Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential Pathway to the Government Degree

This degree pathway is designed solely for students who've completed the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential (PLC). You take specialized courses in American and international government theory and practice that strategically complement the in-depth training that the PLC offers. The program ensures you have the breadth and depth of knowledge to become a changemaker in your community.

Key Learning Outcomes

Through the master’s degree in the field of government you:

  • Build an understanding of government’s role in relation to economics, education, ethics, history, law, philosophy, and sociology.
  • Gain crucial theoretical and practical insights into governance and other challenges of governmental and nongovernmental administration.
  • Explore political practice and theory, and analyze political behavior, cultures, and systems.

Required Courses

In this pathway, Harvard Extension School will credit three courses toward the government program for earning the Harvard Kennedy School PLC. To earn the master's degree, you complete the following nine courses.

9 Graduate Courses (36 Credits)

The degree is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose the government courses that meet your learning goals. Courses can be completed online or on campus. At least three courses must be completed on campus.

  • Proseminar
  • 5 government courses
  • 1 government seminar
  • Precapstone/Capstone paired options (2 courses):
    • (1) Bridges to Just Peace Precapstone and (2) Social Justice Capstone
    • (1) Deliberative Justice: The Theory and Practice of Good Citizenship Precapstone and (2) Deliberative Justice Capstone
    • (1) Foundations of Policy Writing and Analysis Precapstone and (2) Policy Analysis Capstone
    • (1) Foundations of National Security Writing and Analysis Precapstone and (2) National Security Analysis Capstone
    • (1) Social Reform Movements in America Precapstone and (2) Social Reform Movement Capstone

Five of the above courses need to be taught by instructors with the Harvard-instructor designation.

Find Degree Courses

The Harvard On-Campus Experience

Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least three courses (12 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

On-campus course requirements can typically be completed through:

  • 15-week fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus. Courses with the format "on campus or online" do not fulfill this requirement.
  • Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
  • Three-week January session courses that meet only on campus.
  • Three- or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School's three- or seven-week sessions. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

How to Apply

Earn Your Way In

After you’ve earned the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential, you begin the admission process by simply registering—no application needed—for the following graduate-level course:

  • 1 proseminar

Prerequisites: Before registering for the proseminar course, you'll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills. Alternatively, you can complete EXPO 42b Writing in the Social Sciences with a grade of B or higher at the undergraduate or graduate level. This course will not count toward the degree.

You have two registration attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar, which cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.

Grade requirements: You must complete the proseminar course with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

Eligibility: Before beginning this pathway, which starts with the Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential, you need to possess a four-year, regionally accredited US bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent. You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master's degree in government or related field.

Submitting Your Application

During the semester that you are completing proseminar, submit the official application to the program. Don't delay! It is critical to your admission and degree program success to prioritize the degree course required for admission and apply to the program before completing subsequent courses. We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles.

If you submit a complete and timely application—which includes your Harvard Kennedy School PLC as well as the required Harvard course, grades, and cumulative GPA—you’ll be admitted, after which you’ll take eight more courses to earn the degree.

For more details about eligibility, the application process, and the delayed application fee, visit Admissions.

Admissions

Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential (PLC) Pathway

The Harvard Kennedy School Public Leadership Credential must be earned before completing any degree-applicable courses at Harvard. Further, the credential cannot be more than three years old at the time of application. Credit is only granted for the entire PLC; Harvard credit will not be awarded for individual courses.

For more details about Harvard Extension School degree program eligibility and the application process, visit Admissions. If you have questions about the PLC, contact Harvard Kennedy School directly.

Cost

Affordability is core to our mission. Our 2020–21 graduate tuition is $2,900 per course. At that rate, the total tuition cost of earning the 9-course graduate degree is approximately $26,100.

There are a number of financial aid options available once you’re admitted to the program.

Visit Financial Aid

Completing Your Degree

Maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or Higher

Earn a B or higher in the proseminar and a B– or higher in all other courses, but be sure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher.

You are allowed to receive one withdrawal (WD) grade without it affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Finish Your Coursework in Five Years

You have five years to complete your degree requirements. The five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any one degree-applicable course at Harvard, whether or not you have been admitted to the program.

Harvard courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Government. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.

Degree Guidelines and Policies

For information about special academic opportunities, student privileges, and policies, see Completing Your Degree.