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Master's Programs

Education Policy and Management

To be a transformative leader in education reform, you need to merge an in-depth knowledge of education policy with proven best practices in organizational management. The mission of the Education Policy and Management (EPM) Program is to produce graduates who not only understand the strengths and challenges of current public education policy, but are prepared to lead the organizations and initiatives that will create 21st-century systems of education that work for all students.

American education needs strong, reform-minded, idealistic leaders who are committed to equity and excellence in our schools. In the EPM Program, you will join a diverse cohort of experienced educators and activists training to be system-level leaders in federal and state government, national nonprofits, policy think tanks, and school districts nationwide. Through a flexible curriculum that balances policy, management, and research, you will dive deeply into issues like:

  • The racial and economic achievement gap 
  • The role of charter schools in education reform
  • Leadership in social-change organizations
  • Entrepreneurship in education
  • The use of data to improve teaching and learning

As an EPM master’s student, you will not only have access to the extraordinary faculty and resources at HGSE, but you can take classes at all Harvard schools — including the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Business School — and participate in for-credit internships with education reform organizations across Cambridge and Boston. 

Program Director Karen Mapp on the EPM Program:

Message from the Director

Welcome to the Education Policy and Management Program (EPM). Our program provides students with rich opportunities to explore the complex, exhilarating, challenging, and sometimes troubling world of education policy and management. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you what is special about this program and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

As a proud graduate of this institution and a member of the HGSE community, I can speak to this faculty's commitment to integrate policy, research, and practice into their teaching. Walk into the office of any number of our faculty and you might find them in conversation with someone from the US Department of Education as they prepare testimony for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. Perhaps they are working with a school district or state education office on developing policy for engaging families in their children's education. Since our faculty is actively engaged in the world of educational policy, we are able to connect students to people and organizations currently making a difference in our sector. Given the many resources of Harvard University, Cambridge, and the Greater Boston community, we can engage our students in local, state, and national work in educational policy and management. Our emphasis on the nexus of research, policy, and practice provides EPM students with a rich and multi-dimensional learning experience.

In addition to our top-notch faculty, our students — with their diverse and varied backgrounds — are second to none. From the former classroom teacher who wants to explore policy as a way to improve the experiences of his/her students, to the former business executive looking make a difference by starting an educational not-for-profit venture, our students come to HGSE with a dedication to and a passion for learning.

These are exciting times in the world of educational policy and management. I invite you to join our EPM community of scholars. Please address your inquiries about our program to our coordinator, Andrew Hall at 617-495-4845 or

Karen L. Mapp, Ed.D
Program Director, Education Policy and Management
Senior Lecturer on Education

Program Highlights

EPM is a one-year, full-time master’s program that prepares educators and reform advocates to influence education policy and practice on a broad scale. Here are some of the greatest strengths of the EPM program:

  • Focus on social justice – Effective education reform closes achievement gaps, promotes inclusiveness, and enables all children to acquire the knowledge and skills to thrive in the 21st century.  The program will give you the organizational leadership skills and policy background to build education systems that provide the greatest good for the greatest number of students.
  • Flexible and balanced curriculum – In the EPM program, you can choose from dozens of curated courses in three key subject areas: policy, management and leadership, and research and evaluation. By taking one or more courses in each area — plus electives across HGSE and all Harvard schools — you will receive a comprehensive immersion in education leadership and policy reform.
  • Diverse and supportive cohort – The EPM program attracts experienced and accomplished individuals from wildly diverse professional backgrounds who are bound by a dedication to and passion for learning. Classroom teachers swap insights with business executives, strengthening and supporting each other’s development as system-level change agents.
  • Cambridge and Boston internships – HGSE is plugged into a thriving network of progressive schools, education reform nonprofits, and government agencies in the Boston area that shape education policy both locally and nationally. Through the Field Internship Program, you can earn four credits under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
  • Harvard resources – There are tremendous benefits to studying education policy and management at Harvard, home to some of the sharpest minds and most influential voices in organizational management, public policy, and education reform. You can take classes at other Harvard graduate schools, attend weekly lectures and panel discussions, and even work as a research assistant with University-wide collaborations like the Achievement Gap Initiative and Project Zero.

Instead of prescribing a list of required courses, the EPM curriculum provides a framework within which you have great freedom to choose the classes that best match your interests, experience, and goals.


Students must complete eight courses (32 credits) and meet the following requirements:


Management and Leadership 

Research and Evaluation

Diversity, Culture, and Identity


You are free to cross-register in courses outside of HGSE. Learn more about course offerings at other Harvard schools, including:

  • Members of faculty associated with the EPM are actively engaged in the world of education policy. They are pioneering researchers in family engagement and community organizing for school reform. They testify before Congress on the state of education research in America. One of our faculty members recently served as the secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As an EPM student, you will personally benefit from our faculty’s experience, insights, and professional mentorship.

EPM students are motivated — not deterred — by the complex challenges facing public education in America. As experienced educators and reform activists, they know the problems firsthand: racial and economic achievement gaps, sharp budget cuts to public education, misinformed policy decisions, and more. EPM students are here because they believe in innovative, research-driven education reform, and want to assume a strong leadership role in the movement toward equity and excellence in our schools. Most have significant professional experience as teachers, school administrators, non-profit workers, political consultants, and policy analysts. We also welcome those who are passionate about making a difference in education and are interested in changing their careers.  If you have an ambitious vision for the future of American educational systems and reforms, you will be right at home in the EPM community.


EPM alumni are making an impact in the lives of children through meaningful education reform on the local, state, and national level. Our graduates work for state and federal departments of education, they launch and lead non-profit organizations and school-community partnerships, they conduct research and data analysis for policy think tanks, and they lead progressive schools and school districts.

Recent EPM graduates are working in the following organizations: 


We’re excited to hear your story and learn how you will apply the insights and experience of your EPM degree to improve America’s schools. Visit HGSE admissions to learn more about application requirements and deadlines, and to get important information about financial aid. Applications are due in January of the academic year you plan to enroll.


If you have questions about the admissions process or want to learn more about the benefits of EPM, please contact our admissions liaison Emily Mendes at or 617-495-3414. If you have specific questions about the EPM program requirements or experience, please contact program administrator Andrew Hall at or 617-495-4845.