Online Application for 2015-2016 Academic Year Now Available

I am pleased to announce that our online Master’s degree admission application for the 2015-2016 academic year is now available. The deadline to submit the application and all application materials is Tuesday, December 2 at 11:59 PM EST.  

Some advice and tips are as follows:

1) When you create an account, you will receive an email with a temporary password. You must enter this password and then you will be immediately asked to set a new password.  Please note the password requirements to the right (see picture below).  Also note that one of the most common emails we receive each year is from applicants who have forgotten their password.  Please store your password in a secure fashion and if you ever forget your password, do not create a new account.  There is a “forgot your password” link on the main log in page for assistance with this issue.


2) Carefully review the instructions page after creating an account.  It will likely take 10-15 minutes of focused reading to fully digest the instructions.  I do not recommend simply skimming the Instructions and skipping to the Preliminary Questions.  Only the Instructions and Preliminary Questions navigation links will appear when you first log in.

3) After reading the instructions, select your program from the Preliminary Questions section - this will enable the rest of the links in the navigation menu.  Complete the Personal and Background information sections shortly after creating your account (see green highlight circle below). Completing these sections early will allow the admissions staff to better address questions directed our way.


4) The application is dynamic, which means if you change the program in the Preliminary Questions section, application questions/requirements will change. This applies specifically to the Résumé/CV and Essays sections. You can change the program type anytime you wish, but please make sure you have selected the appropriate program if you wish to see the correct information.

To access the application, please click here.

Tags: application

2014 New Student Post #5: Fadumo Dayib, MC/MPA Mason


Fadumo Dayib is a new MC/MPA Mason student who is also a doctoral candidate with a focus on Women, Peace and Security at the University of Helsinki. She received her BSc, MSc and MPA degrees from a Finnish university and is currently at Harvard as a 2015 MC-MPA Mason fellow. She is a transnationalist with roots in Somalia, Kenya and Finland. She has extensive international experience from Europe, Africa and the Pacific and is multilingual in Somali, English, Finnish and Swahili.

Fadumo is a healthcare and development practitioner with over 12- years’ experience in research, strategy development, policy formulation, planning and implementation in forced migration, HIV, gender, women’s and adolescents’ interventions from the EU, Finnish public sector and the UN. In addition to her technical and academic expertise, she is an avid blogger, a proud mom and a tireless human rights advocate. She is currently working on her memoirs.

Fadumo is a 2016 Somalia presidential candidate. 

Ping. The email had finally arrived. It contained the key to my past, present and future. I dared not look at the iPhone, fearing a rejection. In the background, the sound of light banter, melodious laughter, soft chastising accompanied the erratic thudding of my heart. All I could hear was that ping. The five month waiting period was over. Later that night, I went back to the email and sat back in shock. Harvard had chosen me over thousands of others. I dashed to my daughter’s room, aka my best friend and cheerleader, and flung myself at her.

“I am going to Harvard!” I whispered.  She smiled and said, “I always knew you would, mom”. We twirled silently around the room, giggling and hugging.

I suddenly stopped. “Hey, what if this is a mistake. What if they sent me an email by mistake?” I asked. She shook her head. “Mom, Harvard is lucky to have you. Enjoy your victory. You deserve it”, she said. True enough, soon Harvard sent several follow-up emails on the next steps. It dawned on me that I was now part of the extended Harvard family. Each email made me feel special and inspired. It attested to the fact that our selection was thoughtful, rigorous and transparent.

That night, I tossed and turned. I replayed the recent phone call with George Mukundi, a former 2014 Mason. He’d been ecstatic and very proud of my admittance to Harvard. I had sought him out on LinkedIn in 2013 after reading his entry on the Harvard admissions blog. George answered all my questions about the Mason program, admission and course requirements. Moreover, he strongly encouraged me to apply, quashing any doubts I had about my eligibility.

Although we’d never met before, George volunteered to review my admission essays and was true to his commitment. To motivate me even more, he’d show me around the Kennedy school surroundings during our Skype sessions. Fadumo, you’ll be here. Retain that image, he’d advise me. In addition, he introduced me to the East African community in Harvard and made every effort to make my transition to the Kennedy school effortless.

So on the 30th of June, I walked confidently into the Kennedy school; the third Somali woman to ever do so and the second Somali woman to be graduating in 2015. Thanks to George, the surroundings seemed familiar and welcoming. Anyone observing my arrival from afar would have seen a lone, contemplative figure. But I was not alone; I came in the company of my family, my friends, my community, my nation and my ancestors. They celebrated the arrival of their daughter; an offspring of an illiterate slave and a nomad, into Harvard, the world’s best university. This was a defining moment, one that would go on to change my life forever.

The first day of the Mason seminar was like a mini-UN session. I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with highly accomplished classmates from every corner of the world. On breaks, I would hold intriguing discussions on politics, women’s issues, religion and human rights with world renowned faculty members. My brain was on overload, stimulated beyond imagination. It was in intellectual candy land, spoilt for choice. These discussions, both with faculty and classmates, eventually catapulted me into putting my political aspirations into concrete action.

Much as I enjoyed this period, I was keen to get down to action. Harvard did not disappoint. My teammates from Chile, India, Macedonia and I, as members of the Uganda chamber of commerce, were soon grappling and bonding over a policy case study called Bujagali. I had reservations about taking this role. Would I do justice to it? It called for putting my activist role aside and to taking on the role of a business person. What decision should we take? Why? How would it benefit the country? How should we convince the parliament to support our case? And just like that, we had seamlessly transitioned from our various professional backgrounds into academia.

The second challenge presented itself in the form of math. One classmate wondered what numbers and words were doing together. Another groaned, “Oh sweet God, this is not Bujagali”. Soon others joined in the chorus, lamenting about the alarming rate at which their hair was greying.

I listened silently, hunched over my math homework, trying to make sense of it. If only they knew, I muttered to myself. They were blessed to have had a solid educational foundation; some having started primary school at the tender age of seven and progressing to secondary school. I, on the other hand, due to constant displacement and a bloody civil war, had had altogether less than five years primary and secondary schooling. Yet, there I was, knuckled down and battling it out. Upon hearing my story, most of my classmates felt inspired, thankful for what they had and determined to excel in math. Likewise, the life stories of other classmates, rich in narrative and texture, never ceased to amaze me.

I was fortunate to have Marian Stas, a math genius, as my math facilitator. He brought me up to speed in just less than two weeks. Marian would come in at six in the morning and leave at nine in the evening, breathing math into our tired souls. To my astonishment, he was also available during the weekends too. With his support, I overcame my fear of math and even accomplished the standards I had set for myself. Special thanks also go to Graeme Bird, Deborah Hughes-Hallett and Shiv Kumar for the friendship and support provided.

Being in Harvard is a surreal experience. It continues to exceed my expectations and is worth every penny. I had to leave my children and family behind but don’t regret it a minute. And on the dark days that I do, my beautiful children convince me otherwise. They tell me how proud they are, that I’m doing this for them and for Somalia, that they too hope to follow in my footsteps. And to think I almost ended up not applying because I thought I was not ‘Harvard material”. If you are reading this and planning to apply; go for it! Close your ears to the negative self-talk. I encourage qualified and competent African women to apply; especially women from Somalia and countries transitioning from conflict. Harvard will give you the skills and know-how that is crucial to the rebuilding and reconstruction of post-conflict countries. Moreover, you’ll get alliances and a lifetime network which you can tap into endlessly.

Put time, effort and consideration into your application. Submit it on time. If you have queries, get in touch with Matt Clemons. He is easily accessible and guaranteed to respond. Believe me when I tell you that we are all Harvard material. My admittance is an attestation to that!

Series Links

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HKS & HBS Information Session for Women in Mexico City


HKS and HBS will co-host an information session for women in Mexico City on Friday, October 3. This event is designed for prospective women applicants to learn more about the graduate programs at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. The event will include admissions presentations and the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of HBS and HKS women alumni. A reception will follow the presentations.

While this event is specifically designed for women with an interest in these programs, we will have other events which will be open to the public in both Mexico City and Monterrey in October as well. Other events are still in the planning stages and when finalized, details will be posted to this blog.

If you are woman with an interest in HKS, HBS or in both we welcome you to click here to register for this event in Mexico City. An RSVP in required and space for this event is limited. Participation will be on first come, first served basis. 

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 19: Mia Mitchell (second post), MPP ‘15 

Click here to view Mia’s first post in the series.


I spent this summer in Nepal working to increase women’s Internet access and digital skills through Code for Nepal, an organization I co-founded earlier this year. Code for Nepal’s mission is to increase open data and digital literacy in Nepal, especially for women and minorities. The initiative was born out of research I conducted during my first year at HKS and was officially founded at DC’s Open Data Day at the World Bank in February 2014.

From May to July, I worked on designing and administering a survey to gather more information about Nepalese women’s use of the Internet and computers. The survey was conducted in universities and high schools in two cities, Kathmandu (Nepal’s capital) and Janakpur (a small city in south-central Nepal). Based on the results, we designed a two-week Digital Empowerment Training for women. The training was conducted in partnership with Mozilla’s Webmaker initiative, Subisu Cablenet Pvt. Ltd. (a local Internet service provider), and Wigan and Leigh College (a local college that hosted the training), as well as with the generous support of the Carr Center at HKS and numerous donors from around the world.

Twenty-one women participated in the training, which featured guest lectures from leading entrepreneurs, journalists, coders, and social media strategists in Nepal. The training was held in Kathmandu and geared toward women who had regular or semi-regular access to the Internet, but were looking to increase their digital skills (e.g. almost all had Facebook profiles before the training started, but few had ever coded or blogged).

The training successfully wrapped up in early August. The participants are now working on their final projects, which require them to apply the digital skills they learned to address a social issue in Nepal. For instance, one team is working to build an app to educate new drivers about traffic rules in Kathmandu to help reduce vehicle-related fatalities. Another team will conduct their own digital empowerment training for women in a rural district of Nepal. You can read what some of the participants had to say about their experiences with Code for Nepal on the blogs they launched during the training: here, here, and here.

I’m looking forward to heading back to Cambridge soon to start classes and plan the next steps for Code for Nepal. Our goal is to take the initiative outside of Kathmandu Valley to reach people in smaller cities and rural areas with little or no exposure to the Internet. We’ll also continue working on the open data side of our mission, producing practical data products to better inform public policy (e.g. you can check out here our mapping of poverty rates and student-teacher ratios in Nepal). To learn more about Code for Nepal’s next steps, you can also check out our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


2014 Summer Series Links

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Tags: MPP internship

40% of 2014-2015 White House Fellows are HKS Graduates

The recipients of the prestigious White House Fellowship for 2014-2015 have been an announced and HKS is well represented. 6 of the 15 selected are HKS graduates and 2 others spent time at HKS as fellows. All together, 53% of the new fellows either graduated from HKS or participated in fellows programs at HKS. The following text is from the official press release.

The White House Fellows program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” This unique opportunity to work within our nation’s government is designed to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service. The Fellows take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs. Community service is another essential element of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout their year in Washington, D.C.

Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of professional achievement, evidence of leadership potential, and a proven commitment to public service. Each Fellow must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully at senior levels in the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields, including leaders in government, business, law, media, medicine, education, diplomacy, and the military.

Those selected with an HKS affiliation are: 

Megan E. Carroll, MPP ‘09

Jacob E. Donnelly, MPAID/MBA ‘11, CPL George Fellow

Jonathan M. Dorsey, MPA/MBA (Stanford) ‘14; CPL Zuckerman Fellow

Kate F. Higgins-Bloom, MPA ‘11

Marisa L. Porges, Belfer Center Fellow; (Harvard College ‘00)

Mario Luis Ramirez, MPP/MD ‘07

Lindsay L. Rodman, MPP/JD ‘07

Edward Sheen, CPL Zuckerman Fellow; MPH ‘09

For more information on the White House Fellows Program visit their website. Here also is a YouTube video on the program:

Tags: alumni

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 18: Cassie Collier, MPP ‘15


Cassie Collier is a Master in Public Policy student focusing on the social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility spaces. At her first year at the Kennedy School, she was an operations manager for the Social Enterprise Conference (SECON), a joint HKS/HBS student-led initiative, as well as a mentor in the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative. Prior to graduate school, Cassie served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua, where she consulted micro-business owners and implemented national entrepreneurship curricula in local high schools. She was also a City Year corps member at an inner-city school in South Boston, MA. Born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, Cassie graduated with a B.S. in Business Economics from Susquehanna University.


Happy August! As summer draws to a close, I wanted to reflect upon and share a bit about my 10-week internship with Ashoka, a citizen-sector organization that creates and inspires changemakers from around the world.

My journey to Ashoka began my first semester at HKS while attending a social enterprise-related event at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab). Ashoka’s Josh Collins was recruiting graduate school advisors for a new initiative called Catapult, a four-month business incubator for high school entrepreneurs. Compelled by the mission, I came on board as an advisor to a team of 10th-12th graders launching an online platform called the Political Youth Network. Over the course of the program, I was extremely impressed by not only the natural drive and entrepreneurial spirit that the team possessed, but also their ability to fearlessly pitch in front of a panel of judges in our culminating Demo Day.

Ashoka offered me a summer internship position soon after, and I started at our New York office in early June. The exciting part of Catapult for me is seeing its larger vision that embodies Ashoka’s theory of change: in order to build a changemaking society, everyone must master the four skills of empathy, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. Thus, not only does Catapult teach students entrepreneurial-oriented skills, but we strive to infuse the holistic Ashoka framework into each element of programming.

While there have been many highlights thus far, the best part of the position has been the opportunity to work on  a small three-person team within Ashoka that allows me to take a key role in the development of Catapult. I’ve been able to get involved in all pieces of the program – everything from the design and launch of our new website to the creation of Ashoka’s Catapult expansion plan to Harvard, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania.


One of the aspects I’m most passionate about is the emphasis my team and I are placing in the social enterprise-centric curricula of the program. Knowing these high-achieving students will be the ones leading companies in 10-15 years, we want Ashoka’s Catapult to be the first-touch point that trains them in sustainable business practices. Thus, my specific role this summer has been to source and engage people from top triple-bottom-line businesses that can be instrumental partners of Ashoka’s Catapult, whether in the role of guest speaker, workshop facilitator, or team advisor.

Aside from the professional skills my internship has provided me, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have developed wonderful friendships. My two team members, Josh and Kaveh, have made each day at the office a wonderful juxtaposition: fun yet productive. They are not only talented in building a great program, but they have created a work environment that I would only be so lucky to have replicated in future jobs.

Last but not least, I’m fortunate that my internship allowed me to spend quality time with my sister, Jackie, who lives and works in New York. Whether it was going to the midnight premiere of Boyhood, eating at the newest Thai restaurant, or watching her stand-up comedy debut, she created memories for me that will make my summer of 2014 unforgettable.


2014 Summer Series Links

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Tags: MPP internship

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 17: Francisco Delgado, MPA/ID ‘15 


Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Francisco Delgado MPA/ID 2015 was able to attend the Harvard Kennedy School thanks to the Joint Japan-World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program, which supports scholars from developing countries committed to careers in the public sector. He also was granted a Dubin Fellowship from the Center of Public Leadership. Before joining the HKS community, Francisco served as advisor to the Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy in his native country. He graduated with the Highest Honors in Economics from the University of Costa Rica.


Soon my summer internship in Geneva, Switzerland, will be done. I’ve been working at the World Trade Organization (WTO) trying to build capabilities of government officials in international trade issues. Specifically, I am preparing a report about public policies related to trade in Pakistan. A complete assessment of the country’s economic performance and the measures that affect trade are presented to all members of the organization, in a meeting that requires almost two days for discussion. This exercise is very relevant particularly for developing countries, which use this report as a key input to implement reforms. Analyzing policies for a country other than your own is a very challenging work, but despite of that I have enjoyed the opportunity to discover Pakistan’s strengths, weaknesses and even a particular way of doing politics.

In addition to my direct tasks at the Trade Policies Review Division, I feel highly interested about what is happening in the organization. With members of Missions of 160 countries always around the building, the international trade agenda is actually defined just few steps away from my office. It doesn´t take you too much to realize this fact when you are encouraged to attend the different meetings, either informal committees on agriculture, services, intellectual property, dispute settlement, or the General Council.

For instance, an agreement on trade facilitation, known as the Bali Agreement, broke down last week because no consensus was reached among countries to implement a protocol that would improve customs procedures and also provide technical assistance and capacity building in this area for developing and least-developed countries. It could have been the most important achievement of the WTO after the Uruguay Round, but negotiations among delegations could not find a deal, basically because India showed a strong opposition. Economics, politics and diplomacy all combined in a room where every country has a particular interest.

Before joining the MPA-ID program, my professional experience was basically in the public sector at the national level. Therefore, I tried to find an internship in a multilateral organization to be able to explore a new working field for me. Every task and activity has been an incredibly enriching opportunity to become immersed in technical and political processes and to think about development with great integrity. As you can tell, I have no regrets. I really appreciate the generosity of Glenn Dubin and the Center for Public Leadership for supporting me in such a valuable experience.


2014 Summer Series Links

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2015 Application Long-Term Planning Series - Post 10

Submitting a resume is a required part of the admission application process and it is never too soon to review your current resume and then update it on a continual basis. As a reminder, applicants are asked to submit additional information about their quantitative background/skills in another resume or essay format as well. Specific details on this topic are in this previous post. Some applicants ask if we would rather see a curriculum vitae (CV) and the answer is that we like to see a sort of cross between a resume and a CV.

When comparing a resume to a CV, it can be said that a resume is generally shorter and more limited in scope than a CV. The Admissions Committee does like to have access to information on the personal, academic, and professional background of each applicant, but a traditional CV likely would be overkill in terms of the amount of information provided. Thus applicants are encouraged to find a balance, including information that will help the Committee learn about your growth and track your areas of interest, while keeping the document a reasonable length.

An employer reviewing a resume to see if an applicant is a good fit for a job might not be interested in honors received, academic research performed, participation in student organizations, volunteer involvement, and extracurricular activities and interests, but the Admissions Committee is interested in these things.  A resume submitted for admission purposes thus might be longer than a resume submitted for employment purposes.  Readability is also important, so avoiding the use of small fonts and margins is advisable.  A longer resume that is easy to read is preferable to a shorter resume that is difficult to read.

A good guide for resume length is between two and four pages. There is no magic number of pages, include content you believe will provide the Committee with a solid understanding of your background and development. If you are happy and confident that a two page resume captures who you are, stick with it.  Do not feel compelled to hit a certain number of pages.

Reviewing your resume on a consistent basis, perhaps once a month, is a great way to keep the content current and engaging.  Although the duties of a particular job might be consistent, it is common for people to be called into special projects or to use skills in new or creative ways.  Revisiting your resume on a consistent basis rather than waiting until right before the deadline will allow you to include the most engaging content possible. 

Here are a few pieces of advice to consider regarding the resume you will submit as part of the application process.

1. Have a few people who know you well review your resume.  This is good advice just in terms of proof reading, however if you choose some people you have worked with they might think of content you missed. 

2. Make sure to include both month and year information when referencing jobs, internships, and other experiences. We are interested in the specific length of your experiences and just providing the year is too broad.  If the experience was only a few weeks, do please include the number of weeks.

3. Consider sending your resume to those who will be writing your letters of recommendation.

4. As stated in the notes above, use a standard sized font and try to make your resume as easy to read as possible.  White space is good. A resume with content that is packed together and difficult to read is not easy to review.

One last piece of advice, not only for your resume but for all of the documents you submit, include your name and the degree program you are applying to in the upper right-hand corner of each page. 


2014 Summer Student Series — Post 16: Erin Patten (2nd post), MPP/MBA ‘15

Please click here to view Erin’s first post in the series.


After my first few weeks in Detroit and at Shinola I was convinced that I was in the right place at the right time. Since I arrived, I’ve participated in the Shinola sponsored Grand Prix on Belle Isle, the opening of a new apparel store Willy’s, and the simultaneous opening of a new Shinola dog park and one-year anniversary celebration of the Shinola Detroit store opening. Phew, that was a lot in one sentence! Though I signed up to intern with the Supply Management team, I have found myself dabbling in all areas of the business thanks to a 2-week rotational program.





As part of the marketing team, I was able to work directly with the many local organizations involved in the dog park launch and anniversary block party, which helped me to understand the familial dynamic the city demonstrates when it comes to improving community. The one block in Midtown that Shinola took over for a cold, rainy day was packed with area residents all feasting on local eats, drinking local brews, and shopping in the local stores.

One of the most exciting moments of the day was meeting “Detroit booster” Emily T. Gail (pictured above). Emily started a “Say Nice Things About Detroit” campaign in the 1970s well before the city bankruptcy and its subsequent backlash. Many have touted her slogan since, but none embodies the spirit as she does. Although Emily no longer lives in the city, the Detroit community still cherishes her legacy as she truly inspired a movement. I felt her amazing energy through our conversation and throughout the evening she made me feel so special introducing me to all of her former as well as new friends.

This city is so full of gems and I’m so very happy Shinola brings the jewels together.

2014 Summer Series Links

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2015 Application Long-Term Planning Series - Post 9

This entry continues our series focused on helping applicants to prepare for the launch of our online application in September. Some prospects have contacted us requesting more detailed information regarding how letters are submitted and what is asked of those completing letters of recommendation. The following text is from the portion of our application instructions on letters of recommendation.

* Begin * 

Three recommendations are required and should be submitted by individuals familiar with the applicant and his/her work. Recommendations provide the Admissions Committees with additional information relating to an applicant’s ability to perform in an academic and/or work setting. Only three recommendations will be accepted; applicants should not attempt to have any more than three letters submitted on their behalf.

For applicants who are still in college or have fewer than two years of work experience, two recommendations from university faculty members (one from your departmental major) are encouraged. The third may be from an immediate supervisor in a work setting or an internship.

For applicants with two or more years of work experience, two of the three recommendations should be from present or previous work colleagues, one of whom has been a supervisor. One academic reference is desirable. The Mid-Career MPA Admissions Committee understands that some applicants may be unable to submit recommendations from college professors. In such a case, select a current colleague or supervisor who can provide an assessment of your academic strengths.

Recommendations must be submitted online and must be written in English. The names and email addresses of those selected to recommend applicants should be entered on the online application. An email containing instructions, a user name, and a password will be sent to each registered recommender. After adding online recommenders, applicants may check the submission status by clicking on the “Recommendations” navigation link.

Re-applicants who choose to use recommendations submitted with a previous application should NOT SELECT ”Send to Recommender.” Doing so will prompt the recommender to submit a new online recommendation. Instead, select “Recommendation on file from previous application.” Requests need to be sent only to recommenders who will be providing new letters.

* End * 

In addition to uploading their letter of recommendation, recommendation writers are asked to rate applicants in the following areas by filling out an online grid.  

  • Intellectual ability
  • Analytic frame of mind
  • Problem-solving orientation
  • Quality of oral expression in English
  • Quality of written expression in English
  • Motivation and energy
  • Leadership
  • Organizational ability
  • Emotional maturity
  • Ability to meet a deadline
  • Ability to work with others
  • Commitment to public service

Further advice regarding letters of recommendation can be found in Post 2 and Post 3 of this series.