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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 with researchers from the lab/team of the lecturer to share "behind the scenes" perspectives and to engage in discussions about translational potential for teaching and learning in educational settings. 

Curriculum Information

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 and research analysis skills and allows for customization based on your individual academic and professional goals. You will complete eight courses (32 credits) in total.

View Requirements

Academic Year: 2019-2020

  • One required seminar in mind, brain, and education (2 credits): HT117Y & HT118Y    Mind, Brain, and Education: Research Methods and Critical Topics (yearlong)
  • One course in quantitative research methods (4 credits)  
  • One course in neuroscience  (4 credits)
  • Two courses in learning and development (8 credits)           
  • Electives: Any courses for remaining 14 credits. May be at HGSE, Harvard, or MIT through cross-registration. 

View list of courses that fulfill MBE requirements. View all courses and information on cross-registration.

Program Faculty

Harvard faculty members are some of the leading voices in the fascinating  interdisciplinary field of mind, brain, and education. Todd Rose is doing pioneering work in the science of individuality. 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. 

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.

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.

April Boin Choi

Silent Gestures

With her research, Ph.D. candidate April Boin Choi looks to identify ways to increase early detection of autism in infants.

Connect with Admissions

More information about our admissions application requirements and instructions, tuition and financial aid, and answers to frequently asked questions is available on our website. If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Paola Munoz or call 617.495.3414.

Introduce Yourself

Receive tailored admissions information about upcoming programs, events, and opportunities to connect with us.

Connect with Program Staff

If you have remaining program-specific questions, please contact the MBE program administrator, Mandy Farhoodi-Moberger, or call 617-496-1568.

Virtual Information Sessions

View the Mind, Brain, and Education recorded virtual information session to learn more about the program from faculty, students, and staff.