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

Master's Degree Program

Concentration: Higher Education

With deep roots in HGSE and world-renowned faculty members involved in the field’s most critical research, our Higher Education (HE) Concentration is uniquely positioned to prepare you for a career in postsecondary education — ranging from administrative and direct service positions at colleges and universities to research and policy analyst positions at government agencies and nonprofit organizations. You also may pursue a career in community-based organizations that assist students in the transition from high school to college, foundations that support programs and activities in colleges and universities, and education-related businesses and consulting groups. During your HE experience, you will complete a core course that serves as the academic cornerstone of the concentration, along with two other higher education-related courses that will enable you to specialize in areas of focused interest. As an HE student, you will benefit from programmatic connections that will enable you to participate in paid internships, either on-campus at Harvard or at colleges, universities, and nonprofits across Boston. You also will have the opportunity to develop a strong alumni and professional network that will help serve you throughout your career, as well as attend lectures and events on topics related to the field. 

“Throughout their careers, educators in the field of higher education will be expected to address a complex array of issues, ranging from access to affordability to equitable student success. At HGSE, we’re committed to ensuring these next-generation leaders have the skills, knowledge, and capacity to make a transformative impact on the college and university landscape.” 

Francesca Purcell, Faculty Co-Chair

Program Faculty

Students will work closely with faculty associated with their area of study, but students can also work with and take courses with faculty throughout HGSE and Harvard. The faculty co-chairs for Higher Education are below. View our faculty directory for a full list of HGSE faculty.


The President-in-Residence program helps to anchor academic discussions with real-world experience by bringing a distinguished former college or university president to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The President-in-Residence will attend classes alongside students, meet with students in one-on-one office hours, and advise students on important academic and career decisions. Mary Marcy, the president emerita of Dominican University of California, has been appointed President-in-Residence for the 2021-2022 academic year. Marcy will join Brian Rosenberg, the former president of Macalaster College, who served as President-in-Residence in 2020-2021 and will continue in that role for the 2021-2022 year.

Cohort and Community

As an HE Concentration participant, you will join a dynamic and motivated group of students with interests ranging from improving access and equity to enhancing the college student experience to making higher education more affordable. Outside of class, you and your cohort members will attend speaker series, lectures, and small study groups to engage with scholars, practitioners, and one another in a supportive and vibrant environment. In the fall, a distinguished former college or university president will attend the HE core course to offer on-the-ground perspective and will meet regularly with you and your fellow students to offer career guidance and support. You also will have many opportunities to connect with HGSE alumni to explore and develop your professional aspirations and network.  

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