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POME - PhD in Policy and Organizations Research

Faculty and students in this program address the complex problem of how to achieve deep understanding, high performance, and equity in American education. While the United States has many excellent schools and universities, too many of them are failing their students. We are working toward solutions that result in school improvement and reform at the site, district, state, and national levels.

Focus of Study

We apply the disciplines of sociology, history, and economics to examine educational policy and institutions. In addressing questions of quality and equity, we investigate the enduring problems of schooling and assess the contributions made by policy and school reform initiatives.

The Policy and Organizations Research program prepares students to:

understand how history, social structure, organizations, and cultures shape actions in schools and school systems;

examine the goals and values that guide educational research, teaching, school improvement, and policy;

engage in studies and initiatives to improve educational policies and practices; and

apply qualitative and quantitative research methods to gather and analyze evidence appropriate to the multiple levels and complex realities of schooling.

We study educational organizations and the economic, historical, and political forces that have shaped the aims and practices of educators.

Program Structure

Policy students choose from courses in three thematic areas: Policy & Politics, School Improvement, and Equity.

This framework gives students a broad understanding of education and the ability to conduct original research. Students also become familiar with standards of evidence and methodological tools to investigate policy processes and assess which policies and practices are truly effective.

Entrance Requirements

We seek students who dedicate themselves to the theoretical breadth and depth required to investigate and assess which policies and practices are truly effective. A solid academic background in sociology, anthropology, organizational theory, school change, or education policy/politics/economics is an asset for applicants.

NOTE: Students who enter our PhD program without a master’s degree in an education-related field will need to fulfill the MA requirements along the way to the doctorate.

Type of Program (MA/PhD)

This course of study leads to a doctoral degree in Education with an emphasis in Policy and Organizations Research.


The PhD prepares graduates to conduct theoretically grounded, rigorous empirical research at many different levels of the educational system. Graduates go on to careers in education research and policy analysis with colleges and universities, research and consulting organizations, and government agencies.