A Look Back at Harvard’s First Distance Program

To commemorate Veteran’s Day, Harvard Extension takes a look back at its early foray into making education accessible to active-duty military at a distance—the Polaris University collaboration.

In the early 1960s, during the cold war, Harvard Extension partnered with the US Navy for the first-ever distance degree program.

Polaris nuclear submarines would put out to sea, and remain out—sometimes submerged—for months. Along with standard provisions, the subs would take with them reels of film of Harvard lectures that were recorded and broadcast on Boston’s public TV station, WGBH. Lurking in the depths, under the ice caps, sailors would run drills related to nuclear war with the Soviet Union—and would also watch Harvard lectures.

This infographic shares some of our favorite facts and figures about this one-of-a-kind partnership:

Facts and figures about Polaris University, Harvard Extension School's first distance education program.

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