We may be Harvard, but we're Harvard with a twist.

Two male HES students sitting in a classroom



standardized tests required for admission


Think you're more than a score? At HES we don't require entrance exams for admittance to degree programs. Instead, our students demonstrate their academic ability and potential by successfully completing 1-3 degree courses to qualify for admission. It's simple: if you earn the grades and submit a complete and timely application, you'll be accepted. 

Backs of HES students' heads while walking at Harvard convocation



of 12 degree-granting schools at Harvard University


Harvard Extension School is the part-time, flexible option for affordable education at the University. Although we prioritize convenience, our courses and degree programs are the high-level quality you'd expect from a Harvard education. HES courses provide access to a global community of renowned faculty and inquisitive, motivated learners like yourself. And with an average class size of 31 students and assigned advisors, students receive individual attention, whether joining us on campus or online. 

HES student receiving instruction from a professor in class



fields from which to choose

No matter if you're pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree, every program has been carefully designed so that the skills you learn are applicable to today's changing job market. By 2022, 42% of required workplace skills will have changed, and no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re-skilling or up-skilling. With 1,000+ course offerings to choose from each year, you'll take classes that spark your interests and teach you the skills to ensure you're robot-proof. 

Head shot of female HES student smiling



average age of an HES degree candidate


HES students are parents, scientists, executives, researchers, educators—all hoping to advance their careers or change career pathways while balancing a myriad of responsibilities. We know that pursuing a degree is just one of those many responsibilities, which is why a large majority of our courses are offered online at convenient times that accommodate your busy schedule. Take one or two courses a semester and work at your own pace. 

HES graduate holding sign & a bushel of wheat



years that we've been trailblazers in the distance education space


We've had a lot of experience figuring out the best ways to bring a quality education to learners both near and far. In fact, we've redefined the classroom experience. As an HES degree candidate, you'll have the opportunity to take classes both in-person and online. Even if you're taking classes from afar, you'll get to interact with the class as if you were there thanks to course formats grounded in live interactive experiences. 

We make it personal.

At Harvard Extension School, we want our students to feel that they have an academic co-pilot from their first course through graduation. 
Even before becoming an admitted degree candidate, you can receive pre-degree advising through the Admissions Office. With your goals in mind, HES admissions advisors are here to assist you in achieving admission in an efficient manner. While every student's advising needs are different, pre-degree advising might include course selection or discussing the application process. Start by connecting with an advisor through our Virtual Office Hours
After you're admitted, you'll be assigned a personal academic advisor who will help you map out long-term goals and identify academic opportunities to augment them. Graduate students are also assigned a research advisor to help with their independent research projects. 
"I felt grateful someone was engaged and concerned with my progress, aware of the milestones that I needed to hit and requirements I had to cover. It was also very helpful to have the continuity of an assigned adviser and the possibility of a developing relationship so we could work together on resolving individual difficulties. The continuity of concern was very helpful, as well as the sense of someone in the school actually hanging in there with me, rooting for me over time, to succeed!" 
Margaret | Recent ALB graduate

Earn a degree in your own space at your own pace.

Who said online courses can't be just as interactive as in-person courses?  Our approach to online learning fosters connection without sacrificing flexibility, and you can complete a large portion of your degree from the comfort of your home or office.HES classroom with a handful of in-person students and one student over Zoom being streamed into the classroom on a tv monitor
Using Zoom, students from around the globe join an instructor in a live classroom. Students participate in thoughtful discussion with their peers and engage with their instructor in real time. Many students and faculty find this environment just as intimate as a physical classroom.
But we also realize that our students are busy working adults, which means joining a live online or in-person course might not be possible. Our solution: a variety of course formats. As a student enrolled in a course using a HELIX Classroom, you have the flexibility to attend class in-person, live online or on-demand. Live online students join the physical class through Zoom displayed on large monitors and seamlessly interact with students in the classroom. On-demand students watch professionally recorded classes on their own schedule and interact through online discussion tools. 
Here's a glimpse at what being in a HELIX classroom is like: 
And while 60% of our course offerings are online, students gave a 4.3 rating out of 5 to the following statement: “The course provided opportunities for me to connect with my fellow classmates.” 
Discover the breadth of our 1,000+ course offerings by exploring our Course Catalog, where you can filter and search by online or in-person course formats. 

When we say part-time, we mean it. 

Most of our students enroll in 1-2 courses per semester to ensure they have the time to balance school, careers, and other life commitments. 

 1 course= 30%, 2 courses= 31%, 3 courses= 23%, 4 courses= 16% 1 course= 60%, 2 courses= 30%, 3 courses= 7%, 4 courses= 3%


On average, it takes an ALB candidate 6 years to earn their degree. 
On average, it takes an ALM candidate 4 years to earn their degree. 


Broaden your skillset without breaking the bank.

Our tuition is comparable to other online degree programs and when compared to our Ivy League continuing education peers, it's a fraction of the cost. 

HES Undergraduate Tuition per Course

(2019-2020 Academic Year)

Ivy League Peer Schools' Average Undergraduate Tuition per Course 

 $1,840 $4,072

HES Graduate Tuition per Course

(2019-2020 Academic Year)

Ivy League Peer Schools' Average Graduate Tuition per Course 

 $2,840 $5,378


Upon successful admission, otherwise eligible US citizens and eligible non-citizens who demonstrate sufficient financial need generally receive HES-supported grant funds to cover a portion of their tuition costs each term. Although the amount is subject to change yearly, HES grant funds covered about half the tuition costs for these students in academic year 2019-20. Visit the Financial Aid page to learn more about this process. 

Why students choose HES.

"Challenging curriculum trains students to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructors. Convenient class times. Affordable tuition. Great software and remote lecture viewing and exams. Opportunity to complete a thesis. Access to academic and career advising and Harvard online library systems. Best of all, the fact that Extension students are provided with a full Harvard University experience."


Lisa | Recent ALB graduate

"I knew immediately that there was more to the ALM than a cookie-cutter Master's degree. The courses, the requirements to study in multiple venues, the on-campus requirement, the interaction with incredible faculty and staff, leave no doubt that someone, or someones, have put a great deal of time and effort into this program. It is very much appreciated. I not only saw progress on every desired improvement at the onset of the program, but I found enrichment in many other unanticipated ways. It has been an honor just to be allowed to participate in this extremely well-thought out and well-administered program."


Eric | Recent ALM, History graduate

"HES is a really unique and valuable institution. In a market dominated by sky-high tuition and absurd admissions requirements, HES is pioneering a new way of allowing anyone to earn a high-quality education through competency and not just an ability to pay or take standardized tests. As inequality grows in the United States, the opportunity and value HES provides to non-traditional learners is immense."


Matthew | Recent ALM, Information Technology graduate

Our students are above average.

HES graduation rates are high, and graduation rates are tied to return on investment. You do the math. 


"My three years at Harvard Extension School can be summed up into 3 words: rebirth, refinement, and redemption. To pursue a graduate degree and kick off my career change has breathed new life into me as a person. When I received my Bachelor's degree 3 years ago, I was lost during that time without any direction of what I wanted to do professionally. I am blessed to have discovered it, as well as develop the skills, knowledge, and credentials needed to succeed in the real world. I will be searching for my first full-time job after graduation and I have hope for what I can contribute and accomplish moving forward. Thank you HES. You have changed my life."

Dan | ALM, Information Technology graduate

ALM Graduation Rate by Field

Anthropology & Archaeology 77%
Creative Writing & Literature
Digital Media Design
Dramatic Arts
Information Management Systems
International Relations
Math for Teaching
Museum Studies
Software Engineering

Our faculty are educators, practitioners, and scholars. 

Although their research and real-world experiences differ, Harvard Extension School faculty share a passion for preparing and educating HES students to tackle the challenges of a rapidly changing global society. You'll take courses taught by faculty from many of the schools at Harvard and also other top-tier institutions like MIT, Princeton, and University of Cambridge, England, as well as leading industry experts. 
of faculty hold docotoral degrees
average faculty rating on a scale of 1 to 5
Here’s what HES students have to say about our faculty: 
"The variety of classes, including some fantastic, singularly unique courses offered is the greatest strength, in my opinion. Some would say the main-stay courses taught again and again by Harvard's wonderful faculty are the strength of this school, however, the one-off classes offered by post-docs and in-residence instructors were, at times, more interesting and made my time at HES a truly once in a lifetime opportunity." 
"The faculty are exceptional and the courses that are offered are not only challenging and demanding, but they also inspire you to keep on learning." 
"The faculty have been in my view the best aspect of the ALM program. Additionally, the opportunity to serve as both a research aide and teaching assistant were central to my student experience."

There are many perks to being an HES degree candidate. 

HES student sitting at a table in her home while attending an online course via Zoom and looking at her laptopAs an HES degree candidate, you have access to special options and privileges. The Degree Candidate Privileges page lists them but here are a few things you can look forward to: 
  • Added support throughout your journey—all degree candidates are assigned an academic advisor whom they'll work with from admittance to graduation to design their own program around a core curriculum
  • Career and graduate school resources, events and workshops, and individual career advising through the Office of Career Services
  • Incubate a new venture with access to the Harvard i-lab
  • Paid research opportunities alongside Harvard faculty through our Faculty Aide Program
  • ALM students can earn a graduate certificate while earning the degree
  • Programmatic partnerships with Harvard Business School Online, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education, and MIT

Graduate students' culminate their experience with a thesis or capstone project. 


Graduate students whose programs require or offer the thesis option develop a question that has yet to be answered by prior research. Working with a research advisor and a faculty or industry expert, students emerge from the thesis process with a solid understanding of how original research is executed and how to best communicate research results. Many students have gone on to publish their research in academic or professional journals. 

Sample Thesis Titles

Sample Thesis Titles By Field

Anthropology & Archaeology
  • Fact or Fiction: The Social and Cultural Beliefs That Drive Dooms Day Prophecies
  • Belonging and Exclusion: Hispanics’ Perception and Responses to the Xenophoic Rhetoric Since the 2016 Presidential Campaign 
  • Exacerbating Perceptual Blindness in an Era of Continual Stimulation from Social Media
  • Community Engagement and CRISPR Gene Editing for Ecological Intervention in a Shared Ecosystem to Combat Lyme Disease on Martha’s Vineyard
Bioengineering & Nanotechnology
  • Production and Characterization of Synthetic ErbB2 Virosomes for Vaccination Against Breast Cancer 
  • A Skin Substitute Reepithelialization Calculator for Natural, Synthetic, and Composite Skin Cell Scaffolds
  • The Role of Genetics and Environmental Factors on Autoimmune Disease Incidence With a Focus on Gender Bias in a Family Case Study
  • Stem cell-derived pancreatic beta cell function may be enhanced through the incorporation of alpha cells for the treatment of Type I Diabetes 
Creative Writing & Literature
  • Halfway Home; the Beloved Anti-Villain: How Empathy Is Used to Humanize Villains 
  • Unraveling the Loom: How to Weave Multiple Narratives, Close Point of View and Backstory into a Novel
Digital Media Design
  • Improving User Experiences Through Real-Time Biometric, and Facial Recognition Software 
  • On Alternative Measures for Dynamic Large-Scale Online Learning
Dramatic Arts
  • A Brazilian, a Politician, and a Jew walk into a Gay Bar: How the Satirical “Fake News” of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Adapted Augusto Boal’s Joker System for its Coverage of LGBTQ Rights
  • From Supernumerary to Principal: The Role of Trauma as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Being in a Landscape: Reconsidering the Poetry of Robert Frost as a Model for Environmental Engagement in an Era of Accelerating Climate Change
  • Master of Death: Love and Spirituality in the Harry Potter Series
  • The American Presidency: No Women Need Apply?
  • What Is the Color of Injustice? An Examination of the Manhattan Prosecutor’s Role in Providing Equitable Treatment of Offenders through Plea Agreements
  • Armed With Knowledge:  the Wartime Schools at Harvard Business School, 1941-1946
  • William G. Bramham: the Czar Who Saved Minor League Baseball
International Relations
  • From Propaganda to Pop Culture: How Mao’s Propaganda Transformed into a Global Art Commodity
  • Social Media as a Tool for Political Change: The Uprising in Iran (2009) and Egypt (2011)
Mathematics for Teaching
  • A Study of Motivational Techniques for Inner-City Math Classrooms: How to Increase Student Engagement while Decreasing Teacher Burn-Out
  • Designing for and Understanding the Adult Learner in a Mathematics Course
  • Does Race/Ethnicity Matter? Exploring the Relationship Between Mentor Functions and Self-Efficacy Among Female Faculty in Academic Medicine
  • Identifying the attitudes and beliefs of U.S. veterans toward art therapy as a viable treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder
Software Engineering
  • Software Identification and Entitlement Tracking Using Blockchain Technology
  • Eatable: An Application That Helps People With Food Allergies Check and Locate Allergen-Free Food Products
  • Vacant Land Conversion in Detroit, Michigan: A Spatial Analysis of Neighborhood Stabilization and Communal Access
  • Carbon Footprint of Movie Production Location Choice: the Real Cost
  • WWII and Its Aftermath, and the Connection between 9/11 and Islamophobia Today
  • Awakening to Mortality: End of Life as Rite of Passage and Pathway to Transformation



Depending on the graduate field, two forms of capstones may also be offered: the Capstone Course (faculty directed) and Capstone Independent Project (student directed). A Capstone Independent Project focuses on a current issue or problem that has become compelling to a student during their course of study. The project represents their academic passion and professional interest. The research is completed individually (journalism) or in a classroom setting with fellow candidates (all other fields). For both types of capstone, students draw upon their entire ALM training to produce a project worthy of a Harvard degree.

Sample Capstone Titles

Sample Capstone Titles By Field

  • Connectivity Health (company name): Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction via a mobile device platform
  • WeGene (company name): Novel solutions for infertility
Development Practice
  • Development Action Plan: Aflac Plastics Limited (Community Development in Northern Nigeria)
Digital Media Design
  • Finding Understanding: A website for individuals to understand & deal with depression
  • Gamify It: Increasing Student Motivation and Self-reliance through the Application of Game Mechanics to Learning, Assessment, and Classroom Behavior
  • The Food of Suffering and Redemption: Gustatory Imagery as a Vehicle for Physical and Spiritual Renewal in Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl
  • Just What it Was, Exactly, that Jonathan Safran Foer Did: Why Origins and Obscured in “Everything Is Illuminated”
  • Achieving Zero Hunger: Improving Food and Nutrition Security and Building Long Term Food Resilience in Rural Farming Communities
  • Read. Reflect. Connect: Hosting a Literacy Discussion Series About Race
  • The Relevance of Mexico’s Political Climate for the United States’ Farm Workers Movement
  • The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 Through the Lens of Positive Political Theory
International Relations
  • Strategic Indications & Warning for Russian Information Warfare: Lessons Learned from Crimea
  • Enhancing Food Security in Lagos, Nigeria: Restructuring Africa’s Largest City’s Food Supply Through Urban Farming: A Policy Proposal for Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor-Elect of Lagos State
  • In Toronto, a Housing Crisis Looms
  • Dogs in Public Spaces: A problem for services animals and their disabled handlers
Museum Studies
  • "We've Always Been Here": Interpreting Queer History at Historic House Museums
  • All About Image: The Ripple Effect of Museum Photography Policies on Visitor Reviews
  • A Walk Down Memory Lane: Reminiscence Therapy with Virtual Reality
  • Agents of Change: A Developmental Peer Mentoring Program for Early Adolescents
  • Strengthening the Jewish Community Through Uncomfortable Conversations
  • Respect, Compassion, Sensitivity: A Coalition Building Proposal for the Members of St. Theresa Church and its LGBT Members and Their Families
Software Engineering
  • Extending the Open edX API to Expose a Larger Scope of Programmable Functionality
  • Air pollution in India: Can India leverage global air regulations and best practices and improve its residents' well-being?
  • Doggy Bag Nation: How America's Love of Takeout is Gobbling Up Resources and Choking the Planet