PhD in Educational Policy & Leadership

The PhD in Educational Policy & Leadership prepares students to be scholars or scholar-leaders, who are globally connected and locally engaged.

Students can pursue tracks in education policy, global comparative education policy, higher education and school leadership (Pre-K-12).

Overview of the Program

The PhD in Educational Policy & Leadership, a 69-credit graduate program, prepares aspiring, early-career, and mid-career individuals with the knowledge and skills to take on leadership and policy analyst roles in schools, colleges and universities as well as governmental, non-governmental, and non-profit organizations that shape the policy contexts in which education operates. Students are exposed to a comprehensive curriculum that prepares them through an academic experience guided by a global vision of education, rigorous inquiry, and transformative practice.

The program provides students with a solid foundation in the theory and practice of educational policy research, policy analysis and critical analytical decision-making and leadership skills. Students gain an appreciation for the complementarity between theory, evidence and practice in our field, and how the most promising efforts to improve the quality of education in all corners of the world benefit from the close integration of theoretical understandings and empirical evidence, with practical applications.

Located in New York’s capital and the strategic Northeast corridor of the United States, collaborations are plentiful with a broad spectrum of schools and communities, institutions of higher education and policy makers. Students in our programs also have access to the vast network of relationships with universities, educational systems, NGOs and government and intergovernmental agencies from around the world with which our faculty are engaged.

Students who enter the PhD degree will be exposed to an engaged intellectual community, interdisciplinary perspectives on educational leadership and policy that capture the complexities of the sector, and a faculty comprised of leading scholars and seasoned professionals that provide a unique learning experience that prepares you to be a leader of tomorrow in New York, across the United States or around the world. More about the global engagements of the department can be found here.

Students can pursue their degree program either part-time or full-time through a combination of face-to-face and online courses. Many courses are offered in a hybrid format that uses combination of face-to-face and web-enabled learning that allows students to develop personal connections with classmates and pursue their education in a more flexible format.

For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Gina Giuliano, the Departmental Advisor at General inquiries about the department can be directed to Ms. Maria Moon, Department Coordinator, at

Applying for the Program
Formal application to the program can be made here:

Applications for the PhD in Educational Policy & Leadership are considered on a rolling basis and students may start in the summer, fall, or spring term. All applications are reviewed by the departmental admissions committee and students are notified by the University of all official decisions. The Chair of the EPL Admissions Committee is Dr. Gilbert Valverde and he can be contacted at

Requirements for admission to the program include the following.
• Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

• Official transcripts from all schools attended.

• Graduate Record Examination (GRE): all students are required to take the GRE.

• Resume or CV detailing professional and educational experience, as well as other relevant activities such as student leadership positions, community service, and/or presentations.

• Statement of Goals: Provide a 1-2 page statement of professional goals, including a brief description of your field of interest, related background, desired area of study, and research emphasis or career goals.

• Three letters of reference from faculty, supervisors, and or/colleagues. It is encouraged that letters come from those that can speak to your ability to be successful in graduate school and it pursuing a career in educational policy and/or leadership. Wherever possible, at least two of the letters of recommendation should be from faculty members, at least one of those from a full-time faculty member.

Writing Sample: Wherever possible, applicants should submit an English-language sample of their academic work (e.g., course term paper).

Educational Leadership Essay: Please submit an educational leadership essay responding to the following question. The response should not exceed 800 words.
Identify a current state, national, or international problem, dilemma, or controversial situation affecting educational leaders in either the K-12 or higher education fields. Describe the nature of the issue, effective strategies for addressing the issue, and the role of an effective leader in implementing those strategies.

Additional information about application process and requirements can be found here:

• Transfer credits: Students may be eligible to transfer up to 34 credits in from graduate programs earned at other institutions.

Concurrent Enrollment
Students currently enrolled in PhD in Educational Policy & Leadership can apply to complete the Certificate of Graduate Study in International Education Management at the same time as their other degree. All courses can apply toward the PhD degree (with consent of Advisor). Application for the certificate can be done through the MyUAlbany portal.

Program Requirements
Detailed information about the PhD degree program and requirements can be found in the Student Guide to the PhD Program.

Students in can pursue one of four concentrations, which focus on different levels or aspects of education. While all students take the same core courses, the concentrations allow students to explore in more depth issues related to specific aspects of educational leadership or policy. In consultation with their advisor, students should select a concentration that reflects their career goals and interests.

-Educational Policy Analysis
The concentration "Educational Policy Analysis" is designed to prepare students for leadership and administrative positions in state, national and international organizations. This concentration focuses on approaches to educational policy formation and implementation that originate in the social sciences and philosophy. Graduates in this program work in wide range of policy venues, including state agencies, legislative offices, the executive chamber, non-profit organizations, and foundations. This concentration also prepares students to be faculty members in the area of educational policy.

-Global Comparative Education Policy
The Global Comparative Education Policy concentration prepares students to focus on global education policy from pre-primary to graduate education and beyond. The emphasis is on comparative and international education as applied to the study of educational and related policies at all stages: from agenda-setting to implementation, including adoption, monitoring and evaluation. Graduates will be prepared to become educational leaders, academics or analysts in governments, universities and schools, international banks, development assistance agencies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks and private sector companies. EPL alumni work for foreign ministries of education as well as non-governmental organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNESCO and others

-Higher Education
The "Higher Education" concentration prepares students to be leaders in scholarly, administrative, and policy careers. Our students and alumni work in a broad range of institutional types, including public and private, two-year and four-year, research engaged and teaching intensive, as well as both domestic and international. They pursue careers in academic affairs, student success, institutional advancement, enrollment managements, institutional research and others. In addition, this concentration is appropriate for students who are interested in staff or administration positions in adult and continuing education programs in other educational, business, industrial, and labor organizations.

-School Leadership
The "School Leadership" concentration prepares students for leadership positions in all levels and types of schools and school districts as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations that deal with this level education, within NY, across the U.S. and around the globe. In also provides a solid foundation for those students interested in pursuing doctoral study in school leadership at the University at Albany or other leading universities. NOTE: this degree does not lead to educational leadership certification in NYS.