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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Sections: About | Applying | Veterans | Technical Support | Visitor Information

About HGSE

Does HGSE offer evening courses?

The majority of the courses at HGSE are offered during the day. Degrees cannot be completed by taking evening coursework. Please consult the online Course Catalog for detailed course offerings and information.

Does HGSE offer distance or online learning?

Our Online Master's in Education Leadership — a part-time, two-year, online program — is designed for experienced professionals interested in honing their leadership skills, deepening their change making potential, and advancing their careers, with preK–12 and higher education pathways that complement their careers and chosen area of impact. Our program is conducted almost exclusively online — except for two brief residential experiences where you'll meet your cohort in person and build community.

All residential degree programs at HGSE require the coursework to be completed on campus.

Is a bachelor's degree required for admission to a degree program at HGSE?

Applicants to the Ph.D. in Education must have a B.A., B.S., or equivalent degree (for prospective international students, a three- or four-year undergraduate degree from an institution of recognized standing) by the time of their matriculation.

For applicants to the Ed.L.D. or Ed.M. degree, while a bachelor's degree is not required, those who hold a B.A., B.S., or equivalent degree are the most  competitive for admission. Only in rare and select cases will the school consider exceptional and extensive professional achievements, along with demonstrated non-degree academic success, in lieu of a degree.

May I apply as a part-time student to HGSE?

A limited number of master's students are admitted to HGSE on a part-time basis. Applicants must include a brief statement in the Program Information section of the online application, indicating why they are requesting part-time study.

A full-time application is required for the following:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education
  • Doctor of Education Leadership
  • Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling
  • Teaching and Teacher Leadership
  • Human Development and Education (School Counseling strand)

If I matriculate at HGSE, can I cross-register at other Harvard schools?

Many HGSE students choose to take courses at other Harvard graduate schools, including the Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Harvard University's academic calendar is now standardized, allowing for seamless cross-registration between schools.

Cross-registration at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is also available for all HGSE Students.

Is it possible to take courses without applying or enrolling in a degree program?

Professional educators, advanced doctoral students who are conducting relevant research, and faculty from other institutions may take courses at HGSE by applying to the Special Students program. Applicants for non-degree study may be admitted to take up to two courses during a single academic year.

May I transfer credit from another institution to HGSE?

We do not accept transfer credit from other institutions.

Through a petition process, students who have taken courses at HGSE before matriculating into a degree program may be able to transfer up to two courses into their degree program.

May I defer admission to the Harvard Graduate School of Education?

Admitted applicants who accept an offer of admission are expected to enroll in the term for which they applied and were admitted.

If you are admitted to a master’s program and your circumstances change unexpectedly, you may petition the Admissions Committee in writing for a one-year deferment. Please note that these deferment requests are rarely granted and are subject to the committee's approval.

We do not permit any deferments for the Ph.D. in Education or the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) programs.  Individuals who find they are unable to enroll in the year for which they were admitted are encouraged to reapply at a time when they feel they will be better positioned to attend.

May I change Ed.M. programs after I've been admitted?

Transfer from one Ed.M. program to another is rarely permitted. Students are expected to enroll in the program to which they were admitted. We encourage students who wish to transfer to another program to seek the advice of the Ed.M. program administrator of the program to which they were initially admitted before submitting a request to transfer to the Admissions Office.


How do I submit an application? What are the required materials?

More detailed instructions and descriptions of required application components can be found on the How to Apply section of our website.

Is the GRE a required part of the application?

The GRE is optional for Ed.M. applicants for enrollment in the 2022-2023 academic year. Ed.L.D. applicants are required to submit either GRE or GMAT scores.

For the Ed.L.D., Ed.M., and C.A.S. programs, HGSE's institution code for the GRE is 3428. To learn more please visit our Standardized Tests requirements.

Ph.D. applicants need to send their GRE scores directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Their code is 3451.

Does HGSE have minimum GRE score requirements?

The admission committee considers several different factors when making admission decisions, including your current/previous academic performance (e.g., GPA), statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation, in addition to your standardized test scores.

If your GRE scores are significantly low (i.e., below the 50 percentile in Verbal, the 30 percentile in Quantitative, and 3.5 in Analytical Writing), your chances for admission will be greatly reduced. We have seen that the program can be quite challenging under these circumstances. In recent years, successful applicants with lower scores have presented compelling professional experience and provided evidence of demonstrated academic ability in other areas of the application.

To view the average GRE scores of those admitted for the 2019-2020 academic year, please visit Who Studies at HGSE?

How do I know if I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?

If your native language is not English, you must submit the results of the TOEFL (or IELTS) and, if taking the paper-based test, the Test of Written English (TWE). You are exempt from this requirement if you have earned a bachelor's degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction. Due to limitations caused by COVID-19, we are accepting TOEFL IBT Special Home Edition and IELTS Indicator for fall 2022 enrollment.

For the Ed.L.D. and Ed.M. programs, HGSE's institution code for the TOEFL is 3428. To learn more please visit our Standardized Tests requirements.

Does HGSE have a minimum TOEFL score?

HGSE prefers applicants with scores of 104 or higher on the Internet-based TOEFL, with individual section scores (e.g., reading, writing, listening, and speaking) of at least 26. On the Paper-based TOEFL, HGSE prefers applicants with individual section scores of at least 26 each in reading, writing, and listening. 

What do I do if I forgot my password?

Click "Forgot Your Password?" on the application log-in screen to have a new password emailed to you.

How do I enter my Grade Point Average (GPA)?

If you are currently a student, please report your GPA up through the prior semester.

  • You are asked to provide your GPA on the scale that your institution uses (e.g., 4.0, 4.3, 5.0, 15. 100, etc.).
  • If your institution does not calculate GPA, please leave the GPA and GPA scale fields blank on your application.

What do I do if I cannot locate my academic institution in the drop-down menu?

If you are unable to locate your institution in the drop-down menu, please select "Other" at the bottom of the list. You will then be able to enter your institution's name and location yourself.

Can I make changes to the application once I have submitted it?

Once you submit your application, it will not be possible to make any changes, except to your contact information. You will be able to update your email address, mailing and permanent addresses, and phone numbers on the Application Status page. On that post-submission page, you will also be able to upload electronic transcripts and send reminder emails to your recommenders.

If you need to make any changes to your application regarding your name, you will need to contact the Admissions Office. You may also want to make the necessary changes to your account profile, which you may do yourself

How do I check the status of my application?

Once you have submitted your application, you may review the status of each of your materials on the Application Status page of your online application. 

Can I withdraw my application once I have submitted it?

For applicants to the Ed.L.D. and Ed.M. programs, you may withdraw your application up to and including the application deadline. Once the application deadline has passed, you may not withdraw your application. This includes the deadline for an Ed.M. referral. If you are an applicant to the Ph.D. program, you should contact the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) directly with questions about withdrawing your application. 

Military Veterans

I am currently in or a veteran of the United States Military. Can I use veterans benefits at HGSE?

Yes. More information about education benefits offered by the VA is available at the Veterans Affairs website.

Does HGSE participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

HGSE is a proud participant of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Yellow Ribbon Program. The Yellow Ribbon Program supplements veterans who are eligible for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. In academic year 2021-2022 HGSE provides a grant to meet the remaining tuition balance for eligible Yellow Ribbon program veterans and the VA will match this grant. Learn more about veterans' education benefits at Harvard and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Who do I contact if I have questions about my military benefits at HGSE?

Prospective students are welcome to contact the HGSE Admissions Office. The Associate Director of Financial Aid, Shawn Bennett, is the contact for all admitted and current students utilizing Veterans Education Benefits at HGSE.

Does Harvard University have student or alumni veterans organizations?

Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization (HVAO) was founded in 2006 to maintain a network of living Harvard Veterans, to promote a sense of community, friendship and mutual activities. HVAO also researches, organizes and publishes historical information relating to Harvard Veterans, in coordination with the University Archives.

What are my benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) and the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Yellow Ribbon Program supplements veterans who are eligible for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Learn more about veterans education benefits at Harvard and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

An overview of the Chapter 33/Yellow Ribbon Benefits at HGSE 2021-2022 (for 100% benefits-eligible students)

Benefits are determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and awarded based on eligibility.

  • Up to $24,477 per academic year for tuition paid directly to their Harvard Graduate School of Education account.
  • Monthly housing allowance based on the Basic Allowance for Housing for eligible veterans (provided by the VA and approximately equivalent to an E-5 with dependents rate).
  • HGSE will provide a Yellow Ribbon Award for eligible Yellow Ribbon program veterans and the VA will match this grant. The VA tuition benefit plus VA and HGSE Yellow Ribbon funding will meet the full cost of tuition and fees for the academic year. 
  • Eligible veterans will receive up to $55,050 per year of tuition and fee coverage (a maximum $24,277 VA tuition benefit + $15,287 VA Yellow Ribbon Award + $15,287 HGSE Yellow Ribbon Award).

Note: Although Chapter 33 VA Benefits are most commonly used at HGSE, other VA benefits – such as Chapter 30, 31, 35, 1606, or 1607 – may also be used here.

Technical Support

Which web browser should I use when working on my application?

The HGSE online application works best in Google Chrome or Firefox. If you are experiencing any technical difficulties when working on your application, we first recommend that you log in using one of these browsers, if you have not already done so.

Please note, we have received reports of technical issues from applicants and recommenders using Internet Explorer. If you are using IE and experience problems, please switch to one of the browsers noted above.

I created an account but have not received an activation PIN. How can I access my application?

Please check your email to see if the activation email was directed to a spam or junk folder in your inbox. If you are not able to locate the email, try resetting your password, which will resend the activation email with your temporary PIN.

I received a "503 Unavailable" error message when I tried to upload my documents. What does this mean?

Because many applicants submit on or around the application deadlines, we generally experience a high volume of user traffic on the application servers at these times. This may result in delays when loading pages or uploading documents. If you experience delays or receive a "503 Unavailable" message, please wait 15-20 minutes and try reloading the page or uploading your materials again.

I received an "Invalid Format" message when I tried to upload my transcript. What should I do?

Some institutions provide students with an encrypted electronic transcript that cannot be uploaded to the application; attempts to do so will result in the following message: "Invalid format for uploaded document. (Document cannot be decrypted. Unrecognized encryption filter.)"

The simplest solution is to print the transcript, scan it, and upload the scanned copy to your application. This will allow you to bypass the encryption that prevented the original document from being uploaded.

My credit card was declined when I tried to pay the application fee. What should I do?

Double check to make sure that you are entering the billing address associated with your credit card. If the incorrect address is provided, your card will be declined.

If you have entered the correct address and the payment is still not successful, we suggest trying a different credit card. (Please note that the name on the credit card used does not have to match the name on your application.) The system will accept Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

My recommender has not received the notification email. How do I resend it to them?

You can resend the recommender notification email to each of your recommendation providers by going to the Recommendations section of your application, clicking the name of your recommender, and selecting "Send Reminder."

If you have already submitted your application, you can still renotify your recommenders. Log back into your application and scroll to the bottom of the Application Status Page, where you will find a link to the Recommendations page. Follow the instructions provided above to resend the notification email to your recommenders.

If you have resent the email but your recommender has still not received it, please check to ensure that you have entered their email address correctly. You should also ask your recommender to check their spam or junk folder. If you have done this and your recommender still has not received the email, please email us at for assistance.

How can I confirm that my application is complete?

After you submit your application, you can check the status of materials such as test scores and recommendations by logging into your application and viewing your Application Status Page. On this page, you can also upload transcripts and pay the application fee, if you have not yet done so.

Visitor Information

Do you offer tours?

We do not offer in-person tours on the HGSE campus. We invite you to take our virtual tour of the HGSE campus and surrounding area, hosted by current HGSE students and alumni. The tour provides an insider's look at the classrooms and facilities located in the heart of Harvard Square.

For information about tours of Harvard University, please visit the Harvard University Tours website.

When is the Admissions Office Open?

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday | The office is open to visitors from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Friday | The staff works remotely
    If you are in need of assistance, please visit the security desk at Gutman Library.
  • Monday through Friday | Phone hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., with a lunch break from noon - 1 p.m.

Our availability to receive visitors is based on current public health information. Please see the HGSE Coronavirus page for updates to our visitor policy. You may contact us by email or phone at 617-495-3414 with further questions. 

Where can I find directions, parking information, and accommodations to the HGSE campus? 

Directions and all other information can be found here.

Are there alumni that I can contact?

Our Admissions Ambassador Program provides opportunities for you to connect with Alumni Ambassadors to hear about the HGSE experience firsthand.

You will receive an email from, introducing you to an alumnus/a aligned to your preferences. Please note: it could take up to two weeks to respond to your request. Due to the small size of the cohort and the high level of interest, we are unable to accommodate requests to connect with doctoral alumni. Doctoral students, however, will be represented at various on and off campus events and virtual sessions throughout the year.

How can I connect with HGSE at a distance?

HGSE offers a series of virtual information sessions that enable prospective students to learn about HGSE remotely. For further details and to RSVP to these events, please visit Events & Opportunities.

We are also invite you to tune into HGSE on YouTube and to follow us on Twitter