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Statement of Purpose

Please note: 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:

Your background:

  • What key experiences have contributed to your commitment to education?
  • 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?

Your plans:

  • What issues would you like to tackle in your career as a system-level leader in education?
  • How do you envision yourself effecting significant change in the American preK-12 education sector?

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

As a reminder, competitive candidates need not have prior direct experience in an education setting though should have a clear conception of why they're pursuing a master's degree in education.  In addition, "education” and “education-related" are broadly defined at HGSE and encompass all fields covered by the Ed.M. programs we offer.

  • Your background: What key experiences have contributed to your commitment to work in the field of education or with education-related issues?
  • Your objectives for graduate study: What are your academic and professional goals and what knowledge, skills, and tools are you hoping to develop through enrollment in a graduate program?
  • Why HGSE, and why this specific program (and strand within the program, if relevant): why is enrollment at HGSE, and in this master’s program/strand specifically, critical in helping you achieve your goals?

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

In your statement, please address the following questions:

  • 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?
  • What skills or knowledge do you hope to develop in this second year of graduate study?
  • 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 your key learning goals related to child advocacy? Please specifically address these questions in one to two paragraphs within your statement of purpose.

Teacher Education

Please address the following in your statement of purpose:

  • Why you  have decided to become a teacher 1) at this point in time, 2) in an urban context, and 3) with adolescents
  • What you have learned from previous experience (with adolescents, in instructional roles, and with your subject matter) that you can apply to your teaching
  • What you hope to achieve through your year in the Teacher Education Program