Looking for more information about the Public Leadership Credential model, course structure, registration, payment options, or technical requirements? Start with our frequently asked questions for prospective PLC learners.
How are PLC courses delivered?
PLC courses are offered each Fall and Spring. Our six-week courses are academically rigorous, featuring peer discussions, case studies, and simulations. PLC courses include short, high-quality videos of HKS faculty and guest lecturers. Learners can expect to spend 10-12 hours per week on course work. This time includes both asynchronous individual work (with weekly deadlines) and required live meetings with a group of peers.
Do I need to come to campus to participate in the PLC?
No, our courses take place 100 percent online, and are available to participants regardless of their location.
Do I need to log in to my PLC course at certain times?
Most of your weekly work for PLC courses will be self-paced and asynchronous, meaning there are no formal class times. However, each new course week officially begins on Tuesday morning at 9AM ET, with weekly assignment deadlines of Monday at 5PM ET. Because of the nature of the learning experience, learners must fully participate in each of the six weeks of the course and submit work by the weekly deadlines.
What access to faculty or Harvard University resources will be available to learners in the PLC?
Learners in the PLC will have some opportunities to engage with our faculty in live online groups sessions. However, faculty are not available for one-on-one support, and should not be sought out for consultation on PLC coursework or programmatic inquiries. A dedicated teaching team and program staff are available as resources to PLC learners throughout their experience.
PLC learners do not have access to HKS alumni services or other university-wide resources (e.g., facilities, student services, career services, library online resources).
Will I need to purchase any additional materials?
No, you do not need to purchase any materials beyond the course fee, provided you have the required technology. The course site and its materials are designed to be accessed via a desktop or laptop computer. All course materials will be provided each week, in the form of PDFs, links, and videos.
Will I have access to the course materials after the course ends?
Learners have access to course sites in read-only mode for a limited time after the course concludes. This period lasts up to (but not longer than) one week. If a learner would like to save their work, we encourage them to download assignments with feedback ahead of this deadline. Learners do retain access to their PLC accounts. Final score outcomes for each course taken will remain in our records.
How are PLC courses structured?
PLC courses are fully-online learning experiences offered by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. PLC expects those interested in PLC courses to feel comfortable with modern internet technologies because the program is delivered online.
There are no class sessions, as all lectures have been pre-produced by faculty and their guests. However, PLC courses are not MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). Learners should expect to spend 10-12 hours on PLC course work per week. Each week, learners will engage in both asynchronous individual work (with weekly deadlines) and a required virtual live meeting with a small group of peers. Group work is an integral part of the learning experience, and PLC courses rely on active engagement from participants.
PLC courses are facilitated by a dedicated team of teaching assistants, who provide feedback on assignments and guide learning. Course outcomes are determined on a Pass or No Pass basis.
How long will coursework take each week?
Learners should expect to spend an estimated 10 to 12 hours per week on online and offline activities and assignments. Most of your weekly work will be self-paced and asynchronous, with the exception of a required weekly virtual live meeting with peers. Each new course week officially begins on Tuesday morning at 9AM ET and closes the following Monday at 5PM EST. Given the fast-paced nature of the program and dedication required by learners every week, learners should weigh the decision to take PLC courses with the existing demands of their personal and professional lives in mind.
I have a prior commitment during part of the course. Can I make up my work the following week or work ahead of the course pace?
For all PLC courses, new modules will be released on a regular, weekly schedule. Because of the nature of the learning experience, learners must fully participate in each of the six weeks of the course and submit work by the weekly deadlines. Exceptions to weekly deadlines cannot be made, and assignment work cannot be made up at the end of a course or after its conclusion.
What happens if I find I cannot commit to completing my work every week?
PLC courses require regular weekly participation by learners. If a learner has been inactive in the course for more than one week, HKS reserves the right to withdraw that learner from the course with no refund of enrollment fees. This is to ensure that all learners are actively engaging with the course content and their small groups during a course run.
What is the credential and how can I complete it?
Program participants earn the Public Leadership Credential after the successful completion of all six PLC courses plus the capstone assessment. The credential is in the form of a certificate. It is not a diploma.
What do I receive upon completion of a course?
Upon successful completion of a course, learners will receive email verification informing them of their final outcome in the course. The PLC program does not provide formal transcripts or certificates for completing courses in our program. Upon successful completion of all six courses and the capstone assessment, learners will receive a credential, in the form of a certificate, that reflects the work they have done.
Can I take more than one course at a time? Is there a required path to completing the credential?
We recommend that learners take one course at a time. While it is possible to take two courses at a time, learners need to be aware of the time commitment and academic rigor that these courses demand. Each course requires an estimated weekly commitment of 10-12 hours. Learners wanting to take two courses simultaneously should weigh these considerations with other professional and personal demands. Learners may not take three courses at a time.
Learners are welcome to take A courses in any order. Learners must successfully complete an A course before they enroll in the corresponding B course. Learners must successfully complete all six PLC courses before enrolling in the capstone.
Do you offer academic credit for PLC courses?
While we do not offer academic credit for individual PLC courses, the Harvard Kennedy School MC/MPA Program offers credit for those who successfully complete the full credential and are accepted to the MC/MPA Program.
How can I use the PLC as a pathway to the MC/MPA program at Harvard Kennedy School?
Learners who have earned the Public Leadership Credential may apply to the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) during the standard admissions cycle. If accepted, the PLC credential replaces three of the eight courses required for the MC/MPA. This path allows learners to attend the MC/MPA program for just the summer session and one semester instead of a whole year. This will also reduce the overall cost of the MC/MPA program by the equivalent of three courses.
Do I need to have a specific degree or a certain amount of work experience to register for the Public Leadership Credential?
As part of the registration process, learners will need to complete our online registration form and confirm that they meet the following course requirements:
- They have completed a bachelor’s degree.
- They have at least five years of work experience.
- They are proficient in English.
- They are available to commit an estimated 10 to 12 hours per week to coursework, including a required weekly live video conference with other enrolled students around the world.
These requirements cannot be waived.
Are GRE, TOEFL, or other standardized test scores required to register?
Learners do not need to submit any standardized test scores in order to register for PLC courses.
How much does the overall PLC cost?
The estimated total cost for all six courses and the capstone required to earn the credential is $5,150. For the 2020-2021 academic year, a single course costs $775, and the capstone fee is $500.
What forms of payment are accepted?
We accept all major credit and debit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. At this time, we do not accept alternative forms of payment, such as cash or check. Similarly, we cannot coordinate payments on behalf of registrants with outside entities. All payments must be made through our registration system.
Is financial aid available? Do you offer scholarships or discounts? Do you offer payment plans?
HKS does not provide financial aid, scholarships, discounts, or payment plans for PLC courses at this time.
Can I use federal student aid (e.g. GI Bill benefits) to pay for PLC courses?
HKS does not provide federal student aid or GI Bill benefits for PLC at this time.
Can I withdraw from a PLC course once I am enrolled?
Yes, a learner can withdraw from a PLC course at any time. Withdrawals must be requested by the learner in writing and submitted via our contact form. If a learner withdraws from a course, the PLC program will provide a full refund through the orientation start date. The PLC program will refund the tuition to the credit card used for the original payment. No refunds will be granted after the start of orientation.
How do I access my PLC course?
Once a prospective learner has completed our online registration form, they will receive an email verifying whether or not they have qualified for enrollment in the PLC program. This email will provide instructions on how to join our PLC community and complete the final steps to enroll in available courses.
What technologies do I need to participate?
These online courses rely on technology for general course delivery, display of streaming video and other multimedia, and video calls with group members. To participate in these courses, learners will need to have access to computer hardware and a stable internet connection. Learners will also need access to a camera, microphone, and speakers to participate in weekly web conferences.
The primary technologies used to deliver the courses are the Canvas learning management system and Zoom web conferencing technology. Learners’ technology needs to meet or exceed these requirements:
Please note that because of government regulations, users in the following countries are currently not able to access the required technologies for the courses: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine (Crimea region)
Are the courses mobile-friendly?
While some course components are accessible via mobile devices, learners will need to have access to a desktop or laptop computer to submit assignments. PLC staff does not provide support for technical issues encountered while using a mobile device.
Are the technology platforms accessible?
Our technologies are compliant with the following accessibility standards:
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 - W3C
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.1
Learn more about accessibility features: