Pursuing a Certificate

How do I get started?

There is no application required to pursue a graduate certificate. Once you find one that interests you, you can browse the current certificate course offerings and enroll for graduate credit when registration is open.

What does a certificate cost?

Tuition for each course, which you take for graduate credit, is about $2,700 (2017–18 tuition rate). The number of courses you take to earn a certificate ranges from three to five.

Is financial aid available?

You may be eligible for scholarship funds, including Lowell Scholarships for Boston-area middle and high school teachers, community scholarships, and private student loans. Federal or state aid is only available to students who have been admitted to a degree program.

Can I earn a certificate online?

Most certificates can be completed online. Because some course instructors prefer to meet face-to-face, not every certificate course has an online option.

I am an international student. Can I come to campus?

Because of the part-time nature of the Harvard Extension School, I-20 Certificates of Eligibility for the F-1 student visa are not available for on-campus study during the fall and spring semesters. You may take most of our certificates completely online. 

Many certificate courses are now offered through Harvard Summer School (HSS), and international students may request an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for full-time study on campus in the summer. To be eligible for the I-20 certificate, students must be registered for a total of eight on-campus graduate credits in the 7-week summer session, or four on-campus graduate credits in a 3-week summer session. See the international student guidelines for Summer School for more details. Please note that if you obtain an I-20 from HSS for an F-1 visa, it is not possible to continue studying on the F-1 at Harvard Extension School due to the part-time nature of the program.

How do certificates differ from degrees?

Our Extension School graduate degrees require 10 to 12 courses, specific admission requirements, and a formal application process. With only three to five courses, no admissions requirements, and no application required, certificates offer a quicker path to a graduate-level credential. Certificate awardees do not participate in Commencement or receive alumni status.

What will my certificate say?

The certificate will state: Harvard University, Harvard Extension School awarded [Your Name] a [three-, four-, or five-] course professional graduate-level certificate in [field name].

Will all the courses listed be offered every year?

The required courses are offered each year, but the elective offerings do change slightly because of new offerings and instructor availability.

Can I count one course toward multiple certificates?

No. Each certificate requires three, four, or five distinct courses to ensure its academic and professional value.

Can I substitute a course that is not listed on the certificate course search?

No. Only those courses specifically listed in the certificate course search can be counted toward the certificate. We do not accept course substitutions or transfer credit. 

What happens if I earn a B- or below?

Courses in which a student has earned a grade of B- or below cannot be counted towards a graduate certificate. Students must earn a grade of B, B+, A-, or A.

Currently, there is no restriction regarding retaking a course in order to have it qualify for a certificate. The course will be listed on your transcript for each term that you take it and will include all grades you are assigned. You may wish to use the “Certificate Course Tracker and Request Form" available through Online Services to help you keep track of the courses you have taken that are eligible to count towards your graduate certificate of interest.

Can I count a certificate toward a Harvard Extension School degree program?

Our certificates are standalone credentials, but you can count one certificate toward one degree. Please note, our degrees have specific admission, GPA, grade, course, and timeline requirements. Students are encouraged to apply to the degree program first, and then earn their certificate along the way.

You’ll want to do your research by reviewing the specific degree program requirements and finding applicable certificate courses by degree program.

How can I monitor my progress?

You may monitor your progress by logging in to online services and choosing the Certificate Course Tracker and Request Form. This form will confirm the courses that count toward the certificate, the courses for which you are currently registered, and the courses that you've completed.