Doctor of Education Leadership
America needs transformative leaders in preK–12 education, individuals whose passion for educational quality and equity is matched by a knowledge of learning and development, a firm grasp of public policy issues, and the organizational management skills to translate visionary ideas into real-world success. 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, national nonprofits and philanthropies, mission-driven for-profits, and state and federal departments of education.
Ed.L.D. is a full-time, three-year program built on a cohort learning model. Cohorts consist of 25 students from diverse professional backgrounds (including district/charter management leaders, entrepreneurs, 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 won’t be accomplished by any individual alone, but by a diverse movement of leaders in government, school systems, nonprofits, and educational for-profit ventures. All 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 United States education public sector and in high-impact positions for high-impact organizations. Specifically, the program is designed to accelerate the progress graduates make toward achieving influential roles and/or crossing boundaries in the following spaces in the public education sector:
- Prenatal-12 district, CMO and/or state education leadership roles: Superintendent of Schools, Commissioner, Chief Academic Officer and/or Deputy Superintendent/Commissioner.
- Education nonprofit roles: President or Executive Director of backbone or collective impact organizations which support Pre-K-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 policy roles: Executive Director of Policy for public education advocacy, education policy advisors to Governors or state or local officials, and/or education think tanks. Students will generate and curate best practice research that leads to education policy recommendations that are rooted in evidence and data and push excellence and equity.
- Social entrepreneurship roles: leaders of education start-ups which address complex problems of practice facing American public education through innovative solutions for the education sector. Work in social entrepreneurship should also focus on scaling innovative ideas which have a research base.
- Foundations and philanthropy roles: senior leaders within education-focused foundations which support investments in education that focus on data, excellence, equity, and sustainability.
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 25 students in the cohort take the same classes in four foundational contentre 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
- A608 Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Learning (fall)
- L100AY The Workplace Lab (fall)
- L101AY Ed.L.D. Leadership Workshops and Seminars (fall)
- L102 Leaders of Learning (fall)
- L103 Thinking Strategically about Education Reform (fall)
- L104AY Practicing Leadership Inside and Out (fall)
- L106AY Race, Equity, and Leadership (fall)
- L100BY The Workplace Lab for System-Level Leaders (spring)
- L101BY Ed.L.D. Leadership Workshops and Seminars (spring)
- L104BY Practicing Leadership Inside and Out (spring)
- L105 Evidence-Based Leadership in Education
- L106BY Race, Equity, and Leadership (spring)
- One elective in either Learning & Teaching or Politics & Policy (spring)
View all courses in the Academic Catalogue.
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
- L201 Ed.L.D. Second-Year Core Leadership Seminar (fall)
- L203AY Second-Year Practicing Leadership: Peer and Pod Coaching (fall)
- L202 Second-Year Core Leadership Seminar (spring 2017)
- L203BY Second-Year Practicing Leadership: Peer and Pod Coaching (spring)
View all courses in the Academic Catalogue.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Breaking Down Silos in a School District: Findings from an Ed.L.D. Project in Montgomery County
- Expanding Students' Access to Meaningful STEM Learning Opportunities Through Strategic Community Partnerships
- Developing a New Teacher Leadership and Compensation System in Iowa: A Consensus-Based Process
- Finding Great Teachers for Blended-Learning Schools
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:
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.
Below is a sample list of current and/or previous Ed.L.D. partner organizations:
- Bellingham Public Schools
- Big Picture Learning
- Boston Public Schools
- Denver Public Schools
- Education First
- Harlem Children's Zone
- Jobs for the Future
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- Madison Metropolitan School District
- New Schools for Baton Rouge
- New Schools Venture Fund
- New York City Department of Education
- NYC Leadership Academy
- Oceanside Unified School District
- Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning
- Phi Delta Kappa/Educators Rising
- Providence Public Schools
- Rhode Island Department of Education
- South Carolina Public Charter School District
- Virginia Governor's Children's Cabinet
An opt-in listing of current Ed.L.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:
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.
How a pedagogy based on racial justice can help end systemic oppression and fulfill the promise of education for all.
Strategies for educators to counter their own unconscious biases in schools and classrooms.
Connect with Admissions
More information about our admissions application requirements and instructions, funding, and answers to frequently asked questions is available on our website. If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Christine Lombardi or call 617.495.3414.
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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.