Patrick Wolf
Interim Department Head

Gema Zamarro Rodriguez
Graduate Director 
Education Reform 
201 Graduate Education Building 
(479) 575-3196 

Tom Bennett
Graduate Coordinator 
Education Reform 
201 Graduate Education Building 
(479) 575-5597 

Department of Education Reform Website

Degrees Conferred:
Ph.D. in Education Policy (EDPO)

Program Description:  The Ph.D. in Education Policy is designed to prepare policy-oriented scholars for careers in academia, think tanks, and public service in the field of K-12 education policy. The program of study is based on the social sciences and other academic disciplines, supported by empirical research. The program has five components:

  • Core courses to establish the disciplinary base and intellectual framework;
  • Research methods to prepare for empirical work;
  • Field seminars in the key education reform fields, to understand and contribute to research behind key policy debates;
  • Electives to pursue further specialization; and
  • Dissertation, following completion of comprehensive exams.

Ph.D. in Education Policy

Admission to the Program: In addition to meeting university requirements for admission to the Graduate School, applicants should have combined GRE scores of 304, writing score of 4.0, and minimum GPA of 3.0 undergraduate or 3.5 in a masters’ program. Admission is based on the individual’s total profile, with special attention given to those with professional experience in education policy. Those students who have completed calculus and statistics courses prior to arriving on campus will more readily satisfy the prerequisites for the program’s research methods sequence.

Program of Study

Core Courses
EDRE 5053Philosophy and History of Education and Education Reform3
EDRE 6023Economics of Education3
EDRE 6033Politics of Education3
EDRE 6043Finance and Education Policy3
EDRE 6053Measurement of Educational Outcomes3
Research Methods
EDRE 6103Quantitative Analytical Techniques for Education Policy3
EDRE 6213Program Evaluation and Research Design3
EDRE 6223Research Seminar in Education Policy3
EDRE 6123Intermediate Quantitative Analytical Techniques for Education Policy3
Education Reform Fields
Complete five of the following six courses15
Issues in Education Policy
Seminar in School Choice Policy
Seminar in Education Accountability Policy
Seminar in Education Leadership Policy
Seminar in Teacher Quality and Public Policy
Psychology of Education
Students will take four electives, which typically will be a combination of relevant course offerings in other departments and directed research projects. The specific electives will all be subject to approval of the Education Policy graduate director, and may include subjects such as education law, qualitative methods, advanced quantitative methods, organizational theory, etc. Directed research projects could be either of the student’s own design or within the context of one of the various research projects underway in the Department of Education Reform.12
EDRE 700VDoctoral Dissertation18
Total Hours72

Students will take a written qualifying examination after the spring term of the first year, covering research methods, with applications to the first-year content courses. The field exams, with both written and oral components, will ordinarily be taken in the fall or spring of the third year, covering the student’s choice of two fields.

Students should also be aware of Graduate School requirements with regard to doctoral degrees.

Graduate Faculty

Costrell, Robert M., Ph.D. (Harvard University), B.A. (University of Michigan), Professor, Department of Education Reform, Endowed Chair in Education Accountability, 2006.
Greene, Jay Phillip, Ph.D., A.M. (Harvard University), B.A. (Tufts University), Distinguished Professor, Department of Education Reform, Endowed Chair in Education Reform, 2005, 2014.
Wolf, Patrick J., Ph.D., M.A. (Harvard University), B.A. (University of Saint Thomas), Distinguished Professor, Department of Education Reform, Endowed Chair in School Choice, 2006.
Zamarro Rodriguez, Gema, Ph.D., M.S. (Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros, Spain), B.A. (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain), Professor, Department of Education Reform, Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality, 2014, 2019.


EDRE 5053. Philosophy and History of Education and Education Reform. 3 Hours.

This course traces the historical development of the philosophical debates concerning education and its role in society as well as how those ideas and consequent demands for reform affected the educational system and its structures. (Typically offered: Spring Even Years)

EDRE 5113. Education Policy in Israel. 3 Hours.

This course, which is built around a study abroad component in Israel, examines education policy in Israel. It will compare US and Israeli perspectives and ideas on education reform and education innovation in diverse societies. (Typically offered: Summer Even Years)

EDRE 6023. Economics of Education. 3 Hours.

This course applies the principles of economic analysis to education and education reform. Topics include: Human capital and signaling theories; education labor markets; educational production functions; public policy and market forces. The course also features empirical evidence evaluating economic theories of education. (Typically offered: Spring Odd Years)

EDRE 6033. Politics of Education. 3 Hours.

This course explores historical and institutional forces that help shape education policymaking. Particular attention will be paid to the experience of past education reform movements as well as the influence of interest groups, federalism, bureaucracy, governance structures, public opinion, and judicial review on education policy. (Typically offered: Fall)

EDRE 6043. Finance and Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course examines K-12 education finance from the standpoint of education reform policy. The tools of analysis include economics, public finance, law and political science. Topics include: revenue sources and fiscal federalism, standards-based reform and school finance, school funding formulas, adequacy lawsuits, the politics of school funding, school funding and markets. The course also features empirical evidence on the educational impact of education finance. (Typically offered: Spring Even Years)

EDRE 6053. Measurement of Educational Outcomes. 3 Hours.

This course will train students to consider the various types of outcome and assessment measures used for education at the K-12 level throughout the United States; further, the students will engage in analyses of research that relies on these various outcome measures. (Typically offered: Fall Odd Years)

EDRE 6103. Quantitative Analytical Techniques for Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to the quantitative techniques required for the evaluation of education policies and interventions. The class will focus on the identification and estimation of causal effects, necessary assumptions, and how to deal with the failure of these assumptions. Major topics covered include randomized experiments, the ordinary least squares regression method, matching estimators, instrumental variable methods, regression discontinuity, difference in difference methods, and introduction to estimation strategies with panel data models. (Typically offered: Fall)

EDRE 6123. Intermediate Quantitative Analytical Techniques for Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course builds on the content presented in EDRE 6103 by delving more deeply into benefits and limitations of the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) estimator while also introducing the student to new estimation techniques. Students will be introduced to panel data estimation techniques, methods for robust inferences, and use of the Maximum Likelihood estimator for estimating binary and multinomial choice models. Students will also expand on their knowledge of how to implement STATA in practical research settings. Prerequisite: EDRE 6103. (Typically offered: Spring)

EDRE 6143. Advanced Quantitative Analytical Techniques for Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to advanced estimation methods and empirical models often used in education policy empirical research, such as Maximum Likelihood to estimate discrete choice models, censored models and selection models, duration models, Generalized Method of Moments to estimate dynamic panel data models, and bootstrapping of standard errors and simulation-based inference. Prerequisite: EDRE 6103. (Typically offered: Irregular)

EDRE 6213. Program Evaluation and Research Design. 3 Hours.

This course provides students with training in the methods used to generate evidence-based answers to questions regarding the efficacy and impacts of education programs. The central questions that motivate most educational program evaluations are: (1) What is the problem? (2) What policies or programs are in place to address the problem? (3) What is their effect? (4) What works better? (5) What are the relative benefits and costs of alternatives? (Typically offered: Fall)
This course is cross-listed with ESRM 6613.

EDRE 6223. Research Seminar in Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course provides students with the opportunity to learn about education policy research by interacting directly with the leading scholars and practitioners in the field. Students will also gain a foundation in the field of education policy research by reading and discussing some of the founding works of the field. (Typically offered: Spring)

EDRE 636V. Special Problems. 1-6 Hour.

Independent reading and investigation in education policy under faculty supervision. Prerequisite: Approval of EDRE Graduate Director. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

EDRE 6413. Issues in Education Policy. 3 Hours.

This course examines how K-12 education policy is designed and implemented in the United States. Students will develop a working knowledge of policymaking frameworks to examine major education policies of current interest and debate key policy issues that arise at each level of government. In great measure, the goals of the course will be accomplished through the consideration of opposing stances on key educational policy debates and issues that are of current import. (Typically offered: Fall)
This course is cross-listed with EDFD 5683.

EDRE 6423. Seminar in School Choice Policy. 3 Hours.

This course examines parental school choice - perhaps the most controversial education reform of our age. Students will be introduced to the full set of school choice policies, including charter schools and vouchers, and evaluate their benefits and drawbacks as educational interventions. (Typically offered: Fall Even Years)

EDRE 6433. Seminar in Education Accountability Policy. 3 Hours.

This course examines K-12 school and district accountability under state and Federal law (e.g. NCLB), as well as teacher and student accountability (e.g. exit exams). Topics include the theory of incentives and politics of tradeoffs, measurement issues of policy implementation, and statistical evidence on policy effects on performance. (Typically offered: Irregular)

EDRE 6443. Seminar in Education Leadership Policy. 3 Hours.

This course will examine the individual and systemic prerequisites of effective leadership of schools and school systems, and effective leadership techniques. It will consider the differences between public and private sector leadership. It will also explore ways to identify effective and ineffective leaders, and design and evaluate systems to recruit and train the former and reassign the latter. (Typically offered: Fall Odd Years)

EDRE 6453. Seminar in Teacher Quality and Public Policy. 3 Hours.

Examines how our public system of education shapes the preparation and continued professional development of K-12 teachers, and how that system has been influenced by standards-based education reform as well as efforts to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in public schools. Uses education reform legislation in several states as case studies to illustrate the successes and pitfalls of attempts to reform teacher education and licensure through public policy. (Typically offered: Spring Even Years)

EDRE 6463. Psychology of Education. 3 Hours.

This course explores psychological science findings that pertain to education research and policy with a focus on empirical evidence. Particular emphasis will be on studying individual differences in the context of education. Historical, methodological, and measurement perspectives will be introduced and psychological constructs studied and applied in educational contexts will be examined. (Typically offered: Spring Odd Years)

EDRE 674V. Internship in Education Policy. 1-6 Hour.

Internship at a public or private entity involved in the making or implementation of education policy. Paper required on a significant aspect of the internship experience. Prerequisite: Approval of EDRE Graduate Director. (Typically offered: Irregular)

EDRE 699V. Special Topics. 1-3 Hour.

Topics vary depending on instructor. Prerequisite: Approval of EDRE Graduate Director. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for up to 9 hours of degree credit.

EDRE 700V. Doctoral Dissertation. 1-18 Hour.

Doctoral Dissertation. Prerequisite: Candidacy. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for degree credit.