Anna Naupa MC/MPA 2014

Families, Spouses, and Partners

Balancing the responsibilities of being a committed partner, husband, wife, mother or father with the rigors of studying for a graduate degree can be challenging. But every year, Harvard Kennedy School students prove that it is not only possible, but deeply enriching for students, their families, and the wider community.

With the assistance of the school and its program staff, and with the support of their peers, students with families find that the benefits of sharing the Harvard Kennedy School experience with their families are lasting – for some, life changing. Harvard Kennedy School becomes an even more dynamic place to learn, live, and grow when our students arrive with their partners and children. Together they become part of a close-knit, globally minded community that is on a similar academic journey. 


Challenges and Opportunities

Accompanying a spouse, partner, or parent to graduate school can be difficult. Personal lives, careers, and schooling are interrupted or disrupted. Meanwhile, the academic demands at Harvard Kennedy School are intense, and balancing them with being a committed parent, spouse, or partner can be challenging but it is doable. The school has worked hard to create a family-friendly atmosphere through the efforts of its program staff, Student Government, and of volunteers.

For family members or partners, their time here can be an opportunity to reflect, grow, and also to expand their personal and professional networks. Spouses and partners can take advantage of the educational opportunities at Harvard University and beyond to audit courses, sit in on lectures, or study a language. They are invited to the school’s regularly scheduled social events and join the HKS Partners Volunteer Group, which has hosted playgroups, lectures, potluck meals, and other events.

Many students have found that the rewards of sharing this formative experience with their families are tremendous, providing a unique opportunity to experience a different culture (and to come into contact with the remarkably international community at Harvard Kennedy School), learn a new language, or explore a new part of the country or world. For students with children, the Boston metropolitan area has plenty of family-friendly neighborhoods, excellent public and private schools, an extensive public transportation system, world-class museums and concert venues, an interesting history, and a vibrant intellectual and social life.

As you think about pursuing a graduate education, we encourage you to:

  • Discuss your goals and expectations – shared and separate – for coming to graduate school with your spouse, partner, and family.
  • Consider your housing needs if you have a family. Keep in mind that where you live can determine which public school your child will attend (although there are also other options for private or religiously affiliated schools). It can also affect your ability to take advantage of all the school’s offerings.
  • Anticipate the investment required. Cambridge and the Boston metropolitan area have a high cost of living, and housing, child care, and private schooling can be expensive. But keep in mind that there are also many resources available to Harvard students. The university has six day-care centers located on its campus and also offers graduate family housing.
  • Consider alternatives. While very difficult, some students choose to come to the school without their families. You would still have access to the same network of families, which some find helpful.
  • Use the links below to learn more about the resources available. We are happy to discuss your situation and to put you into contact with former students who can discuss their experience.


Students with Children Resources

HKS Students with Families 
Office of Student Services 
Harvard International Office 
Harvard Students’ Spouses & Partners Association (HSPPA) 
HKS Admissions Blog (family and housing) 
WATCH Portal 
Massachusetts Executive Office of Education 
Cambridge Public Schools

Partners and Spouses Resources

Office of Student Life 
Harvard International Office 
Harvard Students’ Spouses & Partners Association (HSPPA) 
HKS Admissions Blog 
HKS Events Calendar 
Gazette Events Calendar

Attending HKS With Children: Mónica Ramírez's Experience

Family Friendly at HKS

Family Friendly article in HKS Magazine

Read HKS Magazine's article on the many HKS students with families.

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