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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 advisors and the Assistant Director for the Ed.L.D. Program 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.

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. 

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, as 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 Associate Dean and/or program Faculty Director and should work with his/her advisor to get the help needed to return to good standing. The student will be expected to report back to the faculty about his/her 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’ 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 Grading System and Grade Averaging 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 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 Programs in Education (PPE) 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, or PPE facilitators during Year 1 or Year 3 of the program without permission from the Associate Dean for Degree Programs. Students seeking this exception should contact the Associate Dean directly with their request, including a rationale for why the position is feasible (with respect to their course load) as well as the contribution of the experience to the student’s learning.

Year 2 Ed.L.D. students do not need program permission to serve as TFs, RAs, or PPE facilitators if the total time commitment (for the combination of all Harvard employment) is 20 or fewer hours per week during the academic year. Year 2 students seeking TF, RA, and/or PPE positions that require more time per week must obtain permission from the program before committing to the role(s). Students seeking this exception should contact the Associate Dean for Degree Programs directly with their request, including the same rationale described above. All Ed.L.D. students must be in good academic standing in order to serve as a TF, RA, or PPE facilitator.

Earning an Ed.M. 

Candidates for the Ed.L.D. degree are not eligible to receive an Ed.M.-in-passing 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