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Degrees & Programs
America needs transformative leaders in preK–12 education whose passion for education quality and equity is matched by a knowledge of learning and development, the organizational management skills to translate visionary ideas into practical success, and a firm grasp of the role of context and politics in shaping leadership. Graduates of the three-year, multidisciplinary Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education will be prepared to become those leaders.
The Ed.L.D Program — taught by faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Kennedy School — will train you for system-level leadership positions in school systems, state and federal departments of education, and national nonprofit organizations. Ed.L.D. is a full-time, three-year program built on a cohort learning model. Cohorts consist of up to 25 students from diverse professional backgrounds (including district/charter management leaders, nonprofit directors, principals, teachers, and policy researchers) who progress through the program together.
All Ed.L.D. students receive a full tuition funding package plus stipends, work opportunities, and a paid third-year residency at a partner organization.
The Ed.L.D. program prepares graduates to do work for the public good in the American public education sector, whether that be at the system or state level. Specifically, the program is designed to accelerate the progress graduates make toward achieving meaningful impact in influential roles and/or crossing boundaries in the following spaces in the public education sector:
The Ed.L.D. curriculum is a balance of multidisciplinary coursework and practice-based learning. Core courses and electives are taught by recognized leaders from across Harvard’s graduate programs in fields like data-based education reform, organizational change and innovation, and effective leadership strategies for urban schools. You will develop and test your leadership skills through team projects and an immersive third-year residency.
All students in the cohort take the same classes in four foundational content areas: learning and teaching, leadership and organizational change, politics and policy, adult development, and leadership inside and out (including one-on-one executive coaching). Courses taken during the first-year focus on practice-based learning and serve as the framework of your first-year experience.
View all courses in the Academic Catalog.
Each cohort member works with program advisers to choose an individualized sequence of electives from any of the Harvard graduate schools. You will work closely with the program faculty and staff during your second year to determine the best match with a partner organization for your third-year residency. Matches are driven by mutual interest between the resident and the partner organization, and each student's career and learning goals and geographic preferences.
You will take part in a 10-month paid residency at one of our partner organizations. There, you will work on a strategic project which synthesizes your experience and learning into a written Capstone project. You will stay connected to your Ed.L.D. cohort and HGSE through technology and by returning to Harvard periodically for intensive workshops.
Our partner organizations include school systems and departments of education, as well as some of the nation's most influential and dynamic nonprofit, mission-based for-profit, and philanthropic organizations.
You will be intentionally pushed out of your comfort zones and asked to work systemically and make a significant contribution to the partner organization. In addition, the residency will provide you with the professional mentoring, practical experiences, and network of connections they need to position themselves as future leaders in the education sector.
You will define (with supervisors from your partner organization) a strategic project on which to focus. You will have the opportunity to lead one or two major efforts on behalf of the organization, such as the creation or implementation of current initiatives. The project allows you to practice and improve leadership skills, add important value to the mission and strategy of the partner organization, work systemically, and hold high-level accountability.
During the residency period, you will produce a written Capstone. The Capstone is a descriptive, analytic, and reflective account of your third-year leadership contributions to a strategic project within an Ed.L.D. partner organization. It is a demonstration of your ability to engage others, develop strategy to successfully address and diagnose challenges, work toward a vision and goals, and learn from the results.
GSE Theses and Dissertations from Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH)
Ed.L.D. students learn with renowned faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School. Faculty from the three schools share their individual expertise in the Ed.L.D. Program and work collaboratively to provide a challenging and coherent experience for students. Faculty who teach in the Ed.L.D. core curriculum and advise Ed.L.D. students include:
Frank Barnes is faculty director of the Doctor of Education Leadership Program. He has over 30 years experience as an educator, researcher, and organizer. As a chief accountability officer, he led turnaround efforts for large public school districts, including Boston Public Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
How is the third third-year residency determined? Will I get to choose where I go and for whom I work?
You will work closely with Ed.L.D. Program faculty during your second year to determine the best partner organization match for your third-year residency. In ascertaining a match, faculty take a number of factors into account, including a students' career goals and geographic preferences. The program expects that the current list of partners will continue to grow based on organizational and student interest.
The Ed.L.D. Program has partnered with organizations that are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in American preK–12 education. The partners are school systems, nonprofit organizations, mission-based for-profit organizations, and government agencies, all pursuing a common goal of ensuring that every child has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. You will work directly with partner organizations in the third-year residency and have some exposure to partner representatives in the first two years of the program. Your work with our partner organizations will be encapsulated in a Capstone, which is descriptive, analytic, and reflective account of the your leadership and contributions to a strategic project. Summaries of Capstones by several members of the first cohort of Ed.L.D. graduates are available in the curriculum section.
Below is a sample list of current and/or previous Ed.L.D. partner organizations:
An opt-in listing of current Ed.L.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:
Doctor of Education Leadership Student Directory
The deadline to apply is December 15, 2023.
Explore examples of the Doctor of Education Leadership experience and the impact its community is making on the field:
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With Camp Harvard, Ed.L.D. student is all in for K–12