What employers think about Harvard Extension School degrees

For more than 10 years, I have received questions from prospective Harvard Extension School students (and some current students) about whether or not Harvard Extension School degrees will help them get a job, and what employers think about them. Here’s a typical query:

I am considering the Harvard Extension School for Management. I really want your opinion if this will be worth doing in terms of getting a job. I am an international student and have one year of business experience. Do you get an internship in summer? Does the Harvard brand help?

The short answer is “maybe.” Aside from the Harvard or Harvard Extension School brand, there are a few factors employers typically consider:

  1. It depends on the person and what else he or she brings to the table in terms of job experience, specific technical/work skills, and whether or not he or she will be a good fit for the team.
  2. It depends on the field/location/position. It will matter less in a highly competitive field in a big city compared to a less competitive market in a rural area or overseas.
  3. It depends on the person’s network.

As for the brand: It is quite good in academic circles (see Harvard Extension School success stories from the past year). However, the Harvard Extension School degree is not an automatic signal to “hire this person because he/she has ‘Harvard’ in his educational background.” But it may help you get noticed.

My ALM thesis director (a tenured professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) said the Harvard association and reputation — even for Extension School students — carries a lot of weight, and will help open doors that might otherwise be closed. He actually offered to help me find work related to my research (Chinese foreign policy analysis using computer-based research) if I was interested. I wasn’t — at the time I had a pretty good job in tech media and a young family, and becoming an analyst required moving to Washington, D.C.

Another thing that may help graduates get noticed are automated resume processing programs that search for specific keywords or phrases, which may include the name of famous universities … such as Harvard.

But when the resume gets passed to an HR screener or hiring manager, things start to get tricky for many HES grads. A lot of people do not make it clear that they attended the Extension School, and instead list “Harvard University” on their resumes, either in a misguided justification to hide the Extension School affiliation, or an outright misleading attempt to make it seem as if they graduated from Harvard College, the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), or the Harvard Business School. Here are just a few examples from LinkedIn:

Harvard BiologyHarvard ALB economicsHarvard ALM digital media

Not everyone does this, of course. It’s also possible to find people who proudly list their Extension School degrees on LinkedIn:

Harvard Extension ALM nonprofits

I’ve covered the issue of how to represent your Extension School diploma in the past, and it has been debated by hundreds of people on this blog and elsewhere. You can read more at Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines are bogus.

In short, while a Harvard Extension Degree is issued by Harvard University, it is not the same degree that is issued to graduates of other schools at Harvard such as a Harvard College AB degree, a Harvard Business School MBA degree, or a Harvard GSAS AM degree. The Harvard Extension School has a rigorous process that makes students prove they can do the work before they are admitted, but the others are among the most highly selective undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States. Students are in classrooms with other high-achievers, which raises the level of discourse and focus. Yes, HES gets some high achievers as well (including graduates of Ivies and other competitive programs, and HES graduates who move onto highly selective PhD programs) but the classrooms are also filled with casual class-takers.

The curricula and graduation requirements are also completely different. The most obvious is the Extension School’s use of distance education for course credit and for many of the professional programs,  the fact that there is no requirement to take classes taught by faculty with actual teaching appointments at Harvard.

What this means is McKinsey or Bain won’t regard an HES ALB or ALM in Management grad the same way they will treat a recent Harvard College AB or HBS MBA recipient.

On the other hand, HES Management students can select courses that are taught by Harvard faculty, including HBS faculty, such as the example below.

V.G. Narayanan is the Thomas D. Casserly, Jr., Professor of Business Administration and has been teaching accounting at Harvard Business School

What HR and hiring managers think about Extension School grads

Several people involved in hiring decisions have commented how they regard HES grads compared to their counterparts from other schools. I’ll start with the positive evaluations, followed by some of the negative takes:


I’m a hiring manager and I would hire an HES graduate any day of the week.


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 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.

But there are more than a few managers out there who have been burned by HES grads misrepresenting their degrees:

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.

Another example:

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.

As I have said many times in the past, HES grads should be proud of what they have accomplished and be proud to list “Harvard Extension School” on their resumes. If enough people do so and do as well in their careers as they did while at HES, the reputation of the Harvard Extension School will grow … making it easier for all Extension School grads to leverage ALB and ALM degrees to advance their careers.


194 thoughts on “What employers think about Harvard Extension School degrees

  1. Hello, ALM (Software Engineering) candidate here. I work for a Google-backed startup and am pretty sure my studies at Harvard helped me get my job.

    This identity crisis topic has gotten so much unwarranted attention over the years, I’ve noticed, and people on the internet wind themselves up SO MUCH about the Extension School vs GSAS vs College vs Whatever hand-wringing, I just have to pitch in here:

    It’s way overblown and everyone would be happier and more productive if they stop trying to pigeonhole themselves and others so much.

    All of the seven courses I’ve taken so far have been from tenured (or tenure track) Harvard professors. I’ve had the privilege of attending class with a bunch of razor-sharp students. I fly to campus a couple of weeks every semester to attend in person and I’m treated like a royal guest by the profs and my classmates from GSAS or the College. AND IT’S GREAT – I can’t think of a better use of time and money!

    Professionally, I am open about being a student in the Extension program (when people want more information) and I’ve never been treated like I’m a walking forgery or any of those silly things that people fret over.

    Here’s the key: if you want to attend Harvard to improve yourself, don’t spend time thinking about it, just GET IT DONE. Spend your time thinking about what you’re studying and gaining knowledge. Don’t worry about how people regard the Extension School – instead, spend that time making yourself better through education.

    Look, territoriality is EVERYWHERE. Quick story: When I was a newly-matriculated MBA student at University of Chicago years ago, one of the student in their prestigious college actually gave me a hard time about it because I wasn’t part of the “real” University of Chicago. I couldn’t help but laugh at him – someone who doesn’t know me who had never met me before wants to pick a fight with me over my educational choices? Talk about insecure…

    • Dear DK –

      You have my infinite thanks for your comment. Sometime we need to be reminded of what is important, and as you said, the most important thing is getting it done.

    • Thank you for this very well thought after post. Confirm me that my choice is the right one! Cheers, Sophie

    • Rightly so DK, and a bit idiotic on his part as universities are historically comprised of colleges. Astounding that such U of Chicago student could present either so clearly absent minded or at best misinformed as what defines university life.

      RE: transparency with degrees, a professionally minded individual lists university, degree, concentration, and college name-address for ease of degree verification. There should be no question as to what college the applicant attended since it’s in subject matter and listed under degree. If so, it is HR’s internal quibble and not an applicant’s misrepresentation.

      FAS insistence on calling the ALM – External Studies, is disingenuous, if there are no courses teaching subject matter “External Studies” apart from other classes. Simply call it ALM in an appropriate field or concentration will suffice.

      I had an employment meeting with HR head at a top entertainment-talent agency, in a non-medically related position, and he was impressed believing I attended Harvard Medical School (HMS). Had to explain that I did attend a medical course and conference as it was so noted on my CV as HMS, CME (Continuing Medical Education) and concentration.

      Advancing CV and practice is necessary per law and ethics, staying current in trends and scientific findings. Not full medical school, just updating credentials. It was on his terms to learn CV indications in no doubt what was unfamiliar territory for Los Angeles based entertainment firms’ HR. It was more of a meet and greet to see my range of employment possibilities and I did not win the job, nor would have accepted it, if offered, since it was beneath my pay scale and I had much better offers.

      • I am a proud ALMM graduate. During interviews I am always ask how was my HBS experience; I always respond with, ‘ I did not attend HBS, I am an ALMM graduate’ I explain what the differences are, along with only spending $75k for my education against 105k+ for an HBS degree.
        The course was rigorous and rewarding and it is a Harvard degree, which goes nicely on my wall with my other undergrad degree from Columbia.

    • Your post was very helpful. I am a professional looking to gain more education and I am looking into the Harvard Extension School.

    • That cannot be said better by your example and experience.
      We all had insecurity on one thing or another. However, Truth always empowers us, which is often ignored.

  2. I have had all my classes taught by established Harvard Professors. I am happy to tell people I am a student at the extension school. I choose the extension school because I am getting a great education at a reasonable price.

  3. My employer hires graduates of the College as well as HES graduates. There is no difference in their eyes and some HES grads are in upper-level positions. Recently, graduates of the College have also achieved these higher ranks.

  4. What a crock of bull. Hiring managers, Harvard and people in general are creating second class students. The Harvard University Extension program offers Graduate and Undergraduate degrees that require on campus time. You sit in the same classrooms as “regular” Harvard students and you put in the same time. By claiming that you somehow have earned a “different” type of Harvard degree is underhanded and seriously elitist. I would have no problem putting on a resume that I earned an MA in such and such from Harvard University Extension. And, since I get alumni status I better well be treated equally.

    • No you don’t get an MA (or AM as Harvard puts it in Latin), you get an ALM (or MLA in English), you should know the difference.

      • It is still an accredited MA degree ( According to the Harvard extension website it is called a Masters of Liberal Liberal Arts, English ). Basically you have a Liberal Arts Masters with a specialization in English. The wording is obviously intended to obfuscate people in thinking you received a substandard or second tier degree. You still have a Masters Thesis option in the English program, so for all intensive purposes it is an MA in English (as an example). To say otherwise is elitist and is an attempt to undermine the work and time the student put in. And, the Harvard graduate school of arts and science only offers a PhD in English, so a person seeking a terminal MA degree would benefit from Harvard Extension.

        • “Master of Liberal Liberal Arts.”
          “For all intensive purposes.”

          Thank you for confirming that there is indeed a difference between the Harvard Extension School and the university’s competitive programs.

          • Reality: Although Mark’s defense was a noble one, he never admitted to attending HES. They do have standards when it comes to grammar and writing. I’ve yet to meet a graduate who writes poorly.

          • university’s competitive programs?? You mean the ones where people buy their way in? And, trying to somehow call me on a typo (it happens especially when typing fast on a tablet or smart phone) is hilarious and pathetic. A smug way to try to diminish my initial comment. Nice try though. Online platforms are not English class and grammar rules don’t apply. Thanks for trying though.

          • Wow, Marielle DeBeuf, thanks for YOUR meaningful substantive contribution…… you really took the time out of your day to leave THAT as your only addition to this thread? Grow up.

        • While I’m no fan of elitists, you could also make the argument that those who try to push the envelope and fully equate their degree with those of HGAS are diminishing the accomplishments of those admitted to regular Harvard. It’s not the same. Being not the same does not imply inferior, it’s just NOT THE SAME. Those who aren’t happy with that should apply to “regular” Harvard University programs.

          • Who cares? HES is a school at Harvard. So, I use Harvard University for my credentials!
            Also the rigour is the same. Only it is more flexible and cheaper by a thousand. Also, you are admitted first then prove yourself academically. Else you are out!
            It is more practical and actually more rigorous compared to other schools where you have to prove yourself first in to get admitted. Besides HES is more relevant in a pandemic situation! It is also over 100 years old!! You

          • Ya, I particularly like this one! None of us are the same anyway….to say it aloofly, but ultimately truth. I am considering the Extension school now, so very much appreciative of all the comments here. You points are all very well taken. Thanks for taking the time. Ally

          • Hey there, Eddie. I’m glad that you’ve been privileged with an opportunity to attend a “regular” Harvard University program when you were 18-22 years old. However, if you were a 32 y/o with a full-time job and two kids, like myself, you wouldn’t even have a choice to apply to a “regular” Harvard program. I’m more than qualified to be accepted into “the real” Harvard University – after graduating from a community college, my GPA is 4.21 weighted when the average GPA of students admitted to Harvard is 4.15 weighted. I’m also a war refugee, so trust me when I say that my admission essay is top-notch.

            With all that being said, I feel very discouraged to apply to Harvard Extension because of the elitist attitudes like yours and the overall closemindedness and lack of consideration for people’s life circumstances. The only difference between people like me and regular Harvard students is that we have to go to work and feed our families. The fact that Harvard decided to make the HES admission process slightly less selective is not our problem. We’d be admitted if it was exactly the same. Also, considering that only 0.18% of HES students graduate should give those graduates the right to be treated and referred to as EXACTLY THE SAME. Thinking otherwise is elitist and shameful.

        • Thank you for this response. I’m just now starting my Master’s with Harvard Extension. It can be discouraging how people try to talk bad about the Extension program (mainly online). I totally agree with your response.

    • I am fascinated that there is a fight taking place over a comment on this post regarding a user’s grammar and a mistake citing a phrase- all while our country is being torn apart by crises. If you cannot offer support, constructive criticism, or simply behave like a mature adult, go do a puzzle.

  5. (I didn’t attend HES but am looking into a certificate program.) I’m a little confused as to why this is an issue in the first place. On my resume, for example, I list my degree as University Name, B.S. in Computer Science. Why wouldn’t someone simply put “Harvard University, Degree Name” on their resume? When a potential employer calls to verify an applicant’s education, will they not call the same number as they would for a “normal” Harvard student? I guess I understand the concern for a fresh new grad with no experience, but as an experienced professional, I’d be taken aback if someone wanted to know the specifics of which college my degree came from. Just me though…

    • The degrees have completely different names and are not the same as those given if you were accepted into the University as a non-online student.

      • I take the same classes as the Harvard Students at the same time as the Harvard Students. I am taking the same exam as the Harvard Students.

        There is no difference in quality.

      • This is an incorrect oversimplification (much like the original post) of the situation. The most glaring inaccuracy is calling implying HES students are “online students.” Many HES graduates take NO online classes and you can even complete your degree with taking ONLY classes from the so called competitive schools (not all of them are that competitive btw) or courses cross listed in HES and another graduate school.

    • Yes, it’s perfectly fine to put “Harvard University, Degree Name”.
      But do remember that the degree name is “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies”. It would be very hard to explain to your prospective employer why Extension Studies showed up on your background check but you didn’t put that on your resume.

      • Actually the “in” part is not the degree name. Degrees are MA, MS, PhD, etc. Everything else is a concentration or major, so saying “Harvard University, Master’s” or “Harvard University, ALM” (or spelling it out) is not unethical by any means. I am aware that the poster of this blog disagrees and I am aware that HES *provides guidance* on how to represent the name (which they change every 3-4 years, because evidently it confuses new administrators as well), but this is imply guidance the university awarded you a master’s degree and stating it just that way is in no way misleading or a lie. Outright claiming a specific school that is not HES is unethical. Calling your degree an MA (AM) is also unethical. Because these are not factual.

        The Harvard name has opened many doors for me and I the omission of “extension studies” (which I refuse to put next to that specific degree -though I eventually got an MS from GSAS/SEAS anyway) out of protest for how embarrassingly (for the school) archaic this nonsensical label is. To my knowledge, this omission has never closed any doors.

    • The issue is that Harvard University is synonymous with Harvard College. If you went to the Harvard Extension School it should be proudly listed on your resume as such. Almost all employers will assume you went to Harvard college when they read “Harvard University” and when they ask for a verification of your degree they will see that it has been misrepresented on your resume. They are both fantastic schools in their own way but an extension school degree is not the same as a Harvard college degree. Once again, the degree is from the college you attended. For example someone who attended Harvard Law should not try to mislead people that he has a degree from any other college of Harvard University.

      • You are totally missing the issue as it relates to Master’s degrees though. Also, people’s ignorance of higher education organizational structures is not YOUR problem. If someone doesn’t know the difference between a school listed as a college and one listed as a university, you are probably smarter than the person interviewing/evaluating you anyway and shouldn’t work for them.

        But to be fair, even you misuse “college” when you make a comparison between a Law School ( a graduate level professional school) and “any other college of Harvard University.” Harvard University only has one college. It has several graduate schools and professional schools.

    • Its a clear requirement from Harvard Extension School itself that the degree be cited correctly. The entire point of credentials are to provide transparency on the person’s preparation and precisely where they went to school is absolutely germane. If you think HES is a good credential, then there is no problem listing it fully and accurately.

  6. Getting into the Extension School is easier than getting into the regular AB, MBA, etc. programs. As stated elsewhere, those are likely to be populated by high achieving students with a lot of intensity. That said, we have access to professors who are regular faculty at Harvard, so the opportunity to learn and achieve at the highest level is there, if the student wishes to take advantage of it.

    Much of the success of Harvard students comes from the fact that they were high achievers anyway, they are likely to come from families with other social benefits such as money, connections, and general know-how, and they form connections at school that can last a lifetime. So, when someone puts down the “Harvard”, he or she is implying all of these other benefits that are only partially available, especially to distance students.

    Perhaps someday the Extension school could set up monthly or bimonthly Extension weekends where some of this could occur.

  7. I completely agree with DK that the most important thing about higher education is the learning itself. It would be nice if the brand can give you a little lift during interviews, but at the end of day, it is still more about your attitude, your personality, your experience and your capability. The brand can help for sure, but it’s never just and only about that. All the negative comments from hiring managers in the article are not about HES itself, they are mostly about “lying and hiding” which I totally agree. Again, the degree alone doesn’t define you so just be confident and list HES on your resume! If any hiring manager questions about it, explain it proudly and they will see YOUR value as a honest and positive candidate.

    • Or be confident and proud and list your degree how you want to as long as your not lying. This implication that you are either confident and proud OR represent your degree the way you want to both a demeaning argument (it attacks the person, not the issue) and illogical one. List your degree as a Master’s from Harvard University and if it comes up or someone asks, you went to the extension school.

      What I find most interesting about this is that both the university, FAS, and GSAS student themselves often list the PhD, Harvard University or AM, Harvard University without putting GSAS and there is no controversy around that.

      The fact that prople only have an issue with HES students doing this, is proof alone that the label is important for the purposes of distinguishing some sort of second-rate status.

      Have you considered how easy it is to be admitted to some of the PhD departments that are simply not in demand fields, like History of Science, which equips you only to teach and research History of Science. Or the 50% quant GRE average at the Ed School and 35% acceptance rate.

      The biggest reason people attend HES over GSAS, Kennedy, or GSE is because they already have successful careers and these programs explicitly forbid having a job while studying.

      Idk why when having a successful career barred you from earning a degree with the same naming convention as someone who has never even had a job and achieved nothing in life accepting getting into grad school.

  8. College degrees are mostly about signaling theory nowadays – class, iq, and conformity within a rigorous program. Without a strict admission process, the value is greatly minimized. For everyone who wants to learn practical skills or to simply better themselves, I am thankful that HES exists. However, I would first ask the candidate to reconsider if this is an attempt at resume deception or simple knowledge acquisition. If the latter, maybe coursera will help you save for your retirement a little quicker.

    I would bet that simply having harvard on the resume does move the needle a bit, even when the extension is clearly spelled out. We’ll have to wait for a social science phd to run a resume study and compare the two in a job search scenario.

    Much of the value of advanced practical degrees are the career services and networking with 1%’er students with prestigious families and connections. Do HES students have the chance to network with “normal” students on campus, or are they always segregated? I would be very interested if there are any placement programs set to help extension students with their career.

    • Mike, there are opportunities to join cross-campus student groups and other activities, but you have to work at it. I participated in a technology publication while I was a student, and I know others have joined arts or student government groups. I remember when Zuckerberg visited the campus a few years ago anyone studying computer science was welcome to attend, including HES students.

      The Extension School does have a career services office and some activities such as job fairs, but I don’t know how effective they are.

    • Thanks to the ongoing admissions scandals at several universities, many are finally wise enough to realize that the admissions process is not a determining factor of success.

  9. Hold up everyone.
    Guys… anyone who is yapping about HES not being the “real” Harvard is a joke. The School of Continuing Studies is ONE OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY’s TWELVE SCHOOLS. All of my HES classes have required on-campus components as well. Just because a HES student made the choice to study at HES does not make that student a fraud. People with elitist attitudes have a real problem with Harvard keeping up with but times and offering live online studies. While you guys are fretting, Harvard is laughing at all of you and cashing in at the bank.

  10. “Just because a HES student made the choice to study at HES does not make that student a fraud.”

    That isn’t the debate here. Why would studying at ANY school, be it Harvard, HES or Bumblebee Community College, make the student a fraud?? No one on either side of the debate is claiming that HES students are frauds.

    The debate at hand is: Is an HES student who attempts to pass off his/her degree as one from “Harvard University” without making it explicitly clear that the degree is from HES a fraud?

    As a proud HES student, my answer to that question is a simple “yes.” Whatever quality differences, if any, actual or perceived, exist between HES and other Harvard schools is something for the prospective employer to decide upon. Any student who doesn’t make it clear to a prospective employer that his/her HES diploma is from HES as opposed to one of Harvard’s other schools is being deceitful. Ultimately, there is a huge difference between being honestly precise about one’s educational achievement then hoping/expecting that a prospective employer will value one’s HES degree highly and/or as though it was from one of Harvard’s other schools versus basically lying about the precise degree earned then just assuming that it doesn’t make a difference to the prospective employer.

    Ultimately, if a student isn’t clear about his/her degree being from HES, it is never an oversight and it is always an intentional act of deception. The decision about “how much of a difference” it makes that the degree is from HES as opposed to from a different Harvard school is not the degree-holder’s decision to make.

    I know how rigorous my own HES experience has been, and, given that, I am confident that there are employers who realize as much, irrespective of how an HES degree “stacks up” against one from a different Harvard school.

    • You are so wrong it isn’t even funny. If someone says they are a Harvard College student that is an HES student, then they are a liar, but if they say they are a Harvard University student, they are. Harvard University has 12 Colleges that grant degrees with the School of Continuing Education being one.

      The fact that Harvard doesn’t do more to stick up for HES students who study their asses off, shows how they are quick to take the HES students money, but want to give them substandard representation. It is sad.

      • This is precisely the case. Similarly, since GSAS sits under the same faculty as “The College”, it is not a separate faculty like the other schools. One fact that is always interestingly missing from these discussions is that for whatever reason in many systems, the university even labels GSAS students as Harvard University where other students are labeled with the College or specific school. For example, I once volunteered at a research conference at BU hosted by Harvard Faculty, and the name tags (later I discovered were printed based on the internal directory) were Harvard College, Harvard University, and Harvard Extension school. HU was reserved for GSAS students. Similarly, most of the GSAS (I was admitted to both HES and GSAS but chose to study at Stanford instead of completing my GSAS degree) friends or colleagues that I knew on linked in simply listed Harvard University.

        I have no issue with a HES student, nor a college or GSAS student, listing their degree as Harvard University.

        It should also be pointed out that HES doesn’t and can’t enforce their silly guidelines on presenting the degree.

        Students should present their degree honestly and the way they want to based on their experience, perspective, and perception of value.

        Master’s Degree, Software Engineering
        Harvard University

        Is not incorrect or unethical in any way.

        Pardon the typos.

    • Do the students of other schools under Harvard also under the obligation to mention the name of their schools? If not why HES should be obligated to do so? In my opinion, if you mention for example Master in liberal Art, concentration in Management, Harvard University. You are totally fine.

      • I agree with you 100%. Nothing unethical with Harvard University, MLA in Management. Those who find a problem with it are the type of people who can only feel good about themselves by dragging others down.

    • Your argument is inconsistent are you claiming it is wrong to list Harvard University without HES or are you claiming it is wrong for an HES student to pass off their degree as from another school?

      Because these are two VERY different thinks. HES is no special requirement that the specific school, rather than the granting University alone, be listed. I would argue it is MORE common for people to list XYZ University as Universities rather than Colleges have become to standard in post-secondary education.

      It is not wrong or fraudulent to list only your university. For example, Columbia students, the traditional college students almost NEVER say Columbia College because there are several for profit schools called Columbia College and some of them are nationwide (via online, branch campuses, etc).

      The fact is it’s not only OK to list your university rather than specific school, but it is become, if not already, the MORE common convention.

      On a related note, I find this is only a controversy at Harvard. Other Universities, who have kept up with the times I might add, and have a School of Professional Studies, for example, don’t go ape shit, or even discuss, whether their graduates of these programs list school of professional studies or just XYZ University. I have literally never seen this debate anywhere else and I think it is completely unfair to HES students to imply they are lying or not confident for listing the University that granted their master’s degree.

      And frankly, since HES is not a school or program with a specific academic focus, it is less important to list it. What info does this add? If you went to SEAS it may be valuable to you to point out you went to engineering school. If you went GSE, it may be valuable to point out you went to a school dedicated to and specializing in Education.

      What information are you adding by listing HES? It doesn’t tell the employer anything about what you studied, what skills you gained, or what topics are the focus of research and courses.

      Why isn’t the question “Why SHOULD extension be listed?” What value does it add to a resume? Are you not proud of your affiliation with the greater Harvard Academic institution?”

  11. I have a Ph.D. from Harvard GSAS, and I cannot emphasize how wrong-headed this post is. I’ll admit that I didn’t even know there was a Harvard Extension School until a few years into my graduate studies at Harvard, but it is no more or less part of Harvard than any of the other schools. And *requiring* people to flag their resumes in a non-standard way is absurd.

    I have only ever listed my degree as from “Harvard University” with Ph.D. and the subject area. I don’t need to list “Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.” If I had an MBA from Harvard, I would just list “Harvard University” with MBA — no reason to list “Harvard Business School” unless I wanted to.

    If you’d like to list “Extension School” on your resume, by all means, do so. Perhaps you *want* to emphasize that for some reason. And perhaps in some limited situations, it might be important to clarify that point on a written resume even before an interview.

    However, the argument that it is somehow deceitful NOT to list “Extension School” is ABSURD. You offer only two testimonies of managers who claim to frown on this practice, but they don’t say they frown on that practice — THEY FROWN ON ACTUAL LYING.

    (1) The first example states: “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.”

    Read the text, please. Someone claimed to have a Harvard GSAS degree! That IS fraud. That is apparently NOT someone who just wrote “Harvard University, Master of Liberal Arts with Concentration in X,” which would be a truthful and accurate statement.

    (2) The second person wrote: “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.”

    Again, this is fraud, plain and simple. This person does not have a Master of Arts (MA or technically AM) degree from Harvard. They have a Master of Liberal Arts. This person lied on their resume and should be appropriately denounced.

    However, neither of these two examples speak to the actual ambiguous case you claim to address in this post (and others), i.e., someone just omitting the name of the school on a resume and only stating the degree (as most people would do for any other of Harvard’s schools).

    It’s absurd to claim that latter practice is deceitful or misleading in any way. It’s a degree from Harvard University. Harvard College does not offer a Bachelor in Liberal Arts. Harvard GSAS (and the other graduate schools) does not offer a Master in Liberal Arts. Just because a hiring manager can’t be bothered to do a search on a degree they aren’t familiar with doesn’t make it “outright misleading” as you put it.

    The appropriate place in most cases to address this (if it is even an issue) would be in a job interview if the prospective employer has a question about your degree. And frankly if an employer is petty enough to be offended that you didn’t list “Extension School” when no other Harvard school graduates would tend to list their school affiliate on a resume, you should not want to work for that employer. Period. It is a legitimate Harvard University degree, and its title (if given correctly on a resume) identifies uniquely what program it relates to, and the employer can query its admissions or degree requirements or anything else if said employer finds it necessary.

    Lastly, let me be very clear that I take this stance as someone very knowledgeable about the Harvard system and the relative quality of its graduates. There are colleagues of mine in GSAS who would laugh at the low standards of the Harvard Ed School or even occasionally the Harvard Div School. I have a friend who took a couple classes at the Ed School that he said were a joke compared to GSAS classes. Yet no one would require a student with an Ed.D. from Harvard University to state on their resume, “Oh, by the way, I went to the Ed School, which might not be quite up to snuff or has different standards in some ways from GSAS.” I have a friend with an Ed.D. from Harvard, and those in academia knew the standards of his program were different, and he was viewed accordingly. Those members of the general public would just know he had a “doctorate from Harvard” which is exactly what he had.

    Even worse, Harvard hands out master’s degrees like candy in GSAS. Seriously. They are absolutely meaningless degrees in most programs that have an ultimate Ph.D. You just get one “along the way” after completing most coursework, if you bother to apply for one. But look at someone who has a “Master of Arts” from Harvard in some field (with no Ph.D.), and THAT should be a serious resume flag.

    Why? Because — with the exception of a handful of terminal master’s programs — that means generally one of two things: (1) the person decided to quit the Ph.D. program, so was awarded a consolation “terminal master’s” (and thus has questionable commitment to scholarly endeavors) or (2) the person flunked some aspect of their qualifying exams or other upper-level requirements and was kicked out of the Ph.D. program and given a master’s as a consolation prize. (I have known both to happen.)

    Thus, a person who claims to have a “MA in Anthropology” from Harvard is very likely someone who flunked out of something. (Apparently there is an M.A. in Medical Anthropology that’s considered an “real” master’s degree from that department, but other M.A. degrees should not be terminal degrees if they are to mean anything other than that the person hung around Harvard for a few semesters and took a few courses.)

    Your examples of hiring managers thus not only show examples of fraud, but also ignorance of Harvard graduate programs that think they have the ability to evaluate.

    Bottom line: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with listing “Extension School” on a resume, and in a few rare instances, I think it might be useful for clarification. But it shouldn’t be necessary. Other questions can be handled in an interview. And you’re certainly correct to condemn those who misrepresent their degrees explicitly (as in the two examples you offer). But just listing your degree as “Harvard University, Bachelor (or Master) of Liberal Arts”? That’s literally what the degree is. Insisting that everyone write “Extension School” serves to create a second-class atmosphere around the degree that is undeserved, particularly with the number of meaningless Master of Arts degrees Harvard hands out anyway.

    The HES degrees are certainly more meaningful and don’t deserve to be singled out with a weird “extension studies” flag on a resume, which will lead employers to say, “Huh?” Nothing on a resume should lead an employer to say, “Huh?” You’re giving poor advice to people who worked hard for their degrees. Lots of colleges offer evening or summer master’s programs (often with more lax requirements), and I’ve never heard of another one that would like to require the graduates of said programs to flag them on their resumes as different unless the actual title of the degree is different. (And the degree IS in this case, which serves to identify the program uniquely on a resume.)

    Again, if your prospective employer’s reaction in an interview is to be offended or accuse you of fraud for listing your degree literally as what it is, you should stand up and walk out the door right then and there, because you don’t want to work for someone like that.

    • This is an amazing response. Thank you. Your insight and articulation of it hit on why I feel so drawn to Harvard, as an academic ideal.

      • *cheering* !!

        I am looking into studying at Harvard University.
        I have completed my MSc and have been working abroad for sometime now. I’ve come to realise that the possibilities in my current field are too limited and I want to learn more.

        As an international student, though not my primary motivation, having a degree from Harvard will carry additional weight.

        After quite some research it became clear that most (nearly all!) top universities in the USA do not offer MA/MSc degrees -for psychology- and only offer (combined) PhDs instead.

        Harvard University’s Extension School would be one of the very few options if I wanted to attend a respected American university as a ‘short-term’ graduate student.

        A PhD is not what I want to do. It is too specific, and I currently feel I do not wish to work as a researcher/professor in the future.

        Before reading this blog, but mainly your comment, I was worried about the credibility -or better put ‘true value’- of HES.

        I know now that, although slightly different in some ways, it is still part of Harvard University, it is academically challenging and the work put in will be rewarded with a valuable degree!

        It is great that Harvard offers this possibility for those aiming expand their knowledge on a graduate level without a 6 year commitment.

        Thank you both for sharing your insights!

    • I am actually considering the Harvard University Extension School ALM in Creative Writing and Literature as a second chance college student who did not earn their first college degree until the age of 30. My current career goal is to get into the adjunct instructor pool at the community college system where I live in rural Kentucky. I want to teach remedial courses and English/writing. I would hope that someone evaluating my resume would simply see Harvard as higher in status than someone that has a MFA from a regionally accredited online college or a master’s degree in English from a local college such as Eastern Kentucky University or Morehead State University.

      I have overcome great obstacles in life that most people can only imagine. My only goal with pursuing a degree from the Harvard School of Extension Studies is to show people that there is hope for something better: even if better just means earning a certificate or diploma from a rural community college.

      I have also always wanted to write a book so the degree might help me perfect my craft.

      • Go for it, Peggy.

        My first HES class was actually a creative writing class. The program and faculty is very strong, and when I did the class there were opportunities to get published in respected literary journals.

      • Thank you so much for taking the time to write that, John. I’m a 31 year old husband and father of two, currently active duty military, who always had the brains but never the funds to pursue an education at this level- but now I do, with the GI Bill, and reading this really motivated me for the program I’m about to start in June. Thanks again!

        • Justin – glad to hear that you’re continuing to pursue your goals. I’m sure HES won’t disappoint. By the way, thank you for your service!

          John – I appreciate this post and the detail you provided. My fellow HES students and I have all been questioned about the validity of our degrees and hard work because of the school’s “extension” name.

    • John,
      Thank you so much for this response! You definitely clarified it and put my mind at ease.

    • Thank you for your post. I am currently enrolled in the Extension School but considering applying for the College for these very reasons. I already have an established career, however, I WANT my degrees. It’s been my experiences that society tends to look down on the Extension School degree (this includes potential clients) rather than a “normal” degree. I must admit that HES is extremely convenient for my career. I am still able to travel the world and work while obtaining my degree. I just wish it wasn’t looking at as the “GED equalivant of College degrees”

    • I have my Ph.D. From the University of California, Riverside. I’m considering attending Harvard extension for an applied masters not because I’m lesser, but because I want an affordable, rigorous, and focused course of study that I can complete largely from my small, rural community in Central California. This discussion is splitting hairs about resumes. How about hiring professionals asking applicants what they learned,
      and see where that discussion goes?

    • Yes. This. Exactly. For some reason my posts reinforcing and adding to the points made here are being moderated and filtered I guess.

    • Thank you for this awesome and well supported argument. I, too am currently an extension student. And I’ve even gone as far as getting some Harvard swag, but it still feels a little weird. Thank you for reassuring me that I’m a legit Harvard student. P.S. I have an Ed.D from the University of Illinois. I’m taking these classes because I chickened out of Harvard’s program years ago. Now I’m ready, the extension courses through HES and the HGSE are a lot of work, and so rewarding. And a lot less expensive. Once again, thank you for this post!

  12. Thanks for taking the time to explain the nuances of the GSAS masters/PhD universe. I think we agree on many points (e.g., earning a Harvard Extension School degree is something to be proud of), but I also think that graduates should be clear about their affiliation on their resume or LinkedIn profile for the reasons explained above. Transparency is important, and it really does matter when “Harvard” comes up.

    You brought up the example, “If I had an MBA from Harvard, I would just list ‘Harvard University’ with MBA — no reason to list ‘Harvard Business School’ unless I wanted to.” Most Harvard MBAs I know *do* list “Harvard Business School” on their CVs. I also attended business school (not at Harvard) and most classmates include the name of the business school and often the name of the program, too.

    Another question to consider: Why does the Extension School itself now insist that graduates use “Extension School” or “Extension Studies” when listing degrees on resumes?

    • That the real point. HES is part of Harvard University. Therefore, you cannot blame someone to list his degree by his university name. It’s factual, harvard Extension school is 1 of the 12/13 school of harvard university. As much as Business School is or otherone.

      Thus it’s a kind of segregation to force people to notice the extension school in place of Harvard university. They should separate the certificate place, the online course and the liberal art B and M. Because the real deal is when people got certificated and used the named like if they got a degree.

      By fact HES M/BLA is degree program, not diploma. People are Harvard Studens.

      For every people who worked hours between their jobs and school and familly once they understand that they should do university when they were younger and now want the best possible in the world. It is a very bad way to considere this people. The only difference between BLA and BBA from harvard are the age people are doing it. And what a bad vision to give more credit for teenager who got the luck to understand how to handle the life vs adult who are taking charge of their life after understand some mistakes they did.

      Once again, all HR, people or ex students that did not agree with the Harvard University degree when it’s come the MLA BLA from HES are just ignoring the fact that HES is a part of Harvard University and not something else as Harvard Business Review or Harvard online Hdx.

      But the comparison should not be btw Harvard school and HES. But between UPEN, of wharton online bachelor degree and HES BLA.

      It should also be for international students btw doing a good local school or even local online degree like for Example FGV in Brazil, University or paris online, london university, university of the people and Harvard extension school Bachelor in liberal Art???

      What would be better. What would bring a better branding for the one who get graduated. It’s not only to get a job. But for the picture you give to your future partnership. I got 4 businesses. Most of sharehold contract I got have been based on the confidance I gave to my partner. Does Harvard BLA is better than london university….

      Well, if you can do BLA or MLA and then entering a good MBA of postgraduate (don’t need to be harvard business School MBA, but a good one – IE, HEC, FDC, Wharton, DUKE, even INSEAD why not?) Then I guess you have a better brand that doing a regional school and a good MBA

      What you guy think about ?

  13. John— that’s a fantastic post. Thank you for your detailed explanation. I completely agree with you.

    With that being said, HES is looked down upon by the other 11 because we aren’t as selective or scarce. But let’s be honest here. Our experience and quality of education is typically NOT as rich and of the same quality as HBS or College. That’s the truth. We will never be seen as equals until we become more competitive by raising the barrier of entry. I would like to see our standards go up all around. Only then can we have a comfortable seat at the table instead of sitting on the floor.

    • Actually, it’s all determined by a small committee in FAS (Same faculty as College and GSAS) so there is not much “we” can do about it. Even our Dean is not above “the faculty”, which in this case is FAS. In fact, the most recent prior Dean did try to get extension studies removed. FAS is insistent upon the distinction and the issue always gets permanently tabled in committee (FAS committee on continuing education). If DCE was to become its own independent school’s, they would be able to have somewhat more freedom to modernize the name. Yes, I say modernize because of all of the top tier schools that started extension programs (Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, UPenn, etc) have integrated the program, discontinued the awarding of degrees, or renamed it to remove the rigid distinction (e.g. Columbia GS program, or the MSt degree’s at Cambridge like the Entrepreneurship Master’s degree is done online with a couple of one week residencies, is now awarded directly from the Judge School of Business just like the MBA at Cambridge, etc).

      • Although the University of Oxford offers non-traditional programmes through their Department of Continuing Education, some of the degrees you can earn through there are exactly the same as those earned by full-time students (about 20% of Oxford’s graduate students are studying part-time). They offer MSc and DPhil degrees while the Mst is the second part of the master’s degree (with the PGCD being the first part). when applying, you are applying to one of the Colleges and are required to go through the same admission requirements and processes as everyone to gain entry into them. They also treat their students exactly the same as any other OU student, which is sadly not the case at most American Ivies or elite unis.

  14. hello, ALM (Information Technology) here.
    Dear Ilamont, I am really appreciated that you had written a very informative article about the HES here; However, I feel like your opinion are no longer up-to-date, because:
    1) The world is now wisely accepted the value of online education: back in the 1990s, people have questioned the value of online-education as it is new and unproven. in the last 2 decades, online education has proven that it is as good as traditional education, many Harvard-professors had said that HES student had turned in better work than the traditional college student. a TA here had commented to proven that point.
    2) There are several goverment from several countries (Vietnam…) had issued a law to confirm that government’s officer will get paid the same salary for the same position regardless of their degree is online or tradition. It had become a law.
    3) HES is no longer required the student to list the Extention or ALM on their resume: HES website used to say that “MA in Anthropology” is “NOT ACCEPTABLE”, but now they said that you “MAY BE” listed it as ——, IMHO, this is a signal that online education had gained more acceptance at the table.
    4) Oxford University had confirmed that there is no difference in their online vs tradition degree. Why do we, Harvard, make our life harder?

    When I google that value of HES, this post comes up as the first that devalue of HES alumni. => “In short, a Harvard Extension Degree is NOT a Harvard”

    I KINDLY ASK THAT YOU, PLEASE, REWRITE THAT PHARES, so it not gonna show up in google search on the way that it may hurt our value. in case, our future employer search for HES.

    • Yes, I see that Google is excerpting that phrase with no context. I rewrote it.

      Regarding point #1: I don’t agree that online education is as good as traditional education, with the exception of convenience and certain technical features. I’ve taken online classes for credit myself and discussed this issue endlessly elsewhere, so I won’t repeat myself here.

      Point #2: That’s great. I know that many government jobs in the United States are also agnostic about whether the degree was obtained online or in a classroom.

      Point #3: The Harvard Extension School most definitely requires “Extension” to be included somewhere in the degree description, although it’s impossible to enforce. Here’s what the Harvard Extension School’s official guidelines say about listing resumes:

      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.

      • Dear Ian Lamont,
        Thank for rewrote the phrase, I really appreciate it.
        regarding your comment on point #1: I had huge respect for you, as a historian, you had done a wonderful job capturing both sides of story during the “revolution of online education” of HES during “1910-2009”. your writing was very deep, careful, informative, and thoughtful.
        in fact, in 2011, my cousins had said behind my back that I only do an “online course” rather than a full master degree, because they don’t know if it is legit to do an online master degree. so, yes, I shared your concerns.

        Let not wasting any more time debate about the “online vs tradition” education in present (2019). I would like to invite you to debate about THE FUTURE.

        As an ALM(IT), I believed that in 2029-2039, online education will be better than traditional education because:
        #1) Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Microsoft Hologram, Magic Leap, AI, deep learning, robotic, … (you can google tons of very promising innovative technologies are underdeveloping here)… so, I am not only argued that online education will not only just as good as traditional education, but it will also capable to offer something that surpassed traditional education in term of visualization, experience, convenience, and effectiveness.
        #2) Many traditional universities will be closed down: there is a trend that many traditional universities are downsizing or bankrupting. Prof Clayton Christensen of HBS predicted that -“Half of American Colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years” because the cost-effective of online education drive them out of business. Only traditional university with strong research program will be survived. online education will beat the tradition education by quantity and cost-effectiveness.

        I would like to hear your comment about the outcome of this future.

        • I agree with your point #2 about traditional universities closing down, although not only because of online education. This country’s higher educational establishment faces a demographic cliff by 2025 as the number of college-aged children drops (following the decline in births after the 2008 recession). When coupled with the outrageous sticker costs of attending college in person, that’s when smaller and less selective universities will start closing in earnest. It’s already started in New England, including Mt. Ida College in Newton last year.

          Regarding #1: I’ve been watching remote learning technologies come and go for more than a decade. 90% fail to live up to the hype. 10+ years ago it was Second Life and Cisco Telepresence. Now it’s VR and “live” classroom techs which have their own problems (see “VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it“) . For the future I expect more hype and failed promises, and the in-class experience to continue to be superior on a number of qualities: visual and audio fidelity, engagement, on-the-fly reconfiguration, and opportunities to interact with faculty. The best technologies I have seen are those that incorporate live, low-cost two-way video. AR software overlays add little, except for very specific technical training, in my opinion.

      • I agree that online course is not the same that presencial course. It’s actually better and it because of many point.

        – The course is made and improved until getting perfect based on data.
        -You can test the learner many times
        -The learner can learn any where any time when he is ready to learn and he can have the time he desire to follow the course.
        -The teacher is paid not to reproduce a course but to create interaction.
        -There is nobody to distract the learner and the feeling between teacher, other people and the learner did not change the experience of the learner.
        Learning online is like learning on book and video, then you need to meet people to do something real. I am doing it sonce 10 years and I will never go back to fisical class to listen a teacher. Only to do something with people.

        With the advencement of data and online tech. The online class will be better than IRL. Because there is more to learn from all the pople who will follow it than any class in the IRL world.

  15. As HES ALM student and a PHD degree holder from traditional program, I only want to say I learned more from the HES program for my day to day life than the PHD.

    Those who laughed at HES program, please take the rigorous path to get yourself admitted before posting comments as people should not comment on something that they don’t know.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Alex. Critics of Harvard Extension academics should walk the walk before passing judgement. Many, if not most would never matriculate.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking about HES program , but I was worried that if I wanted to teach and/or move onto my Phd the HES degree would not be looked at the same as a regular MA program. Do you have any advice that i should take into consideration?


      • Quoting one of the senior HES administrators, Suzanne Spreadbury, of the Harvard Extension School: “ALB graduates have accepted to all top research universities in the United States. Harvard. Yale. MIT. Columbia. Princeton. UPenn.” https://t.co/lViAGoya1N (19:30)

    • January 29, 2016; knowing the name from a comment is just a tradition. It is your knowledge that is very cute to post for HES

      Thank you

  16. “…the fact that there is no requirement to take classes taught by faculty with actual teaching appointments at Harvard.”
    Actually, there is – from their degree requirements page:
    “52 credits taken with Harvard instructors”.
    Most of the HES classes are *exactly* the same as Harvard University courses, taught by the same instructors/professors. The only difference is the HES students can only participate in night classes.
    Sure, there are plenty of ‘casual course takers’ because anyone can audit a class there for a hefty sum. However, they do have requirements to earn your way into the degree program, which I’m sure most of the ‘casual course takers’ do not try to do.

    • “Harvard Instructor” doesn’t mean “Harvard Faculty,” and few Harvard Extension School classes are *exactly* the same as classes taught elsewhere at Harvard. For instance, in the huge ALM Management program none of the classes are the same as Harvard Business School classes or requirements, and no Harvard Business School faculty teach at the Extension School. Faculty tend to be from other universities — looking at the first page of the faculty directory, I see Hult International Business School, Southern New Hampshire University, and many people working in industry.

      Generally speaking, the liberal arts and science classes are more likely to have Harvard faculty, including tenured professors. But there are also professors from other schools in the Boston area. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I have described in my article about the “Harvard Instructor” requirement.

      • There are a few HBS “online” courses that are offered for credit in the ALM Management programs. There will be many more that will be available as time progresses.

        Does anyone think graduating from an ALM program would help get into HBS?

    • The requirement also to enter the School are actually what a good school should look for.

      I mean a good school turn people good and why not better than other school student. If the selection before entering the school , then it is difficult to qualified the school.

      If the reputation of harvard is made on the selection and not the class, then why people bother to do harvard? just do the selection and leave.

  17. Hi ilamont,
    I wonder if the children of ALM Alumni will got the legacy status when they apply to Harvard?
    Do you have any up-to-date information about legacy benefit of HES Alumni
    Thank You

    • You mean, apply to Harvard College?

      Maybe there is a little bump (as there would be for children of graduates from Harvard Graduate School of Dental Medicine or the Kennedy School) but it’s not the same as children of Harvard College graduates.

      There is no point to having Harvard “legacy” connections when applying to any Harvard Extension School programs. It’s a true meritocracy – you have to prove you can handle the coursework before gaining admission.

  18. Thanks for the details. Sounds like people seem to think you can drop your life and move to Cambridge. I can’t! I live and work in Alabama. So putting ES will help potential employers understand why I’m not living in two places at once. It’s really that simple. Folks like me over 35 can’t rearrange their lives. Don’t think they would penalize folks like us simply for not taking the class on campus. Plus the journalism one requires partial campus work.

  19. I rolled my eyes looking at the “correct” way to list the Harvard degree on a resume. Looks like elitism to me. Perhaps more than a few of the “traditional” alumni are butthurt that internet was not around when they attended. Don’t blame the past, present, and potential online students. Blame Harvard. Like it or not, online studies is looking more and more to be the future of college education. If that offends the traditional students that badly, then tell the higher ups to end the Extension School, because nobody wants to pay hard-earned money and work their butts off for a degree from ANY college that forces them to use an asterisk.

    • Has anyone done a real study of HES v. HCollege BAs/ABs salaries upon graduation controlling for age e.g. 22 yr olds, graduate degrees e.g. MAs, PhDs, JDs, MDs, etc and years work experience e.g.. 5 years out, 10 yrs out, 15, 20,25,30 yrs out–the data collected at successive 5 year alumni surveys–to Harvard sociology or econometric standards (peer reviewed, published)? These data would go a long way to validate the (equal?) value of HES degrees. Thanks, Lyle Spencer AB ’66, MBA ’71, PhD ’70 Univ of Chicago (Statistics)

      • No such study has been performed, as far as I know. Controlling for age, degrees, and other variables would be difficult considering the differing natures of the student bodies and degrees provided by the two institutions.

      • Yea and Harvard ould never let have the data. There are too many HES alum in the following categories:

        1. Spouses of ealth Harvard Alum who have the time and desire the affiliation (Ann Romney, wife of Mitt Romney).

        2. HES students often already have careers, where the other schools explicitly bar students from working while in school. If you compared HES graduates to GSAS graduates in the abismal academic labor market, HES grads earnings would like average out to be much higher. I personally make way more than any of my friends graduating from GSAS, even those going in to private sector research. Not because HES is better or I am smarter, it’s just that they have spent 5-8 years in school afger their undergrad and I have been building a successful career during that time.

        My curren income, as I graduate fwith my ALM this month, is higher than the reported starting salary for HBS MBAs and HLS JDs. Many will probably catch up and out pace me and many wont.

        3. it will raise questions about where HES donor funding is used. HES provides very little institutional aid (relative to similar part-time programs at other schools you wouldn’t be totally wrong to say they offer virtually none), yet have many millionaires as graduates. You’re telling me none of these people are donated money to HES? They probably are, but HES is a department within a division of FAS.

      • There is no comparison. We of Harvard College proper out-earn the ‘extension school‘ rabble by several times. Is it not obvious? My family is a legacy and many legacy families’ attorneys have banded together to sue for a stop to this nonsense, have the dean removed and that quaint, fraudulent excrement box shuttered. This has caused far enough ruckus and confusion. The elite industries are hiring applicants with ‘extension degrees’, mind you, paying them much less. However, the fact remains that one cannot simply transcend lower social confines to suddenly end up a Harvard graduate! That is preposterous! We who are of those whom have attended for generations, for nearly 400 years, will not be pilloried by the shoddy, half-cocked efforts of mere commoners. We will see this ‘extension school’ shut down, you have my father’s word.

        • I’m not affiliated in any way with HES or Harvard College. But I do have to reply to that hilarious comment from “Taylor” above.

          This person obviously doesn’t think “commoners” ever get into Harvard College. If I had to guess, I’d say that comment is actually satire.

    • The Extension School was established in 1910. It’s not an internet era kind of school.

  20. I feel a lot of the comments on this issue are skirting (avoiding) answering the direct question…is the degree from Harvard Extension comparable to the one from Harvard College, both in regards to academic rigor and cache carried? The problem I’m recognizing is the tendency to compare apples to oranges – not weighing a Student A vs Student B where, except for where they obtained their degrees, all other variables are proximate in similarities.

    Not having attended either HES nor Harvard College, I cannot personally speak to academic rigor differences…except to say that the faculty that teaches at Harvard College tend to bring to bear more substantial academic training in the specific field they teach; hence, for example, preparation for further study (doctorate, post-doctorate) in a given curriculum seems more embodied in the Harvard College regimen.

    The matter of reputation is, to my mind, where some obfuscating is being engaged in comment narratives. Like it or not, if one proclaim they graduated from Harvard, the imagery it provokes is the “iconic” one – it is going to raise eyebrows if a later “clarification” reveals that the degree was earned while in the company of classmates who may not necessarily be as talented as is regarded the typical Harvard coed, even if the responding individual may personally embody all the attributes of someone who “could have” attended Harvard College. I think it goes without saying that there are many graduates of Harvard Extension who are as deserving of accolades for their achievement as the “day school” graduate garners – but the potential for a given graduate of HES being “marginal” (for lack of a better term) relative to the Harvard College graduate is absolutely a consideration some employment recruiters are bound to contemplate. Fair or unfair.

  21. I’m a frequent hiring manager who has seen this many times. If you say Harvard University without any mention of “extension”, then you are trying to trick me, and your resume goes in the trash for lack of integrity.

    Most of the value in a Harvard college degree derives from the fact that you were admitted. Completing the coursework is good and important but actually worth significantly less economically. The Harvard college degree demonstrates that at the time of admission you were one of the top students in the nation, and that correlates well with many other desirable attributes. The Harvard extension school degree demonstrates some measure of commitment, but it’s not nearly as valuable.

    In the real world, extension school graduates attempt to trick hiring managers all the time, and succeed enough that this is quite possibly a successful strategy.

    But the places you want to work; where you work alongside greatness and can learn from it; won’t be fooled.

    Put down Harvard Extension School and walk in with your head held high.

    • So there is “open applications” to Harvard college–many students apply on a lark. My kid’s HS had a lot of that. Then they choose 5-6 percent and nearly all receive a degree from Harvard. So about 5 out of 100 from the open applications process end up with a degree. In HES, there is (somewhat) open applications as well, though expensive. It is widely published that 5 percent see the program through and earn a Harvard University degree.

    • Jason, it is Harvard University. That’s what is written on the diploma, “in the real world”, as you say. If that bothers you, take it up with Harvard.

      For the other point, Harvard is not an HR pre-filter. If you select Harvard students solely based on the fact that they were admitted after high-school, then you missed the whole point about what Harvard University is all about. It’s Harvard’s education that matters, not high-school SAT results.

      I would recommend you the ALM management program, as clearly you lack key managerial and decision-making skills. Good luck if you make it past the admission courses.

      • My thoughts exactly. If all that matters to him is a teenager outperforming other teenager during the Harvard admission process and not the actual education and commitment to get a degree while having a career and most likely a family – you tossing my HES resume would be a blessing. I hope and pray that all other employers with this mindset do the same. Apparently you can get accepted into Harvard College and drop out the same day and still be seen as more valuable than an actual adult with a career and a Harvard degree through HES. LOL!

    • How is the person tricking you? a graduate of Harvard extension is considered a Harvard Alumni with all its benefits. So, how are they lying?

      • So you’re hiring someone because of “how” they got admitted and not how they performed?

        so in the military there are officers ( I know we all know this). These officers are naval academy graduates, college graduates who applied directly after earning their degree from traditional or online universities , and officers who earned their status from rising through the enlisted ranks ( no college degree requirement). However, every officer is treated the same, salute is rendered to all and all wear the same insignia. You cannot distinguish one from the other because they are all Naval Officers! Different avenues to destination but all met the necessary competence to be commissioned as officers. So, HES, HBS, etc… all met the requirements placed before them and earned their way to Harvard. Let’s be clear, significant number of HES students can likely earn their way to Harvard college. The priority for HES is to accommodate intelligent working adults (many with dependents) unable to live on campus or need the flexibly for studies. Many students at respected colleges are unable to maintain a B on 3 consecutive courses just to earn the right to process an application … give HES students some credit… better yet we should change the subject to how well HES fairs with other colleges with similar programs or even other traditional colleges??

    • Jason, the truth is that this nonsensical chop shop needs to be shut down. It is no better than if a community college offered a graduate degree. As my father always says, the cream ultimately rises to the top.

  22. True, an HES graduate degree is not the same as a GSAS graduate degree in the same way that a GSAS graduate degree is not the same as an HSG graduate degree, which is not the same as an HMS graduate degree, itself not the same as an HDS degree and so on. Nonetheless, in all cases where a Masters degree is offered by 11 of the 12 schools of the University, a Masters degree is a Masters degree is a Masters degree. There is absolutely nothing false in an HES alum saying they hold a Masters degree from Harvard.

  23. This is all pretty interesting to me as a certificate holder and adult learner. I think the benefits of HES classes are significant, in my pond. Folks who look at my resume would be comparing the classes I took and got As and Bs in and say, “Wow, Harvard at night; “The Gates Unbarred” kind of stuff. Sounds challenging.” Did I kick butt in high school and on the SAT and spend 4 years in a dorm and press the flesh with Mark Zuckerberg and so-and-so’s daughter? No. Did I take X number of classes from perhaps the best institution in the world? Yes. It is what it is; it’s not anything to be ashamed of, but by the same token, it’s not 40 or 50 classes competing against all those elite brainiacs at age 18-21. I think the preparation I’ve received in my field has been solid. I don’t know what to advise about resumes, but I know I wear the HES t-shirt.

  24. I came across this thread because I’m helping my wife search for a good graduate school. I have worked for different corporate giants and as well small enterprise businesses and few times been involved in hiring of new intakes. Resume is a critical record for hiring but experience will teach to be mindful and attentive when reviewing resume and interviewing applicants for job. Quite honestly I believe new approach should be introduced into the hiring process to meet with new challenges in innovation and leadership in the workplace. Regarding differentiation between Harvard College degree and Harvard Extension degree, this is simply a principle of valuation and both sides of the coin derive their pride in its worth. The problem is bad elements that do not acknowledge the benefit nor are they content in the value of their HES degree.

  25. Hi everyone,

    I personally would choose Harvard Extension School due it flexibility and affordability at the same time.

    Has anyone taken the Instructional Design Certificate? Do you think it will help me in my career if I already have about a ten years of experience in the field? I am interested to work for an international company and gain global experience.

  26. Can you get into the Harvard club with HES degree? YES. That says it all. You can now develop your connections and move on with your life. All this crap just for what is stated on the resume. My employer didn’t give a crap about my schooling. Once they saw my experience and activities they were drooling. HES is awesome and is the future. Full time work and online schooling is not an easy task for anyone. Be proud and have fun. Life’s too short. GODSPEED.

  27. People can argue about anything… HES gives clear guidelines on documenting the achievement. It is a degree from Harvard University. That is a fact. Any graduate will walk in the commencement on the Harvard campus and the degree is conferred through Harvard University.

    It is also true that the program is through the department of continuing education or the extension school. That is also a fact.

    Bottom line is, follow the documented guidelines and list the degree as a ALM in Extension Studies, Harvard University. Or alternatively use ALM in area of study, Harvard Extension School – Harvard University.

    If a person reviewing resumes is worried about the listing on a resume instead of the expertise and knowledge gained in the program then who cares? Move on. That particular person is nobody…means nothing in the big picture.

    I already have an MBA and a PhD. However, I am about to complete an ALM degree program. The experience has been phenomenal.

    The professors have been great. I like that some of the professors have written the text books being used at Harvard and other programs outside of Harvard. Once you are an accepted student in HES your class choices will open to classes taught through some of the other schools within Harvard.

    I love the on-campus classes and the ability to mix on-campus and online. Sitting in class on campus is cool. Walking around campus between classes, or going into the new student center, or into the libraries with your Harvard University Student ID, it’s a great experience.

    I love sitting in the Starbucks overlooking Harvard Square. People watching in the Harvard yard or hanging out in the Plaza to grab a bite to eat from a food truck, where I like to sit by the fire pit and listen to the music… It’s a cool Harvard University experience. I am pretty sure people from every Harvard school, including the students from the extension school, have that same experience.

    You know who doesn’t have that experience? The “recruiter” who is consumed by the form used on a resume instead of talking about experiences from a great academic program. Again, please ignore people like that because he/she is irrelevant.

    I only go on campus every couple months, but I do cherish the experience. I will follow the published guidelines for documenting my achievement. Most of all, I will love it that my kids will see dad has a degree from Harvard University hanging on the wall.

    Of course, I am too old to care too much about what other people think. For me, my experience on the Harvard University campus (through the extension program) has been great.

    I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    • Or don’t because why don’t they have guidelines for the other schools? I school can’t tell you how to list your degree as long as you don’t lie about. Just because someone puts guidelines on a website doesn’t mean there is any merit to them or value in following them. And frankly, they change their guidelines so often that they have sort of made it impossible to follow.

  28. Lol, the mistake is confusing what people really are buying with a Harvard student: pre-selection.

    Harvard students have beaten out 95% of applicants in their year on applying.

    What people buy with a Harvard student is the *selection* process…the actual professors being the same etc, etc..is not relevant.

      • Is preselection–which I take to be that anyone can apply, but a fraction are given “acceptance” letters–fundamentally different from HES where anyone can apply (by passing CRWS test, taking prescribed courses with acceptable grades going through the application process) but only a fraction are given “acceptance” letters? The rates for HES ALM are 15-20 percent according to the Wiki page–that appears to fall in the middle range of Harvard’s graduate programs.

    • *laughs as a 32 y/o transfer student with an actual established career and a 4.21 GPA when the average GPA of admitted students at Harvard is 4.15*

      Whatever makes you feel special, honey. Let’s also ignore that a vast majority of those 95% are students who apply to Harvard via Common App “just because” lmao. Let’s act like that a real competition that you beat. If the selection process is all that matters than I hope you stayed consistent with you views and dropped out right after being admitted, since everything else is not relevant. LOL!

  29. The truth is HES beats out most of the students in their program. You can see this in the number of students who graduate from their programs, last year (2018) it was 1053 students.

    If it really was as inferior a product as some would think, what prevents the average state school grad from just grabbing an easy degree from HES? A lot of state schools are every bit as expensive as HES. So what keeps the low-quality and mid-quality students out?

    Based on their outcomes and how many students make it through their programs, I would say that HES is every bit as rigorous and difficult to get through as other Harvard University schools.

  30. I got my ALM back in the mid-1990s before the internet – so I took all my classes on campus. But, if on line classes were available back then, I probably wouldn’t have have taken any because I lived pretty close to campus, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent in The Yard.

    In reading the comments above, I didn’t notice anyone mention that all degree programs at HES are approved by Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). FAS grants degrees through Harvard College, GSAS, and HES. My degree has the signature of the President of Harvard University, the Dean of HES, and the Dean of FAS. Although in Latin, the degree is from Harvard University not Harvard University Extension School (just like every other Harvard school degree which doesn’t list the individual school), it states that it is being conferred by the President and Fellows of Harvard College (just like every other Harvard school degree), and has the University crest on it, not the HES crest (just like every other Harvard school degree doesn’t have the individual school crest). It is no less a Harvard degree than any from HBS, Kennedy School, etc. It grants full alumni status, and I vote for the Harvard University Board of Trustees each year.

    The other thing I didn’t see mentioned above is that no other Harvard school has a requirement for how its graduates should list their degree on their resume. Do you think it would be fraudulent for someone who earns a law degree (JD) from Harvard Law School to list their degree as Harvard University, Juris Doctor? Of course not, because no other school at Harvard University other than the Law School grants a JD. Likewise, no school at Harvard University other than HES grants an ALB or ALM.

    Moreover, who the hell do the powers that be at HES think they are to tell us how to list things on our resume? I graduated from Harvard University – and that’s not a lie.

    • It considered to be for a simple reason–it is. I had Harvard College, Kennedy, Design and HBS students in my classes. These people and I gained credit the same way, and they rightly claim to be Harvard University graduates, as do I.

  31. I’m a disabled person. My purpose for looking at HES is simply for the pleasure of learning. Unfortunately, barring a significant leap in medicine, it is unlikely I will ever need to worry about the “proper” way to designate a degree on my resume.

    With that said, I find the University’s stance on this topic to be bizarre. If I understand it correctly, the actual work through the HES program is on par with the college in regards to what it takes to earn a degree and the quality of work. Is this essentially correct? When I look at the number of students attending the University through the HES school, it appears to me actual graduates of the various programs are significantly less. For this reason I find the argument concerning selectivity to be poorly reasoned.

    People are accepted into Harvard College for a myriad of reasons not solely predicated on their level of prior academic performance and/or test scores. I find the idea that a person attending the University through the usual college track being assumed superior over a candidate with a degree through HES to be absurdly presumptuous. In my opinion, what truly matters is one showing the capability to complete a Harvard University degree program.

    There are undoubtedly undergrads accepted into the College every year (at least on paper) less qualified than others declined. If a person declined then attends HES and through exceptional performance earns a degree, how can one rationally assume one candidate is superior to the other based solely on a traditional path opposed to a non-traditional path? At least to me, the requirement one would need to specify a non-traditional path on their resume over the degree earned from Harvard University, simply isn’t rational. In my opinion, it reflects poorly on the University to require this delineation.

    • If I understand it correctly, the actual work through the HES program is on par with the college in regards to what it takes to earn a degree and the quality of work. Is this essentially correct?

      No, they are not. Very different candidates, curricula, and student experiences. Yes, there is some overlap in coursework and requirements, and some Extension School students are able to participate in Harvard College classes at an equivalent or even superior level (this, according to a College professor some years back who reported 1 or 2 HES online students had received the top scores in an exam).

      Bottom line: The AB/ALB degrees are not equivalent, and they should have different names. The same is true for graduate-level AM and ALM degrees. But it is a travesty to force Extension School degrees to be “in Extension Studies,” rather than listing the concentration.

      • Thank you for the response. That was the same issue (requirement to have Extension) I was referring to. I see now it’s not as clear as I had intended. My viewpoint is likely similar to yours. Simply list the specific degree you earned as it is designated.

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

        Is an example listed as approved.

        Not listed as approved, but actually used on the Extension School’s website “Success Stories”, an example of a student’s credentials are listed in this manner:

        Master of Liberal Arts in the field of International Relations

        What I’m getting at is the second example in my opinion should work fine on a resume.

        On the flip side, anyone listing their ALM as being an AM is being dishonest.

        Personally none of this will impact me if I choose to go with Harvard. Even if I could still work full time, I don’t see it as an issue in my part of the country. With that said, I’m sensitive to the required use of “Extension Studies” negatively impacting a graduate in a more competitive market place such as can be found on the east coast. In particular, I see potential disadvantage when competing with a graduate of a competing Ivy. I see it as unacceptable if employment decision makers downgrade a candidate because they didn’t go through the “highly competitive selection” found at the Ivy League schools when they were fresh out of high school. I think risking a reduction in competitiveness of the degree in comparison to competing Universities like Yale or Brown is not in the best interest of the University.

        Again, thank you for the response! I haven’t made a final decision, but I must say that Harvard’s teaming me up with an admissions counselor right out of the gate is very impressive.

      • Agree on the AB/ALB thing but not the master’s, There are too many master’s around Harvard to make the comparison. All Ed School master’s require only 8 classes. Some master’s are awarded simply enroute to a PhD. So the ALM is, based on whatever measurement you are considering, a higher caliber degree than some master’s programs.

  32. Reading quite a bit about the trend of extension and online education, I’ve noticed that the institutions are more interested in generating revenue than educating students.

    Harvard, included.

    There’s a great deal of money to be made with extension studies, and to think the colleges are thinking primarily for the students welfare is down right foolish.

    It’s just marketing for the masses. Although I agree that the student has expended a great deal of time, effort, and money, his or her extension degree can never have the same value as the on campus earned degree, gotten with not only effort, but the connections required for traditional admission.

    I wish I were wrong.

    • You may be wrong. There is a great deal of money to be made running Harvard College (endowment $40 billionish and rising). Virtually none of this came from Extension. By your logic then, Harvard College would have very little interest in educating those in the College (this is my phrasing of not looking out for their welfare). In fact, the College is the real cash cow. Do you then believe that College degrees are devalued?

      • That endowment is for the entire harvard university system. Not the college. The school that contributes the most in terms of alumni donations is actually the law school (and you can tell if you have ever walked around their campus which looks like a resort compared to the rest of Harvard).

        • Yes, I agree that Law may now contribute more these days, but the College has contributed much over many years. So does the above logic also imply that Harvard need not really take teaching law seriously?

      • The ‘extension school’ should not even exist. This is a travesty, an insult, to all those who applied and were accepted to Harvard College proper. The entity is fraudulent just for existing. There is a lawsuit to have it removed as it has damaged reputations.

        • Taylor ,

          How feebleminded of you to claim Harvard Extension School is a fraudulent entity .

          In the HES Data Science program, my classmates and I attended prestigious universities such as Columbia, Yale, Vanderbilt , UPenn. Not only did many of us attend these institutions but there are more than a few who earned 3.7+ GPAs in Computer Science and Mathematics programs. Why did we choose to enroll in HES rather than apply to Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences? We are full-time employees of Wells Fargo, Google, IBM, DOD,etc. And as such we need the flexibility of working and taking classes.

          Rather than spend our days as keyboard warriors condemning an institution we can only hope to complete a degree in , we’re making a difference in both a professional and academic context.

          Ask how Harvard College undergraduates and HGSAS/ SEAS graduates feel about their professional peers in Summer courses like Introduction to Data Science . That is if you know anybody who actually attends Harvard.

          I am sorry you seem to have such disdain for a program you know nothing about nor enrolled in. I wish you the best and hope you find peace in spreading positivity rather than hatred.

        • Should damages be awarded to all Harvard College grads all the way back to 1910, which was the year HES was created?

        • Thank you for this idiotic comment

          I saw this response on Google and went in only to read amazing people debunking your unpalatable comment.

          Hope you have already reviewed your opinion!
          All the best, God bless you.

          – Proud HES and HCollege accepted student

  33. I have my own experience. B.Sc from top public engineering schools. Masters of Engineering form Cornell. EMBA from top-rated program. Online certificate. Currently, considering HES. Life is simple. It is whatever you take from it!

    • For those people who are those “life-long learners” who just love to take classes, I think HES is a great option.

      For those people who are looking to advance their careers by earning a master’s degree, I think there are better options than HES. Having a degree in actual fields like “computer science”, “management”, or “data science” can be far more compelling on a resume than listing “extension studies”.

      Furthermore, there are many more online or hybrid options available nowadays. Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Northwestern, and many more top-rated schools offer master’s degrees online.

      MOOCs like Coursera offer an Ivy League master’s degree for quite a bit cheaper than HES. Heck, edX offers $10K master’s degrees from Georgia Tech, a top 10 engineering school.

      HES may have been one of the few distance-friendly options around a decade ago, but the landscape has changed a lot since then. And none of these other options give you a degree in “Extension Studies”, but instead you can earn actual degrees in computer science, analytics, data science, systems engineering, bioinformatics, and more.

      Unless changes are made, HES will continue to become a less compelling option for many people looking to advance their careers via a master’s degree.

      That being said, I think HES is a nice option for Harvard employees who get to take classes as one of their benefits. I also think that getting a degree in extension studies from HES is not a bad option for those pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

      For a master’s degree, I think “extension studies” is just a horrible field to have listed on your transcript and resume, given that graduate degrees are suppose to highlight one’s more focused study of a field than the more generalized education one receives from a bachelor’s degree.

      But anyways, step up Harvard!

      • Good points, and Harvard indeed needs to enter the 21st century at some point. As an aside, many critics of Harvard Extension have pointed out that students’ achievements will be found on their transcripts—they seem to infer that this lessens the value of their degrees by mentioning the Extension school. Maybe there is something there, I don’t know. On the other hand, transcripts define the course work, and can serve to counter the meaningless (and misleading) extension studies label. So employers have the information, should they choose to use it.

  34. My ALM degree in government proved extremely useful in getting an entry-level position as a CIA analyst. Several hiring officers commented positively on my thesis on Yugoslav politics. I initially served as an East European analyst and later spent a decade following Middle East politics. The Agency loaned me to the Dept. of State on several occasions and I served in Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon. I retired from the CIA after 25 years. Thanks Harvard.

    ALM ’84

  35. Very interesting thread! Let me throw a curveball into the conversation.

    I am planning on matriculating to HES’s Data Science ALM Degree Program via the MITx MicroMasters® Program Pathway.

    Has anyone been accepted via any of the micromasters programs that are available? (MITx’s Data Science and Logistics and Supply chain management are some options)

    Offered in partnership with edX, will this “micromaster” degree from MIT in conjunction with an ALM degree from HES be looked as a “backdoor” to achieving a certified degrees from both MIT and Harvard?

    I feel that with globalization and the propensity of virtual/hybrid education (especially during this current global crisis) more and more higher tiered institutions will provide prospective students with similar opportunities going forward. In fact, Boston University’s Questom School of Business JUST launched an online MBA effort in partnership with edX as well..lower tuition, fully online option.

    Not sure if I missed the following in this very long thread, but see below:


    The following degrees are awarded by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Harvard University:

    Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies cum laude or Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies:
    – cumulative GPAs, areas of concentration, fields of study, minors, certificates, prizes, and academic awards are displayed on your Harvard transcript.

    Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies:
    – all FAS master’s degree diplomas are printed in Latin and fields are not displayed. Fields of study, cumulative GPAs, certificates, prizes, and academic awards appear on your Harvard transcript.

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

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

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

    Thank you all for the insight!

    • Thanks U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant,

      I know you are not the only one coming over from the MITx program. I think it’s a great educational opportunity if it can translate to career opportunities.

      Regarding the degree name/resume guidelines: Yes, this has been hashed over quite a bit already. As you noted, the guidelines include “Extension School” or “Extension Studies.” I follow the former. Many people choose to ignore the guidelines and use “Harvard University,” sometimes to mislead or obfuscate the origin of their degree. Read the thread to learn the various viewpoints.

      Good luck, Ian

      • Awesome, thank you for the follow up Ian. Best of luck to you as well!

        • Also, it should be noted that a Micromaster certificate from edX is technically not accredited. While it is true to MIT and Harvard co-founded edX, edX is not, in and of itself, an accredited organization.

          On that regard, getting a graduate certificate, such as one in data science, from Harvard Extension School would be considered accredited.

      • if it’s misleading to use “Harvard University” for HES students, it’s just as misleading to use it for all the students of every other school that’s not Harvard College. There’s no such requirement for them and nobody accuses them of misleading or obfuscating the origin of their degree.

  36. I am considering the HES too, but same to others who doubt it, and might turnaround my decision.

    “If enough people do so and do as well in their careers as they did while at HES, the reputation of the Harvard Extension School will grow”

    I found out that the Extension has been more than 100 years since 1910. Here comes to a question: Is that enough to build the reputation? How come people are still having the same arguments? Why there are still employers who think its fraud when someone leaves out “Extension” on their resume?

    The only answer I can think of is, It is what is it. HES can’t “technically” represent the traditional Harvard University.

  37. I admit I find Harvard’s lukewarm acceptance of the degrees they give in the Extension School wholly disheartening. I have an ALM in Extension Studies in the field of Government but as it is not a “Harvard College” degree, I have started to remove it out of my resume to avoid any questioning (I have a BSEE from MIT, so “worthiness” to attend Harvard has never been an issue). Simply put, it feels as if Harvard is more than happy to take our money and then go out of their way to diminish the value of the work we put into it, including classes and a thesis done with tenured Harvard faculty. I enjoyed the coursework and what I learned but Harvard’s attitude makes my degree not really worthwhile otherwise.

    • For what it is worth, it is not like Harvard University ever intended the Extension School to be as highly regarded as the other schools in the University. HES served as their adult education community outreach offering, as an employee perk, and as a pseudo-for profit school… and it worked, with HES having more students than the rest of the University combined.

      But what Harvard never wanted was to have HES be considered as an equal in terms of reputation to the likes of Harvard College, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, etc.

      Personally, I think HES is a great option for those looking for a somewhat cheap education (though nowadays there are much cheaper options) with some amount of flexibility (though, again, there are much more flexible options out there) and little or no barrier to entry (aka, no traditional admissions process that practically requires you to be a National Merit Finalist and still only admitting 4.5% of applicants). For Harvard employees, the nearly free cost of taking classes makes HES a truly appealing choice.

      But, HES is not quite so good when it comes to adding the prestigious “Harvard” name to one’s resume. “Extension Studies” will be the added baggage that the University will always insist on thrusting upon your resume…. both in the name of the school and for your major.

      Try to list “software engineering” as your major on a job application and you might run into the headache of having to explain why the company’s background check showed you as an “extension studies” major.

      Or, say you apply to a company that had a Harvard College or HBS graduate as one of your job application reviewers, who knows how said person would react to an applicant with a degree from HES. Maybe the reviewer would be fine with it. But it is possible that reviewer might take the “that’s not really Harvard” viewpoint. While I personally would view HES as a positive, it could also be a liability depending on who is looking. This is generally not an issue for those coming from the other schools at Harvard.

      If you want an education, HES is a great choice.
      If you want to advance your career, depending on the field, HES may still be a great choice. But if you want to add Ivy League cred to your resume, HES could be a mixed bag.

      • Reading this answer confirms my intuition about essentially ignoring my ALM when I talk about resume credibility. It’s just baggage, especially compared to my MIT degree or even my HBS GMP (which the school doesn’t go out of its way to “extend”).

        Of course, the whole thing gets even more aggravating when one thinks about the Kushner “merit” path to Harvard College.

        • A study of Harvard College admissions between 2009 – 2015 showed that while normal student applicants had a 5.9% acceptance rate, being a legacy applicant greatly increased your chances of being admitted to 34%.

          For the Harvard College class of 2022, applicants from big donor families had a 42.2% admission rate, compared to the 4.59% overall admission rate.

          But, of course, the best way of getting admitted into Harvard College has nothing to do with academics whatsoever. Recruited athletes are accepted 90% of the time. No wonder parents like Lori Loughlin paid $500,000 to fake that her 2 daughters were recruited athletes. Not enough money to be considered a big donor, but enough to sway a school’s recruiting athletic coach.

          • In defense of student-athletes at highly selective universities/colleges, they tend to be relatively good students. Plus, many of the Ivy League institutions don’t solely base their decisions on academics. You have plenty of students who also have stellar ACT/SAT scores, high GPAs, multiple AP credits, and numerous distinctions in extracurricular activities. The student-athlete’s distinction is in his respective sport.

            I’ve known a good number of student-athletes at highly selective universities/colleges and they aren’t what I’ll call intellectually mediocre or dumb. They fit right into the academic atmosphere of their school and carry their weight in their studies.

            I think it’s a double standard to single out student-athletes yet forget that actors/actresses – or even students whose rise to fame is activism – gain admittance into coveted universities/colleges on the basis of their celebrity status or politics and not on their academic profile. I’d wager student-athletes are probably more impressive than any acclaimed actor/actress once we get down to it, and are arguably the more well-rounded students on a given campus, be it Harvard, Notre Dame, Stanford or U of M.

  38. I completely disagree. I Have graduate degree from Columbia University. Harvard, like Columbia, is divided into schools. At Columbia, Columbia College and other Schools can award undergraduate and graduate degrees. Some of the schools are more “prestigious” than others but they are all Columbia University schools and all Columbia University degrees. The Extension School at Harvard is just another school equal to all other schools with rights to the Harvard name. It is not a lesser degree, nor should it require any additional explanation in its presentation in society or on resumes.

    • In this case, there are differences between Harvard and Columbia.

      Harvard Extension School strictly awards just the Bachelors and Masters of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies. HES also does not have a traditional competitive application process, instead allowing folks to take 3 or so classes that, if they get B’s or better on them, are effectively auto-admtted into the degree program.

      The closest thing Columbia has to HES is the School of Professional Studies (SPS). However, SPS offers Master of Science degrees in actual distinct majors such as Actuarial Science, Applied Analytics, Bioethics, Technology Management, and more (17 majors in total). SPS also has a competitive traditional application process, which includes submission of transcripts, resume, statement of purpose, recommendation letters, supplemental essay, video essay, interview, and, depending on the major, GRE exam scores.

      Columbia Engineering also offers online masters and doctoral degrees in such majors as computer science, mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, and more via CVN (Columbia Video Network). CVN also requires pretty much the same selective admissions process that traditional students have to go through, including submission of transcripts, resume, recommendation letters, personal/professional statement, and GRE exam scores, though those applicants who already have doctoral degrees can get the GRE requirement waived.

      As such, for those who associate a school’s prestige with its admission selectivity, then HES can be considered on a lower footing than both Columbia’s SPS and CVN. Plus, Columbia’s degree offerings are in recognizable and distinct majors, which is better than HES’ non-descriptive extension studies major.

      Really, it is not fair to compare HES with Columbia’s offerings geared towards older, working professionals.

      • I agree with the general tone of your comments, but must take issue with some of the details. Harvard offers a wide variety of masters degrees, a number of which require only 8 courses, compared to 12 for nearly all Extension degrees. So there’s that. In addition, the Extension admission rate for ALB is 32 percent according to former Dean Lambert (he likely knows more about this than all of the internet “experts”) and some basic arithmetic using details about the Extension student body suggests the rate for ALM is roughly in the same neighborhood. This rate is far higher than a number of other Harvard masters and well below others. And not all Harvard graduate programs outside of Extension require GRE scores. So Extension is not the complete outlier many internet “experts” often proclaim. But it’s online (mostly), so that makes it unique? Again, not altogether true.
        And none of this even addresses the myriad admission Procedures that bypass the stated formidable admission barriers often described.
        So when Extension is singled out and so called “internet experts” look the other way when programs at other Harvard schools share some of the same characteristics, Extension graduates have some grounds for complaint regarding their treatment.

        • > “the Extension admission rate for ALB is 32 percent according to former Dean Lambert”

          Could you elaborate what this means? Because if 68% are attempting to apply to the program but are getting rejected, there’s a problem with communicating the requirements, which are very clear and should discourage people from applying if they haven’t met those requirements.

          Ten years ago, the former dean said that for all degree programs, including the undergraduate ALB, the thesis-based ALM programs, and the professional master’s programs, the overall graduation rate relative to the number of people who register for courses is 3% (Source: Dean Michael Shinagel, 2009 address to degree recipients).

          • In 2016, Dean Lambert estimated that 32% of those who intended to pursue an undergraduate degree (ALB) earned the grades necessary and were considered for admission (B or better in 3 classes).

            That is a little bit different than saying “the Extension admission rate for ALB is 32 percent according to former Dean Lambert”

          • Thank you. This makes more sense. It’s a helpful statistic, but it’s not comparable with an “admissions rate” as it is generally understood for colleges and universities.

          • I perhaps was a bit loose in my description of former Dean Lambert’s wording, and if so, I apologize. I assumed that when he said that these students who met the grade hurdle “ were considered for admission” that he inferred the students had applied, in that they could be considered for admission only in this case. If that was in fact the case, it would be more closely equivalent to a traditional view of an acceptance rate (in my mind). If my assumption was not correct, the meaning of his statement regarding acceptance is more vague.

      • You are incorrect about admissions process; I know because I went through the application. The ALM application requires: submission of transcripts for all universities in which a degree was completed, a current résumé, a 500 word essay of your intentions for applying to the specified master’s degree, along with the required passing grades in their pre-admissions courses to be eligible for review of your application.

      • Just a minute mention. Columbia has a direct analogous program to HES which is their, even more generic than ‘Extension’, General Studies degree program.

    • Columbia University’s CVN program goes through the same rigorous admission process as the full-time Master’s program counterpart. I’d say it’s more if not as competitive as the full-time program because the part-time students are often already top caliber in that they work in top companies already.

  39. Agreed. Getting B or better in HES’ three classes cannot be compared to the traditional admission process and acceptance rate of other schools and universities.

    • Your point is right, though I would offer that traditional admission processes—while widely used—are no longer the only process, even among elite universities. Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, the California system and many others including Harvard offer a variety of paths to admission. With SATs now optional at increasing numbers of schools and the “holistic” assessment of students (described by Harvard and others) the meaning of traditional is increasingly fuzzy. It is tempting to defer to the institution as to what admissions criteria are used. They, after have this authority and the right to employ it in whatever forms they deem appropriate.

  40. I think the confusion over the names is Harvard’s intention. Harvard wants Extension School students to pay a bloated price for having the Harvard name next to their degrees. If Harvard wanted to avoid confusion, HES degrees would not have the name “Harvard” in them at all. Of course, without the misleading “Harvard” name in the degree name, students would not be willing to pay the bloated price for the degree and would opt to attend a different school. Knowing that it would lose income, Harvard perpetuates the fraud of its own creation. Use whatever degree name you choose. The confusion is Harvard’s fault and intention, not yours. You paid the price for the “Harvard” name. Go ahead and use it.

  41. I figured I would weigh in with my experience as well. I graduated with my ALM in 2017 with a concentration in History. I had the opportunity to work with a highly respected emeritus historian from the Divinity School, who supervised my thesis. I am active duty Air Force, and my HES master’s degree enabled me to get hired on to teach at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. I’ve been on the faculty at USAFA for the past two years. The Air Force selected to me pursue my PhD in History, and I’ll be started at Oxford University in October. I was also accepted at Cambridge, Duke, and Johns Hopkins. I’ve always been up front about the ALM/HES, and it’s never seemed to matter. The quality of the work you do matters (e.g., your thesis), as well as the weight of an endorsement or recommendation from a well-known Harvard faculty member. My ALM degree has opened up a lot of doors in academia for me that I would not have had access to otherwise.

    • Fantastic, Myles! As a fellow ALM History grad, I absolutely agree with your observation about working with top faculty (emeritus or otherwise) at Harvard. My thesis director was FAS and really helped me take my research idea to the next level and create a thesis that I am not only proud of, but is occasionally cited or referenced by other scholars. He also offered to help me with a job search in Washington D.C. if I was interested (my research area was China, and there were opportunities in government or think-tank type research).

      Thank you for being up front about your Harvard Extension School association, too. This helps all of us to further the reputation of the quality of the HES programs.

      Good luck to you as you continue your education at Oxford!

      Ian (ALM ’08)

      • Ian, thanks a lot. Appreciate this platform for HES grads to share their experiences and perspectives.

  42. I have been a proud HES student for the past year and I will proudly put ALM, Harvard Extension School on my resume when I graduate. The fact is that a prospective HES graduate student needs to get a B or better in the program’s Harvard faculty-taught preliminary classes that are paid for first in full (without financial aid) IN ORDER TO APPLY to the official HES graduate program. In other words, the applicant PROVES excellence in the actual graduate work at HES via those preliminary classes FIRST. Those classes are then applied toward the applicant’s graduate degree. I have found it to be an incredibly worthwhile investment and the most rewarding and challenging educational experience I have ever had. Most traditional graduate programs require that the applicant supply the undergraduate degree or GMAT score that indicates POTENTIAL excellence in the actual HES graduate work.

  43. Pointing out specific and numerous program deficiencies does not help ALM Management alumni like myself land a job easier in this difficult job market. I wanted to start a different blog about all my misadventures as a FAS staff member and student for the five years I was on-campus. (But a fellow alumna from the same program talked me out of it.) I enjoyed reading this blog and back then, the now defunct extensionstudent.com website before and during my years spent on campus. But now as an alum, I ask: what is the goal of publishing how HBS professors may be prohibited from teaching at HES? Or that the Harvard Instructor requirement was dropped? Or how the ALM Management/ Finance programs are not AACSB accredited? I could go on. Can these bullet points possibly plant a seed of doubt in the mind of a hiring manager who come across this? Most probably. The negative perception of the Extension School has been, unfortunately, widely known for quite some time. Perception equals reality! The reputation of the Extension School will remain diminished if all these negative aspects continue to be pointed out. (Which is the reason why I will not publish previously unknown information.) HES alumni will continue to “hide” their true affiliation on their LinkedIn profile and in casual conversations. I wish I can do well enough on the GMAT to get into the fifth ranked B- School and then graduate. Employers would then overlook the fact that I graduated from the Extension School and I would not have to struggle explaining all the nuances in a job interview!

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective as an ALM/M alum. However, if you want only happy talk about the Extension School, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’ve been blogging about the Extension School for 15 years, and write not only about the good things (such as the school raising admissions standards for professional programs including the ALM Management), but also the not-so-good things. You are welcome to disagree with me, but please don’t ask me to stop sharing my opinions or republishing facts that are often listed right on the Extension School website.

      As I have said before, I think the Harvard Extension School has erred offering degrees where it’s possible for students to never take a class with Harvard faculty. A “Harvard education” really means something, and promoting situations for students to study at Harvard without learning from Harvard’s top-notch professors and researchers waters down that concept.

      That said, as of this writing (2020) there actually are a small number of HBS faculty teaching HES courses, such as V.G. Narayanan, the Thomas D. Casserly, Jr., Professor of Business Administration who teaches accounting at Harvard Business School as well as the Extension School. What a fantastic opportunity for ALM Management students! I urge anyone in these programs to make every effort to take actual classes with Harvard faculty when such courses are available.

      Longer term, what the ALM in Management should strive for is building its own faculty solely focused on the needs of Extension School students, conducting research, and publishing.

  44. I came across the HES just recently whilst researching options to obtain a postgraduate degree alongside  working as an independent consultant based in Europe. I have no intention to enroll in a full-time or a part-time in-person based programme at a university especially not with Covid-19 still going on. So, I am looking to do a self-paced post-graduate online and in-person hybrid degree to enhance my skills and profile. Naturally, I want a top-tier brand on my CV.   Since I came across the controversy around the status of the HES graduates I spend some time reading up all sides of the argument just to understand how it could have come to this point in the first placet. Whilst I don’t want to comment on the many valid points directly my suggestion would be for the school to reconsider its position to the public, towards its HES student body, its HES alumni, and how it represents the value of the HES itself. Harvard appears to be quite passive about the controversy and is not taking ownership of the discussion whatsoever. This is puzzling. If they would publicly declare that HES grads and Harvard College grads are equal no matter what despite the different onboarding process this would take a lot of steam out of the discussion. Plus this would send a strong signal to both the doubters of the validity of an HES degree and those few HES alumni who are ‘economically’ with the truth of their precise Harvard school affiliation. Plus, since Corona has caused a massive shift towards online across pretty much every sector the perception of a partly online-taught degree has changed. If Harvard would also standardise its policy as to how their degrees are to be presented on a CV across all schools/colleges that would also help a lot. Why is there one standard for HES alumni and then another one for the other Harvard schools alumni? Lastly, the term “Extension” may be outdated and its meaning has shifted over the past hundred or so years. Here in the UK the University of Oxford runs the ‘Department for Continuing Education University of Oxford’ (founded around 1850) which appears to be the same as the HES. The only difference is that students can enrol in Bachelor, Master and PhD/DPhil programmes provided they meet Oxford’s admission criteria which are no different than for ‘standard students’. Having said that the Department also takes professional experience into account, thus, applies a more nuanced assessment of the candidate without compromising its own standards. The fees are the same across all programmes as for ‘standard students’. In general students fees in the UK are 50 – 70% less in general than in the US and therefore much more affordable. My point is that here in the UK a discussion of the kind around the HES is totally absent and no one would even dare to doubt any Oxford degree regardless whether it was obtained at the age of 21 or 61. Oxford is Oxford. And I am pretty sure that Oxford itself would quell any discussion and doubt itself right from the outset not to let its reputation slip into miscredit. So in my view the onus is on Harvard to clarify its position in order to clean up the mess and the confusion once and for all. 

    • > Harvard appears to be quite passive about the controversy and is not taking ownership of the discussion whatsoever. This is puzzling.

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your perspective from the UK. I think one reason Harvard hasn’t taken ownership of the discussion is owing to the structure of the University – as they used to say when I worked there, “each tub on its own bottom” meaning each school really operates autonomously. The central administration (Massachusetts Hall, headed by President Bacow) works with a very public voice but a light touch on matters concerning individual schools and programs.

      That said, even though there is a light touch there are rules and norms that keep each school in their respective lanes. Cooperation is common, but lower-profile schools can’t operate too freely in arenas dominated by the powerful schools, and program overlap is frowned upon or actively discouraged (for more on this, read The Gates Unbarred by former HES Dean Michael Shinagel). This is why, in my opinion, the Harvard Extension School is forced to keep the ridiculous “in Extension Studies” designations on degrees, and its business program is technically a “Master of Liberal Arts” even though the curriculum is 100% professional business education.

      Regardless, as I have said on this blog and elsewhere, I think many HES educational offerings represent a high-quality education, especially those courses and programs that have a Harvard faculty connection. Wherever you end up, good luck with your studies.

  45. It might actually advance the quality of your education if your instructor does not have a Harvard teaching appointment. Becoming a Harvard professor with tenure or getting a tenure track position can often be based more in the quality of one’s research, which means that the quality of lectures for students can go downhill from being neglected by advanced researchers.

  46. I likely have more education than anyone on this blog, as well as anyone under the Harvard University umbrella, with a BS, MS, MS, PhD, and PhD (yes, 2 PhDs) from regionally accredited research universities in the US. Complementing my education, I have 34 years of professional experience coupling the fields of engineering and economics. Of those 34 years, I have worked the last 24 years in my own consulting firm…. and though I could have easily retired at 40, I continue to work 16 years later.

    That said, over the decades I have hired numerous Harvard graduates (HC, HBS, GSAS, etc) with advanced degrees (MS, MBA, and PhD) to work in my firm, and I can state as an authority that Harvard University produces very fine employees.

    Think about it.

  47. I have a long career working with Harvard, Princeton, Chicago and other top universities. I have coauthored with some top faculty at the universities as well. Studied under a Nobel laureate—know, fish, have a beer or two with other Nobel laureates. I have had Harvard grads run down data for me—they do—as you suggest—a good job generally, though they do make the same kinds of simple mistakes as do young graduates from other universities. BTW, same with HES graduates.

  48. As an employed middle-aged guy with a stable career who is (finally) finishing his degree by way of the ALB program at HES, I have the luxury of ignoring the East Coast prestige-obsessed point-tallying crowd, and I can simply enjoy the fact that I am taking Harvard classes taught by Harvard professors, in many cases alongside Harvard College students. It’s a great experience for a very reasonable price, considering the value. I would encourage any other HES student to treat it the same way.

    Having said that, Harvard does not give HES or its students and alumni a fair shake. On the one hand, they’re happy to accept HES students’ tuition payments, telling them “hey, you’re a Harvard student, earning a Harvard degree”, all while winking and nodding at the rest of the university and their alumni and the public at large, making sure that the rest of the world sees HES and its students as second-class citizens.

    This was my first year in HES. I took a writing class, two computer science classes and a philosophy class. I received an A in two of the classes, A- in two of the others. Anyone who thinks I was somehow a lesser student is welcome to sign up for CS50 and give it a try for themselves. And yet, while one can replicate a Harvard College program for certain concentrations (such as computer science), it is absolutely true that you can take a much less rigorous set of classes and still wind up with an ALB degree from HES. So, what to do?

    It seems to me that Harvard needs to pick a more honorable path, by either lowering tuition and simply granting certificates, or else raising the bar for the ALB degree program by matching the concentration requirements to the corresponding concentration requirements of the College, and then simply granting the same degrees (maybe call it an ALB instead of an AB, but it would essentially be the same). They could even do both. But something needs to change, because the current arrangement does a disservice to HES and its students.

    • Thanks Kurt, for sharing your experience. I totally agree with your approach of trying to take as many Harvard College classes as possible as well as classes with Harvard professors to get the most out of your experience. The ALB fortunately still has relatively robust Harvard instructor requirements (40% of coursework for people starting from scratch, more for people transferring in credits).

      The same cannot be said for many ALM programs. Some of the professional degrees have ZERO Harvard instructor requirements. The Extension School wanted to expand its degree offerings, and the only way to do it was by watering down or eliminating pesky Harvard teaching requirements.

      I’m not knocking the hard work of HES students or the competency of visiting professors. For my ALM degree, I took some of these classes too, and Harvard College students can get credits for such courses offered through the Summer School.

      But the idea that you can receive a degree from Harvard without ever taking ANY classes under Harvard faculty members is a major mistake. These programs might as well let people transfer in 100% of their credits.

      Of course, no other school at Harvard allows this, further evidence of the Extension School’s second class status.

  49. Out of the 60,000 people a year taking classes at HES only about 400 earn a degree which is pretty selective. Read Harvard College’s course catalog and the read the HES catalog. The lists of professors and their classes is about the same except HES has more offerings than Harvard College because HES also has a graduate program that draws from the other schools within the university system. Given the option to hire an experienced adult who worked full time during the day and earned a Harvard degree at night as well as smart enough to recognize an affordable option like HES to gain an education debt free, that demonstrates true intelligence. Naysayers are just jealous that they missed the HES opportunity because HES will not invite you to apply to earn a degree if you already have one. No you don’t automatically earn a degree at HES. You can take classes at HES, but you have to prove yourself worthy to be invited to apply to a degree program, then you have to be accepted, and finally qualify to be granted the degree. Once you are an HES degree candidate you are a Harvard University student with all the rights and privileges of all the other degree candidates on that campus. Haters are gonna hate because they are just jealous.

    • Out of the 60,000 people a year taking classes at HES only about 400 earn a degree which is pretty selective. Read Harvard College’s course catalog and the read the HES catalog. The lists of professors and their classes is about the same

      This is flat-out wrong, and undermines the other good points you made. The number of HES degrees in 2021 was not about 400. It was 1,340, mostly ALM, with 186 undergraduate ALB degrees. Further, the overlap between ALB and Harvard College AB course offerings is not “about the same.” It’s actually quite different, with the AB students getting far more options for practically every concentration.

      Look, I am a big booster of the Extension School, its mission, and its students, and I’ve been fighting the good fight for 15+ years. When people keep loudly stating blatant untruths it undermines that, and reinforces the idea among the Harvard community and the public at large that HES students and alumni are constantly trying to claim something that they’re not.

      • “Look, I am a big booster of the Extension School, its mission, and its students, and I’ve been fighting the good fight for 15+ years.”

        Do you even believe in this yourself?

        As someone who has just discovered your blog because I was very excited to transfer to HES and learn about what HES has to offer, this article, along with all the comments, left me feeling discouraged from applying. The prospect of bearing “baggage” and a second-class student status for something that is 100% the problem/responsibility/hypocrisy/calculation/doing of Harvard is not something I’m interested in.
        As mentioned in my previous comments, I’m a 32 y/o professional adult with two kids who lives in NYC and has a 4.21 GPA at the college I’m currently attending (average GPA for Harvard is 4.15). Considering that Harvard loves sob stories paired up with academic accomplishments (I’m a war refugee), I’m pretty sure that my chances of being admitted into the “regular” program are very high. But this is the first time in my life I see students penalized and looked down upon for the mere fact of having a career and other life responsibilities while having a desire to pursue top-notch education. It’s Harvard’s problem that they require B’s on 3 courses instead of super-high GPA and other requirements. It’s Harvard’s problem that they fail to acknowledge and be transparent about the second-class status of HES compared to other schools. I don’t believe that all this confusion and controversy is by accident. Yet trying to blame the individuals for managing and surviving this pre-calculated hostile environment and trying to avoid this “stigma by design” is absurd. Demanding one school to list their accomplishments in a weird disserving way and not requiring the same from the others is absurd, elitist, and classist.

        People complaining about valid problems with Harvard’s hypocrisy don’t “undermine HES students and alumni,” Harvard does. And those who agree with these ridiculous requirements and write blog posts blaming individuals and even daring to find fault in individuals’ integrity and character, while they are literally set up to act this exact way by Harvard itself. Blame the citizen’s attempt at survival for the government’s corruption and neglect. I respectfully suggest you take a good sociology class as this is a common problem in capitalist societies.

        Out of so many good points in the above comment, you picked on an insignificant numerical error? That’s reaching on your part, not a “blatant untruth” on the commenter’s part. 400 graduates out of 60,000 or 1,340 graduates – that’s still pretty selective, like that person said. Instead of 0.66% graduation rate it’s 2.2% graduation rate. Better? Did I fix the blatant untruth for you that was clearly so significant that it undermined this point and all others?

        • Thanks for responding, G.

          The blatant untruth is not the number 400, it’s the false claim that HES classes, professors, and degrees are the same as those offered by Harvard College, the Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School of Government, and GSAS. I am seeing it more often in the comments on my blog, and in social media. A falsehood repeated often enough will eventually be accepted by “fact” by some, and will be repeated as such. This not only misleads, it further reinforces the idea among the Harvard community and the public at large that HES students are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

          Like many falsehoods repeated as fact, sometimes there is a small element of truth that lends credence to the claims. Yes, it’s possible for ALB students to take some classes with Harvard College professors, even if they are prerecorded lectures. Yes, several of the ALM classes I took were taught by tenured Harvard faculty using similar materials to their GSAS course offerings. Yes, you can take an accounting class with an HBS professor to fulfill your ALM Management requirements. I encourage every students to take advantage of those opportunities. Indeed, that’s what a Harvard education should have at its core – study and research under some of best scholars and world-leading experts among the University faculty.

          However, it’s a major stretch to go from a limited amount of course/faculty overlap to “ALB and AB degrees are the same,” or an “ALM in Management is basically identical to an MBA from the Business School.” These are different programs with different requirements and different student bodies, not unlike similar-sounding programs offered by other Harvard schools (e.g., GSAS government studies MA vs. KSG government studies graduate programs).

          Regarding this:

          It’s Harvard’s problem that they require B’s on 3 courses instead of super-high GPA and other requirements.

          That’s not a problem, as far as I’m concerned. It’s an asset that allows serious, dedicated adult learners to demonstrate that they’re ready to take on the challenge of completing a degree program, and weeds out the people who aren’t ready or aren’t serious. As I’ve said on this blog before, it represents the ideals of a meritocracy far more than the standards used by Harvard’s other schools based on cash/family/resume/standardized tests, and allows a students with a wide range of backgrounds to earn their degrees. The University should be trumpeting the HES admissions standards from the rafters.

          As for your statements alluding to the “Harvard University”/”Harvard Extension School” divide, and criticizing my stance (see “Harvard Extension School résumé guidelines are bogus“): Why do you even care what I think? You can call yourself whatever you want, and use whatever reasoning or justification you want. Harvard won’t stop you from doing it. Many employers will have no idea, or won’t care.

          Good luck to you.

  50. I only had Harvard faculty for 8 of my 12 courses. I knew other master’s students who had Harvard faculty for all of their courses. All 8 of them.

  51. Hi Ian, you should at least remove the following example post as it does not help anyone, and moreover, it hinders the discourse rather than furthering it, as you are suggesting that these quotes hold some type of truth/fact to them rather than opinion, “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.” This statement is completely false and untrue, as there was a post, just a few years ago by the president of the of Harvard acknowledging that HES is indeed part of the university and its graduates are indeed considered Harvard graduates from its HES college. Factually, HES is just another college of Harvard University and to suggest otherwise is incredibly unfair, dishonest and insincere to say the least. On my resume (at least in my introduction), I put something to the effect of Harvard University (HES); further down, I actually put Harvard Extension School (HES). As long as folks have at least HES jotted down somewhere in their resume I think that is more than adequate for the discussions presented here.

    • I agree that resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other public statements about Harvard affiliations should list “Extension School” somewhere. This is how I handle it, as well as my other higher education affiliations such as MIT Sloan.

      Regarding comments you don’t like or declare to be false: I’m not deleting it. Your opinion that “this statement is completely false and untrue” is itself not true. The original poster was correct or partially correct on several points: HES degrees are not Harvard College degrees, and some HES grads are indeed liars, going so far to infer or claim they are Harvard College or HBS grads. It used to happen all the time, although that trend thankfully seems to be fading as the school and its students develop a stronger sense of community spirit, pride, and belonging.

      You are welcome to respond directly to any comment you disagree with. It will be threaded for others to see.

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