Annual Report Finds Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Remains Largely White, Male


The Harvard Kennedy School’s faculty and student body remains overwhelmingly white, according to the school's annual diversity report released Wednesday.

The report — which revealed scant changes across various demographics of the student body, faculty, and staff composition — comes as HKS has introduced efforts to boost diversity and inclusivity at the Kennedy School.

The racial diversity of U.S. students, who comprise 53 percent of the student body, marginally increased compared to last year.

The proportion of students identifying as Black or African American increased slightly, from 8 to 11 percent, while the percentage of students who identify as Latinx dropped by a point, from 13 to 12 percent. The proportion of students identifying as white was almost unchanged, from 54 to 53 percent, and the percentage of students who identify as Asian held steady at 18 percent.


The report does not include the racial breakdown of international students “because race and ethnicity are interpreted differently in different settings around the world.”

The racial makeup of professors also remained constant, with 77 percent of professors identifying as white. The school, however, saw a slight increase in gender diversity among faculty, with the share of female professors growing from 22 to 26 percent.

The percentage increase marks the first change in the tenured faculty gender composition since HKS began releasing demographic reports in 2018.

Total enrollment across the Kennedy School’s four master’s degree programs increased to 1,208 students following last year’s unusually low figure of 915 students. Normally, the Kennedy School enrolls approximately 1,000 students, but students admitted last year were given the option to defer enrollment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The issue of diversity and inclusion has long been a divisive issue at the Kennedy School. Despite the school's slow progress in diversifying its student body and faculty, HKS Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf noted in an emailed statement the report's positive trends.

“While in any complex organization the demographic composition can take longer to diversify than we’d like, the Kennedy School has a clear strategy and specific action plans that have enabled us to move in the right direction,” Elmendorf wrote in the statement. “Our students, staff, and faculty share the goal of making our community more diverse and welcoming.

This past summer, HKS published a website highlighting its strategies to increase diversity and combat racism. Among the efforts listed in its action plan is the appointment of roughly 10 faculty members between 2018 and 2021 “whose work focuses on race and policy.”

Elmendorf wrote the Kennedy School “has instituted new approaches to be more systematic in enhancing diversity and inclusion.”

“Those approaches include additional hiring of faculty in clusters so we can make better use of broad candidate pools, partnering with current students in targeted outreach to potential new students, refining the review of student applications to minimize implicit bias, and revising our financial aid allocation to give more weight to applicants’ need,” Elmendorf wrote in his statement.

He declined to provide a specific time for when these changes would materialize.

—Staff writer Joshua S. Cai can be reached at

—Staff writer Eric Yan can be reached at