Ph.D. in Education - Education Policy CRT

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Contemporary education systems face an extraordinary range of complex problems that pose daunting challenges for policymakers and researchers. Closing the achievement gap, increasing access to college for marginalized communities, examining the equity consequences of education reform, and improving the quality of instruction are some of the most critical issues our faculty, students, and alumni work to solve.

The Ph.D. in Education's Education Policy CRT is designed to foster the methodological skills and conceptual understanding needed to systematically address complex and multi-faceted education issues. Students develop expertise in examining and assessing education problems and their interaction with their broader social environments. The program relies on interdisciplinary paradigms and methodological tools (including public policy, economics, sociology, political science, and psychology) to train students in evidence-based problem-solving research. The program’s flexible curriculum affords students an enriching learning environment in which there are abundant course choices, independent research, and internships/positions in various policy and research organizations.

Students enter into the dissertation phase of their study with a strong analytical foundation that supports the design and implementation of research which examines problems that are faced by modern education systems. Graduates of the Ph.D. in Education's Education Policy CRT assume positions in think tanks, academic institutions, non-profit national organizations, government agencies, and international organizations.

Uniquely situated in the heart of our nation’s capital, students are exposed to a rich environment to advance and hone their research skills. Partnerships that GSEHD and the University have established allow students to take advantage of our close proximity to key think tanks and numerous federal agencies, international organizations, and professional associations. The degree curriculum is structured to accommodate the schedules of those who work and intern at those organizations by offering our courses in late afternoons and evenings.

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Admissions Requirements

  • Prior Degree: Master’s degree in a field relevant to the program.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts are required from every institution attended. GW accepts unofficial transcripts during the admissions process. If admitted, students will be required to submit official copies of conferred degrees.
  • Standardized Test Scores: GRE general test is optional. International students must also submit valid TOEFL or IELTS scores; for information on required score minimums click here.
  • Recommendations: Three (3) letters of recommendation; at least two must be from a professor or advisor in the applicant’s prior Master’s degree program. Recommenders should indicate the applicant’s academic ability and potential for pursuing a Ph.D. degree.
  • Statement of Purpose: An essay of less than 1200 words, in which the candidate states his/her purpose in undertaking cross-disciplinary graduate study including: (a) rationale for seeking a Ph.D. in Education Policy and any particular focus; (b) articulation of personal research interests; and (c) how his/her background and related qualifications have prepared him/her for this work and will align with long term goals.
  • Curriculum Vitae: Current curriculum vitae.
  • Writing Sample: Candidates shall submit a current writing sample that demonstrates their analytical skills. The sample should reflect the candidate’s ability to frame and conduct analysis. The sample should also provide an example of the candidate’s research skills, as well as her/his engagement with scholarship in pursuing his/her research interests. An already published work, a master's thesis, or an academic research paper would be sufficient.
  • Interview: Applicants who meet the program’s qualifications will be interviewed. A candidate is expected to give a presentation on her/his specific interests and aspiration to pursue the degree. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a solid ability to clearly articulate how her/his skills and prior training/experiences prepare her/him to undertake a Ph.D. study.

NOTE: Additional information may be requested to help reviews of applications.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2022 start term on a case-by-case basis.  If you have questions about submitting your application, please contact our Admission Office at or at 202.994.9283.


Total = 60 Credits

Admitted students are assigned an advisor. Students work with their advisor prior to the first semester to chart courses to be taken to complete the degree.

Students work with faculty to develop their research skills and learn rigorous research approaches and paradigms that are applicable to their interest. During the first year of coursework all students complete a program evaluation course in which they conduct an evaluation project and formally present their findings. In their second year, students design and execute course-based analytical papers that follow a dissertation research design. In the third year, students complete a project which are is tied to the Advanced Proseminar where students present and execute a complex research design that addresses a policy problem. Once students successfully pass the comprehensive examination, they move into completing their dissertations.

Educational Foundations (6 Credits)

SEHD 8100 Experimental Course/Foundations of Education I and II (taken twice in the first year; 3 Credits each time)

Core Policy Analysis Courses (6 Credits)

EDUC 8321 Economics of Education
EDUC 8322 Education Policy Implementation

Advanced Seminars in Education Policy Analysis (6 Credits)

EDUC 8100 Advanced Proseminar in Education Policy (taken twice in the third year: 3 Credits each time)

Research Methods (12 Credits)

EDUC 8120 Group Comparison Designs and Analyses (3 Credits)
EDUC 8122 Qualitative Research Methods (3 Credits)
EDUC 6381 Program Evaluation (3 Credits)
EDUC 8171 Predictive Designs and Analyses or PPPA6013 Econometrics for Policy Research-I (3 Credits)
Note: With approval, one or more of these courses may be substituted with an advanced methods courses based on student prior work and need. Examples include:
EDUC 817x (several special topics available under this listing including HLM, SEM, Measurement, IRT, etc)
EDUC 813x (Survey Research Methods, Case Study Research Methods, etc)
EDUC 814x (Ethnographic Research, Phenomenological Research, Discourse Analysis, etc)
PPOL 8022 Econometrics for Policy Research-II
PSC 8120 Nonlinear Models
PSC 8122 Longitudinal Analysis
PSC 8124 Multilevel Modeling

(There are potentially additional courses that a student may, with the approval of the advisor, use as one of the required methods courses. Advanced methods courses may also be used to complete elective multidisciplinary course requirements)

Multidisciplinary Concentration Courses (18 Credits)

Graduate-level courses determined in consultation with the advisor. Course selections are determined by the specific interests of the student selected from the rich and multi-disciplinary offerings at GW and potentially the university consortium of the greater Washington, DC.

Dissertation Research (12 Credits)

EDUC 8999 Dissertation Research

The successful completion of:

  • Third year research project
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Oral dissertation proposal defense
  • Dissertation
  • Dissertation oral defense


Feuer, Michael Dean, The Graduate School of Education and Human Development; Professor, Education Policy
Glazer, Joshua L. Associate Professor, Education Policy
Nakib, Yas Associate Professor, Education Policy
Rotberg, Iris Research Professor, Education Policy
Shirrell, Matthew Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Administration


Additional Faculty

There are several other affiliated faculty in GSEHD, several other schools and departments at GW, as well as researchers at Washington, D.C. think tanks who collectively provide support and guidance for our students enriching their interdisciplinary experience and expertise.