Harvard Extension Program

Hi everyone-

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of Harvard’s Extension Program for non traditional students? This would be to complete undergrad pre med, of course.

I’ve got a call in to discuss it further with the admissions counselor, but any info from the real world would be appreciated!


Actually, I’d like to make a revision to my above inquiry.

Does anyone have any advice or knowledge of the non traditional undergraduate programs and how they are viewed by med school admission boards. I know there are many other factors involved in their decision making process, but do they view these programs as less rigorous? I don’t know if they are or are not, in fact, equal to their traditional counterparts, so forgive me if I sound presumptuous.

I do not have knowledge on Harvard extension, but I took one class through Berkeley extension a few years ago. My experience was really good with it.

The professor was excellent … and the other people in the class were also good.

But, here is something that I found on Harvard extension:


I actually know quite a few people in my med school (EVMS) who completed their post-bacc at HES, so it’s certainly not frowned upon by all med schools… that being said, there is a major distinction between post-baccs for “career changers” (people who have never done pre-med, and therefore haven’t ‘screwed up’), and “record enhancers” (for those who have completed >50% of pre-med classes, but not well enough to apply). Obviously, the former is regarded in a much better light, and there are many non-trad students who have completed the med school pre-reqs without going back for another BA, etc. There are lots of threads about the benefits of being a non-trad, so with a high enough science GPA (>3.8, usually), a post-bacc program in itself certainly isn’t detrimental.

HES itself is well-known, but it is very competitive to become an officially supported post-bacc student (check out the website). However, I have personally taken several of the science classes there, and they have been some of the best classes I’ve ever had! Definitely not a cushy community college program, for better and worse.

Another thing I’ve learned, as more students get post-baccs and med masters, is that it really helps to get one that is affiliated with the particular med school you want to go to (if possible). Older, bigger name schools like HES (or GT/BU for med masters) may be more well-known, but you may be able to get greater support and better networks with faculty in a smaller program with a more direct linkage - and once you have the grades, networking is EVERYTHING.


ChicBrownie- Thank you for the link to that site

I found exactly what I needed- and then some.

jlr18- I suppose I am a “career-changer”, so I haven’t the need to polish a flabby science gpa; however, I will be going for my first bachelor’s, not a post bacc "/ I am looking to be challenged and want every opportunity to “prove myself” being that I will be 37 in March and starting all my pre reqs. But, I don’t want to give up any more time with my children (single mom w/ support) than is absolutely necessary.

That being said, thanks for the tip on the affiliation point. Good to know and something I hadn’t thought of until now. I hold about 2 years of undergraduate from UAB(most recently) with a nice gpa, but keep hearing bad things about the pre med program and for a number of reasons, not the least of which that my family support wants to move out of Alabama, am looking to where I need to go to GET THIS DONE.

If you’re going for your BA (and even if you weren’t), I recommend trying to find a school with a supportive but realistic pre-med committee - some schools won’t write your letter if you don’t get above a certain GPA, but some schools can also be a bit ‘delusional’ by encouraging everyone to apply regardless of GPA.

Also, if you haven’t explored SDN before, I find it to be a great resource for specific schools/programs- but use it with a critical eye. Many of the pre-meds on that board are “gunners” with particular perspectives and goals, and some of the info can be intentionally misleading.

Thanks jlr18

I hadn’t used that site before, but have been back quite a few times since. And you are right, I can see some things are purposely inflated. A few comments had me scratching my head in disbelief.

I will definitely use sdn to gauge as much as I can about the school’s pre med committee.

  • jlr18 Said:
If you're going for your BA (and even if you weren't), I recommend trying to find a school with a supportive but realistic pre-med committee - some schools won't write your letter if you don't get above a certain GPA, but some schools can also be a bit 'delusional' by encouraging everyone to apply regardless of GPA.

There are many fine undergraduate schools that have no committee letter (Stanford and Call are two which come to mind). Not having a pre-med committee doesn't mean that a school doesn't have fine pre-med advising.