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Student Handbook

Student Handbook: Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program Policies

Requirements for the Ed.L.D. degree involve three general stages: core coursework, elective coursework, and a third-year residency with one of the program’s partner organizations. Ed.L.D. candidates should read this section carefully and consult with their advisers and the Director for Doctoral Studies concerning any questions that may arise.

Coursework and Residence 

Academic requirements include satisfactory completion of the L-100 course series and other required core coursework in the first year; at least 32 credits — including the required Year 2 L-200 course series — in the second year; and completion of the L-300 course series, the residency experience, and the Ed.L.D. Capstone in the third year.

Ed.L.D. students have the option to enroll in How People Learn (HPL101) in the summer prior to beginning their program and are required to take Evidence (EVI101) in the summer following the first year of study. Students will coordinate enrollment with the Doctoral Programs Office. Enrollment in How People Learn and Evidence will be counted as part of the program requirements. 

Please note: at least 16 credits in Year 2 of the Ed.L.D. Program must be completed for a letter grade in order to assess satisfactory academic progress. Ed.L.D. students are expected to be in residence for the first two years of study.

Transfer credit is not accepted. 

Annual Academic Progress Review 

HGSE requires that all Ed.L.D. students maintain academic standards and complete their degree within three years. In addition, the Ed.L.D. Program is intended to prepare leaders for complex systems and organizations. As such, students are expected to adhere to high standards of professional and ethical conduct while enrolled. Ed.L.D. students’ progress will be reviewed by the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee at least twice per academic year.

Students who do not meet relevant early benchmarks or who demonstrate difficulty meeting the program’s academic and conduct standards — including the Standards of Conduct in the Harvard Community outlined in this handbook — will be informed of the faculty’s concern about their progress. The purpose of this notification is to provide early warning and intervention for students who may be struggling in the program.

If an Ed.L.D. student is determined to be making “unsatisfactory” progress following the program’s progress reviews, they will receive a letter from the Faculty Director explaining the reasons for the faculty’s concerns and specifying a probationary period. The student will have an opportunity to discuss the letter with the Director for Doctoral Studies and/or program Faculty Director and should work with their adviser to get the help needed to return to good standing. The student will be expected to report back to the faculty about their progress within the time specified in the letter. If there is insufficient evidence of adequate performance, or if there are serious concerns about a student’s conduct, behavior, or capacity to succeed, particularly in a third-year residency, the faculty may vote to terminate the student’s degree candidacy. The Ed.L.D. Program staff monitors and apprises the Ed.L.D. Steering Committee of all students’ academic progress within the degree program.

Criteria for satisfactory performance in the Ed.L.D. Program include satisfactory performance and completion of required coursework and credits; maintenance of at least a B+ average with work of A caliber in Year 1 and Year 2 courses (see HGSE Grading System section of this handbook for an explanation of the grading system and how averages are calculated); a holistic assessment of the student’s readiness to fulfill the requirements of and complete the third-year residency (see above); and adherence to the Standards of Conduct in the Harvard Community outlined in this handbook. Please note that a grade of “NCR” is not considered satisfactory academic performance in the Ed.L.D. Program.

Ed.L.D. Residency and Capstone 

The Ed.L.D. residency is a required ten-month leadership development experience in which Ed.L.D. candidates lead a strategic project with an Ed.L.D. partner organization. The residency is an occasion to practice and demonstrate the skills of system-level leadership in a setting where actions matter: to the education of a developing leader; to the current performance and future potential of a particular educational organization; and to the learning of the American education sector as a whole.

The Ed.L.D. Capstone is a descriptive, analytic, and reflective account of an Ed.L.D. student’s leadership of and contributions to a strategic project during residency. It is a demonstration of the student’s ability to diagnose challenges, develop strategies to successfully address the challenges, work towards a vision and goal, engage others, and learn from the results. The Capstone is composed of multiple written documents that form a sequential and iteratively constructed portfolio developed throughout the ten-month residency. The Capstone serves as an integral part of the third-year residency experience.

Ed.L.D. candidates can find more information about residency and Capstone requirements in the Ed.L.D. Capstone Handbook, made available to third-year students on an annual basis.

Co-Curricular Learning Opportunities 

Following completion of the Year 1 core curriculum, Ed.L.D. students become eligible to serve as Teaching Fellows (TFs), Research Assistants (RAs), and Professional Education facilitators at HGSE and other Harvard Schools. Due to the program’s unique academic demands, Ed.L.D. students are not eligible to serve as TFs, RAs, HGSE advisers, or Professional Education facilitators during Year 1 or Year 3 of the program. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Year 2 Ed.L.D. students do not need program permission to serve as TFs, RAs, HGSE advisers, or Professional Education facilitators if the total time commitment (for the combination of all Harvard employment) is 20 or fewer hours per week during the academic year. This equates to to no more than two 1.0 TF “slots” per semester, as each 1.0 slot requires approximately 10 hours of work per week. All Ed.L.D. students must be in good academic standing in order to serve as a TF, RA, HGSE adviser, or Professional Education facilitator.

Earning an Ed.M. 

Candidates for the Ed.L.D. degree are not eligible to receive an Ed.M. from HGSE. Students who withdraw or whose candidacy is terminated may be eligible for a terminal Ed.M. if they have completed the academic requirements. Students who are academically eligible for a terminal Ed.M. must apply for the degree within three years of their termination or withdrawal from the Ed.L.D. program.