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Earn-Your-Way-In Admissions

You enroll in courses toward the completion of your degree before you apply for admission. Why? Because we know that standardized test scores and previous transcripts don’t always accurately reflect our adult learners’ current academic capabilities and drive to succeed.

On this page we’ll cover:

  • Requirements you must meet to be eligible for admission
  • Courses you must take in order to apply for admission
  • Materials you should have ready for when your application window opens
  • How to submit your application
  • The application review process

1. Check Your Eligibility

To pursue a graduate degree at Harvard Extension, you must meet the following criteria:

You hold a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent.

The undergraduate degree must be awarded by a college or university that was regionally accredited at the time of your attendance, with a degree conferral date that precedes enrollment in graduate-level courses taken at Harvard Extension School.

Students who earned bachelor’s degrees outside the US should visit Verifying International Credentials to find out more information before enrolling in any Harvard Extension courses.

You do not already possess a graduate degree in a similar field.

If you already hold a graduate degree, you may earn a master’s degree from Harvard Extension School provided the two degrees are in dissimilar fields with unrelated content.

Inquire with the Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions in advance of enrolling in any courses at Harvard Extension School if you’re unsure your prior graduate degree precludes you from pursing one with us, especially if your degree is in a business-related field (including but not limited to management, finance, economics) and you’re interested in an ALM in the field of Management or Finance.

For staff to review your potentially duplicative degree, use this form to submit your inquiry and transcript(s).

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

Additional Eligibility Requirements For:

Alternative Admission Pathway Applicants

To use the Harvard Business School Online CORe (Credential of Readiness) certificate, Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential (PLC), or MITx MicroMasters Program credential as an alternative pathway to admission at Harvard Extension School, you must first submit a separate application through these schools’ websites to be accepted into their programs in order to earn the credential. Not all students are accepted.

Before enrolling in any of these schools’ programs with the intent of pursuing a degree at Harvard Extension School using the credential, confirm your Harvard Extension School degree program eligibility. Then carefully read the degree program pathway related to the credential and be sure you understand the program requirements, if and how credit transfers, the degree courses and grades you’ll need to complete for your Harvard Extension application for admission, and the expiration date of your credential toward admission.

Prior to your enrollment in any Harvard Extension School courses, the school awarding the credential must confirm with the student that the credential has been earned.

Biotechnology and Bioengineering & Nanotechnology Applicants

You have completed at least one year of postbaccalaureate scientific research.

  • You must have directly participated in the research performed in an academic or industry setting.
  • You should have designed and conducted experiments, collected data and analyzed results, and concluded and discussed outcomes.
  • You should have a strong understanding of the scientific method.
  • Your research experience includes laboratory, clinical, or computational research.
  • You hold an undergraduate degree in an area of physical, life, or computer science.

Questions about this requirement should be sent to admissions@extension.harvard.edu.

International Applicants

Verify international credits and degrees.
This requirement should be completed before enrolling in courses at Harvard Extension School. For more information, visit our Admission Details for International Students page.

2. Complete Degree Courses for Admission

At Harvard Extension School, your admission journey begins in the classroom. Here’s how to qualify for admission.

Register for the 4-credit graduate-level course(s) that your field of study requires for admission.

See the Degree Requirements page for your field of study to find the stipulated degree course(s) required for admission.

Meet the grade requirements for admission.

B or higher
Earn at least a grade of B in each of the degree courses required for admission.

Two-attempt limit on the proseminar
You are ineligible to apply if you fail to earn the minimum grade of B or higher in two registration attempts of the proseminar, if one is required for your field of study. If you repeat the proseminar, both grades will apply to your cumulative GPA unless the course has expired, as outlined below. A withdrawal (WD) is considered a registration attempt. See Enrollment Policies for Graduate Students for information about how repeat courses affect your GPA.

3.0 GPA
Earn the required cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (equivalent to a grade of B) or higher from all Harvard courses. If you haven’t earned at least a B in all of your Harvard courses, use our GPA Estimator tool to determine your GPA. See Academic Standing for information on grade-point average calculation for the graduate degree program.

Be timely! Apply when you are completing your last required course for admission and within two years of earning your proseminar grade (if required).

Submitting an application promptly near the conclusion of your course(s) stipulated for admission is essential not only for your successful admission but also for degree program completion.

Moreover, degree requirements, including admission courses, can change from year to year and courses expire (as explained below), which may result in your losing degree credit if you postpone submitting your application.

As a result, students who do not apply for admission to the program in a timely manner are assessed an additional $300 delayed application fee.

Also, apply within two years of earning your proseminar grade. If the proseminar grade is older than two years at the time of application, you must retake the course and register for a section with a different instructor, if possible.

Refer to When to Apply for the dates between which you are able to begin an application. You cannot start an application outside these dates.

Course Expiration Policy for Admission

Courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree. Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with this five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied.

3. Gather Your Supplementary Materials

Although you may apply only during certain times of the year, you can—and should—prepare your supplementary materials early so that you don’t miss a deadline.

Prepare for your online application.

Before the application opens, you can get a head start on it by following these preparatory steps:

  • Collect the names of the colleges and/or universities you have attended and the dates of your attendance.
  • Update your résumé to reflect your current work experience, education, skills, organizational memberships, and achievements.
  • Review tips and tutorials. Review our Tips to Avoid Plagiarism and complete the free online tutorials: Using Sources, Five Scenarios and Using Sources, Five Examples. Complete these before beginning the application, where you will be asked if you completed the tests but will not need to submit your scores.

Request transcripts from previous schools.

We require a current official transcript (i.e., a transcript issued directly from the school to our office) from each college or university from which you have earned a degree.

Electronic transcripts may be sent by your school to admissions@extension.harvard.edu. See the Submit Your Application section for instructions on how to submit paper transcripts.

Students with international credits and degrees must have them evaluated for equivalency as part of the admissions process. For more information, visit Admission Requirements for International Students.

Additional Materials Needed for Certain Programs

Biotechnology and Bioengineering & Nanotechnology Applicants

Request a recommendation from your postbaccalaureate research supervisor.

We require a recommendation to confirm your duties and performance, which should reflect that you worked at least one year under the supervisor’s direction.

You will need to provide your supervisor’s name and email address as part of the online application. Your supervisor will receive instructions on how to upload their feedback, which you will not be able to view, although you will be able to see if it’s been received.

Data Science, Digital Media Design, Information Management Systems, and Software Engineering Applicants

You must demonstrate proficiency in critical reading and writing skills by:

  • Passing the test of critical reading and writing skills
  • Or completing the required expository writing course for your program before submitting an application. (Other programs require this test earlier in the admissions process, typically for enrollment in an admissions course.)

View CRWS Test Information

Finance Applicants Using HBS Online CORe

Order your official CORe transcript.

Apply to the degree program only after you have been notified of your passing grade in CORe, as it may take several weeks for your transcript to be produced by Harvard Business School (HBS) Online.

You must request that HBS Online send an electronic copy of your transcript to Extension School’s Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions at admissions@extension.harvard.edu.

Government Applicants Using the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential (PLC)

Request a letter of completion confirmation.

PLC learners must contact the Harvard Kennedy School PLC Program to have this letter sent to the Harvard Extension School Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions at admissions@extension.harvard.edu.

Management Applicants Using HBS CORe

Order your official CORe transcript.

Apply to the degree program only after you have been notified of your passing grade in CORe, as it may take several weeks for your transcript to be produced by Harvard Business School (HBS) Online.

You must request that HBS Online send an electronic copy of your transcript to Extension School’s Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions at admissions@extension.harvard.edu.

You must demonstrate proficiency in critical reading and writing skills by:

  • Passing the test of critical reading and writing skills.
  • Or completing the required expository writing course for your program before submitting an application.

View CRWS Test Information

Applicants Using the MITX Micromasters Program Credential

Order your official MITx MicroMasters Program credential certificate.

To send your MicroMasters Program credential certificate to Extension School’s Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions, log in to your edX dashboard and share your student record with us. A secure link will be sent by edX directly to Extension School.

4. Submit Your Application

Your application window corresponds with the semester during which you are enrolled in your final course for admission. Details on application cycles can be found on When to Apply.

Start your online application.

Refer to When to Apply for the dates between which you are able to begin an application. You cannot start an application outside these dates. Log in to MyDCE using your Harvard Key and click on the ALB/ALM Application icon under your name and profile picture at the top of the home page to access the Extension Application Portal.

Pay the application fee.

A nonrefundable $100 fee is required to begin the application. You will be assessed an additional $300 delayed application fee if you have earned grades in more than four courses toward the graduate degree before applying.

Mail your transcripts (if applicable).

If transcripts must be mailed via post because your college or university does not offer electronic delivery, documents should be sent to:

Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions
Harvard Extension School
51 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do not open envelopes addressed to you that contain official copies of documents. Instead, mail them unopened in a larger envelope to the Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions.
  • All materials must be received in the Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions no later than the application deadline date for your application to be considered complete.

Materials are accepted and processed by the Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.

5. How We Review Applications

After grades become available for the term, advisors conduct a final application review and consider the following.

Academic Standing and Student Conduct

You must be in good academic standing with Harvard University, with no disciplinary or administrative procedures pending, stemming from violations of our Academic Integrity and/or Student Conduct policies. The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions will consider your academic disciplinary and student conduct records at Harvard University and other academic institutions in making admissions decisions.

You should be aware of our application expectations as well as our Right to Refuse Registration due to infractions that include criminal records, which will also be considered.

Harvard Extension School emphasizes that no student has a “right” to admission into an Extension School degree program. Satisfaction of the applicable academic requirements and maintaining good academic standing are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for admission. For example, Extension School may deny any student admission to its degree program if it determines, in its discretion, that a grant of admission would conflict with applicable policy; or that the student’s prior personal conduct, including outside the School, demonstrates that the student is not an appropriate candidate for a Harvard degree.

Financial Standing

You must be in good financial standing at Harvard as well as previous schools.

English Proficiency

English is the language of instruction at Harvard Extension School. If your native language is not English, you must have provided designated proof of English proficiency to register in the courses that qualify you for admission. And you must be able to register in future courses according to Extension School’s current English proficiency requirements.

As part of your application review, advisors will confirm you have met these requirements and will ask you to provide a letter of explanation if you do not. Students who have misrepresented themselves will be found in violation of Extension School’s Student Conduct policy. Their applications will be removed from admission consideration, they will be prevented from applying again in the future to a degree program at Extension School, and their case will be reviewed by the Administrative Board to consider grounds for disciplinary action.

Your Complete Application and Admission Decision

The School’s receipt of a finished online application with a satisfactorily written personal statement and resume ordinarily constitutes a complete application. The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions may ask you to submit other supporting documentation before your application is considered complete and will contact you directly in that case.

Additionally,  you must meet specific grade and GPA requirements in stipulated Harvard degree courses, as well as certain academic standing, student conduct, and English proficiency requirements as outlined above and on program-specific pages of this website.

Admission decisions are made according to the When to Apply schedule and appear in the Extension Application Portal, which is accessed by logging in to MyDCE using your Harvard Key and clicking on the ALB/ALM Application icon under your name and profile picture at the top of the home page.

If you did not earn the required GPA and/or grades by the end of the semester, you will be notified that you may reapply to the program after you have met those admission criteria.

Students who were once admitted degree candidates should refer to Enrollment Policies for Graduate Students.