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Enrollment Policies for Graduate Students

Bachelor’s Degree Required

You must have a four-year, US regionally accredited or foreign equivalent bachelor’s degree before enrolling in any courses toward the degree. If you complete courses prior to earning your undergraduate degree, the credit will not count toward the ALM degree.

Duplicative Degree

You cannot be admitted to our graduate program if you already possess or are in the process of earning a master’s degree in a similar field. For example, you cannot be admitted to our Management program if you have already completed an MBA or a master’s degree in a related business field. The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes final determinations about duplicative degrees and, as a result, encourages you to check your eligibility prior to registering in any Harvard Extension School courses if your previous or current studies elsewhere at the master’s level are in a field similar to the one you wish to pursue here.

Graduate Credit

All courses must be taken for graduate credit. Some courses require a B or higher grade (e.g., admission courses), while all others require a B- or higher. See Academic Standing for more information.

Complete All Credits at Harvard to Graduate

You must complete a total of 48 degree-applicable Harvard, graduate-level credits with required grades, meet the required GPA, and fulfill all degree requirements to graduate. For museum studies, the total credits is 40. 

After a degree is awarded, its curriculum is closed. No adjustments to degree-applicable courses can be made.

Course Selection for Degree Requirements

It is critical that you choose courses using the specific field of study degrees course search.

To find degree courses in the DCE Course Search and Registration platform:

  • Under Search Classes, scroll to Browse by Degree, Certificate, or Premedical Program.
  • Select Graduate Degrees
  • Choose your field of study to explore program courses.

It is your responsibility as a graduate student at Harvard to confirm the accuracy of your course selections against the published field of study course search. If you enroll in a course that does not apply to your specific field of study, you will not receive credit for the course. Petitions to count non-applicable degree courses are ordinarily denied.

All courses that you complete and are applicable to your field of study will count toward the degree, even if you enroll in more degree-applicable courses than required. You cannot choose which courses will and will not apply to your degree.

On the rare occasion that you pursue a second ALM degree, you must first complete all degree requirements and have an awarded degree for your first ALM prior to enrolling in courses towards a second ALM. In addition, courses may not count towards more than one ALM degree program at Harvard Extension School. It is imperative that you discuss your academic plans with your advisor to better understand enrollment policy and to avoid losing any course credit.

Veteran Benefits and Financial Aid: To receive this funding for courses, you must choose (1) courses that specifically count toward your degree program and (2) specifically fulfill remaining degree requirements. You will not receive funding for courses that do not count toward your current outstanding degree requirements as outlined on your online academic progress reports (see below).

Online Academic Progress Reports

Once admitted, you are required to review your personalized academic progress reports on the Degree Candidate portal, available via MyDCE, AA/ALB Community, Degree Candidate Portal. They are updated after each term.  If you fail to track your degree requirements, you may need to take extra courses and delay graduation.

Five-Year Completion Deadline

Your five-year degree completion deadline is a critical and fundamental academic program requirement. Your assigned date is displayed on your academic progress report/course record sheet (Degree Must be Complete By: 30-MAY-20XX), which is available, once you are admitted, on the Degree Candidate Portal (via MyDCE, AA/ALB Community). For details regarding how the five-year deadline is calculated, please review your specific degree-field requirements web page.

You must keep this date first and foremost in your degree program planning and work closely with your academic advisor to ensure that you fulfill all requirements by this date.

Your degree candidacy will automatically expire and you’ll be removed from the program, if you fail to complete all requirements by your deadline date. Your transcript will reflect this new status: candidacy expired. Scroll to the bottom of this page for information regarding the need for continuous enrollment to avoid Inactive Status and our Candidacy Expired policy.

Student conduct. If your registration privileges are suspended for a period of time due to student conduct, your five-year deadline does not pause. When you are allowed to return and register for classes, you must complete the degree within the time frame determined at the point of admission. If your five-year deadline would expire during your mandatory leave, you will be required to withdraw from the program.

Medical Leaves of Absence

If you have a documented health or medical issues that requires a modification of or reasonable accommodation to your assigned ALM five-year deadline, then you need to proactively work with the Accessibility Services Office (ASO) to request a medical leave.

ASO will help make appropriate arrangements for the duration of the leave as well as plans to return and ensure compliance with all academic rules. ASO will engage in an individualized and interactive assessment, which may require consultation with others at the University, as appropriate.  With prior permission, ASO may also require consultation with your health care providers.

You should contact the ASO as soon as a health or medical issues arises, as HES does not ordinarily alter academic policies after the fact.

Extensions to the ALM five-year degree completion deadline are not ordinarily granted beyond one additional year as successful completion of courses within a certain period is a fundamental academic requirement.

While on medical leave, your ALM degree status will be inactive, but your candidacy will not automatically expire.

Returning from a Medical Leave of Absence

To return from a medical leave of absence, the ASO will require documentation that the circumstances that led to your leave have been satisfactorily addressed and you are ready to resume your studies.

ASO will engage in an individualized and interactive assessment, which may require consultation with others at the University, as appropriate.  With prior permission, ASO may also require consultation with your health care providers.

The ASO will make the decision whether to allow you to return and determine the conditions for your return based on (1) the best available objective medical evidence and (2) consultation with others at the University, which may include the Harvard University Health Services, the Dean of Student Policy and Governance, or the Administrative Board, as appropriate.

Medical Leave Enrollment and Registration Policies

While on a medical leave your ID card will not be valid, you are not eligible for loan deferments or financial aid. Nor are you able to work at HES as a support teaching staff or faculty aide. You cannot attend HES or University-wide student events, participate in student groups or use student resources.

Harvard University Health Insurance. While on medical leave, if you are already participating in Harvard University Health Insurance, you may be eligible for 6-months of temporary coverage. Visit HUHS for details.

Course registration. If you request a medical leave while currently registered for courses, the Accessibility Services Office (ASO) will work with the Registrar’s Office to determine a fair and equitable resolution to your registration status, which may include a drop for a refund, if early in the term, or late withdrawal grade, if later in the term.

Thesis registration. If you request a medical leave while registered in the thesis, every effort will be made to support continuation of your original thesis project with the same director; however, this may not be possible due to faculty availability, time-bound lab resources, or project suitability. If your timeline allows, you may need to craft a new proposal with a new director and earn a TNC (thesis not complete) grade in the original attempt.

Medical Leave Student Conduct

All degree candidates on leave are reminded to maintain a satisfactory standard of conduct.  Any pending disciplinary matters must be resolved before a student on a medical leave of absence will be allowed to return.

For Thesis Track Candidates

If you have coursework remaining at the end of five years, including the thesis proposal 4-credit tutorial/course, your candidacy will automatically expire and you are removed from the program. Your transcript will reflect this new status: CE (candidacy expired).

However, at the end of five years, if you’ve completed all other degree requirements, but the thesis and are in good, active academic standing (i.e., not inactive), you may gain one–and only one–additional year of candidacy to complete the thesis by paying an active file fee of $500.

The fee allows you to retain library and other degree candidate privileges, while you are working on your thesis. If you do not submit the fee, your candidacy will automatically expire. If you submit the fee, but do not meet the one-time extended deadline to complete the thesis, your candidacy will automatically expire and you are removed from the program. No further extensions of time will be given and your transcript will reflect this new status: CE (candidacy expired).

Two-Credit Courses

Two-credit courses are considered half courses. If you complete a two-credit course, you’ll need to complete a second, two-credit course to earn full course credit towards the ALM degree. For example, you can’t fulfill on-campus credit requirements with just one two-credit course; you’ll need two. You should complete the pair of two-credit courses in one academic year, as a second two-credit course in your area of interest may not be offered the following year. Two-credit courses ordinarily fulfill only elective requirements. Please note that a withdrawal grade (WD) will count as one of two allowed WD grades towards your ALM degree.

Full-Time Enrollment

The maximum number of credits you may take is 16 credits in a fall or spring term, four credits in a January session, four credits in a Harvard Summer three-week session, and eight credits in a Harvard Summer School seven-week session.

If you are registered for thesis proposal tutorial for credit, thesis, internship, or a capstone with an E-/S- 599 course number, you are considered a full-time student. This includes the term of your initial registration and all subsequent terms in which you continue your work with program approval. Program approval will not be granted for full-time status in an upcoming term, if you are scheduled to submit your thesis project during the first nine weeks of that term.

Repeat Courses

Repeat courses are identified by their subject and course number (for example, MGMT E-4000 Organizational Behavior and MGMT S-4000 Organizational Behavior are the same courses) and occasionally by a notation in the course description (for example, “Students may not take both ECON E-1600 and ECON S-1615 for degree or certificate credit”).

Because repeating course content has limited educational value, degree credit is not awarded for the same Harvard course for which undergraduate or graduate credit has already been received.

Therefore, if you earned a grade below the minimum required for your ALM degree, you must choose an alternative course. Or, if you completed a course at the undergraduate level with us here at Harvard–regardless of the passing grade earned–you must also choose an alternative course.

There are three exceptions:

  1. Graduate-credit creative writing courses with an R in the course number (e.g., CREA 100R) may be repeated only once.
  2. You may repeat a graduate-credit course in which you’ve earned a grade below the required B or B- when attempting to fulfill a specific degree requirement that has no alternative course options (e.g., proseminar). In these cases, both grades count toward the GPA. In many of these courses, you have only two attempts to earn the required grade (a withdrawal/WD grade counts as an attempt).
  3. You may repeat a graduate-credit course in which you’ve earned a grade of E; however, we strongly encourage you to choose an alternative course if one is available.

If you do choose to repeat a course, it will appear on your official transcript in brackets and will not count toward the degree or your GPA unless you earn a failing grade of E in it.

Repeating capstone or thesis courses due to a poor grade (below B-, WD, or TNC) requires a formal petition to the Harvard Extension School Administrative Board. Refer to the capstone or thesis webpage for details.

See Academic Standing for more information.

Dual Enrollment

You cannot be simultaneously enrolled as a candidate in more than one Harvard Extension School degree program, nor can you begin taking courses towards a second ALM while a candidate in another ALM. In addition, you cannot count a course toward more than one ALM degree program at Harvard Extension School.

Transfer Credit

No credit may be transferred from other colleges and universities, nor is any credit given for related work or military experience. Credit for the MITX MicroMasters (not individual MITX courses) is only awarded as part of the MITX Admission Pathways. Same holds true for the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential.

Inactive Status

Continuous enrollment is essential for successful degree completion as it ensures ongoing momentum toward your goal. It is also required to maintain degree candidate privileges. If you do not successfully complete a course toward your degree program for one year (fall, spring, and summer), your candidacy becomes inactive and you’ll lose many degree privileges, including ID card and Harvard e-mail account privileges.

To return to active status, you need to (1) reaffirm your commitment to the program by meeting with your academic advisor, (2) articulate a plan to complete the program within your required five-year deadline, and (3) register for courses during the next academic year.

Failure to successfully complete a course toward your degree program for two years will result in your candidacy being expired. 

Candidate Expired (CE) Status

As stated above under our Five-Year Completion Deadline policy, your degree candidacy will automatically expire and you’ll be removed from the program, if you fail to complete all requirements by your assigned deadline date.

Your candidacy will also automatically expire and you’ll be removed from the program, if you fail to successfully complete a course toward your degree program for two years.

CE status requires one year of mandatory rustication from Harvard Extension School and/or Harvard Summer School.

Returning from CE Status. If you decide at some future date to resume your studies, you can petition the Office of ALM Advising and Program Administration. Please note that without exception courses over five years old are considered expired and will no longer fulfill degree requirements.

If your petition for re-admission is granted, you’ll be held to any new admission and degree requirements. If all your coursework has expired, you’ll need to start from the beginning and complete all new courses, including the three degree courses required for admission. If some or all of your coursework is not expired and can be counted toward the degree, you’ll still be required to (1) complete additional courses prior to admission to demonstrate your seriousness of intent and ability to re-engage in academic work after a long absence (for example, the proseminar or another key course in your field). This may require taking courses above and beyond the minimum needed to graduate. You will also be required to (2) meet with a research advisor about your intended thesis topic. Petition for re-admission will not be approved for students without confirmation of a workable thesis topic and research plan.

The ALM Office will offer advice regarding which courses have expired, which courses may and may not be repeated, and the courses you should complete to re-apply. It is critical that you petition the Office prior to enrolling in courses. 

Re-admission petitions are only considered for students who are in good standing and are welcomed three times a year: May 15-June 1 to begin taking courses in a fall term, September 15-October 1 to begin taking courses in January or spring term, and January 15-February 1 to begin taking courses at the Harvard Summer School.

If you are allowed to return from CE status and, for the second time, you do not complete the degree, you’ll be permanently retired with no opportunity to be reinstated.

Required to Withdraw from the Degree Program due to Student Conduct Violations

On occasion, candidates are withdrawn from the degree program by the Administrative Board due to a student conduct or academic integrity violation. Ordinarily, this withdrawal comes with a year of suspension with the option to return after one year to take courses. However, candidates can also be permanently suspended and not allowed to return to HES.

Once withdrawn from the program, you are no longer considered an admitted degree at the Harvard Extension School, and you’ll lose all degree-candidate privileges.

If after your suspension you are allowed to return to HES and you wish to re-apply to the degree program, you must first petition, prior to taking any courses toward the degree, the Office of ALM Advising and Program Administration to request re-admission. Please note these petitions can be denied. If approved for re-admission, without exception courses over five years old are considered expired and will no longer fulfill degree requirements. Moreover, you’ll be held to any new admission and degree requirements.

If you receive a grade of RQ (required to withdraw) in the final capstone or thesis as a result of an academic integrity violation, it is likely that you will removed from the degree program and will not be allowed to return. However, if you are allowed to return, in addition to the above re-admission policy and procedures, you’ll need to retake the precapstone as well as the capstone or crafting the thesis proposal as well as the thesis and you may need to complete a designated expository writing course (not for degree credit) to refresh your understanding of the proper use of sources.