Everything You Need to Know About Discounts and Financial Assistance for Harvard Online Courses

Published September 28, 2022


At Harvard Online, we offer free and low cost courses worldwide that you can complete on your own time and in your own place. We’re proud to bring the Harvard University experience and expertise to you, regardless of your distance from our historic Cambridge, MA campus. We also offer certificates to help you boost your career and build a better world. As part of our mission to empower life-long learning, we have a multitude of opportunities to assist with course costs and ensure that anyone, regardless of income, can be part of the Harvard Online community.

Our courses are hosted on three digital platforms — edX, GetSmarter, and HBS Online — which all include different opportunities for payment assistance and course discounts. Here’s a list of all the discounts and payment options available for Harvard Online courses:


Harvard Business School Online Hosted Courses

Learners taking select Harvard Online courses hosted on the HBS Online platform have two options to receive financial assistance: our past participant discount or learners working in nonprofit, military, and/or education fields.

Our past-participant discount applies to learners who have enrolled in at least one qualifying Harvard Online program. Learners are eligible to receive a 30% discount on each subsequent qualifying program enrollment, regardless of completion or certificate status in the first purchased program.

For more information on the details of the past-participant discount program and the current qualifying courses, learners should visit our Course Policies and Discounts page.

Our nonprofit, government, military, and education discounts offer a 30% discount for select Harvard Online programs to learners with an email address ending in .org, .gov, .mil, or .edu. Interested learners can apply below for the discount and, if eligible, will receive a promo code to enter when completing payment information to enroll in a participating Harvard Online program.

Similarly to the past-participant program, learners looking to take advantage of nonprofit, government, military, and education discounts should visit our Course Policies and Discounts page for up-to-date information on how to apply and current qualifying courses.

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edX Hosted Courses

When taking one of our courses on the edX platform, learners have two financial aid options: auditing select courses for free or applying for financial assistance for verified certification courses.

Learners looking to understand the course material and learn the subject matter intrinsically should take advantage of auditing courses for free.

Most of our courses offered through the edX platform can be completed as a free audit option. This means that you can take the course and learn the core material free of charge. Unlike the paid certification option, you will not receive an official certification of completion following the course if you choose to audit the course. There may also be additional content available only to those who upgrade to the certificate path.

If you change your mind once you’ve finished the course and want to receive your official certification of course completion, you will still have the option to upgrade to the paid certification!

If you’re looking to enroll in a verified certificate-granting course through the edX platform, you may decide to apply for financial assistance from edX. edX offers up to a 90% discount on our verified certificate courses to learners who cannot afford to pay full price. You can apply for financial assistance for either a single certification course or a professional certificate program. Additionally, you can be approved up to five times in a twelve-month period for financial assistance.

To learn more about the edX Financial Assistance program and to apply, learners should visit the edX Financial Assistance FAQ page.


GetSmarter Hosted Courses

Learners taking select courses hosted on the GetSmarter platform have the option to enroll in a payment plan to take advantage of financial assistance. This allows learners to pay the full course value over multiple staggered payments.

Depending on your geography, if you elect to pay your course fees via payment plan you will be registered in either the EdAid part payment plan or the GetSmarter internal part payment plan. Both plans have different terms and conditions which can be viewed in more detail on the GetSmarter Finance FAQ page.

In short, these payment plans allow learners to pay the course fees over the course of 2-6 installments.



If you’re still not sure which discount program you may qualify for, you can always find additional support for our programs or our course providers (edX, GetSmarter, or HBS Online) through our Contact page. Happy (discounted) learning!

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