The first institution to grant a doctor of education degree and the first School to award Harvard degrees to women, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has been at the forefront of innovation in teacher education for over a century. Since HGSE’s founding in 1920, faculty at the School have contributed to advances in nearly every part of the education sector—from early childhood development to international policy—producing foundational research that has shed new light on how people learn, how to teach most effectively, and how to close achievement gaps in schools.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted education at all levels, the faculty and leadership at HGSE are using the lessons learned to again push the boundaries of teaching and learning. Thanks to philanthropic support from HGSE alumni and friends—including recent gifts from Antonieta Monaldi Arango AB ’90; Tim Barakett AB ’87, MBA ’93 and Michele Barakett; Ralph James MBA ’82 and Janice James; Scott Nathan AB ’89, JD ’94, MBA ’94 and Laura DeBonis AB ’91, MBA ’99; Linda G. Hammett Ory AB ’82, EdM ’93 and Andrew D. Ory AB ’88; Cathy Paglia MBA ’76; Mark Schwartz AB ’76, MBA ’78, MPP ’79 and Lisa Schwartz; Harry Schwefel AB ’01 and Christina Capodilupo EdM ’02; and Ramez Sousou AB ’87, MBA ’92 and Tiziana Sousou—the School is boldly reimagining how it trains educators. It is expanding access to this training through investments in financial aid, an online master’s program, increased professional education offerings, and the new Teaching and Teacher Leadership (TTL) Program.
With its redesigned master of education program, announced in 2019, the School established the first-ever core curriculum for educators, which ensures that students receive the skills and training that all educators should have before entering or returning to the field—much like Harvard Business School, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Law School do for their respective professions. To increase opportunities for mid-career educators around the world, the School unveiled its fully online, part-time master’s degree in education leadership in 2021, allowing educators to remain in their communities while applying knowledge gained at HGSE in real time.
Beginning in fall 2022, HGSE will welcome its first cohort of students into the TTL Program, designed to support teachers within the broader education ecosystem. The TTL Program, which builds on the success of the School’s Teacher Education master’s program and the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program, will prepare educators to meet the significant challenges facing schools and students in the aftermath of pandemic-related disruptions.
Central to all of these innovations, notes HGSE Dean Bridget Terry Long PhD ’00, is the need to ensure that more education professionals across the globe can benefit from the School’s programs, which strengthens not only Harvard but the field of education more broadly. “Talent resides everywhere,” says Long. “When we increase access for a more diverse set of learners, they enrich our classroom conversations with new perspectives and experiences grounded in communities around the world.”
“HGSE shows us how the University can open the lens in how it engages learners—and how it expands access to a Harvard education to so many.”
In February 2022, HGSE announced a $40 million gift—the largest in the School’s history—from two anonymous Harvard Business School alumni to endow scholarships in the TTL Program. This commitment will support approximately 40 master’s candidates each year in perpetuity, allowing them to enter the teaching profession without the burden of significant tuition debt. As part of this gift, the donors have funded a $10 million matching drive to encourage others across Harvard and beyond to support financial aid for TTL candidates. The response so far has been tremendous—nearly half of the total has been raised in three months; the remainder must be raised by the end of 2023 in order to receive the matching funds.
“These game-changing gifts underscore not only the central importance of teachers in our communities but also Harvard’s long-standing commitment to the teaching profession and to the field of education writ large,” says Long.
While the recent momentum behind supporting financial aid at the School is inspiring, the dean notes there is still more work to be done to serve HGSE’s students, both financially and with faculty support. HGSE’s first goal is to ensure affordability and access by strengthening aid packages for each and every student in all programs at the School. Secondly, while the last two years have demonstrated that HGSE is capable of serving more students—and doing so in innovative ways—it will also be necessary to grow the faculty to sustain the School’s current commitments and to make progress on its aspirations.
Though this is a significant undertaking, notes Dean Long, accomplishing these goals will benefit far more than the School’s students and faculty. “When we invest in our students and faculty, the benefits multiply,” says Long, “because when our students graduate, they go out into communities where they affect hundreds of other learners, families, and entire communities.”