It seems only fitting that the idea of a school of public affairs at Harvard came about during the Great Depression.

After all, if there was ever a time the government and its leaders needed to step in and make changes to the social contract, it was the Great Depression. (Indeed, you could hold it up as the ultimate case study for what public policy and public administration are all about.) That's the environment in which the Harvard Kennedy School was created.

A new kind of institution

As the government grappled with historic challenges both domestic and international, Harvard alumnus Lucius N. Littauer backed his vision of a school for a new professional governing class with an unprecedented $2 million gift. At the time, it was the largest single gift from an individual donor ever given to a university.

Since then, HKS has stayed faithful to its mission of training and preparing bright, dedicated public servants whose goal is to improve the way the world works and the way it helps others.

Along the way we've built a campus, changed our name (twice), hosted countless world leaders, and made our mark in society through the tens of thousands of people who have graduated or earned certificates from HKS. Other notable facts:

  • We are one of the world's most eminent social science research institutions—housing 15 research centers and institutes and more than 30 executive education and degree programs.
  • More than 46,000 HKS alumni reside in more than 200 countries and territories and serve in a wide range of positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Now more than ever

As nations struggle with poverty, corruption, hunger, human trafficking, environmental disasters and a host of other issues, the need for HKS graduates has never been more urgent. We equip people to solve the most wrenching problems, to untangle seemingly intransigent issues and to find answers where none are thought to exist. It is a proud legacy, one that we hope you will consider being a part of.