Getting accepted into Harvard is a dream for many students. The prestigious Ivy League university is known for its extremely competitive admission process, with acceptance rates hovering around 5%. However, Harvard does offer another option through its Extension School, which has a much higher acceptance rate.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Harvard Extension School has an estimated acceptance rate of around 50%. This is significantly higher than the acceptance rate for Harvard College.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about getting into Harvard Extension, from eligibility requirements to acceptance rates and tips for strengthening your application.

Overview of Harvard Extension School

The Harvard Extension School is an integral part of Harvard University, offering a wide range of educational opportunities to students who are looking for flexible and accessible learning options. Established in 1910, the Extension School aims to extend the reach of Harvard’s resources to a broader audience, allowing individuals from all walks of life to pursue their academic and professional goals.

Brief history and mission

The Harvard Extension School has a rich history that dates back over a century. It was originally founded to provide educational opportunities to individuals who were unable to attend traditional on-campus classes due to work or family commitments.

Since then, it has evolved into a thriving institution that offers over 800 courses each year, both online and on-campus.

The mission of the Harvard Extension School is to provide high-quality education that is accessible to all. It offers a variety of degree and certificate programs, as well as individual courses, allowing students to tailor their education to their specific needs and interests.

Academic programs offered

The Harvard Extension School offers a wide range of academic programs across various disciplines. Students can choose from undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as professional certificates in fields such as business, liberal arts, computer science, and more.

The school also offers premedical programs for those interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

One of the unique features of the Extension School is the ability to take courses both on-campus and online. This flexibility allows students to balance their education with other commitments, making it an ideal choice for working professionals or individuals with busy schedules.

Notable alumni

The Harvard Extension School has a long list of notable alumni who have gone on to achieve great success in their respective fields. These alumni include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, renowned authors, CEOs of major corporations, and influential leaders in various industries.

One notable alumnus is Michael D. Smith, who received his master’s degree in computer science from the Extension School. He went on to become the Chief Technology Officer of the United States under the Obama administration.

Another notable alumnus is Lisa Genova, who earned her master’s degree in biotechnology from the Extension School and later became a New York Times bestselling author.

The success of these alumni is a testament to the quality of education and opportunities provided by the Harvard Extension School.

For more information about the Harvard Extension School, you can visit their official website here.

Harvard Extension Admissions Requirements

Minimum requirements

Applying to Harvard Extension School requires meeting certain minimum requirements. These requirements ensure that students have a strong academic foundation to succeed in their chosen program. To be considered for admission, applicants must have completed a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Additionally, they must have a strong command of the English language, as demonstrated by their performance on standardized tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS.

Application components

The application process for Harvard Extension School involves submitting various components that provide a comprehensive view of the applicant’s qualifications. These components typically include:

  • Completed application form
  • Transcripts from previous educational institutions
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • Standardized test scores (if required)

Each component plays a crucial role in evaluating an applicant’s suitability for admission. Admissions committees carefully review these materials to assess the applicant’s academic achievements, professional experience, and personal qualities.

International student requirements

Harvard Extension School welcomes international students from all over the world. However, international applicants have additional requirements to fulfill. In addition to meeting the same minimum requirements as domestic students, international applicants must also demonstrate English proficiency by taking the TOEFL or IELTS.

They may also be required to provide additional documentation, such as proof of financial support, a copy of their passport, and a student visa. It is important for international students to carefully review the specific requirements for their country of origin to ensure a smooth application process.

Harvard Extension Acceptance Rates

Estimated overall acceptance rate

The Harvard Extension School is known for its highly competitive admissions process. While the official acceptance rate is not publicly disclosed, it is estimated to be around 10-15%. This means that out of every 100 applicants, only a small percentage are admitted into the program.

It is important to note that the acceptance rate may vary depending on the specific program or course you are applying to.

Acceptance rates by program

Harvard Extension School offers a wide range of programs and courses across various disciplines. The acceptance rates for these programs can vary significantly. Some programs may have higher acceptance rates due to lower demand or larger class sizes, while others may have lower acceptance rates due to high demand or limited spots available.

It is recommended to research and understand the acceptance rates for your specific program of interest.

For example, the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) program at Harvard Extension School has an acceptance rate of approximately 15%. This program offers a flexible and interdisciplinary curriculum, attracting a large pool of applicants.

On the other hand, the acceptance rate for the Master of Science in Biotechnology program is more competitive, with an estimated acceptance rate of around 10%. This program is highly sought after by individuals seeking a career in the biotechnology industry.

Factors that impact admission chances

Harvard Extension School takes into consideration a variety of factors when evaluating applications. While there is no guaranteed formula for acceptance, certain factors can positively impact your admission chances. These factors include:

  • Academic achievements: A strong academic background with a high GPA and relevant coursework can demonstrate your ability to succeed in the program.
  • Professional experience: Relevant work experience in the field you are applying to can showcase your practical skills and knowledge.
  • Letters of recommendation: Strong letters of recommendation from professionals who can speak to your abilities and potential can greatly enhance your application.
  • Statement of purpose: A well-written and compelling statement of purpose that showcases your passion and goals can make a positive impression on the admissions committee.

It is important to note that meeting these criteria does not guarantee acceptance, as the admissions process is highly competitive. However, focusing on these factors can increase your chances of being accepted into the Harvard Extension School.

For more information about the admissions process and requirements, you can visit the official Harvard Extension School website here.

Tips for Getting Into Harvard Extension

Aim for excellent test scores

One of the key factors that can greatly increase your chances of getting into Harvard Extension School is achieving excellent test scores. Whether it’s the SAT, ACT, or any other standardized test, aim to score as high as possible.

Admissions committees often use test scores as an initial screening method to determine a candidate’s academic potential.

According to an article published on PrepScholar, the average SAT score for admitted Harvard Extension students is around 1400 out of 1600. While this may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that Harvard Extension School is known for its commitment to providing educational opportunities to a diverse range of students, and they take many factors into consideration during the admissions process.

Highlight relevant experience

Another important aspect of your application is highlighting relevant experience. This could include work experience, internships, volunteer work, or any other activities that showcase your skills and passion in the field you wish to study.

Admissions committees value real-world experience, as it demonstrates your commitment and ability to apply knowledge in practical settings.

According to the official Harvard Extension School website, they look for applicants who have a strong record of professional or academic achievement. By showcasing your relevant experience, you can demonstrate that you are prepared to take on the rigor of Harvard Extension’s programs.

Get strong letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation play a crucial role in the admissions process. They provide insight into your character, work ethic, and potential for success in the program. It’s important to choose recommenders who can speak to your abilities and accomplishments in a specific academic or professional context.

According to an article on ThoughtCo, having letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your academic or professional abilities can greatly enhance your application. Consider reaching out to professors, employers, or supervisors who can provide a strong endorsement of your capabilities.

Write a compelling personal statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and goals. It allows the admissions committee to get to know you beyond your test scores and transcripts. Take the time to craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your passion for your chosen field of study and your reasons for pursuing education at Harvard Extension School.

Pro Tip: According to an article on U.S. News, it’s important to be authentic and genuine in your personal statement. Admissions committees are looking for individuals who will bring diverse perspectives and contribute to the Harvard Extension community.

So don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!


While getting into Harvard Extension is easier than being accepted to the traditional undergraduate program, it still requires putting your best foot forward. By understanding the school’s mission, meeting all admissions requirements, and presenting the strongest application possible, you can boost your chances of admission.

Remember that Harvard Extension evaluates applicants holistically across multiple factors. Find ways to highlight your strengths while also demonstrating your motivation to succeed in your chosen program.

With thoughtful preparation and a competitive application, your Harvard Extension dreams may become reality.

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