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Academic Catalog 2017-2018

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Education Policy

Department of - Education Policy & Social Analysis

Contact Information

(212) 678-3751
(212) 678-3589

Program Description

The course of study in Education Policy prepares students for such positions as policy analyst, policy advocate, and education researcher. It develops students’ skills in the political, economic, social, and legal analysis of education policy issues. Students are required to explore one policy topic in depth as part of a field experience. Coursework includes a research methods sequence suitable to the requirements of education policy professionals and experience writing policy briefs for a variety of audiences. M.A. students select a substantive specialization tied to students' professional and academic goals in five areas: Data Analysis and Research Methods, Early Childhood Education Policy, K-12 Education Reform Policy, Higher Education Policy, and Law and Education Policy. Our main master’s degree is the M.A. The M.A. is often the first post-baccalaureate degree, and it is also the master's degree that is most widely recognized in the Education Policy field. The overwhelming majority of our non-doctoral students enter this degree program. However, we offer the Ed.M. for students who have already acquired an M.A. with at least some coursework with education policy content. The Ed.M. degree further develops students’ knowledge and skills by drawing on interdisciplinary policy studies; the social science disciplines of economics, law, politics, and sociology; and the substantive content of policies and practice in early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education, law and education, and data analysis and research methods. Doctoral students complete the master’s-level core courses, a two-part advancement to candidacy process, and a research dissertation. Coursework beyond the core is chosen individually in conjunction with a faculty advisor. Most coursework is offered during the school year. For more information, contact Gosia Kolb at For individual degree program planners and special applications go to

In fall 2017, we are introducing a new specialization in Data Analysis and Research Methods.

Degree Summary

Education Policy (EPOL)

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Education (Ed.M.)
  • Doctor of Philosoply (Ph.D.)

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please click the "Degrees" tab above

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please continue on to this program's "Degrees" section in this document

Degree Requirements

M.A. in Education Policy (33 points)

The 33-point degree aims to build a cadre of education policy experts whose deep grounding in a range of educational policy issues is matched by their understanding of the policy process and the tools of policy analysis. The Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree offered by the Education Policy Program is focused on the preparation of policy analysts, policy advocates, and education researchers. The program develops students’ knowledge and skills by drawing on interdisciplinary policy studies, the social science disciplines of economics, law, politics, and sociology, and substantive content on policies and practice in early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education, law and education, and data analysis and research methods.

In fall 2017, we are introducing a new specialization in Data Analysis and Research Methods.

Ed.M. in Education Policy (60 points)

The 60-point, newly updated Ed.M. degree is intended for educators and non-educators seeking careers in education policy in either the private or the public sector. We offer the Ed.M. for students who have already acquired an M.A. with at least some coursework with education policy content. The program of study builds on the required M.A. course sequence and draws on interdisciplinary policy studies, the social science disciplines of economics, law, politics, and sociology and substantive content of policies and practice in early childhood, K-12, higher education, law and education, and data analysis and research methods, with additional work in a policy area relevant to the student’s interests. Up to 30 points of eligible coursework from another graduate institution or program may be applied to the Ed.M. degree.

In fall 2017, we are introducing a new specialization in Data Analysis and Research Methods.

Ph.D. in Education Policy (75 points)

In the rapidly changing and increasingly complex world of education, a crucial need exists for better knowledge about how schools and higher education institutions can be organized and led most effectively. A deeper understanding of how policies, politics, and the law can advance the twin goals of excellence and equity, how schools and higher education institutions can best acquire and use resources, how leaders can support teacher development and student achievement, and how education policymakers and leaders can make best use of information from student assessments, program evaluations, and analytical research. This knowledge should be based on thoughtful reasoning and solid evidence; it should be theoretical in scope but also have clear implications for education practice.

The school-year Ph.D. degree in Education Policy responds to these knowledge demands by focusing on the scholarly study of education leadership and policy. This degree program provides the opportunity to develop expertise in many interconnected subject areas, as preparation for careers in academic research and teaching or in applied policy development and research. Graduates of the Ph.D. program are able to build new knowledge, teach new leaders, and craft new policies.

In the Education Policy program, students will consider how laws and policies can impact the reform of educational systems and how they support or impede improvements in curriculum, teaching, and student achievement. Furthermore, students will analyze the political, social, economic, and legal dynamics that affect policy development and implementation.

The program may be completed in 75 points, of which up to 30 acceptable credits may be transferred from another graduate institution. In addition to study in education policy, the program requires extensive preparation in quantitative and qualitative research methods and in one of the cognate social sciences offered by Columbia University, for example, Political Science, Sociology, or Economics. For information, please contact Gosia Kolb at


Non-Degree Programs

Non-Degree Programs

In addition to the degree programs previously described, the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis (EPSA) offers courses and professional development opportunities to current students, alumni, and practicing professionals:

School Law Institute

One of the most popular offerings at Teachers College, this nationally known, one-week program, held this year at Columbia Law School during a week of July, is available for 3 graduate credits or on a non-credit basis.  The School Law Institute offers public K-12 educators (board members, school and district leaders, teachers, guidance counselors, special educators, ELL staff, etc.), policy analysts, policymakers, union reps, advocates and others tools to address provocative current issues of law, policy, research, and practice. The Institute’s eminent national faculty members explore such issues as charter schools; high-stakes testing; cyberbullying; fiscal equity; safety and order (harassment, child abuse, tort liability, search and seizure); issues of race and poverty in education; the rights and needs of students with disabilities and English-language learners; and promoting diversity in public schools; and the school-to-prison pipeline. For more information, please visit or contact Professor Jay Heubert at

Concurrent Programs in Education and Law

Columbia University currently offers no regular programs through which a student may concurrently or jointly earn an education degree at TC and a law degree at Columbia Law School. The Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis (EPSA), however, offers a specialization in education law and policy and several courses are offered both at TC and Columbia Law School. For information, contact Professor Jay Heubert at

Application Information

You will be able to apply to our programs via the Admissions Office website.

Financial Aid

See the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Faculty List



Visiting Faculty


Full-Time Instructors


Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy
Professor of Higher Education and Education Policy
Professor of Law and Education
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy
Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Families
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy
Professor of Law and Educational Practice
Associate Professor of Sociology & Education Policy
Adjunct Associate Professor of Education
Distinguished Research Professor

For up to date information about course offerings including faculty information, please visit the online course schedule.

Course List

EDPA 4002 Data analysis for policy and decision making I
This is an introductory course in quantitative research methods that focus on non-experimental designs and the analysis of large-scale longitudinal datasets, especially those related to education policy. Students become familiar with the logic of inferential statistics and the application of basic analytic techniques. No prior knowledge of statistics or quantitative methods is required.
EDPA 4013 Education Policy and the Management of Instruction
This course explores current ideas about desirable goals for student learning and development in K-12 education and will use a backward-mapping approach to consider how curriculum and instruction; classroom and school environments; organizational strategies; leadership practices; and local, state, and federal education policies can facilitate progress towards those goals. The course is intended to help students develop and articulate ambitious theories of action for school improvement and the management of instruction that can be useful in their work as education policy makers or analysts, academic researchers, and practitioners.
EDPA 4017 Topics in higher education law

This course, designed for policy students, higher-education students, and practicing administrators, draws on multi-disciplinary sources to explore legal and law-related issues that arise in public and private postsecondary institutions in the U.S.  Broad topics include free speech and academic freedom; safety and order; and the role of law in promoting educational equity.  Specific topics include legal attributes of public and private postsecondary institutions; faculty free speech, academic freedom, and tenure; student rights of free speech and association; the catalog as contract; safety and order:  institutional authority to regulate on- and off-campus student and staff behavior, tort liability (for suicide, hazing, drug and alcohol abuse), harassment and cyber-bullying, search and seizure, and due process; promoting educational equality:  discrimination past and present, access to higher education, HBCUs and single-sex education, using race/ethnicity and gender to promote diversity, serving English-language learners and immigrant students, the needs and rights of individuals with disabilities.

EDPA 4025 Higher education policy

An introduction to the higher education policy making process. Main topics: the general nature of policy making with examples and readings from higher education; key actors, institutional structures and processes in the federal, state, and local higher education policy arenas; and the origins and consequences of key policy enactments affecting college access and success, instruction, performance accountability, and student diversity.

EDPA 4033 Comprehensive Educational Opportunity

The course will provide students an overview of the concept of comprehensive educational opportunity, which seeks to provide meaningful educational opportunities for children from poverty backgrounds and will analyze the feasibility of its implementation. Topics will include the impact of poverty on children's opportunities to succeed in school, the role of early childhood learning, out-of-school time, health factors, and family and community support on school success; the history of past attempts to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages; the current attempts of large-scale "collective impact" initiatives to deal with these issues, and the economic, political, administrative, educational, and legal issues that must be considered to advance this concept on a large scale.

EDPA 4046 School Finance: Policy and Practice

Examination of the judicial and legislative involvement in school finance reform, taxation, and the equity and efficiency of local, state, and federal finance policies and systems.

EDPA 4047 Politics and Public Policy

What are the various stages of the policy process, from the recognition of certain problems as public issues to the adoption of policies to address those problems and the implementation and evaluation of those policies? This course touches on all these stages but focuses on policy origins: problem recognition and agenda setting, consideration of possible policy solutions, and policy adoption. The course examines policy origins through the lenses of various theoretical perspectives drawn from political science, sociology, economics, and law, including policy entrepreneurship theory, the advocacy coalition framework, punctuated equilibrium theory, diffusion theory, institutional theory, and the theory of the state. These perspectives are grounded by looking at the origins of particular policies concerning early childhood, K-12, and higher education.  

EDPA 4048 Education Policy Analysis and Implementation

Explores the issues of policy (or reform) implementation in schools and districts by focusing on the political reactions and organizational buffers to policy change and the ways that policies become adapted and changed to fit locally defined problems. Distinctions between implementation issues in bottom-up and top-down policy change are explored.

EDPA 4050 The Logic and Design of Research in Education Policy and Social Analysis

An introduction to understanding, designing, and conducting empirical research for education policy and the social sciences. Students explore philosophical foundations of research, the relationship between theory and evidence in research, and the mechanics of designing and conducting research, including strategies for sampling, data collection, and analysis. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches to research are addressed.

EDPA 4086 Law and education: Regulation, religion, free speech, and safety

This survey course focuses on legal issues that arise in public and private schools. Topics include governmental regulation of public and private schools; church-state issues (prayer, vouchers, evolution); free-speech rights of students, teachers, and extracurricular groups; who controls the curriculum; the school's authority to make and enforce rules governing student and staff conduct on and off school grounds; the duty to protect the safety of students and others; child abuse; search and seizure; and due process. The course draws on the multidisciplinary perspectives of law, policy, research, and educational practice.

EDPA 4899 Federal Policy Institute

The purpose of the Federal Policy Institute is to examine three themes: the enduring values of American education, contemporary issues in national school reform efforts, and the role of the federal government. During a week-long program in Washington, students will have the opportunity to identify a policy issue of personal interest and to explore that issue with the nation's senior policymakers. Introductory and concluding sessions meet at the College.

EDPA 5002 Data analysis for policy and decision making II

This is an intermediate‑level course in non‑experimental quantitative research methods, especially those related to education policy. The class examines such topics as residual analysis, modeling non‑linear relationships and interactions using regression, logistic regression, missing data analyses, multilevel models, and principal components analysis. Prerequisite: Students should have completed at least one graduate‑level course in applied statistics or data analysis (e.g., EDPA 4002) and have experience with Stata software.

EDPA 5016 Educational equality: Role of Law

Historically, many barriers to educational equality and many important efforts to overcome such barriers have involved the law. This course examines major efforts to use law to attack discrimination and to ensure high-quality education for all children. Topics include: addressing racial segregation and concentrated poverty; the standards movement and high-stakes testing; the right to an adequate education; sex and gender discrimination; harassment; services for English-language learners; special education; and affirmative action. The course draws on the multidisciplinary perspectives of law, policy, research, and educational practice.

EDPA 5023 Policymaking for effective high school to college transition

The course examines policymaking efforts by the federal and state governments to facilitate the movement of students from high school to college and their effective preparation to meet college requirements. The policies reviewed include student financial aid, the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, state common core curriculum standards, accelerated learning programs, and state longitudinal data systems. The course examines the content of these policies, their political origins and implementation, and their impacts. The aim is to help students develop a broad and deep understanding of the main directions of – but also limitations to – national and state policymaking with respect to high school to college transition.

EDPA 5030 Social Science, Education Policy, and the Courts

For the past century there have been debates over the proper role of social-science evidence in judicial proceedings, especially in the context of education reform litigation. This interdisciplinary course will start with Brown v. Board of Education and trace the evolution of the use of social science by courts, focusing on decisions in such vital areas of education policy as school desegregation, student testing, special education, language services for English-language learners, education finance, and affirmative action. It explores how social science evidence has influenced judicial decision making; how judicial decision making has influenced the directions of social science research; how courts have influenced the development of educational policy in statutes and regulations; how courts, legislatures, and administrative agencies engage in social science fact finding; and how courts use presumptions, burdens of proof, and other legal mechanisms that may reduce their need to consider social science evidence.

EDPA 5086 The role of courts in education reform

Beginning with the school desegregation decrees issued by the federal courts in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, the federal and state courts have been called upon to consider a range of asserted educational rights and to oversee far-reaching institutional reforms that bear little relationship to traditional judicial remedies. This course will examine the legal and political justifications for the courts' role in making educational policy and reforming public institutions, as well as the courts' capacity to undertake these functions. The course will give particular attention to school desegregation, bi-lingual education and special education cases in the federal courts, education adequacy litigations in the state courts, and whether and how courts might induce schools to act more effectively in fulfilling their constitutional obligations to prepare all students to become capable voters and to function productively as civic participants.

EDPA 5515 Master's seminar in education policy.

(Restricted for Education Policy program students.) Policy analysis requires its practitioners to evaluate available information; to weigh the possible impacts of alternative policies; to understand political, legal, and/or economic ramifications; and to produce plans for action that are organizationally feasible and publicly valuable. This seminar is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate a theoretical and analytical understanding of the practical problems inherent in conducting policy research.

EDPA 5645 Craft of Policy Analysis

Intended for students ​interested in ​learn​ing about ​the ​policy analysis process-- identifying a public problem, researching solutions to the problem, weighing costs and benefits of various alternatives, and developing policy recommendations aimed at addressing the public problem. Th​e particular emphasis ​in this course is on how policy analysts think and what they do​. What kinds of problems receive government attention -- how and why? The course is organized to help students understand and become more informed about the nature of education policy in the United states at the federal, state, and district levels.

EDPA 5880 School Law Institute

Explore important, timely issues of education law, including issues of race and poverty in education; serving English-language learners; the legal rights of students with disabilities; the right to an adequate education; and issues of safety and order (harassment, child abuse, tort liability, search and seizure, and cyber-bullying). For more information, visit SLI website at, and/or contact Professor Jay Heubert at

EDPA 6002 Quantitative Methods for Evaluating Education Policies and Programs

This advanced master's course addresses a key issue in evaluating education programs and policies: determining whether a policy causes an impact on student trajectories that would not have occurred in absence of the policy. The course will cover experimental and quasi-experimental techniques used to attribute causal relationships between educational programs and student outcomes. Students will become sophisticated consumers of quantitative educational research and will practice statistical techniques in problems sets. There will be an exam and a final project. Prerequisites: Successful completion of 4002 and 5002 or equivalent and familiarity with the Stata statistical software package. No prior exposure to causal inference methods is expected.

EDPA 6013 Early childhood development and education: Integrating research and policy perspectives

First section of a two-semester course with students participating in both semesters. Focuses on diverse perspectives framing the field and in so doing will present the most critical issues that require policy attention. Building on this background, the second semester will address steps that have been taken to ameliorate these issues, focusing heavily on research. By design, then, the first semester will present an array of issues and perspectives in order to provide the conceptual foundation for an exploration of salient strategies to address them in the second semester. By looking at early childhood development and learning from this stance, students will not only be exposed to diverse ideas about the content but will also be armed to address pressing challenges the field faces with them all in mind. (The second semester course is HUDK 6013, taught by Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn in the Department of Human Development.)

EDPA 6027 International Perspectives on Early Childhood Policy

This course looks at early childhood education policy through an international lens, addressing often neglected—but highly salient—policy questions, including: What have been the real effects of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals on education systems in general and on early childhood education in particular? How have poverty, gender, and the needs of marginalized populations/cultures shaped early childhood policy in diverse countries? What are the unique policy properties that must be considered when developing policies for young children and their families? To what extent do the policy contexts of nations differ, and how do these differences impact early childhood policies directly? To what extent can lessons learned in one context be faithfully transported across national boundaries? Based on readings and discussions of these issues, students will demonstrate their understanding of the role of policy in shaping early childhood education in a given country though the final paper, a situation analysis. Building on sequenced assignments, this paper will provide the platform for students to use policy tools and make recommendations for concrete early childhood policy improvements.

EDPA 6030 Institutional Theory: Sociological Perspectives on Institutional Change in Education

An introduction to organizational theory as it applies to a variety of institutions with particular attention to the potential of educational activities as a force in formal organizations.

EDPA 6542 Education policy foundations seminar

(Required for all Education Policy program studentsRestricted for Education Policy program students.) Over the past century, educators have experienced wave after wave of reforms intended to address the latest education “crisis”. This perpetual cycle of school improvement stems in part from the competing and often contradictory demands placed upon public education. In response, school improvement efforts have alternated between a focus on equity and excellence, progressive and traditional pedagogical approaches, centralized and decentralized governance, and private rights versus public needs. Students in this course will explore the social and political roots of these pendulum swings and examine the historical forces that fuel America’s desire for continual school reform. Issues of race, religion, class, and language--which are intimately tied to these tensions--are woven into the readings, discussions, and course-work.

EDPA 6900 Directed research and study in education policy

For students wishing to pursue independent study or original research as they prepare for their doctoral certification examination and/or dissertation proposal. Permission required from individual faculty.

EDPA 8900 Dissertation advisement in education policy

Individual advisement on the doctoral dissertation. Requires ongoing consultation between the student and dissertation sponsor. The fee equals three points at the current tuition rate for each term. Permission required from individual faculty.