Harvard Executive Education Revenues Drop Significantly Due to COVID-19

Aerial view of Harvard University

Executive and continuing education programs at Harvard University have been greatly impacted by campus closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the university’s financial challenges.

Nine of Harvard’s 12 degree-granting schools, including Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard Kennedy School, offer executive and continuing education programs throughout the year. Executive and continuing education – non-degree granting programs designed for mid-career professionals – netted $500 million in revenue, equal to 9% of its total revenue, for Harvard in 2019.

In a recent interview with the Harvard Gazette, a university-run publication, University President Lawrence Bacow indicated that those revenues had dropped as a result of the coronavirus. “We have seen a decline in continuing and executive education revenues – a precipitous drop, so the immediate effects are significant already,” he said.

The Business School holds more than 60 on-campus executive education programs, and in 2019 over 12,600 participants attended its programs. Thomas D. Parker ’64, senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, suggested that of Harvard’s 12 schools, those with more robust executive and continuing education programs, such as the Business School, would be hit the hardest. Although HBS does offer online executive education programs, the fees for those range from $1,050 to $5,000, while the costs of an on-campus program can be as much as $82,000.

On March 20th, Harvard Kennedy School posted an update to its executive education Web site indicating that “there will be no teaching and learning programs conducted on campus for the remainder of the semester,” and that, “We are reviewing our open enrollment executive programs scheduled through the Spring and Summer and are considering several options for each program, including offering an online version or offering at a future date.”

Parker believes individuals and companies will be interested in online offerings in executive and continuing education. “The Harvard name is very attractive, and there are a lot of people who will pay for that name, whether they actually physically set foot on campus or not, he says.”

For more information on executive education and continuing education programs, visit the Web site of the Harvard school for the desired topic.

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