Harvard's Online Certificate Programs

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Harvard Extension School students can choose from more than 100 online courses taught by Harvard's distinguished faculty. As you would expect, these classes are challenging and require a significant time commitment. The majority of extension school professors are Harvard affiliates, but some teachers come from other universities as well as businesses. No special requirements are needed to enroll in Harvard Extension School's online courses. All courses have an open-enrollment policy.

As Harvard explains, "A certificate demonstrates to employers that you have acquired a certain body of knowledge in a field. The courses for each certificate give you the opportunity to gain a currently relevant background for a field or profession. And the educational quality of the Harvard Extension School is widely recognized by employers."

Harvard Extension School Certificates

Harvard's online program is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a regional accreditor. Students can take Harvard’s online courses individually or enroll in a degree or certificate program. In order to earn a certificate, new students must take five classes. There are no other admissions or capstone requirements.

Students desiring no on-campus work may earn a Certificate in Environmental Management, a Certificate in Applied Sciences, a Citation in East Asian Studies, or a Citation in Web Technologies and Applications completely online. Other programs have mandatory residencies.

A bachelor's degree may be completed by taking four on-campus courses in addition to online work. Master's programs with limited residencies include liberal arts, management, biotechnology, environmental management, and information technology. See their website for a full up-to-date list of programs.

Open Admissions

Individual classes at Harvard Extension School have an open-admissions policy. Certificate courses are conducted at the graduate level, so most students have already completed their undergraduate education. In order to complete the courses, students should also be proficient in English. By enrolling in the courses themselves, students will be able to determine if the level of coursework is appropriate for their experience.


Harvard Extension School tuition is $1,840 per course for undergraduate courses and $2,840 per course for graduate courses for the 2019-2020 academic year. Although this price is more expensive than some online programs, many students feel they are receiving an Ivy League education for the price of a state-funded school. Federal financial aid is not available for students enrolled in a degree or certificate program through the extension program.

Something to Consider

Although the extension school is part of the university, earning a certificate from Harvard does not make you a Harvard alum. As Harvard explains, "Most Extension School graduate degrees require 10 to 12 courses. With only five courses and no admissions requirements, certificates offer a quicker path to a professional development credential... Since the on-campus and online certificates are not degree programs, certificate awardees do not participate in Commencement or receive alumni status."

Interested students may also want to look at other prestigious colleges offering certificate programs, including eCornell, Stanford, and UMassOnline. Experts generally recommend that students take online classes due to their relevance and their potential for advancement in a particular field, rather than their association with an Ivy League institution. However, some career counselors argue that a certificate from a prestigious school can help make your resume stand out from the crowd.

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Littlefield, Jamie. "Harvard's Online Certificate Programs." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/harvards-online-certificate-programs-1097936. Littlefield, Jamie. (2023, April 5). Harvard's Online Certificate Programs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/harvards-online-certificate-programs-1097936 Littlefield, Jamie. "Harvard's Online Certificate Programs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/harvards-online-certificate-programs-1097936 (accessed June 9, 2023).