Public Policy — Educational Leadership and Policy Concentration

Program Type
Doctoral Program
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mode of Study
In Person

Tuition & fees

Costs include tuition & fees. See cost details

Credit hours

45 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship, fellowship & research opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Next admission: Fall 2024. Apply by March 1, 2024. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Earn your Public Policy PhD in as little as three years, with a focus on educational leadership, policy, and research.
  • Take advantage of a program schedule designed for working adults: Classes are held one weekday evening per week and several Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Elevate your career and apply scholarship to educational policy, leadership, and management positions in K-12 education, higher education, nonprofits, research organizations, government, and consulting firms.
  • Learn from experienced faculty who are deeply engaged in research projects that inform educational leadership and policy.
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Program requirements

Our program provides a rigorous post-masters education for experienced working leaders interested in influencing educational policy and practice. The curriculum integrates courses in public policy, educational policy and leadership, and research design and culminates in original dissertation research.

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Deeply invested in student success

Our faculty are experienced educational leaders and researchers dedicated to the success of our students. Faculty conduct applied research and are involved with public policy at the state level. Their research interests include diverse approaches to leadership, teaching and assessing linguistically and culturally diverse students, rural education, and school change.

Put theory into practice

Through the dissertation process, you’ll equip yourself to discover, integrate, and apply knowledge as a transformational leader. Our graduate students gain experience in a broad range of research designs and use them as powerful tools to advance education policy.

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Award-winning alumni

Upon obtaining their doctorates, our alumni have advanced their careers in K-12 teaching and leadership positions, education-based nonprofits and in higher education as faculty, researchers, or student affairs professionals. As leaders in their fields, alumni have also gone on to win local awards and accolades.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Do you live in New England?

You may be eligible for a reduced tuition rate, as part of the NEBHE Tuition Break Program.

Check eligibility
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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Our interdisciplinary curriculum prepares you to elevate your career in K-12, higher education, and nonprofits. You’ll cultivate leadership strategies while building research and analytical tools to drive education policy at local and state levels.

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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Meet us

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Admission information: PhD in Public Policy — Educational Leadership and Policy Concentration

Application deadlines

We accept applications on a rolling basis and review them continuously.

Application deadlineFall term, 2024
FinalMarch 1, 2024
Cohorts are admitted every three years.

Candidates should have a master’s degree in public policy, education, or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.25. Applicants who do not have a 3.25 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete doctoral studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Address the following two questions. Both essay questions are required.
    • Describe your professional background and goals. How does the Ph.D. in Public Policy: Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy fit with these and what makes you a good candidate for this program? (500 words)
    • Identify an education policy and describe it. What research evidence is there related to the policy’s impact, and how might you design further research to investigate the policy’s impact? (750 words)
  • Letters of Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s knowledge of current scholarship, capacity to connect theory and practice in posing and solving educational problems, the achievement of excellence in educational practice, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in doctoral study. References should be from individuals who are qualified, through direct experience with your academic or professional work. Letters of reference on your behalf should comment on your qualities and experience as an educational leader and your ability to undertake doctoral-level graduate study.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address