Harvard Extension School vs Boston University Online

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by locutus, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. locutus

    locutus New Member

    Any opinions on the ALM in IT from Harvard Extension School vs the MSCIS from Boston University (Online)?

    This is my first thoughts:
    Harvard Extension School
    Pros: Harvard Name & alumni resources; Some Harvard Faculty teach classes; Cost is less than most schools
    Cons: Harvard Extension students sometimes are accused of not "really" being from Harvard (like they are posers); degree is a "Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies" NOT an MSIT

    Boston University
    Pros: Degree is a Master of Science (not a Master of Liberal Arts)
    Cons: Costs a couple thousand more than HES

    Is the MSCIS from BU looked highly upon by employers?

    If you have experience with either (or both), please let me know - I'm still undecided which is the better path. Thanks!
  2. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I don't have any experience at BU, but I am enrolled at HES now.

    As to the issue of "Extension", here are my thoughts:

    Go through these threads and develop a list of several major universities offering online master degree options. Go to their web pages, and find out which "college" within that university offers the degree online. (Some make it quite hard)

    When I did this, I stopped after about the 10th university, because nearly every one issued the degree through their own Extension colleges.

    If you go check the BU website, you will notice that the other degree you are considering is ALSO from an Extension college. (surprise!) So, if that's a sticking point for you, you may want to reconsider both choices.


    For me, that was the tipping point that convinced me to enroll at HES. The fact that some people don't understand the different colleges or degree process has no weight in my decision. Both degrees are regionally accredited, masters level, and come from schools with excellent reputations. The rest is personal preference. The end.
  3. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    If an ALM in Extension Studies with an emphasis in IT will result in the same opportunities as an MSCIS and you have time to do the one semester residency, then I'd say nothing is going to beat the Harvard name.

    Keep in mind, if the ALM in Extension Studies with an emphasis in IT is just as technical as the MSCIS, then you can legitimately emphasize that fact on your resume. If you were thinking about an MBA with an emphasis in IT, IS, or CS, then I'd not recommend emphasizing how the degree is equivalent to the MSCIS.
  4. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    I have to disagree. In many parts of the country, and outside of academia the Harvard name smacks of elitism and given the good ole boy network that I see everyday I would say it might be a negative not a positive. I work with both a Notre Dame grad (BA) (Colorado JD) and a Harvard grad (AB and JD) and these guys have a tough time understanding the politics of the south, assuming their academic pedigrees mean as much to others as to themselves. Many managers have state school degrees, or worse, no degrees, and have a tough time hiring folks who they view as smarter, and consider that the individual might not be satisfied with the position and move on.

    I always recommend that folks get an education from the best name school in the geographic area they intend to work (alumni network). Ultimately, performance not academic credentials will keep you employed.

    and since I anticipate some heat (gets the nomex suit out...) :D

    Do Big Alma Maters Matter


    and because I am "fair and balanced" a counterpoint, sort of:

    CEO schools
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
  5. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

  6. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    I have to disagree with your disagreement. ;)

    While a big name school won't necessary equate to a better education or a better employee, it can definitely help with getting one's foot in the door.
  7. locutus

    locutus New Member

    I'm not sure the IT field is the same as the culinary field. When going for a high-level IT job, say a Systems Architect, Program Manager, Senior Consultant, etc. you need a bachelor's degree. Those with master's degrees get an edge and it's important that your master's is in a field that's applicable - e.g., an MS in History isn't impressive to someone looking for a CIO.

    The ALM is technically in Extension Studies. This is my problem with the ALM from Harvard Extension School. The HES website says it's a "Master of Liberal Arts in Information Technology", but that's not really correct. After doing research I've found that its really a "Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies" with a concentration in IT. To further confuse this, I emailed HES and they said the correct way to list this on your resume is:

    "Master of Liberal Arts, Information Technology, Harvard University Extension School"

    But my worry is that my transcripts will say ALM in Extension Studies.

    Has anyone with an ALM IT from HES had problems with someone questioning their degree?
  8. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    I'm not sure how to measure "getting one's foot in the door." Might be a great topic for research.

    But for long term there's some interesting stuff here:




    “we find that students who attended more selective colleges earned about the same as students of seemingly comparable ability who attended less selective schools. Children from low-income families, however, earned more if they attended selective colleges.”

    Back on topic. I think the Boston University program is a better fit for the need but if one is looking for a high ranking school with a DL program with an emphasis on IT:

    Brandeis MS IT

    Ranked 31 by USNWR
  9. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    Valid points. I'm not saying HES is the right school for you, and I don't know your industry. I'm simply pointing out that BOTH degrees you are comparing (Harvard and Boston) are through Extension Colleges.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2008
  10. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I know that locutus is originally from Borg ;) but I'm not sure where you live now. It makes a tiny bit of difference as we discuss the issue of "reputation" of the schools that people attend as it relates to employment and gettingyourfootinthedoor. It's true that Harvard has a very positive worldwide reputation. However, it's also true that BU has a great rep. Harvard is not known as a great "tech" school. In the Boston/Cambridge area people always think of MIT as the big tech school. Even Harvard can't compare to MIT in that arena. BU is a VERY good school and it has a VERY good rep. Anyone within 1000 miles of Boston knows this. A lot of people within 2000 miles know this. Hiring managers across the country know this. When you get into the world of graduate education, the rep of the school as a whole (this usually means undergrad) means less than the rep of a specific department. Of course, just as I'm pumping up BU I've got to say IT'S EXPENSIVE! If you can afford it that's great. You'll never be sorry. But if money is an issue for you then there has just GOT to be a beter alternative than spending the next 20 years paying off your ed loans.

    Case in point: Which college/university in the USA has the best rep for (grad) English Lit? I'll bet you that it's not Harvard and I'll bet that you'll be surprised with the answer
  11. locutus

    locutus New Member

    Kevin, thanks for the heads up about the Brandeis MS in Info Tech Management. That actually sounds like a really good option too. Also, correct me if I'm wrong but Brandeis has a great reputation as being a top notch school. Anyone have experience with the program?

    I like Harvard's ALM program, I'm still stuck on the naming. Am I over thinking the "Liberal Arts" part of the degree? Will anyone who looks at my resume in the IT industry care?
  12. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The answer is obviously subjective. However, the most widely recognized graduate school rankings are those of US News & World Report. According to USN&WR 2009 rankings:

    Top grad schools for English in general:

    #1 Harvard (tie)
    #1 UC Berkeley (tie)
    #1 Yale (tie)

    If by "English Lit", you mean "18th through 20th Century British Literature" specifically, then:

    #1 UC Berkeley
    #2 Yale
    #5 Harvard

    However, Berkeley at #1, instead of Harvard, still doesn't seem really surprising.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Dang! I should have known that someone would call my bluff.
  14. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    There's a lot of good programs. Take a look at

    Virginia Tech:






    and if you are anywhere near Indiana;

    Purdue (limited residency, but great opportunity for networking)


    these ought to keep you busy for a little while. Let me know if you need some others.

    I'm stuck on the naming of the Harvard program, even moreso since Harvard doesn't offer an IT degree other than from the extension school.
  15. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    I doubt anyone would get past the Harvard name. Somewhere on the board there's a post from one of the folks who was completing the program. I did come across these elsewhere that may lend some information:



    best of luck...
  16. locutus

    locutus New Member

    Keven, thank you for the info. I have some research and thinking to do. After all this, I want to make sure I have the education that will help me to succeed. I think it's down to:

    Master of Liberal Arts, Information Technology, Harvard University Extension School
    Master of Science, Information Technology Management, Brandeis University
    Master of Science, Computer Information Systems, Boston University

    I don't know anything about Brandeis so I'll need to compare/contrast that program with Harvard.

    I live in NH (about and hour from Cambridge) so having a school in Mass/Boston area is a plus in case I need/want to go to the University.
  17. locutus

    locutus New Member

    Similar discussion on yahoo answers, one response:


  18. Mitchell

    Mitchell New Member

    I don't know anything about Brandeis so I'll need to compare/contrast that program with Harvard.

    The Brandeis program is much less technically oriented than any of the other programs discussed (it's management focused). I seriously investigated the Brandeis certificate option a couple of years ago and dismissed it for that reason. The BU program looks great and the Marist program looks good too (technically speaking). I didn't research the Harvard program throughly, but from what I know about it, it also appears to be a good alternative, at least as good, if not better, than the BU or Marist programs. I also looked at the online Virginia Tech program a few years ago and at the time it was restrictive, requiring 5 years of documented IT experience and offering a limited number of classes. Today, the program seems to have less restrictive entrance requirements, but I still see a number of classes listed as "class not currently scheduled". Looking strictly at content, VTO is also a great looking program.
  19. pdbuzz

    pdbuzz New Member

    I'm a little late to the party, but I have to say I'm partial to BU! ;)
  20. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Go Terriers!

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