Politics and Education | Teachers College Columbia University

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Academic Catalog

Academic Catalog 2018-2019

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Politics and Education

Department of - Education Policy & Social Analysis

Contact Information

(212) 678-3751
(212) 678-3589
Professor Jeffrey Henig

Program Description

The Politics and Education program serves students who wish to study the ways in which governance institutions, political ideologies, and competing interests (both within and outside of the education community) influence the content, form, and functioning of schooling. Schools represent a powerful instrument for shaping the development of future generations of citizens and workers as well as an important source of jobs and investment in many communities. How do societies handle conflicting visions of what schools should and should not be doing, and what are the specific changes in political and governance processes that might facilitate better decision-making and policy implementation? Students will study in depth the ways power and politics affect and are affected by such issues as reform and innovation, centralization and decentralization within federal systems of governance, privatization and school choice, race and ethnicity, poverty and inequality, professionalization and bureaucratization, and testing and accountability.

Faculty contributing to the program are drawn from throughout the College and possess research and teaching interests in urban, suburban, state, and federal levels of school governance, as well as in cross-national and other comparative settings. The balance of control and cooperation, coalition building and competition, resistance and bargaining in each of these settings, as well as the central roles of power and agency in the political science discipline, inform the perspectives of faculty and students in this program. 

In addition to courses listed within the Politics and Education program, the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis, Teachers College and the Departments of Political Science and School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University are all resources available to students as they develop their programs of study.  Ph.D. students are expected to master the discipline of political science in addition to the specialty of politics in education. Depending on their interests, students with a master’s degree in Politics and Education conduct research in think-tanks and education policy shops; teach politics, history, or civics in secondary school; or hold public office or other leadership positions in educational settings as diverse as private and public schools, corporations, citizen groups, and foundations. Doctoral graduates in Politics and Education teach in colleges and universities, conduct research in think-tanks and research centers, and advise public officials. Although students from all of the degree programs in politics and education are prepared to assume positions in educational institutions, the program does not offer teacher certification. Certification programs are available in other departments at Teachers College.   For profiles of some recent alumni please visit our website at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/epsa/politics/

Degree Summary

Politics and Education (POLC)

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Education (Ed.M.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)--not accepting applications for AY 2018-2019
  • Doctor of Philosophy (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

Master of Arts (M.A., 33 points) and Master of Education (Ed.M., 60 points)

Students follow a core program of coursework and other learning experiences developed by the Politics faculty and individually adjusted in consultation with an assigned advisor. Up to 30 points of transfer credit are accepted towards an Ed.M. but only upon approval of an assigned faculty advisor after the student is admitted. Under College policy, no transfer credits are accepted for M.A. students. 

For further information on specific program requirements, consult the program website at www.tc.edu/epsa/politics.

Newly admitted students are asked to participate in a set of core political science and general foundation courses in education. Each student will also complete methodological requirements including but not limited to statistics, qualitative, and quantitative methods. After completing the core, each student is expected to focus his or her studies on a set of political debates in education or a particular political arena.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D., 75 points)

Students are asked to participate in a set of core political science and general foundation courses in education policy. These are selected with the approval of the faculty advisor in order to best meet each individal student interests and professional goals. Students may be required to take as many as 12 points of coursework at Columbia University in the Political Science Department.

Ph.D. students must demonstrate command of two research tools, selected from the following list: 1) a reading knowledge of a foreign language, 2) a reading knowledge of a second foreign language, 3) an approved two-course sequence in quantitative analysis,* 4) an approved two-course sequence in formal modeling or advanced multivariate statistics, 5) a comparable level of proficiency in a research tool approved by the college.

For further information on specific program requirements consult the program website at www.tc.edu/epsa/Politics.

* Satisfied by meeting 6-point statistics requirement.

Application Information

All applicants are required to submit GRE General Test scores. Doctoral applications must include three letters of reference, which focus on academic skills and potential. Doctoral applications received after the early deadline as advertised by the College will be considered for admission, but not scholarship aid, on a space-available basis. Master’s applications that are complete and that have been received by the Admissions Office by the early deadline will be considered for both admission and any available scholarship aid. All complete applications received by the final deadline for the master’s program will be considered for admission only.

Faculty List



Visiting Faculty


Full-Time Instructors


Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Economics
Professor of Higher Education and Education Policy
Adjunct Associate Professor of Education
Professor of Political Science and Education
Professor of Law and Education
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy
Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education
Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy
Professor of Law and Educational Practice
Professor of Sociology and Education
Distinguished Research Professor

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

Course List

EDPP 4040 American Politics and Education

Introduction to the basic analytical categories of political science as they apply to the politics of education, including the influence of federal, state, and local governments in school policy-making, decentralization, school finance, and desegregation.

EDPP 4042 Comparative Politics and Education

The politics of education in settings outside the U.S. topics, including the role of education in political development, political socialization, and student politics.

EDPP 5041 Politics of Centralization and Decentralization

Analyzes the political underpinnings and consequences of centralization versus decentralization at various levels of governance with special but not exclusive attention to educational decision-making.

EDPP 5042 Urban Politics and Education

Politics in the nation's largest cities with a particular focus on educational politics and policy.

EDPP 5045 Race, Ethnicity, and U.S. Educational Policy

Examination of the impact of race and ethnicity on the formation and implementation of policies such as desegregation, affirmative action, bilingual education, and choice.

EDPP 5640 Colloquium on the Politics of Education

Continuous participation required of doctoral students until their dissertation proposals are accepted. A critical review of important works in politics and education, discussions with invited guests, presentations of work in progress.

EDPP 5642 Colloquium in Political Economy and Education

Political and economic perspectives on contemporary problems of public policy and education.

EDPP 6540 Seminar in Politics of Education

Permission required. Selected topics in the politics of education.

EDPP 6900 Research and Independent Study in Politics and Education

Permission required.

EDPP 6940 Studies in Politics and Education

Permission required. Independent study.

EDPP 7503 Dissertation seminar

Permission required. Development of doctoral dissertation proposals.

EDPP 8900 Dissertation Advisement in Politics and Education

Individual advisement on doctoral dissertations. Fee to equal 3 points at current tuition rate for each term. For requirements, see section in catalog on Continuous Registration for Ed.D./Ph.D. degrees.