Admissions & Financial Aid

Statement of Purpose

Please note that the information below refers to the HGSE application for enrollment in the Ed.L.D., Ed.M., and C.A.S. programs. Applications for the Ph.D. in Education must be submitted through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For information about the Ph.D. application, please visit the GSAS Application Instructions and Information, as well as the HGSE How to Apply and Ph.D. FAQ pages.

What is the required length and format of the statement?

The statement should be no more than 1,500 words, typed and double-spaced. Your statement should be written by you alone and represent your original work. International applicants are reminded that they must write their own statement in English; the use of translators is not permitted.

Please note that the admissions committee will carefully consider both the content and the writing in its assessment of your candidacy for graduate study at HGSE.

What should I discuss in my Statement of Purpose?

Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) applicants only:

To help us better understand your decision to become a system-level leader, please discuss the following:
  1. Your background
    1. What key experiences have contributed to your commitment to education?
    2. What do you view as your most significant professional accomplishment(s) and your most significant professional failure(s) to date? How did they inform your development?
  2. Your plans
    1. What issues would you like to tackle in your career as a system-level leader in education?
    2. How do you envision yourself effecting significant change in the American preK-12 education sector?

Master of Education (Ed.M.) applicants only:

In your statement, please discuss:

  1. Your objectives for graduate study: how this HGSE program will help you achieve your goals
  2. Your background: what key experiences have contributed to your commitment to work in the field of education or with education-related issues

Note that some Ed.M. programs would like you to address additional topics in your Statement of Purpose. See below for more information.

Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) in Counseling applicants only:

In your statement, please address the following questions:
  1. How has your experience in the Prevention Science and Practice master's program motivated you or influenced you to pursue the C.A.S. year?
  2. What skills or knowledge do you hope to develop in this second year of graduate study?
  3. What did you learn about yourself while in the program and how will that potentially impact your performance/experience next year?

Programs with additional instructions:

Please note that the following programs would like you to address additional topics in your Statement of Purpose:

Human Development and Psychology

For Child Advocacy strand applicants only: Please explain how your background or previous experience has led to your interest in the child advocacy strand. Include mention of any child advocacy or related work experience or course work. What are some of your specific learning goals related to child advocacy?

Language and Literacy

For Literacy Coach strand applicants only: Please explain how your previous experience has prepared you to become a literacy coach, and what you hope to gain from this strand of Language and Literacy with respect to your career goals.

Learning and Teaching

For Instructional Leadership strand applicants only: Please explain your experience to date with teaching and/or curricular leadership. How has your experience prepared you to become an instructional leader? What do you hope to gain from the Instructional Leadership strand at Harvard with respect to your personal and career goals?

School Leadership

In your statement, please:
  • Describe what experiences have shaped your commitment to improving the education of all students, especially those who are not currently well served by our educational system.
  • Explain why, at this point in your career, you are interested in leading a school and, if applicable, in starting one.
  • Provide an example of a time in which you took on a formal or informal leadership role with other adults. Explain what you tried to do, what happened, and what you learned.

Special Studies

The Special Studies program is designed for students who are highly focused and whose academic and professional interests do not fit within any of the school's more structured programs. Successful applicants are those who have a clear sense of the topics they wish to study and present a convincing argument of how this academic program will help to achieve larger goals.

In your statement of purpose, you should mention the following:
  • Your academic interests, i.e. what you hope to study
  • Courses that will help fulfill your academic objectives
  • Faculty with whom you would like to work
  • Your career goals upon completing the program

Teacher Education

Please address the following in your statement of purpose:

  • Why you have decided to become a teacher who works with adolescents who live in urban areas
  • What you have learned from previous experience (with adolescents, in instructional roles, and with your subject matter) that you can apply to your teaching
  • How your experiences as a learner influence your thinking about teaching in an urban setting

Admissions Office

111 Longfellow Hall
13 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-495-3414
Fax: 617-496-3577
Email Admissions

Financial Aid Office

061 Longfellow Hall
13 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-495-3416
Fax: 617-496-0840
Email Financial Aid

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