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Division of Continuing Education Sees Significant Growth in Revenue, Enrollment

Gates to Extension School
The gate entrance to the Harvard Extension School’s administrative offices, pictured in 2015.
The Division of Continuing Education and other executive programs at Harvard have seen more than five straight years of growth in revenue from student tuition, outpacing revenue growth from University-wide tuition each time, according to the latest University financial report.

The DCE comprises Harvard Extension School, Harvard Summer School, and professional development programs. Last year, continuing and executive education brought in more than $450 million in tuition revenue — a growth of more than 11.5 percent from the previous year and more than 60 percent over the past seven years. In comparison, University-wide tuition revenue grew by just 6.4 percent last year.

Course enrollment at DCE has correspondingly skyrocketed. Over the past five years, the Summer School has seen a nearly 50 percent increase in enrollment, according to University spokesperson Harry J. Pierre. The past seven years at the Extension School have seen a nearly 25 percent increase in enrollment, to 31,964 course enrollees last school year, according to Pierre.

Enrollment figures for DCE’s professional development programs were unavailable. Executive education, which brings in professionals to teach them management skills, is considered quite profitable. Participants in one executive education program offered by the Harvard Business School attend one three-week session per year for three years. In 2018, the first session will cost $42,500.

Huntington D. Lambert, dean of the DCE, said although revenue has grown, that trend has not necessarily been reflected in DCE’s operating surplus.

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“We’ve lowered surplus to fund quality improvements and growth within the Division and are now just returning to prior levels of surplus,” Lambert said. “Our relatively inexpensive tuition model is great for our learners. But because of that lower number, earning a surplus is difficult.”

Pierre wrote in an email that DCE has recently upgraded its technology and improved the quality of courses, contributing to lower surplus figures.

“In the first three years of Dean Lambert’s tenure, DCE made significant investments of several million dollars in modernizing the department, technology for course delivery and increased staffing to meet the needs of our learners,” Pierre wrote. “The investment was taken from DCE reserves and over the past two years, we’ve been able to pay that back.”

More than just staying self-sufficient, DCE also allocates some of its surplus to the University. In fact, in Harvard’s most recent capital campaign, DCE raised money for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

DCE Tuition, which has risen each year for the past six years, depends on DCE revenue and expenses after money is given back to the University, according to Lambert.

“We build our tuition from costs and aim to break even or make a slight surplus after allocating funds back to the University,” Lambert said.

Though tuition has increased, so has financial aid, which supports degree candidates at the Extension School and high-schoolers in the Summer School, Lambert said. DCE also offers the Tuition Assistance Program, which allows employees to take Extension courses for $40. Tuition for a single graduate course is currently $2,750.

“In the 2016-17 year alone, just over 2,000 Harvard employees have taken advantage of TAP through the Extension School,” Pierre wrote. “It’s just such a huge, important benefit that while technically isn’t financial aid, does provide continuing [education] opportunities at a deep discount.”

Correction: Dec. 1, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that student enrollment at Harvard's Division of Continuing Educaiton has increased 25 percent over the past seven years, reaching 31,964 DCE sutdents. In fact, course enrollment at DCE has increased 25 percent over the past seven years, reaching 31,964 DCE course enrollees.

— Staff writer Cindy H. Zhang can be reached at cindy.zhang@thecrimson.com

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