Ph.D. in Education Policy

Part of the Education Policy Division

Students in the Education Policy Ph.D. degree program pursue an individualized program of study that reflects their specific interests in education policy on the local, state, national, or international levels. At the heart of the Ph.D. program is the research apprenticeship, where students work on projects alongside faculty members whose research interests align with their own.

Fast Facts


  • Prerequisites: None, but research experience is helpful
  • Entry terms: Fall only
  • Course Requirements: 16 courses (12 chosen from required competency areas and 4 electives)
  • Typical Course Load: Typical Course Load: Fall: 4 courses; Spring: 4 courses
  • Research Apprenticeship (20 hours per week)
  • Culminating Experience: Comprehensive Examination and Doctoral dissertation
  • Read our FAQs for Prospective PhD Students


View Admissions Requirements



The Ph.D. degree program in Education Policy requires a minimum of 16 courses of approved graduate work taken at the University of Pennsylvania beyond the baccalaureate degree, is full-time, and is designed to take four years to complete. Students pursue an individualized program of study that reflects their specific interests, are required to write a significant qualifying paper and complete a dissertation on an issue in education.


At the heart of the Ph.D. program is the research apprenticeship, where students work on research projects alongside faculty members. Doctoral students are matched with Education Policy faculty members whose research interests align with their own. Through the research apprenticeship, students will learn to design, conduct, and communicate the results of empirical research, including presenting papers at scholarly conferences and submitting articles to scholarly journals for publication.

Program of Study


16 course units are required for the Ph.D. degree

Two required Disciplinary Foundation courses:

  • EDUC 548-002 American Education Reform: History, Policy, Practice

and one other:

  • EDUC 524 Philosophical Aspects of Education Policy
  • EDUC 601 Economic Aspects of Education Policy
  • EDUC 559 Sociology of Education
  • EDUC 545 Politics and Education
  • Another foundation course approved by your advisor

One required Research Design course:

  • EDUC 591 Applied Research Methods to Inform Policy and Practice

Three Quantitative Research Methods courses:

  • EDUC 667 Introduction to Statistics (Students may opt out of this course if they have taken introductory statistics elsewhere; they are still required to take three statistics courses.)
  • EDUC 767 Regression and Analysis of Variance
  • Another intermediate or advanced level quantitative methods course(s) approved by the student’s advisor

Two Qualitative Research Methods courses:

  • EDUC 682-001 Qualitative Modes of Inquiry

and one other:

  • EDUC 703 Advanced Qualitative and Case Study Research
  • EDUC 545 Applied Mixed Methods Research
  • Or another qualitative research methods course approved by the student’s advisor

Four Education Policy-related courses:

  • EDUC 519 Evolution of Assessment
  • EDUC 707 U.S. School Policy and Reform
  • EDUC 708 Schools as Organizations
  • EDUC 720 Teachers and Teaching Policy
  • EDUC 614 Child Development and Social Policy
  • EDUC 601 Economic Aspects of Education Policy
  • Or another education policy-related course(s) approved by the student’s advisor

Four Elective Courses:

Click here to see a list of recommended elective courses.

  • EDUC 541 Access and Choice in Higher Education
  • EDUC 642 Higher Education in American Society
  • EDUC 716 Public Policy Issues in Higher Education
  • EDUC 570 Education and the American City
  • EDUC 677 Information and Communications Technologies for Education and Development in Global Perspective
  • EDUC 550 Educational and Social Entrepreneurship
  • EDUC 570 Education and the American City
  • EDUC 702 Conceptual Models of School Administration
  • EDUC 698 Politics of School Reform
  • EDUC 545 Reforming Philadelphia’s Schools: A Research Practicum on Civic Capacity

Transfer Courses

Course units of graduate course work taken prior to matriculation into the Ph.D. degree program, if approved by both your faculty advisor and the Ed Policy Chair, may be substituted for one or more of the above required courses. However, students are still required to complete 16 course units while at GSE.

Preliminary Examination

At the end of the coursework, students complete a preliminary examination (also known as the qualifying paper or comprehensive examination) covering relevant areas of education policy.


Program Faculty

A. Brooks Bowden, Ph.D.

Columbia University

John W. Fantuzzo, Ph.D.

Fuller Graduate School of Psychology

Richard M. Ingersoll, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Rebecca A. Maynard, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jonathan A. Supovitz, Ed.D.

Harvard University


Affiliated Faculty

Sigal Ben-Porath, Ph.D.

Philosophy, Tel Aviv University

Manuel S. González Canché, Ph.D.

Higher Education, University of Arizona

Dennis Culhane, Ph.D.

Boston College

Joni Finney, Ph.D.

Pennsylvania State University

Rand Quinn, Ph.D.

Education, Stanford University

Philip Sirinides, Ph.D.

Policy Research, Evaluation, and Measurement, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education

Daniel Wagner, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Laura Perna, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Andy Porter, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin

John L. Puckett, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Education Policy Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Krista Featherstone
Program Manager
(215) 573-8075