John F. Kennedy School of Government

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Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard shield-Government.png
Established 1936
Type Private
Endowment $1.1 billion
Dean David Ellwood
Academic staff
Students 1062
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Campus Urban

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (also known as Harvard Kennedy School and HKS)[1] is a public policy and public administration school, and one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools. It offers master's degrees in public policy, public administration, and international development, grants several doctoral degrees, administers executive programs for senior government officials, and conducts research in subjects relating to politics, government, international affairs, and economics.

The School's primary campus is located on John F. Kennedy Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. The main buildings overlook the Charles River, southwest of Harvard Yard and Harvard Square, on the site of a former MBTA Red Line trainyard. The School is adjacent to the public riverfront John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

Since 2004, the School's Dean has been David Ellwood, who is also the Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at HKS. Previously, Ellwood was an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration.[2]


Littauer Building

Graduate School of Public Administration[edit]

Harvard Kennedy School was originally the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration (GSPA), and was founded in 1936 with a $2 million gift (equivalent to ~$30 million in 2010) from Lucius N. Littauer, a graduate of Harvard College.[3] The School drew its initial faculty from Harvard's existing government and economics departments, and welcomed its first students in 1937.

The School's original home was in the Littauer Center north of Harvard Yard, now the home of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Economics Department. The first students at the Graduate School were so-called "Littauer Fellows," participating in a one-year course listing which later developed into the school's mid-career Master in Public Administration program. In the 1960s, the School began to develop today's public policy degree and course curriculum in the Master in Public Policy program.

Renaming and move[edit]

In 1966, the School was renamed for President John F. Kennedy. By 1978, the faculty—notably presidential scholar and adviser Richard Neustadt, foreign policy scholar and later dean of the School Graham Allison, Richard Zeckhauser, and Edith Stokey—had orchestrated the consolidation of the School's programs and research centers in the present campus. Under the terms of Littauer's original grant, the current HKS campus also features a building called Littauer.

In addition to playing a critical role in the development of the School's modern era, Neustadt, who at the time served as the Assistant Dean, was also the founding Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP), created in 1966 in honor of President Kennedy.[4] The IOP has been housed on the Kennedy School campus since 1978, and today the Institute puts on a series of programs, speeches and study groups for Harvard undergraduates and graduate students. The John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum in the new Littauer building is both the site of IOP forum events as well as a major social gathering place between HKS courses.



Currently, Harvard Kennedy School offers four master's degree programs.[5] The Master of Public Policy (MPP) program focuses on policy analysis, economics, management in the public sector, and policy design.

There are also three separate Master in Public Administration (MPA) programs: a one-year "mid-career program" (MC/MPA), intended for professionals more than seven years from college graduation; a two-year MPA program intended for professionals that have an additional graduate degree and are more recently out of school; and a two-year International Development track (MPA/ID) focused on development studies, and with a strong emphasis on economics and quantitative analysis.

Among the members of the mid-career MPA class are the Mason Fellows, who currently serve as public and private executives from developing countries. Mason Fellows typically constitute about 50% of the incoming class of Mid Career MPA candidates.

In addition to the master's programs, HKS also administers four doctoral programs. PhD degrees are awarded in Political Economy and Government, Public Policy, and Social Policy, in conjunction with the Departments of Government and Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as in Health Policy, in conjunction with FAS and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Joint and concurrent degrees[edit]

The Harvard Kennedy School has a number of joint and concurrent degree programs, within Harvard and with other leading universities, which allow students to receive multiple degrees in a reduced period of time. Joint and current students spend at least one year in residence in Cambridge taking HKS courses. At Harvard, HKS joint degree programs are run with Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, and concurrent programs are offered with Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Medical School.

Beyond Harvard, HKS has concurrent degree arrangements with other law, business, and medical schools. These include: MIT Sloan School of Management; Stanford Business School; Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College; The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; Columbia Law School; Duke University School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; New York University School of Law; Northwestern University School of Law; Stanford Law School; University of California, Berkeley School of Law; University of Michigan Law School; University of Pennsylvania Law School; Yale Law School; and UCSF Medical Center.[6]

Abroad, HKS offers a dual degree with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

HKS courses[edit]

HKS courses[7] are divided into the following listing of policy areas:

In addition to offerings in the HKS course listing, students are eligible to cross-register for many courses at the other graduate and professional schools at Harvard. Students are also able to sample beyond the Harvard and HKS course listing at the MIT Sloan School of Management, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.

Taubman Building
Belfer Center

MPP Policy Areas of Concentration[edit]

Students enrolled in the Master in Public Policy program select a major, called a Policy Area of Concentration, on which they focus their coursework, take a year-long research seminar in their second year, and prepare a master's thesis, called a Policy Analysis Exercise. These concentration areas are:

  • Business and Government Policy
  • Democracy, Politics and Institutions
  • International and Global Affairs
  • International Trade and Finance
  • Political and Economic Development
  • Social and Urban Policy

Areas and Faculty Chairs[edit]

In lieu of academic departments, the school divides the school and HKS course listing[7] into six areas, each headed by a faculty "area chair." The areas and chairs for HKS courses are:

  • Management, Leadership and Decision Sciences – Professor Mary Joe Bane
  • International Relations, Science, and Security – Professor William Clark
  • Democracy, Politics and Institutions – Professor Alexander Keyssar
  • International Development – Professor Asim Khwaja
  • Social and Urban Policy – Professor José Antonio Gómez-Ibáñez
  • Markets, Business and Government – Professor Christopher Avery


Harvard Kennedy School receives high rankings in the U.S. News & World Report listing of top graduate schools of public affairs. In the 2012 rankings, HKS is ranked third overall, and is ranked first in the subcategories of public policy analysis, health policy & management, and social policy.[8] Kennedy's foreign affairs offerings are also ranked at or near the top of Foreign Policy magazine's Inside the Ivory Tower survey, which lists the world's top twenty international relations programs at the undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. levels.[9] In 2012, for example, the survey ranked HKS first overall for doctoral and undergraduate programs and third overall in the Master's category.[10]

Student life[edit]

Kennedy School women's team outside the Weld Boathouse preparing to row the Head of the Charles

There is an active student life at HKS. Most of the activities are centered on interest-driven student 'caucuses,' the student government (Kennedy School Student Government, known as KSSG), a student newspaper (The Citizen), student-edited policy journals, and a number of athletic groups.

Elections for HKS student government are among the most lively of the activities at the School. The KSSG is led by a President, Executive Vice President, functional Vice Presidents and Class Representatives. The KSSG is also responsible for overseeing the interest caucuses at the School.

Harvard Graduate Student Government (HGSG) is the university-wide representative student government for the twelve graduate and professional schools of Harvard University.

Students can join the Harvard Graduate Student Government, colloquially known as "the HGSG" and formerly known as the "Harvard Graduate Council" or "HGC", is the university-wide representative student government for the twelve graduate and professional schools of Harvard University. The HGSG is responsible for advocating student concerns to central administrators – including the President of Harvard University, Provost, Deans of Students, and Deans for the nearly 15,000 graduate and professional students across the twelve schools, organizing large university-wide initiatives and events, administering and providing funding for university-wide student groups (USGs),[11][12] and representing the Harvard graduate student population to other universities and external organizations.[13] The HGSG has become well known for creating and executing on advocacy initiatives and events focused on the "One Harvard" movement.[14][15]

The courtyard between the main Kennedy School buildings is a key attraction for students, who gather there to work on their assignments, have lunch, or relax. During the warmer months, the School frequently sponsors beer and barbecue events which give students the opportunity to socialize. During the colder months, "Quorum Calls" are held in one of the indoor atriums, to celebrate the end of each week of HKS courses with friends.


Harvard Kennedy School is home to 14 centers, several of which are located at HKS but University-wide.[16]

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Government and politics[edit]





  • Komla Dumor (MPA,'03) – television news presenter, BBC World News and Africa Business Report
  • Mark A. R. Kleiman (MPP, PhD '85) – author of Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control and Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results
  • Dambisa Moyo (MPA '07) – International Economist and New York Times best-selling author of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa
  • Bill O'Reilly (MPA '96) – political commentator
  • Andrew Sullivan (MPA, PhD '90) – journalist, The Atlantic Monthly



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kennedy School Web site asks what you can do — The Harvard University Gazette[dead link]
  2. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – David Ellwood". July 1, 2004. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – History". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ Kumar, Martha Joynt. "Richard Elliott Neustadt, 1919–2003: a tribute," Presidential Studies Quarterly, March 1, 2004, pg. 1
  5. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – Office of Admissions". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – Joint & Concurrent Degrees". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "HKS Course Listing". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ America's Best Graduate Schools 2008: Complete Guide to Public Affairs Programs[dead link]
  9. ^ Avey et al. (Jan–Feb 2012). "Ivory Tower". Foreign Policy. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ "TRIP Around the World: Teaching, Research, and Policy Views of International Relations Faculty in 20 Countries". Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. College of William & Mary. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "USG « Harvard Graduate Student Government". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ Khanna, Saira. "University-Wide Groups Approved | News | The Harvard Crimson". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Harvard at a Glance | Harvard University". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  14. ^ Ireland, Corydon. "There’s only one Harvard | Harvard Gazette". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  15. ^ Ireland, Corydon. "Of masks and mirth | Harvard Gazette". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – Centers". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Harvard – Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Carr Center for Human Rights Policy | John F. Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Center for Public Leadership – Harvard Kennedy School". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Harvard University Institute of Politics". April 29, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics : Home". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Shorenstein Center home page>". June 17, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Rappaport Institute of Greater Boston". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Taubman Center:". April 3, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School – Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies – Home Page". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Women and Public Policy Program". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  30. ^ Contact: Esten Perez (July 10, 2012). "Harvard Kennedy School". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Paper Crane #16". Paper Crane Project. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  33. ^ "HKS Class Notes Winter 2014" (PDF). Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Cabinet Appointments Mr TEO Chee Hean". Singapore Cabinet Office. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  35. ^ "charles 'charley' a. murphy's biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  36. ^ "We're sorry.". 
  37. ^ "Department of Homeland Security Leadership structure". Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  38. ^ . Harvard Kennedy School title=Uncharted Waters title=Uncharted Waters. Retrieved December 25, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°22′17″N 71°07′20″W / 42.37145°N 71.12210°W / 42.37145; -71.12210