Information For:

Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctor of Education Leadership

America needs transformative leaders in preK–12 education, individuals 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 real-world 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 — taught by faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Kennedy School — are uniquely prepared 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. In Ed.L.D. you will understand that the ambitious goal of transforming preK–12 education will not be accomplished by one individual alone, but by a diverse movement of leaders in school systems, government, and education-focused organizations. All students receive a full tuition funding package plus stipends, work opportunities, and a paid third-year residency at a partner organization. The application for fall 2022 admission to HGSE’s Ed.L.D. program is open.

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:

  • PreK-12 district or CMO leadership roles: Superintendent of Schools, Chief Academic Officer and/or Deputy Superintendent.
  • Education nonprofit roles: President or Executive Director of backbone or collective impact organizations which support preK–12 schools. Ed.L.D. graduates will lead education nonprofits that explicitly focus on improving outcomes and opportunities for children, families, and communities.
  • State or federal education leadership roles: Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner roles.  Could also include public education advocacy or education policy advisors to senior government officials.

Curriculum Information

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.

Year One

All students in the cohort take the same classes in four foundational content areas: learning and teaching, leadership and organizational change, politics and policy, and personal mastery (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.

Sample units in year one

Year Two

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.

Sample units in year two

Year Three

You will stay connected to your Ed.L.D. cohort and HGSE through technology and by returning to Harvard periodically for intensive workshops. It will also include a paid residency, a strategic project, and a final written Capstone, which serves as an integral part of the third-year residency experience.

Paid Residency 
At one of our partner organizations, which 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. 

Strategic Project 
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 the your ability to engage others, develop strategy to successfully address and diagnose challenges, work toward a vision and goals, and learn from the results.

View Capstone Samples

Sample Topics 

  • Accountability, Coherence, and Improvement: Leadership Reflection and Growth in the Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Leadership Development for Entrepreneurial Education Leaders Working to Build Public & Private Sector Support
  • Disrupting Teacher Preparation: Lessons in Collaboration and Innovation Across the Learning to Teach Community of Practice
  • Pursuing Educational Equality for English Language Learners

Sample Summaries 


Program Faculty

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. The faculty co-directors of the Ed.L.D. Program for this coming year are Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Practice in Educational Leadership, and Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration. Faculty who teach in the Ed.L.D. core curriculum and advise Ed.L.D. students include:


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 his or her 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. You will capture your work with partner organizations in Capstones, which are descriptive, analytic, and reflective accounts of the resident's leadership of 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.

Outcomes and Alumni Profiles

Graduates of the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program find positions in system-level leadership in national nonprofits and philanthropies, state and federal departments of education, mission-driven for-profits, and school systems. With a national network, scope of transformational impact, and depth of diverse work experience, alumni of the Ed.L.D. program are helping to change the world. 

Omolara Fatiregun

Helping Communities Thrive

With its equity audits and more, Ed.L.D. student Omolara Fatiregun's social enterprise partners with local governments to help break cycles of poverty and increase opportunity.

Winship Elementary leaders

Blue Ribbon Honors

Local school with HGSE ties named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The application for fall 2022 admission to HGSE’s Ed.L.D. program is open.

Admissions Information

More information about our admissions application requirements and instructions, funding, and answers to frequently asked questions is available on our website. Please email, if you have additional admissions-related questions. Download the doctoral brochure.

Introduce Yourself

Receive tailored admissions information about upcoming programs, events, and opportunities to connect with us.

Connect with Program Staff

Learn more about the unique benefits of the Ed.L.D. Program — including full tuition funding — by visiting admissions or attending an admissions event.

Virtual Information Sessions

View the Doctor of Education Leadership recorded virtual information session to learn more about the program from faculty, students, and staff.