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School of Education - George Mason University

Upcoming Infosession

The PhD in Education with a specialization in education policy (EDPO) is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential.  Students plan their own programs to meet self-defined goals with the guidance and support of faculty advisors.  EDPO courses can be applied to primary or secondary specialization areas.

If you have questions about this specialization, please contact the specialization representative, Matthew Steinberg.

About the Specialization

The Education Policy Specialization involves the study of education policy and how it helps individuals understand how decisions are made at various levels of government, how decision-makers use educational research and evidence, and how to influence the decision-making process. The program encourages students to hone skills that are needed for sound policy research and analysis.

This specialization allows for flexible academic planning and research according to participants' interests, career goals, and learning format. With the advisor's approval, students may add courses in education law or education finance, as well as policy courses in other academic units, to round out their program of study.

What Will You Learn?

The specialization features coursework and applied internships that enable you to learn:

  • How to be a sophisticated and discerning consumer of education policy research
  • How to conduct rigorous empirical research on education policies and practices
  • How to communicate research findings to a broad array of audiences

How Will You Learn?

Your advisor will guide your doctoral experience by supplementing coursework with professional experiences, including:

  • Graduate seminars that prepare you to critically read and discuss complex issues in education policy
  • Rigorous methodological training on the empirical analysis of education policies and practices
  • Independent research (with the support of education policy faculty) on an education policy issue of scholarly interest
  • Opportunities to present research findings to a community of scholars, policymakers, and practitioners

Where Can This Specialization Take You?

Graduates of this specialization gained employment such as:

  • Research institute
  • Think tank
  • Government agency
  • University (tenure-track)
  • Political advocacy group
  • Education consulting firm

What Are Our Students Saying?

"I have had so many opportunities to work with faculty members both on their research, from data collection to writing manuscripts, and on my own research, receiving one-on-one support to build tailored research skills unique to my own interests and needs. The support and mentorship that I have received from faculty has been unbelievable and I think it is unique to Mason. I know that when I leave Mason, I will have the research skills and tools to be competitive for top positions in the field."
~ Beth Davis, current student
"During my time at Mason, I have been able to customize my plan of study and work with faculty on select research projects in order to build the knowledge and skillset needed to meet my career goals. I have conducted rigorous data analyses, worked closely with practitioners, and presented my own research at national conferences. The experiences I have been a part of and the network I have been able to build are incredible. Because of Mason, I know I will be a competitive job market candidate."
~ Katherine Bowser, current student

Our Graduates

Jeremy Redford, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: A “Process that Never Ends”: Parents’ Experiences Navigating a Public Preschool Lottery
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Colleen Vesely

Megan Sims-fujita, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: Factors Influencing College Decision-Making among Students with Disabilities: A Mixed-Methods Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Grace Francis & Dr. Jodi Duke
  • Employment on Graduation: social work org. ; Adjunct Professor, George Washington University

Robert Graham, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Mic’d Up: A Critical Narrative Inquiry Into African American Males, School Counselors & the First-Year Experience at a PWI
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Jenice View

Andrea Guiden, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: In Search of 'the Right Type': An Historical Examination of Black Teachers and Quality in the District of Columbia Public Schools, 1952-1964
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Jenice View & Dr. Diana D’Amico

Kathleen Kraus-Zadrozny, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: The Choice and Implication of Student Achievement Goals in Virginia Assistant Principal Performance Evaluation Policy
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nancy Holincheck

William Rodick, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Parallel Societies: A Community School in the Context of Gentrification
  • Dissertation Chair: Colleen Vesely

Brenda Calderon, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: English Learner Accountability in ESSA State Plans: A Multicase Policy Study of Implementation in Four States
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Mark Ginsberg

Kristofer Pachla, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Early Career Professional Development: A Multiple Case-study Examining Differences in Outcomes and Experiences in a Secondary Science Methods Course
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Roberto Pamas

Amy Boehl, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: What Decisions Do Teachers Make in the Absence of Policy? A Qualitative Study of Test Retakes at the Classroom Level
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Levi Brown, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Observations of Selected Virginia Teachers on the Impact of a Value-Added Evaluation System
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Lindsey Burke, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Principal Perspectives on School Participation and Non-Participation in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: An Institutional Theory Analysis
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Meagan Call-Cummings & Dr. Rodney Hopson

Cathleen Cogdill, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Funding Virginia Community Colleges During a Recessionary Period: Impact of Utilizing an Outcomes-based Funding Model
  • Dissertation Chair: Nance Lucas

Heather Keenan, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Teachers Making Sense of English Learner Education Policy: A Qualitative Case Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Jamila Jones Kennedy, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Social Capital and Parent Engagement in Black and White Middle-Class Families
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Ave Luke-Simpson, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Realidades Rurales: A Study of the Implementation of Title III of NCLB in a Rural Elementary School
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Jennifer Mursaloglu, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Parental Engagement beyond School Walls: A Qualitative Case Study of African American Parental Engagement during High School
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley

Beth Aronstamm Young, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: District Data Personnel Perspectives on the Federal Data Collection and Reporting Process and How They Inform Their Work
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Penelope Earley