Urban Superintendents Program

HGSE launches a new
Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) degree


The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) offers a doctoral program designed specifically for persons who wish to transform education as superintendents of our nation's urban school systems. The Urban Superintendents Program (USP) is a rigorous course of study designed for professionals who have worked innovatively and effectively in metropolitan school districts as teacher-leaders, school principals, or central office administrators.

USP students build upon their own experience as educators through coursework, an internship, and the research and writing of a dissertation. Since 1991, USP has produced 26 superintendents, 25 deputy superintendents or chief academic officers, 24 assistant or area superintendents, 21 directors (central office positions), 25 school principals, 10 special assistants or chief of staff, 10 educational consultants, 10 university faculty, and a deputy assistant secretary of education, U.S. Department of Education. The program's graduates advance our country's most important mission: systemically and systematically improving teaching and learning in our public schools in order to enable every child in America to achieve at the highest levels.

The Need

Urban school systems in the United States face the challenges of raising the achievement of all students to high levels, while at the same time closing the achievement gap. Lack of public trust, the shortage of new teachers, inadequate resources, and the lure of quick fixes to complex problems can combine to make these challenges extraordinarily difficult to address. Thus aspiring superintendents need to engage in the focused, sustained, and intellectually rigorous development of their own leadership commitment, knowledge, and skills.

Individuals who seek to expand and strengthen their leadership capacity through the Urban Superintendents Program are those who strive to become superb instructional leaders, politically astute coalition builders, expert managers of human and financial resources, and scholar-practitioners who add to the knowledge base through their own research. They want to develop greater clarity of vision, test the soundness of their educational values and beliefs, and deepen their resolve to hold themselves and others accountable for bringing about results for each and every student. Additionally, they want to increase their knowledge of research and best practices, their ability to engender continuous improvements in the instructional leadership of teachers and principals, their skills to assess needs and progress based on data, and their expertise in focusing resources on the improvement of student achievement. The results can be extraordinarily rewarding: graduates of the program know they have exponentially increased their capacity to qualitatively improve the educational experiences and life outcomes of children and youth in our nation's cities.

Brian Osborne, Cohort 11, Superintendent of Schools, The School District of South Orange & Maplewood (NJ)Brian Osborne, Cohort 11, Superintendent of Schools, The School District of South Orange & Maplewood (NJ)
Joshua Starr, Cohort 8, Superintendent, Stamford (CT) Public SchoolsJoshua Starr, Cohort 8, Superintendent, Stamford (CT) Public Schools
Meria Carstarphen, Cohort 9, Superintendent, Austin (TX) Unified School DistrictMeria Carstarphen, Cohort 9, Superintendent, Austin (TX) Unified School District

The Future of Education Leadership

Established in 1990, the Harvard Urban Superintendents Program (USP) is recognized as the nation's premier program for preparing individuals to lead urban school districts. For twenty years, USP provided innovative training for aspiring superintendents, enrolling its last cohort in Fall 2009. Building on the tremendous success of USP, HGSE will launch the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program in Fall 2010. The new Ed.L.D. Program builds upon the skills, knowledge base, and relationships with school systems and leaders developed in USP. The program will maintain USP's strong focus on urban school leadership while expanding to include students preparing to lead a broad range of organizations including non-profit organizations, mission-based for-profit organizations, and government agencies. Individuals interested in pursuing careers as urban superintendents should visit the Ed.L.D. program for more information.

About our header image:
"The Head, Heart, & Hands of Leadership" A Painting by Boston Public School Students at Artists for Humanity