Ph.D. in Education: Education Policy Concentration

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 Concentration 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 Concentration 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.



  • 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 is not required. 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.

For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions FAQ page.


Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2023. We encourage you to apply as early as possible.

Apply for Fall 2023  
Priority Deadline Nov 1
Round 1 Deadline Dec 15
Round 2 Deadline Jan 16


For more information, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.

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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.

Required courses in Educational Foundations (12 credits)

SEHD 8200 Foundations of Education I
SEHD 8201 Foundations of Education II
SEHD 8100 Special Topics (taken twice for a total of 6 credits)

Education Policy Concentration Requirements (24 credits)

EDUC 8321 Economics of Education
EDUC 8322 Education Policy Implementation

18 additional credits in graduate-level courses determined in consultation with the advisor. Course selections are determined by the focus of the concentration and the specific interests of the student.

Research Methods (12 credits)

12 credits of doctoral-level research methods coursework, selected in consultation with advisor. At least one course must be in quantitative research methods and one in qualitative research methods.

Dissertation (12 credits)

SEHD 8999 Dissertation Research (taken for at least 12 credits)

Additional Requirements

  • Successful completion of second-year research project.
  • Successful completion of the comprehensive examination.
  • Oral defense of both the dissertation proposal and the dissertation.

Total = 60 Credits



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.

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Learn more about the Doctorate in Education: Education Policy Concentration located on campus. Complete the form linked below or contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at 202-994-9283.

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