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HGSE Launches Online Master’s in Education Leadership

Transformative online Ed.M. program for experienced education professionals will expand access and bolster leadership across the sector, from preK–12 through higher ed
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To prepare and support a new generation of education leaders seeking to expand their impact at a critical time for learners of all ages, the Harvard Graduate School of Education today announces the launch of a transformative online master’s degree for professionals advancing in the field of education.

The online Master’s in Educational Leadership is a two-year, part-time, career-embedded Ed.M., specifically designed for dynamic professionals who will typically bring at least seven years of experience. The program — HGSE’s first online master’s degree — will offer expanded access to a pool of talented professionals who otherwise would not be able to pause their careers or commitments to attend a full-time graduate program in Cambridge. It will open the door to applicants who bring important perspectives grounded in real-world challenges — and it will allow students to immediately apply what they are learning to the work they are doing on the ground, in real time. The program will enroll its first students in the fall of 2022.

“Second only to the public health system, education has been most dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dean Bridget Long. “Skilled leadership at all levels and in a range of education-related organizations is essential for expanding on what we’ve learned through this crisis and seizing opportunities to address long-standing challenges. I’m proud that with the establishment of this new Ed.M. program — and building on our exceptional residential Ed.M. program and our field-leading doctoral programs — HGSE will increase accessibility and broaden its contributions to finding solutions that will bring meaningful improvements to education.”

The online Ed.M. in Education Leadership complements HGSE’s flagship residential Ed.M. program and offers a similarly rich level of engagement with Harvard faculty and talented peers, a rigorous curriculum grounded in the complexities and challenges facing education, and a lifelong professional network. But with this program, that Harvard experience is nested within an intentionally designed curriculum for working professionals, one that is anchored in both foundational knowledge and core competencies for education leadership.

Students will complete pathway-specific courses to advance or deepen their impact in either preK–12 education or higher education. (The program will combine synchronous experiences, scheduled to align with the Eastern time zone, and asynchronous work.)

“In my view, this new program could not come at a more important time,” says Senior Lecturer Irvin Scott, faculty co-chair of the program’s PreK–12 Pathway. “The challenges that have impacted our world over the past year — including an international pandemic, the fight for equity and justice in the U.S., and the economic downturn — have all had a significant impact on students, caregivers, and educators. These challenging times also provide opportunities to envision and lead towards a new normal — one that ensures equity and justice for the most vulnerable. I am convinced that this rigorous, career-focused online program will inspire and train experienced educators to become the informed and courageous leaders that are needed throughout the preK–12 education ecosystem.”

The program will nurture the skills and capacities of a pool of influencers and innovators who want to make lasting, sustainable change in education. It will offer meaningful opportunities for personal and professional development across a range of roles and settings — in preK–12 classrooms and districts; on college campuses; or in philanthropies, nonprofits, policy organizations, and ed-tech initiatives.

At colleges and universities, the need for agile, innovative leadership has only intensified as the landscape has grown more complex, says Senior Lecturer Judith Block McLaughlin, faculty co-chair of the new program’s Higher Education Pathway. “This is really a pivotal moment, as colleges and universities contend with the challenges presented by the pandemic — alongside the longer-standing and acute dilemmas of financial sustainability, equity and inclusion, student learning, and diminishing public support," she says. "This new degree will offer professionals a rich learning community in which they can deepen their understanding of issues and expand their capacity to lead change. Higher education needs highly capable leaders, and I’m thrilled that we will have this chance to educate even more of them.”

The online Ed.M. will provide a distinctively HGSE experience within an intentionally designed online curriculum and robust mentorship and coaching that will expand students' professional toolkits. For educators who want to remain anchored in their home communities, the program opens a new point of access to HGSE’s expertise and learning experiences, while creating a direct pipeline to and from the field of education, as students address the challenges in their current practice and, in turn, bring their perspectives on those challenges back into their learning communities at HGSE.


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