HarvardX in the Extension School Classroom

High-profile initiatives in open learning like edX and Coursera have given millions of people around the world access to noncredit college courses—often for free. For Harvard, a key promise of its edX partnership resides in its ability to discover inventive techniques that can make learning experiences more effective—not only online, but in the classroom as well.

In the spirit of this teaching and learning innovation, Harvard Extension School is offering several HarvardX courses, taught by Harvard faculty, for credit this year (see the list below). The Harvard Extension versions supplement the masterfully produced HarvardX videos with small section meetings that allow you to deeply explore the material with teaching assistants and fellow students. You also have access to resources like computer labs, tutoring, and online writing and study skills tools.

Dean Huntington Lambert has forecast that in time the most effective course formats will prove to be those that feature both online and in-person components (you can read his thoughts in this Q&A with the dean). These, and our active-learning courses, show Harvard Extension School’s commitment to that idea.

Test Dean Lambert’s theory out yourself in one of the following courses. Registration is open through September 9.

American Poetry from the Mayflower through Emerson

Discover how the United States developed its own national literature in this course with Elisa New, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. The course features conversations with public figures like writer Michael Pollan, economist Larry Summers, and Vice President Al Gore.

Hear what Elisa New has to say about the edX course and the topics covered:

Saving Schools: History, Politics, and Policy in US Education

How did the American school system, which used to be the envy of the world, fall to a point where a majority of 15-year-old US students in math, science, and reading fall below the students in the majority of industrialized nations? Paul E. Peterson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard University, explores school politics and the pros and cons of various reform options in this course.

Paul E. Peterson discusses the topics covered in the edX course in the video below:


Study the world’s largest and oldest government from its ancient beginnings to the twenty-first century. Using Harvard’s vast visual collection, Peter Bol, Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard, and William C. Kirby, Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard, show China in a new social and political light.

Get a sense of the visual and educational tools that will be used in the course in the video:

Science and Cooking

Calling all foodies! Deconstructing classic dishes made by famous chefs, learning the basics of gastronomy, and understanding the scientific basics of recipes are just some of the topics and lessons covered in Science and Cooking. You get to work in the laboratory and examine the soft materials that make up food. Each week you get to hear a different chef lecture about food and feel your glands salivate.

Feast your eyes on this video where the dishes and recipes that are covered in the course are shown:

Intensive Introduction to Computer Science

In this course, taught by David Malan, you can learn programming languages like HTML, CSS, and SQL. Through real-world applications, you build computer science skills that can be applied in a variety of different job markets.

Hear how students have enjoyed and used the course in this video:

Harvard Extension School offers courses in a wide array of fields and subjects. Explore our courses and register through September 9.