fbpx Resume and Essays | Harvard Kennedy School

All of our master’s degree programs require that you submit your résumé and at least four essays, which vary by program.

Résumé

A résumé is required of all applicants. This document should highlight the following information: employment, including titles and dates (months and years) for each position, job responsibilities, salary, reason for any gaps in employment history; academic degrees, achievements, and honors; volunteer, public service, and political work; recent leadership experiences; extracurricular activities (months and years) and interests.   

Analytical and Quantitative Résumé or Statement

All programs (except MPA/ID) require the submission of either an analytical and quantitative statement or résumé. Applicants to the MPA/ID program will input individual course entries for quantitative and analytical courses completed or in-progress. Please see the respective quantitative statement/résumé requirement for the program you are considering.

MASTER IN PUBLIC POLICY

MPP Analytical and Quantitative Resume 

The two-year MPP program is a rigorous program that prepares students to understand complex policy problems and craft concrete solutions. When reviewing applications, the Admissions Committee looks for – among other things – evidence of analytical and quantitative capability and potential. Aptitude in these areas can be demonstrated through coursework and/or professional, volunteer, and internship experiences.  
  
Please submit a résumé that summarizes relevant study and experience with analytic or quantitative material. Relevant coursework typically includes mathematics, statistics, economics, logic, science, information technology, and engineering. When listing coursework, please include main concepts studied and major assignments completed. (The website of your college or university is often a good way for you to obtain this information. Descriptions copied from the course catalog are helpful.)  
  
If you choose to describe major projects completed in a professional, volunteer, or internship setting, please include details on the analytical or quantitative nature of the work performed. We recognize that there will probably be some overlap between the content of your academic/professional résumé and that of your analytical/quantitative résumé.  
  
There is no set format for the analytical/quantitative resume. Feel free to use the samples provided as guides, but ultimately you should structure this information as you see fit.  

MASTER IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

MPA Quantitative Statement 

The MPA programs at HKS include coursework focused on helping students grow their capacity to understand economic and quantitative models, analyze data, and propose solutions for complex problems. Students are expected to demonstrate a willingness to engage with quantitative methods and to build upon previously learned concepts and work performed to explore new ways to approach challenges.  
  
While other application documents such as test scores and transcripts provided are useful in our evaluation, this portion of the application is a means to supply additional information and insight on your background and applied use of quantitative methods. The document you submit in this section may provide information in paragraph or resume type format, or a combination of the two, but must be limited to one page. Information may include, but is not limited to:  

Content from completed academic coursework, including concepts covered, projects completed, research performed, etc.  

Certificates earned or professional training completed, with details on the content of the material and examples of the deployment of concepts learned in a professional setting.  

Detailed information on relevant professional work performed.  

MID-CAREER MASTER IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Mid-Career MPA Quantitative Statement   

The MPA programs at HKS include coursework focused on helping students grow their capacity to understand economic and quantitative models, analyze data, and propose solutions for complex problems. Students are expected to demonstrate a willingness to engage with quantitative methods and to build upon previously learned concepts and work performed to explore new ways to approach challenges.  
  
While other application documents such as test scores and transcripts provided are useful in our evaluation, this portion of the application is a means to supply additional information and insight on your background and applied use of quantitative methods. The document you submit in this section may provide information in paragraph or resume type format, or a combination of the two, but must be limited to one page. Information may include, but is not limited to:  

Content from completed academic coursework, including concepts covered, projects completed, research performed, etc.  

Certificates earned or professional training completed, with details on the content of the material and examples of the deployment of concepts learned in a professional setting.  

Detailed information on relevant professional work performed.  

Essays
MASTER IN PUBLIC POLICY
JFK Essay

The Harvard Kennedy School motto, echoing the President for whom the School is named, is “Ask what you can do.” Please share with the Admissions Committee your plans to create positive change through your public leadership and service. (500 word limit)  

MPP Essay

 The MPP curriculum is designed to broaden students’ perspective and sharpen skills necessary for a successful career in public service through a rigorous set of courses that draw on the social sciences but are adapted for action. Please describe how the MPP curriculum at HKS would leverage your distinctive abilities and/or fill gaps in your skill set as you equip yourself to achieve your career goals. (500 word limit) 

Personal History Essay  

Diversity of all kinds (race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, physical abilities, political philosophy, intellectual focus, socioeconomic status, geographic and many others) is important to enriching the educational experience at the Kennedy School.  Please share with us anything in your background or life experience that has shaped your perspectives and how that would contribute to the classroom and community at HKS. (250 word limit) 

Expectations Essay 

Describe a time when you did not meet expectations and elaborate on how the experience changed you. (250 word limit) 

Perspectives Essay 

Describe a time when interactions with others and/or an experience caused you to change your mind or expanded your point of view. (250 word limit)  

Optional Statement 

If you have any concerns about your prior academic, professional, or personal background that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee, please provide an explanation. (250 word limit) 

MASTER IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
International Development Essay

Discuss your decision to choose international development as your professional career. Also, explain how developing your analytic skills relates to your career in development. (750 word limit) 

Leadership Experience Essay

Describe an event or experience in which you exercised a significant decision-making, management, or leadership role. (750 word limit) 

Public Policy Essay

Describe a public policy or public management problem related to international development and analyze a range of solutions. (750 word limit) 

Personal History Essay

Diversity of all kinds (race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, physical abilities, political philosophy, intellectual focus, socioeconomic status, geographic and many others) is important to enriching the educational experience at the Kennedy School.  Please share with us anything in your background or life experience that has shaped your perspectives and how that would contribute to the classroom and community at HKS. (250 word limit) 

Optional Statement 

If you have any concerns about your prior academic, professional, or personal background that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee, please provide an explanation. (250 word limit) 

MASTER IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
JFK Essay

The Harvard Kennedy School motto, echoing the President for whom the School is named, is “Ask what you can do.” Please share with the Admissions Committee your plans to create positive change through your public leadership and service. (500 word limit)  

Two-Year MPA Essay

There are many pathways one can pursue in order to make a difference in the world. Why is the MPA Program at HKS an appropriate pathway to achieving your goals? (500 word limit)  

Personal History Essay  

Diversity of all kinds (race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, physical abilities, political philosophy, intellectual focus, socioeconomic status, geographic and many others) is important to enriching the educational experience at the Kennedy School.  Please share with us anything in your background or life experience that has shaped your perspectives and how that would contribute to the classroom and community at HKS. (250 word limit) 

Expectations Essay 

Describe a time when you did not meet expectations and elaborate on how the experience changed you. (250 word limit) 

Perspectives Essay 

Describe a time when interactions with others and/or an experience caused you to change your mind or expanded your point of view. (250 word limit)  

Optional Statement 

If you have any concerns about your prior academic, professional, or personal background that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee, please provide an explanation. (250 word limit) 

MID-CAREER MASTER IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Career Goals Essay

Submit a statement that discusses your career goals, as well as the factors that led you to select the Mid-Career MPA program as a means of furthering your personal and professional goals. Be as specific as possible in describing how your expected course of study will enable you to build on your prior professional experience and achieve those goals. (500 word limit)  

Professional Contribution Essay

The Harvard Kennedy School motto, echoing the President for whom the School is named, is “Ask what you can do.” Please share with the Admissions Committee how you have created positive change thus far in your most substantial professional leadership and/or public service role. (500 word limit)   

Personal History Essay  

Diversity of all kinds (race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, physical abilities, political philosophy, intellectual focus, socioeconomic status, geographic and many others) is important to enriching the educational experience at the Kennedy School.  Please share with us anything in your background or life experience that has shaped your perspectives and how that would contribute to the classroom and community at HKS. (250 word limit) 

Expectations Essay 

Describe a time when you did not meet expectations and elaborate on how the experience changed you. (250 word limit) 

Perspectives Essay 

Describe a time when interactions with others and/or an experience caused you to change your mind or expanded your point of view. (250 word limit)  

Optional Statement 

If you have any concerns about your prior academic, professional, or personal background that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee, please provide an explanation. (250 word limit) 

JOINT DEGREE AND CONCURRENT DEGREE

An essay response in addition to the program essay prompts is required for those submitting a separate admission application to a joint or combined partner program. If an applicant is applying to both a joint degree program partner school (HBS or HLS) and a combined degree partner school, the text of the essay prompt is the same. 

Applicants should note that only MPP and MPA/ID applicants are eligible to apply to the HBS and HLS joint programs. 

If an applicant is applying to varied joint/concurrent professional programs (e.g. law and business) the prompt will only be displayed once and it is up to the applicant to determine how best to respond. For those applying to different programs, for example law and business, it is wise to address both types of programs, but it would not be necessary to address each individual school.  

Joint or concurrent degree program essay  

Harvard Kennedy School’s mission is to improve public policy and leadership across the United States and around the world, so people can lead safer, freer, and more prosperous lives. How will a joint/concurrent degree enhance your pursuit of this mission? (400 word limit)