Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

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Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby nimo956 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:37 pm

I currently work in the corporate finance dept. at a Boston area company. I was able to transition to this position internally without having a degree in business or econ. I do have a strong math background, but I've never taken any kind of accounting courses. I'm looking to fill in some gaps in my knowledge and have been thinking about taking some management courses at the Harvard Extension school. For anyone who isn't aware, these classes are open to the public; there's no admission requirements. Does anyone have any experience with the quality of the classes? Would I be better off just applying to a masters program? My work has agreed to fully cover the costs.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby nimo956 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:19 pm

bump

I mainly want to know if people think it's a good idea to take one-off classes at an extension school as opposed to applying to a real master's program.
Last edited by nimo956 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby StormShadow » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:02 pm

I took a couple classes when I lived in Boston about 10 years ago. Epidemiology and HIV/AIDS (unfortunately, it looks like the latter is not being offered any longer). This was right before I went to medical school. I liked them. They're a pretty good bargain. The classes were also offered at night, which I found very convenient. The makeup of the class was interesting. In my epidemiology class, a former wall street stock broker sat next to me on one side, and a recent high school graduate who worked part time at a fast food restaurant sat on the other.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby linuxizer » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:23 pm

It's fine if you need the credits, and if you think the name will help (most people in academia seem to know the ext school is not selective), but be aware that it's rarely the profs who teach the classes--often grad students or adjuncts of various sorts. That can be good or bad for instructional quality, but worth knowing.

Hard to say more without knowing what you're doing it for (credits to apply for med school? prestige? self-actualization?).
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby WendyW » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:02 am

nimo956 wrote: I'm looking to fill in some gaps in my knowledge and have been thinking about taking some management courses at the Harvard Extension school.

If you're really just interested in learning, then I imagine that HES would be fine (though, I believe, expensive).

If you're also trying to buff up your resume though, you be better off not taking Extension School courses; putting courses from the Extension School on your CV would mostly result in eye-rolling.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby grok87 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:28 am

like stormshadow i took a class there for fun about 15 years ago. In demographics i think. I enjoyed it. but it was really strictly for pleasure entertainment value.
I agree with WendyW about the eye-rolling comment.
I don't think taking courses at the harvard extension school would be good for resume buffing.
BU has a metropolitan college I think.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby nimo956 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:37 am

Thanks for the replies. This isn't so much to put on my resume as it is to just get a better understanding of accounting. All of my managers have accounting qualifications, so I feel as if this will help me do my job better. On the other hand, I've always been interested in going back to school for a master's degree, but have been reluctant to commit to something. I've been out of college for 5 years and have finally been able to pay off all debt and start making significant headway towards retirement savings. I wonder if it's really worth it to leave my job for 2 years to get an MBA in addition to spending $150k on a degree. Even doing a part-time MBA is expensive, and you often lose the career networking opportunities that you have in the full-time program. I'm thinking of this class as "testing the waters," so to speak, which will signal to me whether or not I want to pursue either an mba or masters in accounting that will prepare me for the CPA.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby linuxizer » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:53 am

If you want to test the waters for a CPA, take actual accounting classes at a school with a strong accounting program. If you want to test the waters for an MBA, take actual MBA classes at a school with a strong business program.

Boston has tons of solid schools. BU/BC/Tufts surely offer something. My experience taking an extension school-type class at Northeastern was disappointing.

Basically you should evaluate your options in terms of:
- Quality of department you want to study in
- How the school treats their extension students. Some schools use it as a money-maker to trade in on their name; others let you take the same classes as the regular students.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby dziuniek » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:58 am

Be careful there - many MSA/MSAT programs are only 10 courses long - which is not enough of credits to sit for the CPA in certain states.

Make sure to check you state requirements.

Also, you'll need prereqs in accounting to take masters level classes. (most likely). If that's the case, then you might as well go for the MBA, take accounting pre-reqs and fill in your MBA electives with accounting courses.

Boom, MBA + set for CPA requirements.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby englishgirl » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:25 am

Just a quick anecdote:

The old boss of my department was not a savvy hirer. He made many questionable hires that eventually led to a big split in the group and lots of dissatisfaction. Thankfully he is now no longer here. One of his hires he promoted to us as having some qualification or other from Harvard. He was quite pleased with himself that he'd snagged a Harvard grad. When somebody (HR maybe) sent around the guy's resume to us just before he started, of course all of the rest of us immediately spotted that his qualification was from Harvard Extension School. Now, it wasn't this guy's fault - he put it on his resume plain as day. But we all distrusted him from the get go and rolled our eyes at the boss's idiocy yet again. I do sometimes wonder if in his interview anything came up about it - you'd think if the interviewer is laboring under the misunderstanding that you went to THE Harvard, you'd point out their error so there's no doubt about anything.

Anyway, if it was to fill gaps in my knowledge, on an informal basis, I'd totally do it. But if it is to improve my standing at work, I'd prefer to do something that earns a certificate or accreditation or something. I think some short certification program from somewhere like HES would be fine, but for something like a Master's program I'd rather go to a state U.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby gatorking » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:32 am

You could also look into courses at Umass Boston.
http://www.umb.edu/academics/cm/masters_programs/msa
"Upon completion of the MSA, the students will qualify for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Examination under the 150-hour requirement..."
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby nimo956 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:18 pm

Thank you everyone for your advice. It sounds like my time would be better spent simply applying to an actual masters program. Since my goal is to become a CPA, I'd probably lean towards a masters in accounting, but I will look into part-time MBA programs in my area as well.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby WendyW » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:42 pm

nimo956 wrote:Since my goal is to become a CPA, I'd probably lean towards a masters in accounting, but I will look into part-time MBA programs in my area as well.

First you need to figure out which state you want to become a CPA in, because they all have radically different education and experience requirements.

Massachusets is relatively unique in their rules. I believe somebody in that state with a legit MBA can become a CPA without experience.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby William4u » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:06 pm

The Extension School is basically like a Community College. It is well known to be non-selective (anyone gets in), a part-time night school, and taught by teachers who do not come from the regular Harvard College faculty. I would look for a more reliable source of instruction if you have other options.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby Buffetologist » Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:12 pm

I don't know about the accounting classes, but Harvard Extension is generally low cost and high quality. It is much better than community college. Of the 4 classes I've taken there, 3 have been taught by Harvard faculty.

Michael Haselkorn, a Bentley professor, is teaching a section and seems to get generally good reviews on RateMyProfessor.com
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby frugaltype » Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:43 pm

Some years ago I took community classes at Stanford. They were taught by regular faculty and emeritus faculty. The students were there to learn, not to mess around, and were adults.

I looked at community classes at Brown, but some were even just discussion groups among the students. Heck, I could get that for $10 at my local library. Brown eventually shut down their program.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby Scooter57 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:36 am

Here's another vote for UMASS Boston. Much cheaper but very good quality. You'll be very well prepared for the CPA exam if you want to take it. You'll get more personal attention from the profs if you show interest than in more competitive schools as not many students connect with them.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby dyeusdi » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:58 am

Buffetologist wrote:I don't know about the accounting classes, but Harvard Extension is generally low cost and high quality. It is much better than community college. Of the 4 classes I've taken there, 3 have been taught by Harvard faculty.

Michael Haselkorn, a Bentley professor, is teaching a section and seems to get generally good reviews on RateMyProfessor.com


I've taken 8 courses there, mixed undergrad and graduate courses, mostly in Linguistics and Mathematics. The majority of classes were taught by active daytime Harvard instructors (look for HI on the listing). All have been for 1/4 the cost of the day school, usually around $800 to $1500. The Economic Game Theory class was lighter on the number crunching, but I believe the reading and the lectures were largely the same (according to the TA).

I believe this is true across the board: classes are no doubt easier than day school, but the quality of lecturers and reading are high. You can take as much from them as you are motivated to learn, with access to high quality office hours.

I haven't yet decided about persuing a degree through the extension school, and would be interested in hearing more about how they are received (I'm in IT, so degrees are only a checkbox on Monster.com). About half of people in Boston are aware of the school, but I imagine that across the country that number is much lower.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby Sojourner Truth » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:55 pm

I completed my undergraduate work at Harvard Extension School to earn my ALB (debt free which helped me purchase my first house). I was offered a great job right away from a highly respected institution that knew full well that I graduated from the Harvard Extension School. Later, I went on to earn a masters degree from a state school. All of my professors at HES except for three taught during the day at Harvard College. The other professors were from Brandeis, Tufts, and Boston University. Those professors eventually got picked up by Harvard College. Harvard Extension School is reasonable because it has a huge endowment and has trimmed the fat. You are paying for your classes, labs, and libraries; that is it and really all I needed. I just wanted an education not a keg party. I have never had anyone who was in the position to hire or advance my career say anything negative about HES. I have the cashed checks and multiple homes to prove it. I am proud that I worked full time and earned my Harvard degree at night. Reading the negative blog posts, I just see people who are frustrated that they didn't utilize this opportunity themselves. Admission to HES is no cake walk. You have to get those 3 Bs and then you may apply to be admitted to a degree program. No guarantee. When I graduated, only 182 people earned degrees from the undergraduate program that year at HES out of thousands of students taking classes and trying to get into a degree program. HES gives you the opportunity to try. That is all. You still have to do the work and prove your ability to be accepted into a degree program. Not many people actually earn a degree at HES, but at least they received the chance to have an excellent educational experience.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby 2sls » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:41 pm

if you are really motivated to learn- take a class on Coursera, free and 100% better quality.
Harvard Extension school is a joke
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby dyeusdi » Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:17 pm

2sls wrote:if you are really motivated to learn- take a class on Coursera, free and 100% better quality.
Harvard Extension school is a joke

No need to be a troll --it's about the piece of paper. For a BA at least, Harvard Extension is accredited, affordable, and quality. These values are completely in line with the principles of this board.

Ironically, the only joke may be the overpriced nature of name-brand undergraduate degrees. No degree here, but in the tech I am thankfully able to max out my 401k, Roth IRA, and I Bonds while managing to set aside college money for my two nephews. I also support my masters-holding partner who takes home a third my salary and lost years of late-20s income to get there. I take a course or two a year at night towards my undergrad, but it wouldn't make financial sense to go full time. Not having the degree definitely makes job hunting trickier, but I've never had any down time between jobs nor a student loan to pay.

Now that I am on the hiring side, I will admit a resume with North Eastern definitely stands out, but that it is by no means necessary. There are many, many ways to succeed.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby Andrew0504 » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:27 pm

I have a decent bit of experience with the Harvard Extension School. At least for the business program, there are extremely few grad students who teach there. The few grad students that do teach there are very thoroughly screened. Additionally, there are also some world-renowned professors who teach at the Extension School, as well (e.g., Robert McKersie). As a result, you could potentially take some really interesting and useful courses. That said, I agree with most people here that it may not do much for your resume.
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Re: Anyone have experience with Harvard Extension school?

Postby happymob » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:48 pm

www.degreeinfo.com would be a good forum to ask. I know they have multiple people who earned masters degrees through them.
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