Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Dean Kathleen McCartney announced that, as part of a multiyear doctoral funding opportunity, the School has guaranteed to pay full tuition and health fees for all doctoral students through the end of the third year. The announcement, made at a meeting of doctoral students in Askwith Hall, was received with palpable gratitude.
“It’s an enormous relief,” said doctoral student Adam Seldow. “It makes me feel more like a professional, that the School is taking this step, and taking steps to relieve our anxiety, which is something that pulls away from our study… . Now we can really focus on learning.”
The new funding, a result of the generosity of donors and new gifts, will begin next semester. Over the course of three years, doctoral students could save an estimated $88,000.
“As dean, one of my top priorities has been to secure more funding for financial aid and fellowships,” said McCartney. “Last year, we initiated the Urban Scholars Fellowship program for master’s students, and this year we will begin multiyear fellowships for all doctoral students. We are grateful to our donors and to the president’s office for their help. The reaction to the announcement about our doctoral fellowships from students and alumni alike has been most heartening to the HGSE faculty. This is but a first step – we have ambitious financial aid goals for the future.”
Mohan Boodram, associate dean for enrollment and student services at HGSE, calls the new funding a milestone. “There was a lot of anxiety around coming to HGSE particularly at the first year because students would be worrying about how to come up with future funding,” he said.
For many students, funding is the determining factor in whether to attend an institution. “Harvard’s price tag scared me half to death,” said doctoral student Carla Shalaby. “Now that I’m here, reaping the benefits of an unbelievably talented and brilliant cohort of fellow students and faculty, I know that the education offered is, on many levels, priceless. It is an absolute gift to have its pricelessness be more than just symbolic.”
Doctoral student Jelena Malone, who was in the process of applying for a fellowship for her second year when she heard the news, said, “The opportunity to focus on my studies and research without financial consequences looming over me has created a sense of peace in my daily work and planning for future semesters.”
“Pursuing a doctorate is a big challenge on many levels,” said James Stiles, associate dean for degree programs. “The work is demanding, the process of becoming an independent scholar is rigorous. And unlike some advanced degrees, the remuneration that awaits you at the end of this process is sometimes less than ideal (and sometimes less than you made before you started the program).
“We want our doctoral students to focus more on what they are learning and researching and less on how they are going to pay our tuition. We still have a way to go to match what Harvard’s other Schools can offer, but this is a huge step for HGSE and, more importantly, for its students.”