Harvard Extension School Reduces Degree Residency Requirement, Expanding Access for Global Adult Learners


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education (DCE) announced a significant modification to the degree residency requirement at the Harvard Extension School (HES) to provide greater access to adult learners worldwide. These changes, designed to be flexible and inclusive, will broaden access for students who may be challenged by multiple trips to Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

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Starting in the upcoming academic year, the Harvard Extension School will offer the majority of courses for the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) graduate degrees online with a low residency requirement. This decision reduces the barrier of geography for those outside of the greater New England area.


Dr. Nancy Coleman, Dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education and University Extension, saw the need for this transformative change stating, “We have always been committed to removing barriers and expanding access to a world-class education. By offering online courses paired with an immersive purpose-driven on-campus experience, we can provide adult learners from around the globe with a unique opportunity to engage in rigorous academic programs while benefiting from the vibrant Harvard campus community.”

To complement the online coursework, each program requires four credits of residency.  These active residency components range in length from two weekends to three weeks. Through experiential learning, students will collaborate with peers, instructors, and immerse themselves in the Harvard University campus, building connections and skills for real-world impact.

HES Dean of Academic Programs Suzanne Spreadbury, Ph.D., emphasized the innovative approach, saying, “Our vibrant learning environment combines the convenience of online education with the importance of in-person interaction. Our flexible and immersive model caters to the needs of diverse learners worldwide, enhancing their educational experience.”

Harvard Extension School’s revision of the degree residency requirement represents a progressive approach to education, ensuring that adult learners worldwide can pursue advanced degrees on their terms.

About the Harvard Division of Continuing Education

A division of Harvard University dedicated to bringing rigorous programs and innovative online teaching capabilities to modern purpose-driven learners including working professionals, high school students, visiting college students, and those seeking higher learning in retirement. We’ve been fueled by innovation and dedicated to excellence for over 100 years.  Learn more about DCE here.

Contact: [email protected]

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