Harvard to offer a doctorate in education leadership

3-year program to begin in 2010

By Tracy Jan
Globe Staff / September 15, 2009

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education will announce today that it will offer a new, tuition-free doctoral degree in education leadership, its first new degree in 74 years.

School officials liken the Doctor of Education Leadership Program to the education equivalent of a law or medical degree. It will be taught by faculty from the education school, Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“One of the core missions of Harvard’s professional schools is to prepare leaders who can guide organizations in a rapidly changing environment,’’ Harvard president Drew Faust said in a statement. “No sector has a greater need for such transformational leaders than public education.’’

The three-year program will begin in August 2010 with 25 students.

The program aims to train graduates for senior leadership roles in school systems, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, school officials said.

It is designed to give students a deep understanding of teaching and learning, as well as the management and leadership skills required to help transform the American education sector.

“There is a widely shared view that US schools are failing,’’ said Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Graduate School of Education. “Our economic productivity and global competitiveness are threatened by an inadequate public education.’’

Only half of students in large urban school systems graduate from high school, US students lag behind their international counterparts, and racial-ethnic gaps in achievement are large by kindergarten and continue to grow thereafter, she said.

The new degree program will be a “catalyst to drive change,’’ McCartney said, producing a new generation of education leaders who are expected to alter education policy debates, forge powerful public-private partnerships, and restore public confidence in the US school system.

Students in the third year of the program will participate in a yearlong residency with partner organizations such as urban public school systems in New York City, Atlanta, and Denver, as well as national organizations focused on changing K-12 education, including Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, and the National Center of Education and the Economy.

The new program is supported in part by The Wallace Foundation, which has given Harvard a $10 million grant.