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Doctoral Programs

Who Studies at HGSE?

HGSE doctoral programs draw emerging leaders in research, policy, and practice committed to improving educational opportunities in America and around the world.

2016-2017 Entering Class 

Individual class profiles vary significantly by program, but here is the big picture for the class that entered in 2016-2017:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.)* Students: 25
  • Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Students: 25
  • Master of Education (Ed.M.) Students: 646
  • Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) Students: 12

*The Ed.D. 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 

40 states, D.C., and 48 countries of citizenship

International Students


Students of color  


Age Breakdown

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. students

Ed.M. students

Range: 23 to 37

Range: 29 to 46

Range: 20 to 61

Average: 27.5

Average: 37.1

Average: 27.9

Years of Work

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. students

Ed.M. students

Range: 0 to 11

Range: 6 to 22

Range: 0 to 35

Average: 3.7

Average: 12.9

Average: 4.2

Test Scores for Enrolled Students

General Record Test (GRE)

Ph.D. students

Ed.L.D. Students

Ed.M. Students

Verbal Average: 87 (percentile)

Verbal Average: 69 (percentile)

Verbal Average: 80 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 58 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 37 (percentile)

Quantitative Average: 60 (percentile)

Analytical Writing Average: 4.9

Analytical Writing Average: 4.5

Analytical Writing Average: 4.6

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

  • HGSE seeks applicants with scores of 104 or higher on the Internet-based TOEFL, with individual section scores (e.g., reading, writing, listening, and speaking) of at least 26. On the Paper-based TOEFL, HGSE seeks applicants with scores of 613 or higher, with individual section scores of at least 60 in reading, 63 in writing, 60 in listening, and 5.0 on the TWE (Test of Written English). 
  • Individuals with scores below these levels will likely be required to enroll in an English language course at Harvard (late June – early August) as a condition of their offer of admission.
  • Internet-based test average score: 113
  • All class profile numbers are accurate as of September 12, 2016.
Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.)

Students in the three-year Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program are experienced nonprofit directors, social entrepreneurs, school principals, charter school administrators, public policy researchers, and more. Their resumes may be different, but they share a commitment to making a difference in preK-12 education through systems-level leadership positions. Working together as a cohort, Ed.L.D. students learn how to use their unique talents and leadership skills to build a more equitable and innovative educational system.

Ed.L.D. Student Profiles

Meet a veteran teacher mentor from Chicago, a venture capitalist looking to fund education startups, a director of education for an Alaskan tribe, a nonprofit strategy consultant working with low-income schools, and many more current Ed.L.D. students and recent alumni. Learn what motivates them to do their work and why they chose HGSE to prepare them for the next step.



Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.)

HGSE welcomes our first Ph.D. cohort in fall 2014. Every member of this remarkably diverse group will embark on a unique multidisciplinary research trajectory, taking full advantage of faculty and resources at all of Harvard’s graduate schools. Members of this first Ph.D. class come from the classroom, the board room, and
For the multidisciplinary, research-based Ph.D. in Education Program, HGSE looks for applicants who aspire to help solve education’s most complex challenges and improve educational outcomes in the U.S. and around the world through rigorous scholarship.
Ph.D. in Education is designed to prepare the academics, researchers, policymakers, and senior-level leaders who will shape education for the 21st century. The program combines advances in the social sciences, sciences, arts, and humanities with deep expertise in educational research, policy, and practice to address the most pressing problems in education.

The things that set our doctoral students apart are curiosity, dedication, and a passion for education. They are not just very smart and very hardworking, they are people with that extra spark, those who think big, who are highly motivated to engage with the complex challenges in the field, and deeply committed to the kind of cutting-edge, multidisciplinary scholarship that helps find solutions. And they tend to prefer not to work within ivory towers but to engage with the educational community to actually create change out in the field. There’s an optimism about the future of education here and that comes from the quality, ambition, and real- world impact of the work of our students and faculty.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)