Students in the Program in Education are enrolled in and receive their degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, even though they may work primarily with faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and at other Harvard Faculties.

The PhD in Education combines advances in the social sciences, sciences, arts, and humanities with deep expertise in educational research, policy, and practice to train students for careers as academics, researchers, policymakers, and leaders who will improve educational outcomes in the United States and around the world.

Candidates for the PhD in Education are affiliated with one of three concentrations: Culture, Institutions, and Society; Education Policy and Program Evaluation; or Human Development, Learning and Teaching. The program’s concentrations, curricular requirements, and milestones are structured to achieve four goals: to equip students with domain knowledge in education; to provide training in relevant disciplines; to ensure rigorous training in a range of research methods; and to promote the development of new research and knowledge with a transformative impact on education.

More information about the PhD in Education is available from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. GSAS Policies details program requirements. 


Culture, Institutions, and Society

Students in the Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS) concentration conduct research on the broader cultural, institutional, organizational, and social contexts relevant to education across the lifespan. Students might examine how, why, where, and when cultural, institutional, and social factors shape educational processes and outcomes, as well as how educational change can transform these broader cultural, institutional, and social structures. Examinations of individual and collective agency, as well as broader structural perspectives, are both valued in CIS. Work within this concentration is informed by theories and methods from sociology, history, political science, and organizational behavior and management, as well as by related disciplines, such as philosophy and anthropology. Students may consider contexts as diverse as classrooms, families, neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions, non-profits, government agencies, or other settings to study topics such as education reform; organizational decision-making and effectiveness; stratification and institutional inequality; racial identities, attitudes, and bias; systems for instructional improvement and student support; values and purposes of education; governance and leadership within institutions; and social movements and community action in education.

Education Policy and Program Evaluation

Students in the Education Policy and Program Evaluation (EPPE) concentration produce research on the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of educational and other public policies relevant to the domains of early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary education, in the US and internationally. They might engage in program or policy evaluation and analysis, measurement and assessment, or the study of policy development, relating to issues such as access to education, teacher effectiveness, school finance, testing and accountability systems, school choice, financial aid, college enrollment and persistence, and more. Work in this concentration is informed by theories and methods from economics, political science, public policy, and sociology, as well as by related disciplines such as history, philosophy, and statistics. Although students’ research may incorporate some of the same organizational and institutional contexts as the Culture, Institutions and Society concentration, their work is more consistently linked to public policy, programs, and large-scale reforms.

Human Development, Learning, and Teaching

Students in the Human Development, Learning and Teaching (HDLT) concentration study and produce research that focuses on the course and contexts of developmental change and the complex processes of learning and teaching. New advances in the science of learning and development (e.g. integration of biological, cognitive, and social processes, mechanisms through which technological forms alter learning) are transforming the practice of teaching and learning in formal and informal settings. Therefore, whether studying behavioral, cognitive, or social-emotional development in children or the design and development of curricula, instructional methods, and learning technologies to maximize understanding, students will gain a strong background in human development, the science of learning, and contextual mechanisms, including pedagogy, disciplinary knowledge, and sociocultural factors that explain variation in learning and developmental pathways. Work in this concentration is informed by theories and methods from psychology, cognitive science, sociology and linguistics, as well as by related disciplines, such as philosophy, the biological sciences and mathematics, and organizational behavior.


Admissions Requirements

Applicants from a variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds are welcome to apply to the PhD in Education program. Successful candidates for admission will have outstanding academic preparation and a deep commitment to the field of education, as demonstrated through prior research, work experience, and/or volunteer experience. Prior academic study in education is not required. We are strongly committed to increasing the diversity of education scholars and encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply.

A complete application for admission includes:

  • online form specifying concentration and potential advisors;
  • statement of purpose;
  • three letters of recommendation, submitted online;
  • resume or curriculum vitae;
  • transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended;
  • if applicable, a list of courses taken in intended and related fields of study;
  • official GRE scores;
  • official TOEFL or IELTS scores, with a preferred score of at least 104 on the iBT TOEFL or 7.5 on the IELTS (if applicable);
  • supplemental form for the PhD in Education (available in the online application)

Financial Aid

All PhD in Education students receive a multi-year funding package which includes tuition, health insurance fees, and a stipend for the first two years; tuition, health insurance fees and a combination of teaching fellowships and research assistantships in the third and fourth years; a summer research stipend (summers after years 1-4); tuition and health insurance fees for the fifth year. During the dissertation completion year, students receive a fellowship covering tuition, health insurance fees, and a stipend. Applicants are encouraged to apply for external grants and fellowships whenever possible. Students must be making satisfactory progress in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid.

Education Faculty