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Harvard Faculty to Consider Granting College Credit for Remote Summer School Courses

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Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences is set to consider a proposal that would allow remotely-taught Harvard Summer School courses to be taken for Harvard College credit.

Previously, the College accepted only a subset of Summer School courses for credit, all taught in-person. But the school made an exception during the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing remote courses to count for college credit.

The Harvard Faculty Council approved a proposal to allow online summer school classes to count for credit at its Jan. 26 meeting, sending the proposal to the full FAS. The faculty will consider the matter at its March 1 meeting.

The Harvard College Student Handbook currently states that “Harvard College students may not count online Summer School courses toward their Harvard College degrees.”

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The proposal comes after the FAS' Standing Committee on Undergraduate Educational Policy was tasked with re-evaluating the matter.

Ahead of the faculty meeting’s vote on March 1, students have voiced support for the proposal.

Benjamin T. Rossen ’24 said allowing remote Summer School courses to be taken for credit would change how students approach structuring their education.

“I think it would definitely change the landscape and how people perceive class because even now the ability to learn remotely and to attend lectures asynchronously has definitely changed people's schedules and how people prioritize going to lectures,” Rossen said.

Rossen added he believes the virtual course offerings would make people feel accustomed to taking more classes than normal.

“Generally, you take four classes at Harvard, but I think with the virtual format, it might be even easier to take five or even six because of the convenience,” Rossen said.

Hannah S. Lamport ’23 echoed similar sentiments, adding that it could create a new course load standard.

“It could free people's schedules up so that over the fall and spring semesters they have time to take other courses outside of the standard requirements that they finish off during the summer," Lamport said. "That being said, it could alternatively create a culture where you’re kind of expected to get more classes in."

Alfonso J. Godinez Aguilar ’24, who plans to take Harvard Summer School courses this summer to fulfill concentration requirements, said he thinks the proposal would make summer school more “accessible” for him and other students.

“It would be an overall net positive thing just because it would make summer school more accessible for students that potentially might want to do internships or something somewhere else, or if they have family commitments over the summer,” Godinez Aguilar said.

“I think before the pandemic, people didn’t really value virtual school as much as they do now after having a good year of virtual school — like last year — under our belt, so I think definitely a lot of people’s minds have changed,” he added.

—Staff writer Joshua S. Cai can be reached at joshua.cai@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Tracy Jiang can be reached at tracy.jiang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @_tracyjiang_.

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