This article on the “back door” into Harvard was previously published on this site on July 6th, 2015. It was updated and reposted here on July 30th, 2018.
Would you like your child to have a Harvard education, but without the nerve-wracking admissions pressure or astronomical tuition cost?
If this sounds good to you, you might seriously consider the Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) degree at the Harvard Extension School (HES), where the cost of attendance is only $22,500 per year including tuition, housing, food, books, supplies, personal expenses, and transportation (with financial aid available to those who apply and qualify).
This is a 70% savings off of the regular yearly cost of Harvard attendance, which is among the highest in the country at upwards of $68,000 per year.
1. “Are you kidding? Is this real? How would this differ from being a regular Harvard student?”
There are two key differences.
First, Harvard Extension School students don’t live on Harvard’s campus, but if they rent apartments with roommates in Cambridge and attend their Harvard classes in person in historic Harvard Yard, they will be able to access the same classroom experience as traditional Harvard University students paying an additional $45,000 per year.
Second, the Harvard Extension School is technically intended for adult learners, and for this reason HES policies listed here dictate that applicants to HES’s undergraduate degree program must be 21 years of age or older. However, I’ve seen students much younger than age 21 be admitted to HES when they have already completed community college associate degrees. I’ve even seen students who’ve completed community college associate degrees while in high school be admitted to HES as early as age 18.
2. “Wow! Amazing! Would this be a real Harvard bachelor’s degree?”
Yes. The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Harvard Extension School is a real Harvard bachelor’s degree. The Harvard Extension School is one of 12 schools at Harvard University.
3. “So what’s the catch. Do HES students have access to the same Harvard courses? Are the professors just as good?”
Harvard Extension School students are allowed to choose from among 600 degree courses, many of which are taught by Nobel Laureates and other distinguished Harvard faculty members who are renowned experts in their fields. (Want to take Genetics to beef up your med school application? At Harvard Extension School, Genetics is taught by a renowned Harvard Medical School professor worthy of a mention on your AMCAS personal statement.)
4. “But surely HES students are disadvantaged in some way. Surely they miss out on some of the cool perks enjoyed by regular Harvard students?”
Harvard Extension School students are assigned Harvard email addresses, and are given the official Harvard student ID card that allows them to access Harvard research opportunities, Harvard career and grad school counseling services, the computer facilities at 53 Church Street, all campus events including football games, the Winter Ball, and student performances in Sanders Theater. HES students have full access to academic workshops, to the Writing Center in Grossman Library, to the Math Question Center in Sever Hall, to the Harvard Libraries Portal (which allows access to more than 3000 electronic databases and journals), and to the Grossman Library, one of the largest academic libraries in the world.
You’ll find 6 more important details about Harvard Extension School on pages 165-167 of my book:
You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:
You can see why financial planners and wealth managers love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, author, speaker, and podcast host. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.