Did I Really Go to Harvard If I Got My Degree Taking Online Classes?

September 17, 2013

Theodore Johnson, ALM ’11, writes in The Atlantic about how he was able to obtain his master’s degree at lower cost and on a flexible schedule at Harvard Extension School.

From The Atlantic:

The Extension School–Harvard’s degree-granting continuing education school–has a student population of more than 13,000. In fact, almost all of the Ivy League schools offer courses to “nontraditional students,” which the National Center for Education Statistics considers to be those who are older than typical college graduates, work full-time, or are financially independent and may have family dependents.

These continuing-education programs at Ivy League schools are not new creations; they’ve been around for over a century. They were established to engage the local community, further the education of university staff and their family members, and provide new skills to working adults. Their open enrollment and lower tuition rates have long made them appealing to such students. The reduced cost is in keeping with tradition. In the definitive book on Harvard Extension School, The Gates Unbarred, the former Dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education Michael Shinagel describes the early days when courses were free to the indigent and only cost two bushels of wheat for those who could afford it.

Today, three Ivy schools—Columbia, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania—offer undergraduate and graduate degrees that are obtained largely through evening, weekend, or online classes, making them more accessible to nontraditional students. Admission, however, is not open to anyone and an application process is required, including the familiar admission rites of essays, recommendation letters, and transcripts.

Read the full article, “Did I really go to Harvard if I got my degree taking online classes?” by Theodore R. Johnson (The Atlantic, September 16, 2013).

Learn more about the Extension School’s degrees and certificates.