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Academic Gap Year FAQs

Who is Eligible For the Academic Gap Year?

If you have earned a high school diploma, we invite you to participate. The experience is designed in particular for:

  • First-year college students taking a gap semester or year.
  • Students still considering college who want to explore their interests and expand their skill-set to help them decide. 
  • College students who want to continue academic progress while on hiatus from a home institution.

As an open-enrollment institution, Harvard Extension School welcomes academically talented students from a variety of backgrounds and age groups (there is a minimum age of 15 for undergraduate credit and 18 for graduate). On average, our students are 30 years old and have already earned an undergraduate degree.

Such diversity contributes to a dynamic and enriching learning environment. You’ll be challenged by your instructors and the rigorous curriculum, but also by your fellow students who bring much life experience into the classroom.

Our Bachelor of Liberal Arts (ALB) Program is designed for working adult students who have life and work experience. Admission requirements prohibit recent high school graduates from applying.

Harvard College Students

Harvard College degree candidates and newly accepted first-year students can participate, but may wish to choose the noncredit option as the credit is not transferrable to Harvard College. Additionally, any course taken at the Harvard Extension School, for either noncredit or credit, you cannot repeat at Harvard College.

What Credit Status Should I Choose? 

Which credit status you choose will depend on your goals. First, if you are deferring for a semester or a year, check with your home institution about the policies regarding gap year enrollment. 

If you choose the noncredit status when registering for a course, you will engage with the course each week, listening to lectures and participating in class discussions as well as activities. However, you do not take exams, submit written work for feedback, or receive grades, although in some subjects—e.g., math—work must be submitted and reviewed to progress.

If you choose the undergraduate credit status when registering for a course, you participate fully in all class discussions and activities each week. Plus, you submit written work for feedback and take exams. Attendance may be part of your final grade. You also can earn undergraduate credit for the course that could be transferrable to other colleges. Ordinarily, a grade of C or higher is necessary to transfer credit to most schools.

Please note: You can only change your course credit status before the designated deadlines, which are very early in the term.

Can I Transfer Credits to Another Institution?

Likely. Harvard Extension School has full regional accreditation. If you are currently enrolled as a degree-seeking student at another institution, check with your advisor at that school to ensure credits earned at Harvard Extension School can be transferred.

Are There Prerequisites or Requirements for Enrollment?

If your native language is not English, you must meet the English proficiency requirement before you can register for courses.

For certain courses, students must successfully pass the test of critical reading and writing skills. We offer the test free of charge to help ensure your success in certain courses with high writing demands.

We encourage you to review these requirements and other enrollment policies before registration opens. See our course registration guidelines for more information about enrollment and student conduct policies.

Can I Get Financial Aid?

Financial aid is only available to students who are admitted to degree programs. It is not available for course takers, Academic Gap Year, or certificate students.

What Do I Get After Completing Academic Gap Year Course(s)?

For all courses completed, you’ll receive a transcript. Your transcript will reflect your credit status, NC for noncredit, UN for undergraduate credit. If you are enrolled for credit, it will also display your final earned grade, including WD for withdrawing from the course after the designated drop period. If you apply to college in the future, you may be asked to submit your Harvard Extension School transcript as part of your complete application.

If you pursue a certificate, you will earn an undergraduate certificate that states: Harvard University, Harvard Extension School awarded [Your Name] a three-course Undergraduate Certificate in [field name].

What If I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the program, please email