Teacher Education Program

Frequently Asked Questions


How competitive is admission to the Teacher Education Program?

The applicant pools for the Teaching and Curriculum and the MidCareer Math and Science Programs are extremely competitive. Successful candidates to these Programs present strong undergraduate records, strong test scores, a passion for their subject matter, and usually some significant experience working with K-12 students (e.g., in camps, schools, or other organizations by tutoring, coaching, or teaching). In addition, the Program seeks candidates with a commitment to working with urban adolescents.

Do I need to have taught in order to apply to the Teacher Education Program?

No. In the past, roughly only 20% of our candidates have had previous substantial, formal classroom teaching experience. However, the overwhelming majority of our successful candidates have had significant, demonstrated experience with adolescents and/or with children in educational settings.

Do you recommend that I make an appointment for an interview?

The Graduate School of Education has a general policy of not interviewing applicants. However, you can arrange to visit Teacher Education Program classes by contacting the TEP office (tep@gse.harvard.edu). You may also contact the Program directly (617-495-8854) to ask for clarification about the Program's curriculum and requirements. (You should direct questions about the admissions process to gseadmissions@harvard.edu.)

Can I talk to past or present students in the Teacher Education Program?

Yes. To reach Teacher Education Program students, contact the TEP office (tep@gse.harvard.edu), which maintains a list of current and former students who are willing to be contacted by prospective students. In addition, you might be interested in a feature on the GSE website (Teacher Journal: In School With Educators) in which recent students chronicle their year in the program.

What kind of financial aid is available?

The Harvard Graduate School of Education awards financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and work-study funding. In addition, four fellowships will be available to HGSE master's students in 2014-2015: the Urban Scholars Fellowship Program for candidates with a demonstrated commitment to working in urban schools; Leadership in Education Awards for top master's degree candidates with strong leadership potential; and the Zuckerman Fellows Program at Harvard University for students with backgrounds in business, law, or medicine who wish to engage in the public sector from an interdisciplinary perspective; and the Pforzheimer Fellowship for graduates of Harvard College who demonstrate unusual talent for and commitment to public service. For information on these fellowships, see the Merit Awards page of the Financial Aid website.

For further information about financial aid opportunities, please refer the website for the Graduate School of Education's Financial Aid Office.

Math and science concentrators should also investigate the teaching fellowships offered by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation. These fellowships provide financial support to beginning math and science teachers during their teacher preparation program and the early years of their teaching career.

The Program

What is the philosophy of the Harvard Teacher Education Program?

The mission of the Harvard Teacher Education Program is to assist aspiring and experienced teachers in transforming their passion about and knowledge of subject matter into practice that will best serve today's diverse, urban adolescent population. Several beliefs ground the curriculum of the Program, including that:

  • good teaching depends on deep subject-matter knowledge, pedagogical expertise, and a practical understanding of organizational change in schools;
  • every teacher should have expertise in literacy, leadership, and technology to help schools advance student learning; and
  • learning about teaching requires strong and vibrant partnerships between the university and school sites.

Thus, the Program seeks candidates who are interested in practicing the skills of both exemplary teaching and outstanding leadership to influence curricular and institutional change.
View a more in-depth overview of the Teacher Education Program's philosophy and objectives.

What is the difference between the Teaching and Curriculum Program (TAC) and the MidCareer Math and Science Program (MCMS)?

Applicants who have at least five years of professional experience in a field related to mathematics (e.g., business, computer engineering, the Military, technology, or finance) or the sciences (e.g., engineering, technology, life sciences, research laboratory work, or medicine) are excellent candidates for the MidCareer Math and Science Program (MCMS). MCMS candidates must be able to draw upon their professional experience to develop, implement, and deliver effective curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. View more information about the MCMS program.
The TAC Program enrolls candidates with less professional experience in math and science as well as all candidates in English, history, and political science/political philosophy. Read more about the TAC program.

How do I know if I have enough coursework in the subject that I want to teach?

Successful candidates for the Harvard Teacher Education Program have outstanding undergraduate (and sometimes graduate) records in the fields that they intend to teach. In addition, candidates for licensure through the Teacher Education Program must pass the appropriate subject-matter subtest on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). Generally, an undergraduate major completed at an outstanding level in the subject you intend to teach or the equivalent of 24-28 semester hours of relevant coursework would be sufficient.
One way to think about whether or not you could pass the MTEL in your teaching subject is to compare your knowledge and coursework with the State's expectations for content-knowledge and the MTEL test objectives for your subject. If you have more specific questions about your subject-matter coursework, you can send them to: licensure@gse.harvard.edu.

What if I have taken all the course work I would need for licensure, and all I need is to complete student teaching? Would the Teacher Education Program sponsor me for student teaching?

No. The only individuals the Teacher Education Program sponsors for licensure are those candidates who are admitted into the Teacher Education Program and who complete its full year of requirements.

How many students are in the Teaching and Curriculum Program and the MidCareer Math and Science Program?

There are 22 students in the Teacher Education Program during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Where does the Teacher Education Program place its interns?

The Teacher Education Program's mission is to prepare teachers who can effectively teach in urban schools and work with the diversity of today's youth. Therefore, we place our candidates in middle and high schools primarily in the urban districts of Boston and Cambridge.

How long is the Program?

The Program is eleven months, beginning in the second week of June and finishing the following May.

How much time do candidates spend in schools?

Candidates accepted for the 2014-2015 academic year will teach for five weeks in the Cambridge-Harvard Summer Academy. During the fall and spring terms, candidates will attend their assigned school sites an average of two days a week in the fall and then five days a week in the spring.

What kind of support will I have at my school site?

Candidates work closely in classrooms with carefully selected Mentor Teachers. In addition, each candidate is assigned to an Advisory -- a group of 2-4 interns who meet together with a Graduate School of Education master’s or doctoral candidate who has had extensive experience as a secondary school teacher. The Advisor consults with interns on an individual basis, observing them in their classrooms and providing them with curricular and practical support in addition to that which the Mentor Teacher provides.

In addition, Harvard is developing close relationships with its practice sites so that on-going professional development activities can be conducted on a regular basis for experienced as well as aspiring teachers at the sites.

How will my academic courses and my student teaching relate?

Every required course in the Teacher Education Program is meant to inform, complement, and integrate with the field experience. The Program is dedicated to bridging theory and practice in the education of its teachers. Leaders of the Advisories act as liaisons for the various required courses in the Program, and faculty who teach in the Program meet regularly to discuss students' progress.

What courses will I be taking as a candidate in the Teacher Education Program?

Please refer to the program of study for candidates enrolled in the Teacher Education Programs during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Will I be able to take any electives?

Candidates are expected to enroll in at least three electives during the academic year. At least one of the electives must be a graduate-level course directly related to the candidate's teaching subject area, and another must be selected from a list of specific HGSE courses. The content-area elective and the third elective may be selected from among those offered by any of the ten faculties within the Harvard University system, or at M.I.T. or the Fletcher School at Tufts University, as long as they are at the graduate level.

Teaching Licensure

At what grade levels and in what subjects does the Teacher Education Program prepare candidates to teach?

The Teacher Education Program prepares candidates to teach at the middle- and high-school levels. (Currently, the Teacher Education Program does not offer preparation for elementary licensure.) Specifically, TEP prepares candidates to teach in grades 5-8 in: biology, earth science, English, general science, history, mathematics, and political science/political philosophy. In addition, TEP prepares candidates to teach at the 8-12 level in biology, chemistry, earth science, English, history, mathematics, physics, and political science/political philosophy.

Does the Graduate School of Education offer any other licensure programs?

The Language and Literacy Program prepares candidates for reading licensure; the Principal Licensure Strand within the School Leadership Program prepares candidates for principal licensure; and the Prevention Science and Practice Program prepares candidates for licensure as School Guidance Counselors (PreK-8, 5-12) or School Adjustment Counselors (all levels) through its new two-year counseling tracks. To be licensed through these programs, you must apply to them directly.

Can I get licensed through the Harvard Graduate School of Education if I am accepted into another program than the Teacher Education Program, the Language and Literacy Program, the Prevention Science and Practice Program, the Principal Licensure Strand, or the Urban Superintendent's Program?


Do I need to be licensed in order to teach in a private school?

While licensure is not a requirement to teach in most private schools, many have expressed a preference for candidates to have had some formal teaching preparation. Some do require licensure. You would have to check with particular schools to be sure.

Is Massachusetts's teacher licensure transferable to other states?

Massachusetts has reciprocal agreements concerning certification with over 40 states. Other states may require applicants to take additional tests (e.g., CBEST, NTE) or fulfill additional requirements (e.g., a course in the State's history) than those required by Massachusetts. The easiest way to be sure what another State's requirements are for reciprocity is to contact its Department of Education directly. (See HGSE licensure website.)

Massachusetts requires licensure candidates to take and pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). When should I take these tests?

We recommend that you take the MTEL as soon as you decide to apply to the Teacher Education Program, if possible.The Communication and Literacy tests and most of the subject-matter tests are now given by computer at many testing centers nation-wide (see MTEL website).  We ask our new students to take the Communication and Literacy tests before their arrivel on campus in June, and to take their subject test before the end of July. You will need to pass both MTELs by the end of the fall semester in order to continue in the Program in the spring. Candidates who do not pass the MTEL by the end of the fall semester may complete their degree work in another master's program in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

How can I prepare for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure?

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website offers several MTEL resources: MTEL Test Objectives, Test Information Booklets, a Test Preparation video and a few practice tests. In addition, the Program offers its enrolled candidates preparation support.

What will the Teacher Education Program do to help me get a teaching job?

In the past five years, 98% of Teacher Education Program candidates who have sought teaching positions have obtained them. The Program maintains an internal website on which it posts current openings - many of which come to our attention from our alumni who provide us with connections with schools across the country. Additionally, the Graduate School of Education's Career Services Office (cso@gse.harvard.edu) supports candidates' job search with extensive resources and events.

If you have questions about...

Career Opportunities

For more information please visit HGSE's Career Services Office.


Many HGSE students choose to take courses at other Harvard graduate schools (aka, cross-registering), including the Harvard Business School (HBS), the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).  For more information about cross-registering at other Harvard schools, please visit: www.gse.harvard.edu/about/administration/registration/cross_registration.html

HGSE Course Catalog

For more information about HGSE course offerings, view the entire HGSE course catalogue.


For more information about the HGSE admissions process, please visit Admissions.