How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions

About the program

Through the From Harvard to the Oval Office (“Oval Office”) program, students learn how to run for office; be the candidate and survive an election; meet and bond with a select cohort of exceptional women; and speak with elected women about their experiences running for and holding office.

When did the program begin?

Victoria A. Budson, Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program, created the Oval Office program in 2004.

How many students have completed the program?

Now in its tenth year, the Oval Office program has nearly 390 alumni.

How will the program be structured?

Programming will run for two academic semesters, with a select cohort of students starting each fall and ending in the spring. There are eight skills-training sessions, approximately two a month, beginning in October and ending in April. In addition, there are mentoring sessions with prominent figures in political life and networking events with current cohort members and Oval Office alumnae.

Is the program partisan?

No, Oval Office is a non-partisan initiative. We invite speakers and trainers from across the political spectrum.

Are there internship opportunities?

Yes, participating students may apply for financial support for a summer internship, giving them the chance to utilize acquired skills in a real-world political setting. The internship is another tool to prepare students for life as a candidate and elected official, enabling them to learn about navigating electoral politics first hand.

Are there networking opportunities?

Yes, students will have the opportunity to advance their political careers by connecting with elected officials, campaign professionals and Oval Office alumnae. We also encourage students to remain active in the Oval Office network through Facebook.

Who is eligible?

WAPPP encourages all highly motivated Harvard University students currently enrolled in a graduate program to apply.

Are international students eligible?

Yes, international students are welcome to apply. We have had Oval Office alumnae from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bhutan, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the United Kingdom among other nations.

What is the attendance policy?

There are 8 skills-training sessions a year. If you are unable to attend one session, you must make arrangements in advance with Danielle to make-up the session by viewing the video online.

How will students be selected?

A committee will review students' applications and select participants. Students will receive notification of the committee's decision via email.

What application materials are required?

Students should submit an application online at: The application contains:

  1. Your full name, email address, degree program, year of graduation, address
  2. A copy of your curriculum vitae or résumé
  3. An essay of not more than 750 words on: Why do you want to run for public office and how do you believe the Oval Office program will contribute to your goals?
  4. A second essay of not more than 500 words illustrating your potential for public leadership and commitment to public service.
  5. One letter of recommendation in hard copy or via email from a person (i.e. professor or former employer) who can speak to your leadership abilities.

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Adia Hoag, EdM '08 and Cohort 2008, with then Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano.


“The Oval Office program was one of the highlights of my Kennedy School experience. Through this program, I was able to engage not only with some of the preeminent female leaders in our country, but also an extremely talented and diverse network of female students. The leadership training, mentorship, and skill building were invaluable.”
-Molly Kinder, MPA/ID ’08 and Cohort 2008


Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius addressing Cohort 2007 while serving as Governor of Kansas.