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Is Harvard Extension School Real?

Link to Video --> " Is Harvard Extension School Legitimate? "

If you were to google Harvard Extension School, these are some of the images and search results you will see.

Among them is an article that was written by Mark J. Drozdowski, Ed.D. for .While Mr. Drozdowski does a decent job of highlighting general information about H.E.S (Harvard Extension School ), I did notice that he often (probably unintentionally) left a tone of "unsatisfactory" in the article's readers' mind. This could further alienate those who are seeking more information about H.E.S.

While I am sure most students would feel a sense of protection about their school, it goes beyond "school pride" for me. Rather than repeat specifically everything I mentioned in the attached and captioned video, I will address a few outlined potential discrepancies in the article. I will also answer highlighted questions and provide links to where you may find more information.

In his article, Mr. Drozdowski states, "Anyone can sign up for a course at any time. If you want to enroll in the degree program, however, you must take three courses, including a class on academic writing and critical reading, and earn at least a B in each." He goes on to say,

" A 2016 Harvard Gazette article noted that 32% of those seeking entry into the undergraduate degree program earned sufficient grades for admission. While that might seem like a competitive acceptance rate, it's more a reflection of attrition than selectivity. What it actually reflects is the percentage of students who took three courses and met the threshold — a minimum of three B's — for admission. So, in theory, the acceptance rate of those who accomplish this task is 100%." (1)

There are a couple of things I want to make a note of about these statements:

1) While, yes, anyone has the ability to apply to a degree program, you need more than 3B's for admission. For admission (2) you need:

  • To pass the 3 (for undergrads ) or (sometimes up to) 4 (for masters ) admittance courses with a B or higher. These courses are not to be taken lightly; they are Harvard-intensive courses.

  • The ability to pay out-of-pocket for these admittance courses. Expo -15, Expo-25, and the suggested Math e-3 are reduced to $1000 per course for undergrads. For any other courses that you choose, you may expect to pay anywhere from $1920 - $3400+ depending on your degree track and semester. There isn't currently reduced tuition for any of the grad degree candidate courses.

  • Must have a 3.0 . While this is possible with only 3 B's, if these admittance courses are taken lightly and you slip and get a B- in one of've not met the minimum requirement.

2) "it's more a reflection of attrition than selectivity". Let's unpack this quickly.

  • Attrition - the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.

  • Selectivity - the quality of carefully choosing someone or something as the best or most suitable.

In my opinion, a part of being "selective" is to utilize attrition as a measuring tool. H.E.S is framed, in my opinion, for the working professional. Many others like Harry R. Lewis, who proposed renaming the school the "Harvard School of Continuing and Professional Studies (3) ", view it the same. What this means, to me, is that H.E.S cares less about the fact that you can play instruments, sports, or even who your uncle is... and more about who you are NOW, if you can currently keep up and thrive in the curriculum, and your future goals. There may be fewer hurdles when it comes to admission (some of those hurdles will no longer matter because Harvard College has dropped SAT/ACT scores at least through 2026), but the pressure doesn't lessen. Looking at the attached graphs, you will find that H.E.S has more in common with the traditional path than not.

3) "In theory, the acceptance rate of those who accomplish this task is 100%." I find this statement to be rather convoluted. He uses data provided from an interview with Dean Lambert (4), but only uses a tiny point made without further context. In the interview, Dean Lambert is discussing the perception of H.E.S and its benefits. At one point he states,

"We have an open-enrollment policy, meaning anyone can register for a course. However, we have a unique admissions process for our degree programs whereby students take classes first and earn three Bs or better to qualify to be admitted to a degree. This “earn your way in” admission policy provides a second chance for working adults who may have started a degree years ago elsewhere. In the end, only 32 percent of those who want to pursue an undergraduate degree earn the grades for admission. So for adult part-time learners, we’re very selective. For students who are admitted to a program, our average graduation rate is 85 percent, which is phenomenal."

Dean Lambert is essentially saying, " H.E.S, at least, gives you a chance to get in the room, but these standards are still high, so "show up!". The way Mr. Drozdowski has written his article almost insinuates that one can just "walk into the doors " of H.E.S with minimal effort because they "accept everyone and pass out degrees", and that's simply not true. The tone that, perhaps unintentionally, is set is that the ability to obtain a higher education without the unnecessary hurdles somehow diminishes the quality of that education. Sure, out of the probably thousands of persons that attempted to earn admission into the undergrad program, 32% were accepted and of that 32%...85% made it to graduation. Sure, that might feel easier compared to Harvard College's 5% acceptance rate, but why is that a bad thing? Shouldn't we be striving for more accessible higher education?

Also, keep in mind that what might "seem" easier in the beginning...isn't necessarily easier in the long run. According to the research I obtained from H.E.S 's admission office, more than 62% of students are working full-time (30-40 hours a week) while enrolled at H.E.S (5). There are students, like me, who opted to take an overload of 20 credits (5 courses) in a semester while running multiple companies, fulling my philanthropic missions, battling major health obstacles, and maintaining a social life. No, I didn't have to submit SAT/ACT scores or interview to gain admittance. However, now that I am a part of that 32% that earned admittance, I have to work even harder to graduate...while maintaining my career. In reality, nowhere on nor sites does Harvard guarantee acceptance into any of their programs. However, it can almost be assumed (much like with most programs) that IF you meet all of the academic and student conduct, financial standing, English proficiency, and application requirements... there is a pretty high chance of you being accepted into the Harvard Extension School program. Do note that admission has nothing to do with graduation. Gaining admission and graduating are two different worlds (details of while I will do my best to provide more information for below).

So if H.E.S is so great, why does there seem to be bad press when it's goggled? Unfortunately, I think that all boils down to the elitism I mentioned in the video.

There are some that pretend they went to H.C (Harvard College) or one of the other grad schools, when they only either participated in a programs or earned a certificate. I can only assume that someone would do that so they can feel apart of the "prestige" of H.C. or one of the other grad schools. (It's important to note that this does not often happen, but when it does Harvard takes it serioulsly. Whether you are a H.E.S student or a Kennedy School student, you are not permitted to misrepresent your degree. If you are ever potentially confused about how to represent your Harvard experience on your resume, contact Harvard directly and they will be glad to help you.) When the H.E.S topic comes up, there are people who believe that, as Mr. Drozdowski quotes them in his article, "Just about anybody who has the money to spare can buy entry into the Extension School, but the undergrad and grad schools at Harvard are highly selective, which is entirely the point of an Ivy League name."(6) Others he quoted even go as far as saying, "While it is associated with the Harvard 'brand, the coursework is designed primarily for people who are more casual in their pursuit of a formal education. This gives a certain number of 'regular' Harvard privileges to enrolled students, but you are definitely not a regular Harvard student."

These naysayers are holding on to their so-called "pride", and will ultimately get left in the past. The concept of traditional education has changed dramatically within the last couple of years. Being physically present in a classroom isn’t the only learning option anymore — nor is it necessary for many courses. With what many are calling a "revolution in education", traditional education seems restrictive. Not only are these programs quite flexible, cost-effective, and provides the ability for a customized learning experience. Online education enables you to study from anywhere in the world. This means there’s no need to commute from one place to another or follow a tight schedule. On top of that, not only do you save time, but you also save money, which can be spent on other priorities. The virtual classroom is available anywhere there’s an internet connection. As I said in the video, there’s no reason to give up on working or studying while exploring new and exciting places. Extension schools and other online learning programs also offer accessibility for those who simply are unable to physically be on campus due to medical or physical restrictions, as we all have witnessed during this Covid-19 pandemic.

The issues with statements and suggested ideas like those of the previously mentioned quotes are they tend to leave a misleading vision/reputation of extremely hardworking non-traditional students in the minds of general society. The word casual insinuates that a person is more relaxed or unconcerned about a particular thing. In my experience, that's the complete opposite of H.E.S students. These toxic snides at H.E.S and programs like it can cause disinterest from otherwise interested students due to a lack of understanding of how these programs actually work. These types of programs are paramount for some people...people like me.

(The following statements discuss abuse, self-harm, and death)

You may be thinking, "Paradise, it's just a school. Who cares what others think! Get your degrees and get out." I get passionate about H.E.S and the ability to do this type of education because I feel, in many ways, that finding my way path to my education is a part of what saved my life. Sure, I could ignore all of the misinformation about HES and programs like it, but what if there was another person out there feeling how I was? What if all they needed to know was that the traditional route isn't the only route? Don't I, as a survivor, have an obligation to extend that information?

You see, I was suicidal because of everything I was enduring with cancer and feeling like I was failing at life. In addition to all of my health complications, I am a child abuse survivor. I only had 7 years of traditional education. Within those 7 years, so much time was lost because of things I and my family were going through. In 2007, I woke up to find my sister had passed in the night; I was the one to find her body. All of this happened during my exams, which I failed due to not being present. I was forced to return to school only a couple of days after finding my sister, and without a lick of counseling. Less than 2 weeks later, I had to leave school. I was still a child, and now I was a child who not only was responsible for caring for my other siblings...but I was a child with heavy responsibilities and little formal education.

Over the years, I took it upon myself to educate myself. I'd always been an avid reader, even if I did struggle with dyscalculia (7). I took as many jobs as I could in fields that interested me like business, law, and performing arts. I grew a powerful network, and I became relentless in pursuit of filling the void that was left after my sister's passing. I worked hard to gain real-world experience, but I still wanted more. At the time, I didn't think it was possible; not with cancer having returned for the 2nd time, which made it harder to fight my depression. To the world I was "Thriving Paradise", but to me...I just couldn't see it. In my mind, there were far too many missing pieces to make me feel whole.

That drunken night that I mention in the video, I HAD to call peers over because I didn't want to live. I was tired of fighting what felt like an all-encompassing void. Looking back, it was realizing that H.E.S offered a way for me to continue on is a part of what highlighted that I don't have to do things traditionally, and restored my hope and desire to continue on.

I realized what my core issue was (the source of my depression). School was a healthy distraction while I healed from my trauma, and it gave me something to blame as to why I couldn't be around the things that hurt anymore. I would tell myself that I will fail school if I was too depressed to go to class. After a while, I was able to say "because I deserve peace." Fast forward all of these years later... the H.E.S system allows for me to have all my careers, handle my responsibilities, and continue my education at one of the best educational institutions in the world. Last semester I spent so much time in the hospital, but I didn't get depressed because I was still able to make it to class... only because of the way H.E.S is formatted.

I build school around my life, rather than having to build my life around school.

* the day I got my student ID *

Image Credit: @ ctphotoanddesign617


Undergrad Requirements: (8)

-Expo 25 and two other courses. Before registering for Expo 25, you’ll need to first pass their test of critical reading and writing skills or complete EXPO 15 Fundamentals of Academic Writing with a B grade. EXPO 15 cannot be taken concurrently with or after EXPO 25. This means you cannot take them both within the same semester. It is HIGHLY recommended that you take EXPO 15 to better prepare you for EXPO 25.

-Once admitted, the lowest grade you can have is a C- to pass your course.

Masters Requirements: (9)

- Degree Requirements for admission for your ALM will be stipulated by field of study.

For instance, the Psychology Masters require: (10)

-SSCI 100A Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies and Scholarly Writing in the Social Sciences—Anthropology and Psychology

  • Before registering, you’ll need to pass the test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42b Writing in the Social Sciences.

-One psychology course

-STAT 150 Intermediate Statistics: Methods and Modeling or PSYC 1900 Statistical Modeling for Social and Behavioral Sciences

But, the Management Masters require: (11)

- 1 economics (microeconomics, economics of business course, or managerial economics) course

- 1 organizational behavior course or EXPO 34 Business Rhetoric

- 1 financial or managerial accounting course

- Once admitted, the lowest grade you can have is a B- to pass your course

**Naturally, some of this information and its process with change according to your specific chosen path.**

What is H.E.S - Is it really Harvard? - A division of Harvard University dedicated to bringing rigorous programs and innovative online teaching capabilities to distance learners, working professionals, high school students, college students, and those seeking higher learning in retirement. (12)

What's the difference between Harvard University and its other schools? - Harvard University refers to the whole school, including all of its undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Each school program has its own admissions process. (13)

How many schools does Harvard have? - Harvard University offers 12 degree-granting schools: Harvard Business School; Harvard College; Division of Continuing Education; Harvard School of Dental Medicine; Harvard Divinity School; Graduate School of Design; Harvard Graduate School of Education; Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Harvard Kennedy School; Harvard Law School; and Harvard Medical School. (14)

How to get into H.E.S?- You must apply to the program that you qualify for and follow its admissions process. Each program will have its own admissions process. (15)

Is H.E.S hard?- I say there are harder classes than others, but none of it is "easy".

How much does H.E.S cost? Today, tuition costs are : (16)

Can H.E.S join Harvard Clubs? Admitted students who graduate have the ability to join the alumni groups and all that comes with it. (17)

Can I transfer from H.E.S to H.C? -This is what the website says, however, I would greatly urge anyone thinking of this to consider everything. Some credits may not transfer over, which means it could take longer to get your degree. Additionally, you would probably have to go through H.C.'s admission process still, and that means you could be required to move to campus...thus negating one of the greatest benefits of H.E.S - Travelability! (18)

Can I go to H.E.S after high school?- To be eligible to begin coursework for the degree program, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent that was earned at least five years prior (e.g., May 2017 to begin taking courses in fall 2022). (19)

Is there financial aid for H.E.S?- If you are an admitted candidate in an undergraduate or graduate program, or the Premedical Program, there are a variety of financial aid options available to help you meet your educational expenses. As a US citizen or eligible noncitizen, you may apply for federal, state, and institutional aid. (20)

Do I have to always go to class?- Yes! On average, you only get 2 unexcused absences. I have yet to miss class, except once and I got lucky to make it up. You are expected to be present either on campus or on camera. (21)

Do H.E.S students study on campus too?- Yes. Admitted students are required to be on campus for at least 16 credit hours. (22)

How many withdrawals can I have?- For my degree, I can only have 2, but it might be different for others. (23)

What if I fail an admittance course?- To earn admittance, you MUST apply having maintained a B average in your 3 courses and have a 3.0. It does matter if everything else is in order. These two specific requirements are FIRM. Look at the chart below. If you fail an admittance course (you only get two tries), you have to retake it if it's an expo or take another course to make up your average, but that isn't enough. Even if you got a B in Expo15 and Expo 25, but a B- in Italian so you decided to take French and got a B...your GPA would not equal a 3.0. This means you still have not met the minimum requirement to apply to be an admitted student, and will have to try again. (24)

Who can someone trust a "new" school?

Programs like H.E.S aren't new nor isolated to just Harvard. Other Ivy's have them. H.E.S also isn't even the youngest school. H.E.S was established in 1910 (112 yrs old) . The youngest school at Harvard is the Harvard Kennedy School.

*Nerd alert*

Harvard Business School est. 1908 = 113 years

Harvard College est. 1636 = 385 years

Division of Continuing Education est. 1910 = 112 years

Harvard School of Dental Medicine est. 1867 = 154 years

Harvard Divinity School est. 1816 = 205 years

Graduate School of Design est. 1936 = 85 years

Harvard Graduate School of Education est. 1920 = 101 years

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences est. 1872 = 149 years

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences est. 1847 = 174 years

Harvard Kennedy School est. 1936 = 85 years

Harvard Law Schoolest. 1817 = 204 years

Harvard Medical School est. 1782 = 239 years

What is the graduation and acceptance rate at H.E.S compared to the traditional schools?

I called the schools directly for some of this information. (25)

H.E.S: as of 2021

Undergrad Acceptance = 7.3%, Graduation = 83%

Grad/Masters = 43.9, Graduation = 52%% It's difficult to calculate the data because of the variety of programs. For instance graduation rates for the Psychology ALM = 52%, while the Management ALM = 95% . It's imperative that you remember that these are NOT "easy" classes. I would advise against sawn diving into a program just because the admissions process has fewer hurdles. Your degree is too expensive for you to not take it seriously

Do you learn from Harvard professors? - Yes! In fact, all of my professors have been Harvard professors except for 7 out of 15. When I have completed this degree, only 14/33 of my professors would not be Harvard professors; instead, they are industry professionals in their fields. Make note that depending on your degree, you are required to have most of your courses taught by a Harvard professor. When you choose your courses, they will list which are Harvard professors.

What is a customized learning experience? - For me, it literally means designing my ideal education. I have been very lucky to be able to choose all classes that actively benefit me in real-time. Honestly, much of the money that I have invested into H.E.S, I have already made back because I am able to take the skills I learned yesterday and apply them to my career today. I don't pick classes that will be overly easy. Passing is important, but gaining new skills that I can utilize as tools is most important to me.

Are certificates and degrees the same? - No. Certificate programs enable students to master a narrow subject or topic and also offer professional training in a specific field. (26)

Do certificate holders get to commence? - No, only degree candidates are eligible to commence.(27)

Who gets a Harvard ID? -Admitted students of a Harvard's (H.E.S and otherwise) degree or premedical program(28) before you are admitted, you are generally considered a class participant.


























25- and





I don't speak for Harvard professionally. These are my opinions and experiences. Any facts provided may be found at the attached links. If you would like to know more about Harvard and any of its programs, I would suggest visiting or contacting Harvard's offices directly. *


About the Author:

Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux


    Intenovate™ Inc. , A Paradise Company™

         Best-selling author, entrepreneur, and thought leader.

 Paradise Rodríguez-Bordeaux, recipient of the 2023 Innovative Leadership and 2022 Human Rights Activist awards, firmly believes, "Sustainability is the bare minimum." Spearheading initiatives that prioritize sustainable business growth and innovation, Paradise’s leadership at Intenovate™ has been instrumental in guiding the company and its clients toward understanding and solidifying their foundational strengths before embarking on expansion. In the language of being #IntentionallyInnovative, Paradise has positioned Intenovate™ Inc. to be a sound asset for clients; leveraging strategic solutions for sustainable profitability.

 Beyond her corporate endeavors, Paradise is a passionate advocate for those who have faced adversity and discrimination. With over 15 years as a philanthropist, she supports organizations championing poverty alleviation and human rights. Paradise firmly believes that "We need to consistently produce effectively efficient solutions. This world, the communities, it's all of our responsibility. Leaders HAVE to lead," encapsulating her vision for responsible leadership.


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