Yes, as even some Harvard faculty concede, "The change also seems at odds with efforts nationwide to make college studies more flexible, affordable, and accessible."

I attended Harvard and graduated in 3 years because of AP credits. Now that would be impossible. Harvard does not have some special take on single-variable calculus, and the notion that no AP course can be comparable to a Harvard course is self-serving nonsense. Freshman courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, biology and other subjects can be cash cows for universities, since only a single professor is
needed for hundreds of students, and teaching assistants are paid little.

Advanced Standing Reduced
Harvard Magazine
FOLLOWING ITS DECEMBER discussion of a proposal to eliminate Harvard College course credit for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses—thereby limiting students’ ability to fast-track their A.B. or graduate with a simultaneous master’s, typically in a sciences or engineering field (see “Overhauling Advanced Standing,” March-April, page 22)—the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) accepted an amended course of action at a sparsely attended meeting on February 6.

Taking into account concerns raised in December, dean of undergraduate education Jay M. Harris introduced a scrubbed-down policy. Beginning with students entering the College in 2020, course credit would no longer be awarded “for work completed prior to their matriculation,” except for credits earned at Harvard’s extension or summer schools. This would extend the practice already in place in all departments except economics, mathematics, and psychology (which in effect recognize top scores in AP or IB classes as a substitute for introductory College courses in those disciplines). Departments would be allowed to continue using AP and IB examinations for course placement—and (the one exception) to satisfy the undergraduate foreign-language requirement. A separate committee would be formed to recommend rules and procedures for undergraduates hoping to pursue a concurrent master’s degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; it would report within a year.

Harris observed that across most of FAS, AP and IB classes are regarded as not equivalent to the work required in College classes—so it makes no sense to allow students to count them toward earning an A.B. short of Harvard’s “curated eight-semester experience.”

Faculty members present raised several concerns. First, the change would eliminate the opportunity to graduate in six or seven semesters—an option that might appeal to a very few students with compelling personal or family financial or health concerns, or unique intellectual trajectories. Peer institutions permit accelerated undergraduate studies, so Harvard might unilaterally weaken its appeal to such applicants. The change also seems at odds with efforts nationwide to make college studies more flexible, affordable, and accessible.