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Life as an HGSE Student

At Harvard Graduate School of Education, you are surrounded by fascinating people who care deeply about education and pleasantly distracted by free lectures, open-air concerts, theater, and more. Then there’s Boston and Cambridge, two of America’s most intellectually stimulating, culturally vibrant, and unapologetically fun cities. In short, life as an HGSE student is good.

Campus Life

With a full schedule of classes, meetings, and activities, many HGSE students spend their entire day on campus. You can join one of 50 active student clubs and organizations showcasing the diversity and initiative of HGSE students. You can drop by the Institute of Politics and catch a free lecture from a former U.S. president, or see a presentation on food safety at the School of Public Health. Attend concerts, film screenings, and conferences like the Askwith Forums lecture series, the Alumni of Color Conference, and other free HGSE and university-wide events. In between, there are plenty of great campus spots to meet up with friends:

  • The Commons at Gutman Library – Perfect for meals, snacks, and study breaks, and conveniently located on first floor of the HGSE library.
  • Hemenway Gym – Right across the Cambridge Common, this convenient Harvard gym offers state-of-the-art fitness equipment and group exercise classes for HGSE students.
  • Harvard Farmer’s Market – Browse the seasonal treats and support local growers at this Tuesday afternoon market right on campus.

Campus life is only one part of being an HGSE student. Learn more about who studies at HGSE and life in the greater Cambridge and Boston communities, and learn of career and family resources will make your time at HGSE as rewarding as possible.

Who Studies at HGSE?

Teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and artists — HGSE students defy a single mold, but share a singularly vital goal: to make a difference through education.

The 13 master’s programs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education attract extraordinary students from every imaginable background: classroom teachers, district leaders, nonprofit workers, public policy researchers, social entrepreneurs, and software engineers. Our doctoral programs draw emerging leaders in research, policy, and practice committed to improving educational opportunities in America and around the world. Our diversity is our greatest strength. We are a community of talented, compassionate, and ambitious individuals united by a shared purpose: making a difference in the lives of learners of all ages.

2017–2018 Entering Class 

Individual class profiles vary significantly by program, but here is the big picture for the class that entered in 2017–2018:

* The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program enrolled its final cohort in fall 2013; the Ph.D. in Education enrolled its first cohort in fall 2014.

Rate of Study 

Full-time: 95%
Part-time: 5%

Gender Ratio

Female: 75%
Male: 25%

Geographical Distribution 

44 states, D.C., and 53 countries of citizenship

International Students: 22%

Students of color: 32%

Age Breakdown

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. students

Ed.M. students

Range: 23 to 39

Range: 29 to 52

Range: 20 to 59

Average: 29

Average: 37.8

Average: 27.8

Years of Work

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. students

Ed.M. students

Range: 1 to 13

Range: 7 to 27

Range: 0 to 30

Average: 5.2

Average: 14.5

Average: 4.5

Note: All class profile numbers are accurate as of September 12, 2017.

General Record Test (GRE) Scores for Enrolled Students

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. Students

Ed.M. Students

Verbal Average: 91 (percentile)

Verbal Average: 80 (percentile)

Verbal Average: 80 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 71 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 41 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 57 (percentile)

Analytical Writing Average: 5.0

Analytical Writing Average: 4.5

Analytical Writing Average: 4.5


Student Stories

The best way to understand the remarkable diversity and capacity of HGSE students is to meet the students themselves. Find out what brings our students to Harvard and how they plan to make an impact through the profiles, research stories, videos, blogs, and student events listed throughout the HGSE website.

Student Blog and Videos

Read posts and watch videos to get useful tips from current master’s and doctoral students.

Lynneth Solis

Doctoral candidate; Ed.M.'10 – Mind, Brain, and Education

Connect with an Ambassador

Get answers from a current Ed.M./doctoral student or alumnus/a about life at HGSE.

Boston & Cambridge

Boston and Cambridge were built for students. There are 85 colleges and universities in the Boston metro area, home to 360,000 students from all over the world. At the Harvard Graduate School of Education, you get the best of both worlds — the world-class culture and diversity of a big city, plus the walkable charm and intellectual buzz of a college town.

Cambridge: Grad Student Paradise

Harvard Square is packed with bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, and that’s only a taste of what Cambridge has to offer. You can almost breathe the creative and intellectual energy. There’s always a film screening, concert, or free lecture series to attend. To unwind, stroll over to the Harvard Farmer’s Market, bike or run along the Charles River, or meet up with friends for Thai food or trivia night at an Irish pub.

Boston: Culture & Opportunity

No other city in America offers Boston’s blend of richly preserved historycolorful neighborhoods, and vibrant arts and culture. Boston is also the birthplace of public education in America and a hub for innovative organizations working to reform and improve education. Spend the weekend in Boston exploring cultural and historical landmarks like the Museum of Fine Arts and The Freedom Trail, then head back into the city for internships and job interviews. 

Outings and Excursions

The Office of Student Affairs organizes group trips and family-friendly activities throughout the year to help you explore the Boston region. Join us for Red Sox and Celtics games, ski trips, fall apple picking, the Harvard-Yale football game, the Head of the Charles, and more!

Resources for Spouses and Families

Coming to campus with a partner and/or family may seem like a daunting task, but there are many resources to help make your transition as smooth and easy as possible. HGSE is a welcoming and family-friendly school, with lots of opportunities for students and their families to stay involved. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) is a main support system for student parents and families working to ensure that the HGSE campus is as welcoming as possible. OSA hosts a number of community-building events that families can attend throughout the school year. Here are some of the resources that are available:

Harvard Students' Spouses & Partners Association (HSSPA) organizes a variety of events throughout the year for Harvard students and their spouses and families, such as social gatherings, dinners and outings.

Job Searches for Spouses and Partners: The Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers employment services such as career planning tools, career centers and job listings. While the HGSE Career Services Office is unable to provide career counseling to spouses and partners, you may still take advantage of its directory of popular job listing websites.



Career Services

Whatever your area of concentration, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education you will learn the value of harnessing, managing, and applying knowledge to innovate and push the frontiers of education. As a graduate, you will make an impact in schools, nonprofits, NGOs, technology, media, research, policy, and the arts. As one of the few dedicated career services offices for education students, we offer you programs and tools that look beyond simply securing a job to focus on career management. Current students may access the Career Services Office services.

Career Decision-Making

Like many graduate students, you may come to HGSE with a clear idea of your mission, but may not know how that translates to the job market or building a long-term career. The Career Services Office offers many opportunities to define a career path based on your unique interests.

Navigating the Job Search

Navigating the job search is a key component of Career Services’ offerings. Each sector in education follows different recruiting patterns and has different requirements for job application. We educate you on these processes, including resumes, cover letters, interviewing, negotiations, licensure, and internships.

Engagement with Employers

Employer engagement is a strategic initiative in the Career Services Office. We work across the school to gain an understanding of partnerships with outside organizations and seek student input for our outreach efforts.


The Career Services Licensure unit will support you in pursuing educator certification through their respective licensure programs. The office also addresses licensure-related questions from students not enrolled in one of the HGSE state-approved licensure programs.