PhD in Public Policy

Overview

People sitting and listening The University of Southern Maine (USM) PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy program provides education professionals with advanced experience in the policy and research skills to influence education policy.

Our unique doctoral program combines the expertise and resources of the University’s School of Education and Human Development and the Muskie School of Public Service. By situating the study of educational leadership and policy in the broader context of public policy, our program offers diverse political, economic, and ethical perspectives.

Students cultivate educational leadership strategies while practicing the research and analytical tools to drive education policy at the local and state levels. 

Program Benefits

  • Career advancement: Our students come from leadership positions in K-12, higher education, and non-profit organizations. Our interdisciplinary curriculum prepares professionals to elevate their careers, which can include direct involvement in education policy, faculty or student affairs positions in higher education, or leadership positions in educational nonprofits.
  • Expert faculty: Our faculty of researchers and scholars are leaders in their fields of public policy, education policy, and educational leadership. 
  • Broad academic experience: By bridging the expertise and resources of the School of Education and Human Development and the Muskie School of Public Service, our program offers advanced instruction in two complementary disciplines.
  • Community of leaders: Through our cohort-based program, students progress through courses and the dissertation process along with fellow doctoral candidates. Our supportive faculty build strong relationships with students and encourage collaboration among students in the cohort. Additionally, we connect students with our alumni and state policymakers.
  • Schedule helps accommodate working professionals: Courses are held on weekday evenings and on weekends on our Portland campus.

Program Delivery

  • Course format: Face-to-face on our Portland campus.
  • Completion timeframe: Three years of full-time study. 
    • This includes 2 courses each semester in the fall and spring semesters, as well as 2 courses during the summer session.
  • Course schedule: 
    • Courses are held one weekday evening each week and on select Saturdays.
  • Learn more: See our Course Sequence for details.

Faculty

Our doctoral program features a balance of courses in educational leadership and policy taught by faculty in the School of Education and Human Development along with courses in public policy taught by faculty in the Muskie School of Public Service.  

Along with providing expertise in their respective disciplines, our faculty are deeply invested in the success of our students. Faculty serve on dissertation committees, providing guidance throughout the dissertation proposal, research, and writing process.

Faculty research interests include areas such as testing and assessment, civic engagement, standards-based education, and qualitative research methods, among others.

Meet our faculty.

Program Philosophy

To prepare students to understand and analyze problems from diverse political, economic, and ethical perspectives; identify and implement innovative policy solutions and strategies; and lead, facilitate, and enhance civic discourse, public-private cooperation, and organizational and community development. 

College of Management and Human Service

The PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy bridges the expertise and resources of the School of Education and Human Development and the Muskie School of Public Service, which are housed within the College of Management and Human Service.