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The Harvard Extension School will offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program next year, a first for the school.
The program’s inaugural cohort of students will begin online coursework in June and earn a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in global studies and a Master of Liberal Arts in management.
While the Extension School has offered “blended” on-campus and online degree-granting programs, the school will choose participants in the new program through a selective application process from a pool of applicants who have not previously taken Extension School courses. This marks a departure from other Extension school degree programs, which mandate that students meet certain grade requirements in three Extension School “admission courses,” among other criteria, to apply.
The entire program, according to the Extension School’s website, will cost roughly $45,000, a price point that Ray Schroeder, the associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield, called “tremendous.”
The program asks that applicants have at least two years of undergraduate coursework and roughly seven to 10 years of “professional experience” under their belts. Applicants should not, however, have taken any previous courses at the Extension School or Harvard Summer School.
The program appears to have been designed to “appeal to a circumscribed group of students,” Schroeder suggested.
Suzanne Spreadbury, Harvard’s associate dean of academic programs and University extension, said she encountered many such “potential completers” during her role as an undergraduate adviser at the Extension School.
The program has received 20 applications already and will accept more through mid-January. The Extension School will place admitted students in 15-person “cohorts” to complete their coursework; the school has yet to decide how many cohorts it will take.
“This program is not for the faint of heart,” Spreadbury wrote in an email. “If we can only find 15 students for this first time around that meet those qualifications, then we will only admit 15.”
The new program will consist of 18 online courses throughout the fall and spring semesters and six on-campus courses during three intensive summer sessions over the course of the four-year program. Each will last for three weeks,
The program’s structure closely resembles the School of Public Health’s blended Master of Public Health in Epidemiology program, which also features intensive summer sessions paired with term-time online courses.
“We certainly were inspired by [the School of Public Health’s] design because it was very very intriguing,” said Spreadbury, though she said she did not speak with anyone at the School of Public Health formally.
While the blended epidemiology program is operating in a test period, Spreadbury said the Extension School does not need special license for its program, and administrators plan to make it permanent.
—Staff writer C. Ramsey Fahs can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ramseyfahs.
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