|By Admitmeplz (Admitmeplz) on Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 01:58 am: Edit|
No admission requirements. Same faculty as the College. A Bachelor's (or Master's!) degree with the Harvard name.
Why don't more people know about this?
Or a better question
Why are we all still applying to the College?
|By Hnbui (Hnbui) on Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 08:27 am: Edit|
|By Christine01 (Christine01) on Monday, January 19, 2004 - 11:29 am: Edit|
is this a rhetorical question?
|By Admitmeplz (Admitmeplz) on Monday, January 19, 2004 - 01:44 pm: Edit|
No, it is not a rhetorical question. Explain to me the difference between a Bachelor's degree from the College and one from the Extension School.
|By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Monday, January 19, 2004 - 02:26 pm: Edit|
The Harvard Extension School offers some terrific opportunities to learn at a very accessible tuition cost, but it does not provide access to all the courses and programs available to Harvard College students.
First of all, there is no provision for Extension School students to live in Harvard dormitories.
This means that students lose the benefits that come from a residential academic program--all those informal late-night study groups and discussions, access to house tutors (grad students who live in the dorms and are available to the undergrad residents for advising, etc.)
It also means that Extension School students who don't already live in the area have to find a place to live and housing near Harvard is VERY expensive! There is some limited financial aid available for Extension School students, but I doubt it would cover the extremely high cost of living in off-campus housing near Harvard. The endowment of the Extension School is surely a tiny fraction of the endowment of Harvard College.
The Extension School itself offers a far more limited variety of courses than the College. Extension School students have some opportunities to cross-register into regular College courses, especially for the kinds of advanced courses not offered by the Extension School, but those opportunities are rather narrowly circumscribed, if you read the fine print on their website. It's not generally possible to take a full load of College courses for credit at Extension School prices.
It's also my understanding that most, if not all, Harvard College extracurricular activities are closed to extension school students.
Having said all that, there are some superb opportunities to learn a lot, at very modest expense, in the Extension School. It's a terrific bargain if you already live nearby, especially because the schedule makes it possible to learn part-time while you work.
In fact, I know of alumni of Harvard College who take Extension School classes as part of their lifelong learning program, to enrich their minds and their lives.
The students in Extension School classes can also include a group far more diverse than you might find in a College course. A lot bigger age range, of course. The older students may have a far richer set of life experiences than the typical College student and that perspective may make for some very interesting class discussions in some subjects. I know some very mature and motivated Extension School students--they are good people to have in your life. (On the other hand, many of them are very BUSY people--with families and jobs and long commutes--so they may have little time for afterclass discussions and study groups.)
There are also some highly motivated and very able high school students in Extension School courses (like Marite's son!) (In addition, there are high school TEACHERS in those courses, looking to upgrade their knowledge of their subjects.)
It may not be a perfect fit for students who want all the trappings of a conventional residential four-year-college experience, but it does offer some awesome opportunities for those who can handle the financial and logistical challenges of supporting themselves in the expensive Boston area and who are motivated and want to learn outside the box!
|By Mzhang23 (Mzhang23) on Monday, January 19, 2004 - 11:06 pm: Edit|
You get a Bachelors of Liberal Arts. Furthermore, you are required to specify "Harvard Extension School" on your resume.
Any employer with half a brain can figure out that Harvard College doesn't award a major in Liberal Arts.
Also, very stringent GPA requirements force a lot of people to drop out.
|By Christine01 (Christine01) on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 09:16 am: Edit|
I'm a grad of Harvard College but I also TA'd for an extension school course (psychopharmacology) which was ostensibly the same as a course I took in the College. Although the professor was indeed the same, the course was drastically different. This was mostly owing to the composition of students in the class- we did not cover as much material, the discussions were much less in-depth, the assignments were shorter and easier. I think that being surrounded by bright and intellectually engaged students makes a big difference in the quality of a course. It's true that there were some Harvard alums there and some people who really seemed to care about the material, but there were others who just wanted a transcript that said "Harvard." Employers do know the difference between the Extension School and the College.
|By Sooky6 (Sooky6) on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 11:55 am: Edit|
OP, don't give up on having an undergraduate residential college experience just to get a degree with a name on it. Its a huge sacrifice. The Extension school is meant to make Harvard resources available to the community at a reasonable price--it is not a substitute for an undergraduate college (certainly not for Harvard College!) There is no housing, and EXT has no extracurricular activities or organizations, etc. I'll echo Christine01, I took one EXT course as an alum (grad school) last year, in ancient history--it was a great teacher and interesting reading, but variable interest from the students.
|By Admitmeplz (Admitmeplz) on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit|
Whoa Sooky. I in no way am considering declining my admission to Northwestern to go to the Extension School.
Just curious about it, is all...
Thanks for all your input
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 05:03 am: Edit|
"You get a Bachelors of Liberal Arts. Furthermore, you are required to specify "Harvard Extension School" on your resume."
This is outright false, and I would really appreciate it if you did not comment on an institution that you clearly do not know anything about. As a masters student at Harvard Extension School, I can confirm that no such requirement exists. The school website specifically states that an extension school degree is a Harvard University degree that is equivalent to any other Harvard University degree, and everyone I have spoken to at the extension school office has very specifically stated that it is perfectly acceptable and legitimate to put "Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Harvard University" or "Master of Liberal Arts, Harvard University" on one's resume.
"Any employer with half a brain can figure out that Harvard College doesn't award a major in Liberal Arts."
No, but Harvard University does. Whether "Harvard College" offers a major in liberal arts is irrelevant, since "Harvard College" and "Harvard Extension School" (and "Harvard Law School," "Harvard Business School," etc.) are separate divisions of Harvard University. Either way it's a moot point since few traditionally formatted resumes would even mention "Harvard College" or "Harvard Extension School," but would just list "Harvard University" as the degree granting institution. Putting "Harvard College" or "Harvard Extension School" exclusively on a resume instead of "Harvard University: would be the same as me putting down "School of Industrial & Labor Relations" on my resume instead of "Cornell University."
"Also, very stringent GPA requirements force a lot of people to drop out."
It is true that a lot of people drop out (90% drop out of the bachelors program and 75% drop out of the masters program); however it's not due to grades. Don't quote me on this, but I'm fairly certain Harvard Extension requires a 2.0 GPA for undergrad and a 3.0 GPA for grad: in other words, the same as any other regionally accredited school. The biggest source of people dropping out of the undergrad program seems to be that the school is geared towards working adults and a lot of them just don't have the time to finish their degrees.
Now, as for the original post. Thoughtfulmom pretty much addressed the question, but there are a few things I'd like to elaborate on:
"It's also my understanding that most, if not all, Harvard College extracurricular activities are closed to extension school students."
Harvard COLLEGE activities are closed to extension school students, just like they're closed to Harvard Law students or Harvard Business students or Harvard Medical students or Harvard Grad students or any other non-College students. Harvard UNIVERSITY activities, however, are open to all Harvard University students, including extension school students. It should be noted though that the extension school does have extracurricular activities of its own, and many Harvard College extracurriculars are open to extension school students (they're just not permitted to be officers in the Harvard College-only groups).
"It also means that Extension School students who don't already live in the area have to find a place to live and housing near Harvard is VERY expensive! There is some limited financial aid available for Extension School students, but I doubt it would cover the extremely high cost of living in off-campus housing near Harvard."
I would just like to point out that the financial challenge isn't nearly as bad as you make it out to be -- undergraduate tuition is only ~$3000 a year, cheaper than most state schools. Even with the high rents, Harvard Extension would still be a terrific bargain for an out-of-state student. Not to mention that a truly frugal student who lives in the NYC area like myself can commute once or twice a week for classes and avoid the high rents entirely
|By Sooky6 (Sooky6) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 09:29 am: Edit|
Anthony thanks for clarifying things. I wasn't aware of any EXT groups or activities, but that certainly doesn't mean they didn't exist! I think we were all making the point that EXT serves a separate population from HC, and doesn't represent a "back door" into the College.
|By Mzhang23 (Mzhang23) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit|
Bachelor of Liberal Arts is a ALB, not a BA or AB. ALB's and ALM's are part of the Extension School. Plus, I'm quite sure you can't specify your major too, as it is awarded in LA. Few employers can tell, but some will definitely notice something a bit odd if someone puts "Harvard University, ALB" on their resume and doesn't or specifies a major in Liberal Arts.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 02:30 pm: Edit|
For the second time, please do not post "facts" about an institution you clearly know nothing about.
You're allowed to put your concentration/major on your resume. For example, if your degree is the Master of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Government, you're allowed to list the degree as "Master of Liberal Arts in Government, Harvard University" or "ALM in Government, Harvard University" on your resume (or if you prefer, just "Master of Liberal Arts, Harvard University").
|By Mzhang23 (Mzhang23) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 08:47 pm: Edit|
That's what my Harvard contacts tell me about the extension school.
And I appear to get most of my facts straight. Thanks for helping clarify some of points that Harvard College and grad students themselves say about the extension school. I will be sure to pass this info back on to them.
|By Speductr2 (Speductr2) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 07:07 am: Edit|
Harvard Extension is a hidden treasure, one most people do not know about. It's geared more to mature adults than the college age set, especially people who live in the Boston/Cambridge area.
My mother started at Radcliffe back in the 40's, but was swept off her feet by a Harvard man(my father) who graduated before she did and wanted to the leave the area after they got married.
She was able to finish her degree some 15 years and 5 kids later, through Harvard Extension. She has always told me that a Harvard degree is attainable for anyone who is willing to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary.
|By Bbarch (Bbarch) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 03:30 pm: Edit|
Harvard Extension is indeed a treasure. While it is certainly not identical to Harvard College, it does offer remarkable opportunities at an amazingly reasonable cost and with the added benefit of considerably greater student diversity. Many (though not all) courses are taught in the same labs by the same faculty with the same Problem Sets as the equivalent Harvard College course, at 1/3 the cost. The Extension School does not pretend to offer the peculiar cachet of a highly selective college. What it does offer is rich opportunity for committed and curious students who don't fit the traditional profile. Hats off to Harvard University for creating and maintaining a truly remakable exercise in educational democracy. There's nothing like it at Yale or Princeton.
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 11:04 pm: Edit|
Here is my story and a question...
I aquired a B.S in history from Northeastern Univ here in Boston back in 1995.
Ive been in the workforce for 10 years, and just now, at the wrinkly old age of 35, want to pursue graduate studies.
I want to go into the field of archaeology, and hope to get an ALM (which is basically a Masters of Liberal Arts degree) from the Harvard Extension school with focus in archaeology.
I have taken 2 courses at the extension school, non credit (so as to get back into the groove of academia), and the classes were excellent, the students were engaged and interested in the material.
Here my question
(1)-This may seem a silly question-but is the Harvard Extension school as much 'Harvard' as the day school programs? If I aquire my ALM from the Extension school, will I be able to say Im a Harvard graduate?
An earlier poste suggested many people pursue degrees at the Harvard Extension school because they want a degree that says "Harvard". Well, that IS one reason (of many) Im going to the Extension school.....
The classes are excellent, and I cant think of anyplace other than harvard where I would want to get my next degree...
Plus I live one town over from Cambridge, so its a convenient commute...
I just get the vibe on this board that Harvard Extension school is seen as 'Harvard lite"
HOWEVER, everyone I have spoken to on Harvard campus suggested to me that Extension school students were as much a part of the Harvard family as the Divinity school students, or the design school students, etc...
But a Harvard Extension School gradute IS a Harvard grad, is that not correct?
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 11:28 pm: Edit|
sorry Anthony, I should have read your poste first, as it addressed and answered all of my questions...
|By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 12:37 am: Edit|
I had not seen the post by Thoughtfulmom that mentioned my son, so here are a few comments based on his experience.
The Extension School is a wonderful resource, but it is not like the College. An aspect of the college educational structure which I believe is not part of the Extension School is the tutorial program. Another important factor is that the Extension School is not a residential college. Some study groups may be formed among students in the same class, but most students disperse after class. Since most of them work, they don't have the time to take advantage of the many opportunities afforded by the University, such as listening to a guest speakers (the number of weekly seminars is simply staggering), or participate in one or more among a huge number of extra-curricular activities.
The breadth of offerings varies enormously from field to field. In some fields, such as Biology, there are many offerings; in others, such as Physics, there is nothing beyond introductory Physics (more or less the equivalent of AP-Physics). In Math, the offerings are limited. A student who wanted to major in math would find it rather difficult. For highly able students, who have scored a 5 on the AP-Calculus BC exam, the more challenging, proof-based version of Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra (Math 25a &B)is not available. Since my S is not interested in applied math, he has had to audit a daytime math course (the Math Department is quite generous about this).
Class sizes vary. Introductory biology has 200+ students, and its lab sections have 25. In daytime classes, sections are limited to 18. Some classes, however, are much smaller, and allow the kind of discussions that highlight the contributions of more mature students.
With these caveats in mind, the Extension School provides a great education at a fraction of the cost of the College.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 03:10 pm: Edit|
Since this discussion was revived, I'll elaborate a bit more.
IMO, Harvard Extension is not the best option for undergrad unless:
1) Your family has severe financial problems and needs to go somewhere cheap, either for the full 4 years or for 2 years and then transfer. Harvard Extension is cheaper than most state schools, at around $3000 a year, so you can't really beat it in the money department unless someone else is offering the applicant a full ride.
2) The applicant's only other options are third tier schools. Say what you want about Harvard Extension being open admissions, but it beats your typical third tier in pretty much every way you can think of: cost, strength of professors, reputation, etc.
3) If the applicant is a nontraditional student and must work during the day while working on a bachelors degree.
IMO Harvard Extension's masters program is much stronger than the undergrad program since all the major disadvantages of the undergrad program don't apply while all the advantages do.
|By Corny (Corny) on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 10:03 pm: Edit|
Having been in a program at Harvard Extension, there is one fact that hasn't pointed out.
Although Harvard Extension and Harvard College have two separate sets of classes, Extension School students can apply for and usually obtain special student status to take up to four courses/semester at the College during the normal day session. The only requirement is filling out an application and having a good gpa. Special Student status is good for only one year but you can re-apply each year.
The one downside: Whereas Extension courses are relatively inexpensive for undergraduates ($500-600/course), the College charges (approx $4000/course). If you are a degree candidate at the Extension School you can use your financial aid to cover the cost but that's a lot of money to borrow through the Stafford Loan Program which has borrowing limits. So, unless you're independently wealthy or have another souce to borrow from, you may only be able to take one to two courses per term.
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 11:52 pm: Edit|
Anthony, where does the Harvard Summer school fit into the equation? Is that a part of the extension school?
The Masters program (ALM) at Harvard extension seems ideal for me...Its 10 minutes from my house, superb classes, and hey-its Harvard...
Its ironic- I was turned down when I applied to Texas A&M's marine archaeology masters program; one reason being I had no undergraduate archareology classes at NU.
My hope is to get an ALM from the Harvard Extension school with focus in archeology, then eventually apply to Texas A&M for thier PhD program in marine archaeology.
Harvard experience can only help....
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 05:32 am: Edit|
Harvard Extension and Harvard Summer School are both part of the Division of Continuing Education, so yes for all intents and purposes they're the same thing: their offices are in the same building, a very large chunk (I'd estimate around 50%) of Harvard Summer classes are courses offered at Harvard Extension on a regular basis, and Harvard Summer classes count towards Harvard Extension degrees the same way regular Harvard Extension courses do. Only difference is that Harvard Summer courses have higher tuition rates (without a doubt to capitalize on all the high school and college students taking classes there "because it's Harvard.")
Personally I'd go for it if I was in your situation (actually I have gone for it since I've been pursuing the ALM in government during my gap year between undergrad and law school). Best case scenario it gets you into the PhD program, worst case scenario you have a Harvard masters degree and are a Harvard alum. Can't lose either way.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 03:20 am: Edit|
"I see that you went to law school. i am considering taking the "Legal Writing" course. it's under the field of Professional Writing and the area of Writing Program. How helpful is this course in preparing one for law school and the possible career of a lawyer? i've worked in several law firms. i've learned how to prepare motions, orders, and discoveries. how much more does the course give you in preparation for law school? what would be your recommendation?"
I'm not currently in law school (I'm starting this fall), nor have I taken that class. However, from everything I've read about law school admissions, law schools are against taking law-related classes prior to going to law school. The first year of law school is meant to teach you all the basics, so I can't imagine how taking that class would help you, if anything it could hurt you if whatever is taught in that class differs from what they end up teaching you in law school.
"second, i see that you graduated from the harvard extension school in one year."
You misread, I haven't graduated from Harvard Extension yet, I'm still in the program. With the way the program is structured, it's impossible to finish in 1 year: you need at least 3 classes completed with a B or higher to get into the program, and you need 6 classes or more completed to even get to start your thesis. Most likely you're looking at a year and a half to two years minimum depending on how long it takes you to do your thesis. It's impossible to finish in a year because of how the program is structured: even if you take 2 summer classes and 4 fall classes and then apply, you will NOT be able to start on your thesis during the spring term because 1) it takes six to eight weeks for your application to be processed, meaning that you'd be unable to register for the thesis class for the spring semester and 2) it takes a few months to write the thesis proposal and for the program to match you up with an advisor from one of the Harvard graduate schools (GSAS, GSE, KSG, Law, or wherever). No matter what you do, the thesis is going to carry over. However, it's possible to do the thesis without being on the Harvard campus, so you shouldn't have a problem working on it while in law school or something like that (assuming you'd be willing to attempt that). Of course you could always do the thesis after law school if you don't want to juggle them at once -- you have 5 years to complete the ALM degree.
What I did was take two distance learning classes while I was at Cornell, then take two oncampus courses in the Fall, and now I'm taking two oncampus courses and one through distance learning (remember, I'm commuting to Harvard from NYC -- I'm doing another masters program the rest of the week). In the summer I plan on taking two classes to finish off the coursework, and then work on the thesis while I'm in law school. While it's certainly possible for someone to do the *coursework* in one year (ie. 4 fall classes plus 4 spring classes plus 1 summer class, or some combination of fall/spring/summer classes that results in 9 courses), the thesis is what makes things last longer.
"i know the website says that students earning graduate credit have more work, but i would like to know the difference from an actual student at harvard extension."
Depends on the professor. Of the 3 classes that I have already taken that were offered either for undergrad or grad credit, 2 of them required slightly longer final papers (ie. 20 pages instead of 10) and the other one had no additional requirements. Of the 3 classes I'm taking now, 1 of them requires an additional research paper for grad students but the other 2 have no additional requirements. The syllabus for every class in the Extension school is up on the Extension school website, so before registering you can look up the syllabus to see what the additional requirements are, if any.
"am i allowed to take graduate credit since i'm still an undergrad?"
Yes. However, only TWO graduate credit courses taken prior to earning a bachelors degree will count towards the ALM.
"if i take undergrad credit, will those courses still count toward the ALM degree?"
No, it has to be for grad credit if you want it to count towards the ALM.
"do all courses required for the ALM degree have to be graduate credit courses?"
Yes, grad credit courses taken at Harvard.
"do you recommend that i take two graduate credit courses at harvard extension? or would you recommend that i take one undergrad and one grad? any input would be useful."
Where are you doing your undergrad? If you're doing your undergrad degree someplace other than Harvard Extension and your goal is the ALM, then there is no point in taking a Harvard Extension class for undergrad credit. I'd recommend taking the class for grad credit, since in most cases it won't require much extra work and by taking it for grad credit it'll count towards the ALM (also your undergrad university will probably still take it as transfer credit -- I was able to transfer the two graduate credit courses I took last Spring to Cornell, and have them count both towards my Cornell bachelors degree and the Harvard ALM).
If you have any other questions feel free to post.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 03:58 am: Edit|
Now that I think of it, someone in your position *might* be able to finish the ALM with only 1 year of work after undergrad. It would have to go like this:
Sometime *prior* to getting your bachelors: take 2 Harvard Extension courses for graduate credit, most likely through distance learning.
The summer immediately after you get your bachelors: take 2 Harvard courses in the summer, including the required proseminar.
Fall: take 4 Harvard Extension courses. At the same time, apply to the program. The second you get accepted, go meet with the director of social sciences and discuss your thesis proposal with him and work your ass off to fine tune it so that he can look for an advisor for you.
Spring: take 1 Harvard Extension courses, If you worked hard to get your thesis proposal ready for submission, the director of social sciences *might* be able to set you up with a thesis advisor in time for you to complete the thesis in the spring term. Since you're only taking 1 course other than the thesis, you should be able to get it done, especially since you're concentrating in a field like history which doesn't really require things like survey research.
Might want to take a look into that, you might be able to pull off finishing the ALM in only one extra year without having the thesis carry over to law school.
|By Corny (Corny) on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 09:03 pm: Edit|
Anthony has done such a good job answering all the questions, there isn't much I can add.
One thing to note though. All ALM concentrations don't offer all the required in-field courses in a single year. You should be able to finish the ALM in one year as Anthony suggested if you're in heavily suscribed concentrations like government and biology which have a wide array of course offerings but forget it if you're in a concentration like linguistics which has very few concentrators and an equally small course selection.
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 03:44 pm: Edit|
While Anthony has indeed provided useful answers, I would like to expand on a few points that he has made. Note, Anthony, if you're reading this, be assured that I'm not challenging your answers, but I think some of your points could use some explication.
*"...Best case scenario it gets you into the PhD program, worst case scenario you have a Harvard masters degree and are a Harvard alum. Can't lose either way"
Here I must disagree. The true worst case scenario is that you spend your money and time and get nothing at all.
By that I mean that the program isn't quite as golden as might be suggested by the above statement. The ALM program (and all the Harvard Extension programs, for that matter) is not exactly a cakewalk to complete. As Anthony mentioned before, to even be formally admitted into the ALM program, you must take 3 classes, including the proseminar, with grades of at least a 'B' in all 3 classes. In lieu of a formal admissions process, it is this requirement that serves as the true 'admissions process' of the program. Rest assured, this is not a "gimme" or a mulligan by any means. Many classes are graded on a curve centered around a 'B', which means that a substantial portion of the class will receive a grade lower than what is required to be admitted. Furthermore, you are only allowed to take the proseminar twice, and if you cannot attain a 'B' grade in it after attempting it twice, you are permanently denied admission to the program. Finally, you need to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA to graduate, as well as the aforementioned thesis requirement. I also believe that you have a maximum of 5 years to complete the program.
Anecdotally speaking (for Harvard refuses to publish the results), a large proportion of people who start the ALM program therefore never complete it. I am not trying to dissuade anybody from attempting the program, but what I'm saying is that anybody who is considering the program needs to do so with their eyes open. You have to do some serious work to complete the program and there is the very real possibility that you will not complete the program even if you do all the work, either because you never get sufficient grades to be admitted, or because you can't maintain a 3.0, or because your thesis is unacceptable, or because you can't get everything done in 5 years. So just keep in mind that this is not a free handout that Harvard is providing.
* Length of program.
Harvard formally states that you must spend a minimum of 2 years to complete the program. Is it possible to use special petitions to complete the program faster? I suppose anything's possible. But all I know is that the minimum requirement of 2 years is clearly stated in its FAQ.
|By Ariani (Ariani) on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 05:26 pm: Edit|
I am very interested to join the Harvard Extension School to get my Master degree and I notice that the discussion here is very useful. So, I hope I can clarify some doubts.
I notice in the Harvard Extension School that there are charges for graduate credit per course, which is around $1500~. And also there is a full FAS tuition for Special students which is $3,258 per course.
Does that mean that we need to pay both ? Or is the Special Student tuition fee applicable only when we would like to do courses from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ?
If it's true, then do we need to pay ONLY for the courses that we're taking (plus the Library special borrower's card) ?
"Harvard Extension is cheaper than most state schools, at around $3000 a year, so you can't really beat it in the money department unless someone else is offering the applicant a full ride. "
Is the $3000 an amount as a full time student (and we can take any number of courses we want), or is it obtained from adding up the number of courses taken (which means 2 courses * $1500) ?
"The one downside: Whereas Extension courses are relatively inexpensive for undergraduates ($500-600/course), the College charges (approx $4000/course)."
What kind of charge is the $4000/course? I mean, is this the full time student fee ? If yes, is it applicable for part-time student?
Thanks and any advice will be appreciated.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 08:10 pm: Edit|
"*"...Best case scenario it gets you into the PhD program, worst case scenario you have a Harvard masters degree and are a Harvard alum. Can't lose either way"
Here I must disagree. The true worst case scenario is that you spend your money and time and get nothing at all."
Keep in mind that *in this specific poster's situation* coming out with nothing would still be a good thing: remember, his goal is a PhD program. If he can't handle graduate coursework or a masters thesis, it's better that he find out *now* rather than three years from now when he's working on a doctoral dissertation.
"Anecdotally speaking (for Harvard refuses to publish the results), a large proportion of people who start the ALM program therefore never complete it."
The director of the social sciences ALM was in my proseminar last semester and said that the dropout rate is 75%: half of those who start the program don't finish the coursework, and then half of those left don't finish the thesis. However he made sure to point out that the bulk of those who didn't finish the coursework phase did it for non-academic reasons, ie. having to leave the Cambridge area (a large chunk of extension school degree candidates are military personnel).
"I notice in the Harvard Extension School that there are charges for graduate credit per course, which is around $1500~. And also there is a full FAS tuition for Special students which is $3,258 per course.
Does that mean that we need to pay both ? Or is the Special Student tuition fee applicable only when we would like to do courses from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ?
If it's true, then do we need to pay ONLY for the courses that we're taking (plus the Library special borrower's card) ?"
Yes, you ONLY pay for what you're taking. The special students fee is ONLY if you're taking courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. If you're only taking extension courses, it's ~$1500 for each 4 cr graduate class.
"Is the $3000 an amount as a full time student (and we can take any number of courses we want), or is it obtained from adding up the number of courses taken (which means 2 courses * $1500) ?"
The $3000 is undergraduate only. All tuition at Harvard Extension is per course, so if you're an undergraduate student taking 16 credits each term you'll end up paying around $3000 (~$400 per course).
"What kind of charge is the $4000/course? I mean, is this the full time student fee ? If yes, is it applicable for part-time student?"
Once again, that $4000/course figure is only for non-Extension classes. If you're only going to take extension classes then completely disregard it.
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 10:54 pm: Edit|
"...keep in mind that *in this specific poster's situation* coming out with nothing would still be a good thing: remember, his goal is a PhD program."
OK, fine, sure, I can agree with that. But the fact that the poster might get out with nothing at all is indeed a possibility. Whether getting nothing is good, bad, desirable, undesirable, or whatever adjective you want to use is in the eye of the beholder, but the point is that getting out with that Harvard master's is not the corner solution. Getting nothing is the true corner solution. Those starting the program have to deal with the strong possibility that they will never be formally admitted, and even those that are admitted have to deal with the strong possibility that they will not complete the program. Like I said - it's not a "gimme" by any means.
"It is true that a lot of people drop out (90% drop out of the bachelors program and 75% drop out of the masters program); however it's not due to grades. "
First off, I'm quite curious about these numbers. I have the suspicion that these numbers are calculated from those students who have been formally admitted into the program. For example, those who want to obtain a master's but never achieve the 'B' grades in the first 3 classes necessary to obtain formal admission into the program are never technically considered to be students, even though for all intensive programs, these are really dropouts (or force-outs). If that's the case, then the true dropout rate is obviously much higher. I don't know if that's the case, so perhaps that's something that should be brought up to the administration.
Second of all, again, I have to disagree with your contention that it doesn't have anything to do with grades. Again, speaking only of the master's programs, one has to maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing in the program, just like most graduate programs. However, the difference is that, again, anecdotally speaking, it seems to be more difficult to maintain a 3.0 in Harvard Extension graduate coursework than in coursework of other schools. Most graduate schools are not going to fail you out because of coursework. They might fail you out because of your prelims, but not because of coursework.
Now, can I prove that? No. I don't have reams and reams of statistical information at my disposal. All I can tell you is that from talking to graduate students of many programs, I discern that most graduate courses are graded fairly easily - if you do the work, then unless you're a total fool, you're pretty much assured that you're going to get a decent grade. Graduate students of those programs are forced out because of bad prelims or because they can't complete their thesis/dissertaion, but almost never because they couldn't pass snuff in their coursework. This does not seem to be the case with Harvard Extension. In HE classes, particularly those taken for graduate-level credit, there is the very real danger of getting a poor grade and consequently there is always the danger that your grades will not be strong enough to keep you in good academic standing. This is all anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth, but I do think it's something to keep in mind.
"...half of those who start the program don't finish the coursework, and then half of those left don't finish the thesis.The bulk of those who didn't finish the coursework phase did it for non-academic reasons, ie. having to leave the Cambridge area (a large chunk of extension school degree candidates are military personnel).
If I have read you correctly, then you just stated a point that I would like to highlight. Of those people who successfully navigate the coursework, only half of them actually manage to complete the thesis. That HE director that you quoted basically said that a chunk of those who were forced to leave because of coursework did so because they were working, but pointedly did not mention what happened to those people who couldn't complete the program because of the thesis.
And that speaks to the overall point that I'm making here. If you want to get that Harvard ALM, you first have to get admitted, and that's no walk in the park. Then you have to complete all the coursework with sufficient grades, and that's no gimme. Finally, you will have to complete the thesis, and looks like half of the people who make it this far are unable to complete this hurdle.
" Don't quote me on this, but I'm fairly certain Harvard Extension requires a 2.0 GPA for undergrad and a 3.0 GPA for grad: in other words, the same as any other regionally accredited school. The biggest source of people dropping out of the undergrad program seems to be that the school is geared towards working adults and a lot of them just don't have the time to finish their degrees. "
While I agree that the fact that the student body is somewhat itinerant has something to do with it, I would contend that the HE dropouts numbers are dramatic even when compared to other schools that also cater to the working population. There are two things going on - #1, yes, working people do tend to have problems in completing any academic program, and #2 - The HE program is no gimme. Clearly I can't separate out these 2 factors and state that X dropouts are because of factor #1 and Y dropouts are because of factor #2, but I would contend that factor #2 is a significant contributor that all who are considering the program need to respect.
Again, I'm not necessary trying to dissuade anybody from attending the program. The HE programs can be useful to your professional or academic career when used properly. However, I detect a powerful whiff of "backdoor-ism" here in this thread - that people think that Harvard, through the HE programs, are just giving away sheepskins as free handouts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Getting formally admitted into an HE program is not a joke, getting through the coursework is not a joke, and completing the HE master's thesis is certainly no joke. If you are considering the HE programs, understand what you're getting yourself into. The coursework is rigorous, the thesis requirements are rigorous, and there is the very real possibility that you will work diligently and still receive nothing.
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 11:49 pm: Edit|
Finally, I would like to dispel that the HE degree programs are open admissions, something that I have seen stated incorrectly here on this thread numerous times. Anybody is free to take an HE class. But the HE degree programs are not open admissions programs. Repeat - they are not open admissions. In order to be formally admitted into the degree programs, you have to fulfill the criteria that HE lays out. The admissions requirements are laid out here:
And I can furthermore tell you that these requirements are no walk in the park. You don't just fulfill them just by showing up. You have to do a quite substantial amount of work. It is not easy by any means.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit|
"OK, fine, sure, I can agree with that. But the fact that the poster might get out with nothing at all is indeed a possibility... Like I said - it's not a "gimme" by any means."
"First off, I'm quite curious about these numbers. I have the suspicion that these numbers are calculated from those students who have been formally admitted into the program. For example, those who want to obtain a master's but never achieve the 'B' grades in the first 3 classes necessary to obtain formal admission into the program are never technically considered to be students, even though for all intensive programs, these are really dropouts (or force-outs)."
Nope, according to the HE director, those numbers include the people who never apply: half of all people who register for an ALM proseminar never apply to the ALM program (remember that the ONLY purpose of the proseminar class is ALM admissions, for example in my proseminar literally every single person in the class was in it with the intention of doing the ALM), meaning that they either didn't do well (or never completed) in the proseminar, didn't do well (or never completed) the other two courses, or just changed their mind about doing the program.
You're right though that the 50% dropout rate for those who have passed the coursework phase because they are unable to complete the thesis IS something people should consider.
"However, the difference is that, again, anecdotally speaking, it seems to be more difficult to maintain a 3.0 in Harvard Extension graduate coursework than in coursework of other schools. Most graduate schools are not going to fail you out because of coursework."
All Harvard Extension faculty know whether a student is registered in the class for undergrad or grad credit, and they grade accordingly. They know what the ramifications of a B- or lower are and only give those grades to grad students if they really deserve it, ie. they never showed up to class or the flunked the final. You DO have to do work (obviously) but the threat of failure due to coursework is no higher than at any other university. Remember also that the syllabus for every extension class is available online, so you know what you're getting into in each class before you register (unless you completely disregard this feature and register for courses blindly).
"However, I detect a powerful whiff of "backdoor-ism" here in this thread - that people think that Harvard, through the HE programs, are just giving away sheepskins as free handouts. Nothing could be further from the truth."
100% agreed: the work is definitely rigorous, just like the work in any accredited masters program.
"Finally, I would like to dispel that the HE degree programs are open admissions, something that I have seen stated incorrectly here on this thread numerous times."
I think people are using the term open admissions on this thread as shorthand for "If you do X, Y, and Z you are GUARANTEED admission into the degree program." If you take the proseminar and the two electives of your choice and come out with a 3.00 (w/ a B in the proseminar), include two brief essays about why you want to do the program, give them your app fee, have an accredited bachelors degree, and don't lie on your application (ie. claim that you have a degree that you don't have) then you are automatically going to be accepted -- in fact if there is something wrong with your essays (ie. grammatical errors) they'll give you your essay back so that you can revise them and resubmit them before being formally accepted. Instead of writing all this out it's just simpler to write "open admissions" -- it's not like Harvard Law, where 90% of people who meet the minimum requirements get rejected even though many of them have grades and test scores that are identical to the people that they do accept.
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 03:30 am: Edit|
We are definitely iterating our way to a consensus here. However, I still think some points bear mentioning.
*The meaning of open admissions
Honestly, I don't think anybody here can know for sure what people are really thinking when they say or think 'open admissions'. But in any case, we should be clear about what the admissions policies of the HE degree programs are. You can't just wake up one fine day and start calling yourself a HE degree candidate. To be a degree candidate, you have to complete the HE degree candidate requirements.
*The "Proseminar semester" as a necessary gateway.
The strong implication in your last post is that the semester that one takes the proseminar is the 'gateway semester' into the ALM program, in the sense that those who fail the program do so because of poor performance during that semester. It is indeed true that because the proseminar is highly recommended as being one of a candidate's 3 initial classes, the particular semester in which you take the proseminar usually does serve as a gateway. But there is no formal requirement that this be so. In fact, HE itself warns that sometimes students will be unable to get into the proseminar when the candidate wants to, usually due to restrictions on the size of the class (proseminars are very small) and so forth. Such students will therefore be shunted into other classes, and such students could do poorly in those classes- poorly enough that the student would elect not to continue further.
And of course there are those particular students who might think about the program, try out 1 or 2 non-proseminar courses, and find that they either can't hack it or decide that they don't like it and leave.
The point of bringing all this up is that for purposes of determining dropout rates, that HE director is only counting those people who took the proseminar, neglecting the fact that others left the program without ever attempting the proseminar. So in reality, the 'fail-rates' (such as they are) should be even higher than what is reported.
* The specific admissions requirements.
The following might be pedantic, but it bears mention that you do not need simply a 3.0 to gain formal admission into the ALM program, you must have grades of B or higher in 3 classes, and one of those classes must be the proseminar. Not a 3.0 GPA, but grades of B or higher in each of the 3 classes. Getting an 'A', a 'B', and a 'C' (for a GPA of 3.0) is not going to cut it. In fact, getting a grade of 'B-' is not going to cut it either. The HE policies are crystal-clear: you either got at least a B, or you didn't.
Furthermore, I said this before, but I think it bears mentioning, you get 2 shots at the proseminar to get that 'B'. That's it. If you attempt the proseminar twice and you don't get a B (not a B-, but a B), then you are barred from the program.
*Grading policies of HE classes
Having had some experience with the HE coursework myself, I confess that I am much less sanguine than you about course grading policies. What you are stating smacks of 'favoritism' shown towards grad-students. Consider this. An undergrad enrolls in an HE course and performs to a level that the prof decides that he deserves a grade of 'B-'. Then he notices that a grad-student in the same class performed at an equivalent level and should therefore also deserve a 'B-'. Your suggestion is that because the prof notices that the student is a grad-student, the prof basically gives him a "free bump" all the way to a B.
First of all if that's really true, then if I was the undergrad, I would be quite upset. Why should the grad-student get a better grade than me just because he's a grad student if we performed equal-quality work ? Second of all, having experienced some of the HE curricula myself, I can say that I have never seen any favoritism shown towards grad-students myself. HE profs are, for the most part, brutally fair - your grade is your grade, and they're not going to change it just because of your registration status. If they think your work is substandard, then they're going to give you a substandard grade, end of story. Third, like I said, many HE courses are are intentionally curved with a mean-grade of 'B', and so by definition, many students are going to get a grade lower than a 'B'.
*Minimum requirements of other places.
Uh, you can't talk about minimum requirements of other Harvard schools that way, simply because there are hardly any formal minimum requirements. There is no such thing as a minimum LSAT or a minimum GPA to be admitted to Harvard Law. The only minimum requirement to apply to Harvard Law is that you have a bachelor's degree. That's it.
Furthermore, like I said before, a great proportion of people who attempt an HE degree program do not complete it, whereas well over 90% of all incoming 1-L's to HLS will graduate, as will 90% of incoming students to Harvard College or Harvard Business School or Harvard Medical School. Again, I agree that the fact that the HE program caters to an itinerant working population has something to do with it. But so does the fact that the requirements to stay in the program are not trivial (again, HE itself admits that 50% of all candidates who make it past the proseminar stage do not complete the program).
The difference that is important in this discussion between the HE degree programs and all the other Harvard degree programs are that in the other Harvard degree programs, once you're in, you're pretty much assured you're going to get your degree. For example, if you're admitted to Harvard College, then as long as you pay your money and do the bare minimum of work, you're going to get your degree. You may not graduate with great grades, but you are practically assured that you will graduate. According to USNews, 98% of all Harvard College students graduate within 6 years. The vast majority of students at the other Harvard schools also graduate.
This is not so with the HE degree programs. Again, the dropout numbers are very telling. It is true that many people who attempt the proseminar may not be fully committed to the program, or might have financial problems or work/family/personal problems or whatever, and that will contribute to the high dropout rate of students who have attempted the proseminar. That is indeed true. So let's just look at the past-proseminar numbers. Anybody who's managed to make it past the proseminar are less likely to suffer from any of those problems. So we can be pretty assured that these are not a bunch of fly-by-night operators - that anybody who's made it this far is a quite serious student. When you see that 50% of these students don't make it, that's a very profound statistic.
*Comparison to other graduate schools
Having said that, I think we now have a useful logical framework upon which we can view the HE ALM vs. master's degree programs at other schools. Obviously all graduate schools are different, but what is important to note about the HE ALM is that 50% of the students who gotten past the proseminar don't make it through the program, and we're not even talking about those students who dropped out or were forced out before ever having reached this stage.
This is why I don't consider the HE to be comparable to other graduate programs, not because the coursework is substantially different or that the faculty quality and resources are different (they probably are not very different), but because there seems to be a much higher "fail-rate" in HE than in most other grad schools. Like I said, if you choose HE, there is the very real chance that you will end up with no degree at all.
*Again, to summarize
Once again, I have to say that I am not trying to dissuade anybody from attempting the ALM program. There are indeed many good things about the program. However, I believe in truth-in-advertising, and the ALM program is not all strawberries and cream. You are going to have to work quite hard, and even if you do, there is a strong possibility that you will be unable to complete the degree. Anybody who's considering the program has to respect that possibility. Now, if you understand this and still want to proceed, then more power to you. But just keep in mind what the odds are.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 04:36 am: Edit|
I found the courses at Cornell and Harvard Extension to be roughly equivalent, except that I found it was easier to get an A at Harvard Extension than at Cornell.
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 07:06 pm: Edit|
I think if a person holds the view that the chances of getting an ALM from Harvard Extension are slim, they WILL fail, because it becomes a self fullfilling prophecy.
I think optimism, focus , discipline and dertermination are keys in succeeding at any grad school...
Never mind how your classmates are doing, focus on your own abilities and dont short change yourself.
I have friends at Harvard , at the HE and the Divinity School, and thier intellect is no greater or less than mine...
What enables them to do well at class is thier focus and determination, and I have that determiniation.
Harvard is one town over, and I know that getting an ALM with focus in archaeology will more than make up for my lack of archaeology courses as an undergrad, and the name Harvard will indeed look good on my resume...
The Harvard Extension is simple my step B to get to step C, which is a PhD in marine archaeology at another school, and a future career teaching the subject on the college level...
Im taking the cautious route, taking classes for non credit, so as to reintroduce myself to the rigors of academia (its been nearlly 10 years, I aquired my Bachelors in 1995)
before I take classes for credit.
I might take another 3 classes non credit before I star taking graduate credit classes....
BUT, I am wondering.....
*If the 5 year limit comes and goes, and you still owe a class or thesis, what happens? Are your credits erased?
*If your average falls below 3.0, are your dropped at once or warned, and if dropped, are you banned from the ALM program for life?
I have a good feeling though, I know Ill do well..
as Han Solo said to C3P0
"never tell me the odds"
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 08:44 pm: Edit|
In answer to Dbzkenshinfreak, the difficulty of classes depends on the professor and the major.
Obviously every HE class is different, but just in bear in mind that quite a few grade on a curve centered on a 'B' or less. So you can see what the grade distribution must be - a significant portion of the class must receive poor grades.
In answer to Titanicwreck, again, I am not trying to dissuade anybody from attempting the program, but rather I am trying to inject a little caution. Hope and optimism are good, but they have to be balanced with wisdom and judgment. There is a fine line between positive thinking and foolhardiness. You want focus, but not so much focus that it blinds you to the point that you see only what you want to see.
For example, I work with underprivileged kids every week, some of whom think they have enough basketball skills to eventually make it to the NBA. While their dreams are good, they have to be tempered. How remiss would I be I told them that they were guaranteed to make it? They need to know that their odds are very low, meaning that they have to prepare for the possibility (indeed, the high probability) that they won't make it and therefore need to obtain skills that will let them live a regular non-basketball lifestyle.
In answer to your specific questions, if the 5-years expire, your credits enter a sort of remission status. Your credits never expire, in the sense that you can always get an official transcript that shows your classes and grades. But after the 5 years expire, you are dropped from the program.
If your gpa falls below 3.0 for 2 terms, then your status will be reviewed by the administration, and the administration may decide to drop you (their discretion). You also are not allowed to submit a thesis proposal if your gpa is below 3.0. Needless to say, this may unduly delay your progress to the point where you may be unable to complete the degree in the time period allotted.
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 12:19 pm: Edit|
Thanks for your postes, they are very informative and helpful.
There are no guarentees in life, and I agree, if a person approaches Harvard Extension and enrolls in the ALM programs, there is no guarentee they will get thier degree.
The HE staff will admit as much, they will say it will require hard work and determiniation. So your right, its not a 'peaches and cream' affair.....
But I am of the belief reality is often what a person makes of it..
If a person decides that thier goals are unrealistic and out of reach because others with the same goal usually fail, than that will be their personal reality.
If a person decides that some dreams can come true, and if they are willing to work hard and sacrifice to make it happen, then often they will succeed.
I have a good friend who lost his legs in an accident years ago , yet he now participates in the wheelchair race component at the Boston marathon. Most amputees would fail at such an endeavor, but does that discourage my friend? Not at all...
Talk to him, and he'll will tell you almost anything is possible if you put your mind to it..
But Sakky, why dwell on the odds against succeeding, rather than the odds for succeeding? There is a middle ground between optimism and pessimism, and forgive me, but your postes have dwelled on the point most ALM applicants will fail. What about those who succeed?
By chance were you in the ALM program at one point?
Please dont take offense, but your postes sound as if they were written by a person who tried for the ALM and failed, and was left with the feelings the odds for anyone succeeding are slim at best.
I understand your angle, but I think for any prospective HE candidate, they need to be aware of both the positive and the negative, but focus on the positive.
I am of the opinion if a person works hard and is disciplined and focused, they can make thier HE dreams a reality.
Im no naive fool- I'm in my mid 30s, have traveled the world, and am all too familiar with the cruelties of life.
But I have seen too many people let thier dreams evaporate because others convinced them the odds of success are slim.
I also know the importance of seizing life and making it your own.
Whatever the odds of success at HE may be, I hope anyone who holds the dream of going does go, and give it your all. Some fail, but many pass.
If anyone is interested in aquring the ALM, make that dream your reality.
Approaching the experience with a postive and focused outlook is imperative..
If you are committed to succeeding at HE and are willing to work hard and give it your all, you can succeed.
But naysayers and doubting thomases will set themselves up for failure....
Anyway Sakky, thanks for your postes, though I tend to prefer more optimism, you have contributed much to this thread, and for that I thank you..
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 08:57 pm: Edit|
No, I am not an ALM flunkie (I knew somebody was going to eventually ask me that). I am actually a currenet ALM student. I post what I post not because I'm trying to dissuade anybody from the program, but because I am sick and tired of hearing people constantly suggesting that HE is somehow an easy backdoor in which Harvard is handing out degrees like candy. That is absolutely not the case.
Bottom line. The ALM, and any HE program for that matter, can enhance your personal and professional goals, but it is no cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination. I see a lot of people who are here just because they think they can pick up an easy Harvard degree. Practically all of these guys end up dropping out, and they usually don't even gain formal admission to the program.
|By Anthony (Anthony) on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 09:47 am: Edit|
I'm concentrating in government. Courses so far:
Strategies for Environmental Management
Social Sciences Proseminar
Politics in Modern Russia
Changing Global Climate
|By Corny (Corny) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 01:03 am: Edit|
How did you like Metaphysics? I took Existentialism at the Extension School a few years ago. It was one of my most favorite classes, especially the graduate seminar where we discussed topics in depth.
I want to take Metaphysics but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
|By Titanicwreck (Titanicwreck) on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit|
I have essentially been auditing classes..my plan is this, take as many required courses first as non credit - do the reading, absorb the lectures..Then eventually take them again for grad credit.
I like to go into a class well prepared, and I prefer to read the chapters before the Professor even touches upon the material.
That way the lectures are in effect a review of material I have already learned...
In regards to financial aid, I have a few questions.....
Does anyone know where a 35 yr old archaeology student like myself might best look for scholarships or financial aid?
My credit is not that great, so Im uncertian if less than perfect credit would disqualify me from financial help.
My impression has been finding financial aid through Harvard is problamatic at best, and outside sourses are all thats available..
I talked to a fellow HE extension student pursuing an undergrad degree,(wheras Im after the ALM) albiet in the same field as me (archaeology); and my impression was that there are far fewer scholarship or grant opportunities for grad students than undergrad students.
Any pointers on finding funding would be much appreciated.
Tarn C. Stephanos
|By Corny (Corny) on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 10:52 pm: Edit|
As long as you haven't defaulted on any student loans, you should be eligible for Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) through Harvard. The maximum borrowing limit for a grad student is $18,500/yr. The actual amount you get will depend on your financial need (based on income, etc). The financial aid office does an analysis of your financial picture and then will send you an offer letter.
To be eligible for financial aid though you must take at least two courses per semester.
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