Higher Education

Harvard Extension School and MIT Launch New MicroMasters Collaboration

By Cait Etherington
October 04, 2018

On October 1, the Harvard Extension School (HES) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced plans to offer a unique joint program. After completing an MITx MicroMasters credential, students will be able to apply to complete a Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) via the Harvard Extension School. Students currently completing MicroMasters credentials in Sustainability, Management ,or Development Practice will be eligible.

Collaboration Will Enable MIT to Expand Mandate of MITx MicroMasters

As reported earlier this year, the MITx MicroMasters is a two-part program. First, student complete five to six courses and write a proctored exam. If they complete the courses and pass the exam, they can apply to complete an on-campus semester and, in the end, earn a master’s degree.

There are two primary advantages to the MITx MicroMasters. First, the entire suite of online courses can be purchased for $1080, which cost much less than studying on the MIT campus. Second, the courses can be completed anywhere and anytime, enabling working professionals to more easily participate. By comparison, full-year tuition in the master’s in Supply Chain Management program on the MIT campus is currently $74,000 and with student life fees, health insurance, and living expenses, the estimated cost of studying in the program on campus is $103,306 annually. This is the cost before one also accounts for potential lost wages.

MITx‘s MicroMasters has already proven to be phenomenally successful. In the initial cohort, 1900 students completed all the courses in the MicroMasters and 622 successfully completed the final exam. Unfortunately, only forty-two were ultimately accepted to complete a residential semester on the MIT campus in January 2018, along with another 29 at off-site campuses based in Zaragoza and Malaysia. The recently announced collaboration between MIT and the Harvard Extension School will enable more students who complete the MITx MicrosMasters to move on to a master’s degree and more importantly, to do so wherever they are based.

Details of the Collaboration

In a news release issued by the Harvard Extension School on October 1, Huntington D. Lambert, Dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education and University Extension, says, “MIT cannot admit all of the qualified learners who apply to their related master’s program and together we wanted to provide them a Harvard Extension School option. Harvard Extension School decided to offer a path for MITx’s MicroMasters credential learners who are interested in pursuing HES’s Management, Development Practice or Sustainability fields of study.” Dean Lambert further emphasized, “Through this collaboration, we will gain highly qualified, self-motivated learners who have already proven they have the academic ability and drive to achieve our degrees.”

The new collaboration between MIT and the Harvard Extension School will also overcome another obstacle: MIT’s one-semester residential requirement. As Krishna Rajagopal, MIT Dean for Digital Learning, Open Learning, emphasizes, with the launch of the new program students can master new skills that will advance their careers without seriously interrupting their daily lives. “By adding Harvard Extension School and expanding the overall number of pathway institutions,” says Rajagopal, “The MITx MicroMasters credential program gives learners from across the globe even more opportunities to apply their credential toward a blended Master’s program of their choice.”

However, the criteria for admission to the new collaboration with the Harvard Extension School is somewhat different than the criteria currently in place for MITx students who wish to stay at MIT to complete a graduate degree. For admission as a degree candidate at the Harvard Extension School, learners will need to complete the MITx MicroMasters credential and take one more course with the Harvard Extension School to be eligible. The pathways will also lead to different subject concentrations. Students who earn the Supply Chain MicroMasters credential through MITx can use their credits for admission to Harvard Extension School’s ALM in Management and Sustainability. Students who earn a MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) can use their credits to apply for admission for the ALM in Development Practice.


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