Master's in Education Policy Studies
Create Change on a Broader Scale
Leading students on a path to a brighter and more successful future through a positive impact in the classroom starts with education policy analysis and reform. Today’s education systems face a wide range of complex problems that pose daunting challenges for policymakers and researchers, including closing the achievement gap, increasing access to higher education for marginalized communities, the equity of school funding, and improving the quality of instruction.
These are just some of the most critical issues that faculty, students and alumni of our Education Policy Studies master’s program are working to solve. Join us to develop your skills in analyzing the political, social, and organizational environments affecting the education landscape. Learn to develop, analyze, implement, and evaluate policy options to tackle these key education problems.
Our interdisciplinary program goes beyond the textbook to provide engaging, hands-on research and analysis experiences in the design, implementation, advocacy, and impact of educational policies.
Small + Diverse
Our students come together from around the world, bringing a wide range of professional experience and viewpoints that result in dynamic dialogue. The small class size ensures individualized learning and mentorship from faculty, as well as substantive engagement.
Courses are scheduled once a week in late afternoons and evenings (Monday-Thursday) to accommodate the schedules of working professionals, and for internship experiences.
Learn from nationally recognized researchers and practitioners with extensive experience leading research and professional organizations in education policy.
Uniquely situated in the heart of Washington, D.C.—with proximity and connections to several think tanks, policy organizations, federal agencies, and professional associations—students are provided unparalleled access to gain experience in the field through internship and career opportunities.
Tap into the rich GW scholarly community to hone your research skills, and benefit by examining education reform in the policymaking capital of the world.
Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in the Field of Education Policy Studies
- Our Mission
We aim to provide program graduates with the necessary skills to carefully assess and analytically examine education problems in complex settings that interact with their broader social environments, at the international, national, state, and local levels.
Analytical skills are developed through curriculum and applied research experiences that include core policy analysis designs/approaches, techniques of applied research methods, and hands-on experience in analysis of contemporary education problems.
The following requirements must be fulfilled: 36 credits, including 24 credits in required courses and 12 credits in elective courses.
The flexibility to choose 1/3 of the courses as electives provides students with the opportunity to develop skills in a specific area of expertise and applied research.
Course List Code Title Required: EDUC 6114 Introduction to Quantitative Research or EDUC 6116 Introduction to Educational Statistics EDUC 6314 History of American Education Reform EDUC 6368 Leadership and Education EDUC 6371 Education Policy EDUC 6381 Program Evaluation: Theory and Practice EDUC 6388 Analysis of Education Policy Issues EDUC 8122 Qualitative Research Methods One of the following: EDUC 6601 International and Comparative Education EDUC 6602 Regional Studies in International Education EDUC 6610 Programs and Policies in International Education EDUC 6650 Education and National Development Electives 12 credits in elective courses selected in consultation with the program advisor.
- Program Outcomes
- Students are exposed to multiple analytical perspectives in addressing various contemporary education problems such as urban schooling reform, student achievement, education funding and its equity implications, teacher quality and effectiveness, inequality and equal opportunity, access to higher education, and accountability in educational systems.
- Graduates of the degree program develop skills to:
- Evaluate contemporary education policies and programs, as well as their intended and unintended consequences
- Conduct research in the field of education policy
- Analyze the factors that shape policy decisions, such as political and social environments, and the link between research and policy decisions
- Understand the policy process and the context in which policies mature
- Develop policy options, analyze their potential, and select the most promising
- Implement policies effectively and evaluate their impacts
- Inform better practice
- Advocate on behalf of policies
- Analyze the implementation of policies and assess their impacts
- Understand the technical, political, and managerial aspects of education policy
- Example Research Questions
The following are examples of extensively analyzed education policy problems:
- Do standards-based reforms like NCLB and ESSA reduce or exacerbate the achievement gap in school systems?
- Do charter schools educate students better?
- Should pre-schooling be universally provided and funded by governments?
- Are teachers adequately paid?
- Does reducing class size lead to better student outcomes?
- Do affirmative action policies lead to better access and success in college?
To help them understand the complexities of such questions and seek answers to them, policymakers rely on a cadre of analysts who possess the necessary skills to systematically and carefully provide potential answers to such questions and assess the conditions in which the answers may differ so that decision-makers are best informed while constructing policies that often have lasting impacts.
GSEHD's Education Policy program prepares students to develop those skills and to attain positions at various policy organizations.
GSEHD’s Office of Admissions invites you to apply for a spot in our program. Please review the following admission and financial information.
Ready to take the next step in your career? Review our step-by-step guide to applying to GSEHD >
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To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the online application form as well as the following required supporting documents. There is no application fee.
Prerequisite: Bachelor's Degree
Resume (Educational Attainment, Job Skills, Experiences)
Statement of Purpose: State your purpose in undertaking graduate study in Education Policy at GW (describe academic objectives, research interests, career plans- in relation to your qualifications, and accomplishments.
Two Letters of Recommendation from an academic instructor/advisor or someone who can speak to your academic capabilities.
Transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities
*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants.
Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2024. We encourage you to apply as early as possible.
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My program and time at GSEHD has impacted my goals by showing me the many options that exist for future career paths. One of my professors does consulting work for districts, and another does research on the history of policy reform - both careers that I had not previously considered or even been aware of, but that are interesting options for me to consider as I continue my education.
SAMANTHA KAPLAN (Current Student)
Master’s in Education Policy Studies
Graduates assume positions at think tanks, non-profit national organizations, government agencies, and international organizations providing support and analysis for education-related decision-making. They are involved in developing, analyzing, implementing, and evaluating education policies.
- Education Policy Career Opportunities
For example, alumni of the program have assumed the following positions:
Director and Research Fellow, Fordham Foundation
Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association
Director and Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Deputy Director, Learning First Alliance
Senior Policy Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
Research Analyst, Institute for Public Research-CNA
Assistant Director, Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University
Director of Development, Bellwether Education Partners
Vice President , After-School All-Stars
- Potential Employment Settings
In addition to the organizations above, graduates have assumed positions at various agencies providing support for education, including:
- Congressional Research Services
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Congress
- U.S. Department of Labor
- The American Council on Education
- The Aspen Institute
- Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Center on Education Policy
- Council of Great City Schools
- Council of Chief State School Officers
- Maryland Department of Education
- SRI International
- The Urban Institute
- Washington State Legislature
- World Bank
- Inter-American Development Bank