US Colleges

Is Harvard Extension School the Same as Harvard College?

Is Harvard Extension School the Same as Harvard College?

There seems to be some confusion online (primarily on forums), regarding how the Harvard Extension School differs from Harvard College.

“Are they the same thing?”

The short answer is that no, the Harvard Extension School is not the same as Harvard College.  However, they are both still colleges within Harvard University.  Comparing the two is kind of like comparing the Divinity School to the School of Design.  They are similar in the sense that they are both colleges within Harvard University, however they are quite different from one another.

The Harvard Extension School is designed to represent the Continuing Education division of Harvard University while Harvard College is designed as the undergraduate division of Harvard University.

However, the confusion begins because the Extension school also offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.  In other words, it is a degree granting college.  Therefore, it would appear that a history degree from Harvard Extension would be the exact same as a history degree from Harvard College.  This is actually not entirely true though.  Although they may have a lot of similarities and may even contain some course overlap, the degree conferred from Harvard Extension would be a “Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies with a concentration in History” whereas at Harvard College, it would be a “Bachelor of Arts in History.”

“Whats the difference?”

Well, the Extension students would not be subject to the exact same entrance requirements as the Harvard College students.  Simply put, the Extension school does not focus on previous high school marks or SATs.  However, this does not mean the Extension school is easy to get into by any means.  The emphasis is simply placed on the student’s ability to potentially succeed in the program which is determined by their performance in 3 courses they take before they can be admitted into the program.

I do not believe that this is “a back door” or “an easy way into the ivy league.”  I believe the Extension School provides programs for different types of students; those who cannot commit to 4 years in a full-time program.

In other words, Harvard is providing exactly what you should expect from a flexible degree program.  They are offering a flexible college solution to a non-traditional student.  In fact, some courses offered can be completed online and count towards your degree.  It is also worth noting that the Extension school provides a relatively reasonably priced degree options considering the caliber of education you are receiving.

To be honest, we should commend Harvard (the most prestigious University in the world), for making a world class education accessible.  Let us not forget…the Extension school has been around for decades.  In many ways, they pioneered “flexible education.”

Therefore, the main Takeaways:

1)Harvard College and Harvard Extension are NOT the same.
2) However, both schools are degree granting schools within Harvard University
3) Both schools hold an academic standard which is what you would expect from an elite University.