Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Acceptance rate for Harvard Extension School graduate programs?

A prospective Harvard Extension School graduate student has written me:
I am also a HES student and am considering to apply to ALM in IT. I am just wondering how do you find the admission process to your ALM in History degree, and if you know what the ALM acceptance rate is.
I told him that I have no idea what the acceptance rate is. Not only is it not published (to my knowledge), but it's also a difficult rate to measure, owing to requirements that are unlike graduate programs based on standardized tests, essays, and references.

Admission to the ALM program I am in is conditional upon several factors beyond sending in the application form (which requires two essays and a processing fee) and having the required English ability. You also have to take three graduate-level classes before you can apply, one of which is the proseminar, and have to get Bs or above in all of them.

I believe lots of people start their three classes thinking they are going to apply to the program once they have passed this step, but decide not to go on, especially after the proseminar. The proseminar is like boot camp for the ALM thesis. It's very hard, with lots of reading, writing, research, and critical thinking exercises. If you don't finish it, or get below a B, you cannot be admitted to the ALM program in History. I know in my proseminar class that a few people didn't finish -- it started with about 20, but toward the end there were only 15 or so left. I suspect a few got below a B for a final grade, which means they cannot be admitted to the ALM, unless they retake the proseminar.

After taking my three classes, and filing the application packet with the essays and my college transcript in early 2004, I was accepted very quickly. I've heard from other people who had problems with the essays that they're told what they need to fix and allowed to refile. But the essays are really not the hard part, in my opinion -- the proseminar is!

I told the person who emailed me that the IT ALM degree does not require a proseminar (but does require three graduate classes). The requirements are listed here; anyone who has experience applying for the ALM in IT program is welcome to weigh in here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the proseminar is the hardest part of the lead-up to applying for admission to the ALM program. I had no problem writing the essays (I was admitted to the ALM program 5 long years ago!). But the pro-seminar was extremely difficult, unquestionably the hardest course I have taken at the Extension School.

However, it serves its purpose as a "wonderful" introduction to the reality of researching an original topic and writing an academic paper of considerable length on said topic. I well recall the numerous topics I suggested to the proseminar instructor that were shot down; the outline process; and the numerous revisions to my research paper before presenting it in class.

Looking back, I can honestly say that the proseminar necessitated from me some of the most rigorous academic self-discipline (in terms of the number of books we read, the papers we wrote, our in-class discussion, etc.) I have ever experienced.

On the flip side, the fruits of that labor were a heightened awareness of the time commitment to one's actual thesis process, a better understanding of my academic abilities and interests, and the usefulness of criticism from one's instructors and peers.