Harvard degrees.

      I’m not knocking the hard work of students or the non-Harvard faculty teaching such classes. I too have taken classes with non-Harvard faculty that counted toward my degree, and some were top-notch and truly global experts in their fields, such as the late Thomas J. O’Connor. This was sometimes through the Harvard Summer School, which is also open to Harvard College students. And Harvard certainly has a long history with visiting faculty from other institutions.

      But the idea that it’s possible to get a Harvard degree without taking any classes with Harvard faculty? The school might as well just let students transfer in 100% of class credit from other schools.

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