A question that comes up a lot about Harvard Extension School degrees is whether they can lead to better opportunities in academia and working life. They absolutely can, and frequently do. Harvard Extension School graduates have gone onto get advanced degrees at Harvard and elsewhere (even Yale!), and have taken high-profile jobs in government, science, and the non-profit world. The Harvard Extension School website and Harvard Gazette sometimes feature wonderful success stories, but in the course of writing about the Extension School a number of people have shared their own experiences in the comments on this blog. Here are a few from the last year:
Leonard, February 2020:
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.
Myles, July 2020:
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.
Roger, June 2020:
My son completed the [post-bacc] program in 2011 with a near 4.0 GPA. He worked his butt off to maintain those grades! His undergrad was in Computer Science and, following a lay-off during the Great Recession when his job was off-shored to a low wage country, he enrolled in Harvard’s program as a career re-direction. He subsequently received a full-ride scholarship to attend Med School and is now a third year Pathology Resident.
These are not exceptions. A cursory search through the Harvard alumni directory shows many people who received advanced degrees from other Harvard schools after finishing their Extension School ALB or ALM degrees. The Extension School bulletin used to publish about a dozen such names every year, often from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences or the Harvard Graduate School of Education, but also from the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Public Health.