The ALM in IT program I chose concentrated in Software Engineering–basically a Master’s of Arts in IT focused on developing software. It consisted of 10 four hour courses with the final course being the thesis. In addition to Harvard professors, the Extension School has lecturers teaching elective classes that come from local companies and even non-professors from Harvard. For example, one of the classes I took on XML was taught by the programmer responsible for all of the XML-driven websites and course catalogs for the Extension School. Having these two types of teachers proved very valuable. The Harvard professors were particularly good at teaching theoretical concepts and mathematics. The industry teachers were very good at teaching the classes that dealt with how to get things done in the real world. My program required that at least 8 classes (32 of the 40 hours) be taken from “Harvard Instructors.” I believe most of the other programs have a similar requirement.
Once the research adviser and the thesis director were both happy with the document, I sent it to a bindery in Massachusetts. They printed and bound two copies. One was sent to me in Kansas, and the other was sent to the Harvard Extension School to go in the library there. I highly recommend . Their cost per page for color was about 1/5th what other binderies were going to charge. They had Harvard’s binding requirements on file and took care of everything without requiring every specific detail.
Thanks for the write-up. There are some pretty interesting online programs from some of the best liberal arts in the country. Getting a degree from Harvard online probably takes the cake. Hopefully you will be respected by your Harvard grad peers as that may be the most valuable part of the degree. Networking with alum that is. Thats a nice feature that they make you spend one section at the school, probably a fun summer.
Keep in mind that what is a “weed out class” for one person may not be for someone else. If you look carefully at the required classes and maybe take some preparatory class at another school before starting at Harvard, you should probably be ok if you are willing to work hard.
Thanks Mark for a great article. Can someone be enrolled in the Masters degree at the extension school, and be allowed to also pursue a Doctorate in the Harvard graduate School in another discipline? And do you think that with the Masters in Liberal Arts from the extension school, they would admit you to do a doctorate in IT at the Harvard graduate School?
I wasn’t familiar with the Digital Media degree. Of the other schools I looked at, Harvard did seem to have the best classroom experience. Stanford’s was good as well. I figured by now more schools would have caught up, but from what you are saying it sounds like they still have a lead over many of the other online programs.
I am hoping to fulfill my one on-campus class this fall. I have taken other courses not in this program via distance at the extension school in the past and did very well. Nobody else out there makes the experience as real as Harvard does via the video lectures. This really makes a difference!
I don’t believe HBS offers and MBA online. If you are interested in the Harvard Extension School, you should look at the website and then give them a call if you have further questions.
I am not aware of a Doctorate in IT from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. However the PhD program in Computer Science from GSAS doesn’t appear to require that you have a master’s degree first and that having a master’s degree from Harvard doesn’t give you any preferential treatment in being admitted to the PhD program.
It is important to realize that the degrees offered by the Extension School may not map directly to degrees offered by other schools. My degree is the ALM in IT with a concentration in software engineering. I do not have a Master’s of Science in Computer Science as is offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. While there is some overlap, that degree requires different courses and goes much deeper on the computational theory side of things. The classes I took included several that were more focused on practical use of current technologies rather than being all theory. My required courses seemed about equivalent to the Master of Science in Computer Science degrees from some of the state schools I researched.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. Out of curiosity, would you know when Harvard started awarding online Master degrees? I am very interested in this program and love the fact that it emphasizes classroom ability for its admission criteria. Back when I was applying for schools in 2006, online degree opportunities were very limited.
Some employers are upset because they interview people who claim they went to Harvard when all they did was enroll in (and not necessarily complete) a course through the Extension School. I’m sure there are people misrepresenting their degrees or coursework on their resume, but I’m sure this happens with most universities. I know it sometimes happens with universities that are completely fictitious.
As mentioned before, only 3% of people who take classes through the Extension School end up with a degree. By comparison, Harvard College (where students get their undergrad degree) generally accepts around 7% of applicants in a given year. So the Extension School lets everyone try, but is selective in the academic quality of people who achieve passing grades. Harvard College is selective in who they allow into the school in the first place. Since the peer experience is a very important part of Harvard College, this makes sense. It is a much less important part of the Extension School.