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Master's Programs

Mind, Brain, and Education

Advances in biology and neuroscience are showing us how a child's brain and cognitive development are shaped by his or her learning experiences and environment. Instead of debating nature versus nurture, we now know that "nature" is much more fluid and complex than we ever imagined. Learning, in turn, affects the brain and its capacities. In the Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Program, you will learn how the latest findings in cognitive science bear on fundamental questions of education, such as how people learn and what can we do to improve learning.

We are in a transformational period in Mind, Brain, and Education research. Technology advances have given unprecedented access to the human brain and allowed us to “reverse engineer” the mind. Science is increasingly reproducible, accessible, and equitable. In the MBE program, students will become critical thinkers, better-informed consumers, and communicators of research in the field.

Lecturer on Education Ola Ozernov-Palchik, faculty director

  • Interdisciplinary by Design – The MBE Program focuses on tackling questions that exist at the intersection of multiple disciplines. The curriculum draws connections between cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, education, anthropology, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, and other fields.
  • Seminar in Mind, Brain, and Education – This yearlong course is designed to help students think critically about research methodology and be well-informed consumers of scientific findings as they bear on issues of practice and policy. The course consists of two parts: 1) attendance at the MBE Lecture Series which features monthly lectures by prominent researchers; 2) monthly meetings to discuss "behind the scenes" perspectives and to engage in discussions about translational potential for teaching and learning in educational settings.
  • Cohort and Community – During your time at HGSE, you will have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of peers who have a shared passion for education and an intellectual curiosity that will help transform the field. You will develop strong bonds and a supportive learning community through participation in various cohort and community-building, virtual activities hosted by your program, student organizations, and HGSE faculty and staff.  

Curriculum Information

HGSE and its faculty are launching a series of schoolwide courses, designed to take advantage of active learning and the latest research findings about how to nurture powerful learning experiences online. These schoolwide courses address a range of critical topics that respond to today’s societal circumstances, including leadership and organizations, inclusive and effective teaching, education policy, and more. Your courses are being redesigned to provide the best that digital learning has to offer, combining asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences and an unparalleled curriculum. Program-specific courses will be offered in a variety of formats: seminars, tutorials, classes of varying sizes and models for collaboration and learning, field-based experiences, and more.

MBE coursework provides a broad foundation in the science of learning and development, the principles of teaching and learning, and the research methods that allow us to make strong connections between biological processes and educational outcomes. The curriculum is excellent preparation for both academic researchers and professional educators. You will pursue a course of study that promotes development of interdisciplinary thinking (including a seminar designed just for MBE students) and research-analysis skills (including HGSE’s celebrated applied statistics courses and opportunities for research experience) and allows for customization based on your individual academic and professional goals. You will complete eight courses (32 credits) in total. 

View our academic catalog for a full list of courses. 

Program Faculty

HGSE consists of a faculty of the whole and students can work with and take courses with faculty throughout HGSE and Harvard. Harvard faculty members are some of the leading voices in the fascinating  interdisciplinary field of mind, brain, and education. Ola Ozernov-Palchik is studying reading and language development, investigating individual differences in dyslexia in emerging readers. Charles Nelson III, is studying developmental cognitive neuroscience, neurodevelopmental disorders, and early experience and brain development. Learn more about our extraordinary faculty and how they will help you reach your academic and professional goals. 

Internships and Fieldwork

Internships and Fieldwork Internships provide a lot of value to your academic experience while providing you excellent knowledge to build your resume and experiment with jobs to test your interests. While Field Experiences will continue to be an important part of the HGSE learning experience, logistical and other program details are subject to modification for academic year 2020-21.

Alumni & Student Profiles

MBE graduates are thought leaders and innovators who are actively integrating the fields of cognitive science and education. Alumni teach. They work for state departments of education helping to draft policies that are supported by research in the cognitive sciences. They are doctoral students and faculty members conducting groundbreaking research at colleges and universities around the world. They work for educational software companies, universities, early childhood centers, and nonprofit research organizations. They are educational entrepreneurs. Together, they are putting a new field of inquiry into practice to improve the effectiveness of teaching and the impact of learning.

MBE cohort

The Courage to Slow Down: Sam Zheng Ming Chan, MBE'20

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Mind, Brain, and Education reflects on his time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Cara Salomone

The Power of the Individual: Cara Salomone, MBE'19

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Mind, Brain, and Education reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Online Ed.M.

Learn more about our online Ed.M. and submit your information to receive updates about events and key dates. You may also explore frequently asked questions about the 2020-2021 academic year.

Connect with Admissions

We invite you to connect with our admissions team to learn more about applying for enrollment this fall. Join our virtual office hours or attend a weekly webinar. You may also email admissions for more information.