PhD in Public Policy
PhD in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy
The Ph.D. in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy is a partnership between the Policy, Planning and Management Program within the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service and the Educational Leadership Program within the School of Education and Human Development under the College of Management and Human Service. It is a post-master's 45 credit hour cohort program designed for experienced educational leaders who are employed throughout the duration of the program. The program integrates courses in public policy, educational policy and leadership, and dissertation research. Through the program, educational leaders develop the policy and research skills to influence educational policy and practice.
Core public policy courses in the Ph.D. are complemented with training in education leadership and policy provided by the USM School of Education and Human Development (SEHD). The concentration in educational leadership and policy encompasses a range of educational policy and leadership topics and issues. In addition, the program benefits from SEHD’s Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation (CEPARE), which is also the home of the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI). Students have the opportunity to participate in the Center’s research and use that policy research as cases for learning.
Ph.D. in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy
Policy courses (12 credits):
- PPM 708 Economics for Policy, Planning and Management
- PPM 715 Government, Democracy and Public Policy Making
- PPM 716 Organizational Leadership
- PPM 742 Introduction to Policy Analysis
Educational Leadership and Research Courses (24 credits)
- EDU 701 Foundations of Education Policy and Research (6 credits, 3 each semester)
- EDU 702 Contemporary Issues in Educational Leadership and Implications for Policy
- EDU 705 Data Collection and Analysis in Education Research (6 credits, 3 each semester)
- EDU 706 Evidence-based Practice and Programs (6 credits, 3 credits each semester)
- EDU 708 Dissertation Proposal Seminar (3 credits)
Dissertation (9 credits)
- EDU 799 Dissertation in Education (9 credits)
PPM 708 Economics for Policy, Planning and Management
This course introduces students to the basic concepts and analytical tools of microeconomics and demonstrates how these concepts are used in analyzing public policy problems and designing appropriate responses. The course assumes little or no familiarity with economics; students who have taken undergraduate courses in microeconomics will generally find the public policy focus of the course useful. Cr 3.
PPM 715 Governance, Democracy, and Public Policymaking
This course examines the relationship between the political process, public policymaking, and decision making. Topics include public policy formulation, adoption, implementation, and evaluation; the role of policy actors and stakeholders; effective policy communication; and the examination of contemporary public policy issues. Cr 3.
PPM 716 Organizational Leadership
This foundational course considers contemporary perspectives, issues and strategies regarding the management of public sector organizations, the importance of public service and provides a basic understanding of public management theory and the application of theory to governmental and other public and nonprofit sector institutions. Topics covered include a wide range of public management concerns including community governance and public participation, managing collective action, partnership and collaboration, strategy and innovation, nonprofit service delivery, leadership and trust. The course prepares students to become public and nonprofit managers and leaders of public and not-for-profit institutions who can enhance the capability of these institutions. The course presents a realistic view of effective management and leadership in government and nonprofit organizations and the ways in which these organizations work and interact, and focuses on the creation of social and public value, keeping in mind that economic and private value creation is often a part of public and non-profit management. Cr 3
PPM 742 Introduction to Policy Analysis
The first part of the course covers the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that guide policy analysis, including neoclassical microeconomics and its extensions and political economic theories of distributive justice, public choice, and government failure. The second part of the course covers the steps of policy analysis process (problem identification and definition, specification of policy solutions, and the evaluation and comparison of the solutions) and the various data collection and analytic techniques used at each step. Real-life examples and case studies are used throughout to provide concrete illustrations of the components of policy analysis. The course will enable students to critically evaluate policies, policy analyses, and the policy analysis process itself. Cr 3.
EDU 701 Foundations of Education Policy and Research
This six hour, two-semester course follows PPM 707. It focuses on selected educational reform policies from historical, social, and political perspectives and the research designs that are appropriate for studying them empirically. Students will engage in careful readings and critical analyses of primary, empirical, and peer-reviewed studies of educational reform policy formation and implementation, and they will examine appropriate designs for doctoral research along these lines. The reform policies that will be considered will reflect recurring issues and the dilemmas they pose for educational leaders. These include, but are not limited to: multiple and conflicting educational aims and purposes, upgrading the teaching profession (preparation, recruitment, retention, development), evaluating student achievement and teaching effectiveness, reducing inequalities in student opportunities and outcomes, and the interplay between corporate and non-corporate models of schooling. The following research designs will be emphasized: qualitative and mixed methods case studies, interview studies, content analyses, survey research, correlation studies, experimental studies, and ex-post /causal comparative studies. As part of the course, students will be introduced to doctoral faculty and their areas of research. Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Ph.D. program and successful completion of PPM 707. Cr 6 (three each semester).
EDU 702: Contemporary Issues in Education Policy and Leadership
This course builds on EDU 701 and examines the role of the local, state, and federal government in creating educational policy to address contemporary education-related issues, and the impacts and challenges they pose for leadership in the context of federal, state, and local environments. As a group and individually, students will engage in careful readings and critical analyses of position papers, primary, empirical, and peer-reviewed studies that deal with current issues in educational policy drawn from various topics and from diverse political paradigms. Prerequisites: Successful completion of EDU 701. Cr 3.
EDU 705 Data Collection and Analysis in Education Research
This six hour, two-semester course follows EDU 701. This course focuses on mixed methods for conducting research in education policy and leadership. The course’s emphasis is on the quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis that are appropriate for studying issues in the fields of education policy and leadership. Students will develop research questions and appropriate data collection and analysis methods for studying these questions. The following research designs will be emphasized: qualitative and mixed methods case studies, interview studies, survey research, correlation studies, experimental studies, and ex-post /causal comparative studies. Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Ph.D. program and successful completion of EDU 701. Cr 6 (three each semester).
EDU 706 Evidence Based Analysis: Policy, Programs, and Accountability Systems
This course focuses on conducting evidence-based reviews and analyses of the design, implementation, and impacts of current international, national, and state education policy, policy initiatives, and education reforms. Using the frameworks articulated by researchers and policy analysts such as Canon, Rushcamp & Freeman (1990), Spillane (1996), Hill (2001), students will analyze approaches countries, states, and school districts take in implementing education policy. Phase I of the course will focus on an analysis of educational reform efforts in American states as well as comparisons of US national efforts with those of other countries. Review of international assessment systems and educational commentary will be examined in light of reform efforts. Phase II of the course will focus on using evidence from Phase I to construct accountability systems for monitoring and assessing the impacts of reform efforts both nationally and in Maine. Students will examine state and local policy implementation, develop accountability systems, and present their reports to state policy makers. Prerequisites: Successful completion of EDU 701. Cr 6, three each semester.
EDU 708 Dissertation Proposal Seminar
This course is designed to lead students through the process of completing a dissertation proposal. At the end of the course, students will have completed a dissertation proposal that includes: a problem statement, complete research review, a research question, hypotheses, if appropriate and a methodology section. The course will address each of the proposal components in a recursive fashion, developing, sharing, and refining of content. Students will be expected to work closely with their dissertation chair in finalizing the proposal. Successful completion and dissertation committee approval of the proposal are prerequisites for continuation toward the dissertation. Prerequisites: Successful completion of EDU 706 and EDU 707. Cr 3.
EDU 799 Dissertation in Education
This course is designed to lead students through the process of completing a dissertation. At the end of the course, students will have completed a dissertation that includes: a problem statement and research questions, a review of research, data collection and analysis, findings and implications. The course will address each of the components in a dissertation in a recursive fashion, developing, sharing, and refining of content. Students will be expected to work closely with their dissertation chair and other committee members in finalizing the dissertation. Students must register for a total of nine dissertation credits to graduate. Successful completion of the dissertation and oral presentation to the dissertation committee and their approval are prerequisites for completing the Ph.D. (9 credits required). Prerequisites: Successful completion of EDU 708. Variable credit of 1-6 for a total of 9 credits.
NOTE: The program reserves the right to change the sequence of courses and although the program is designed to be face-to-face, some courses may be blended or have online requirements for course completion.
Year 1: Fall
- PPM 715 Government, Democracy and Public Policy Making
- EDU 701 Foundations of Education Policy and Research-part 1
Year 1: Spring
- PPM 708 Doctoral Economics and Public Policy
- EDU 701 Foundations of Education Policy and Research-part 2
Year 1: Summer
- EDU 702 Contemporary Issues in Ed. Leadership and Implications for Policy
- EDU 705 Data Collection and Analysis in Education Research—part 1 (quantitative)
Year 2: Fall
- PPM 704 Seminar in Public Organization and Management
- EDU 705 Data Collection and Analysis in Education Research—part 2 (qualitative)
Year 2: Spring
- PPM 709 Doctoral Applied Policy Analysis
- EDU 708 Dissertation Proposal Seminar
Year 2: Summer
- EDU 706 Evidence-based Practice and Programs-part 1
- EDU 799 Dissertation in Education
Year 3: Fall
- EDU 799 Dissertation in Education
- EDU 706 Evidence-based Practice and Programs -part 2
Year 3: Spring
- EDU 799 Dissertation in Education (3-6 credits)
The Ph.D. in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy admits students on a two-year cohort cycle.
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.
April 1, 2024 for matriculation in the Fall 2024 semester.
Cohorts are admitted every three years. The next cohort will begin Fall 2021. The application and all supporting materials must meet the April 1st deadline.
Applicants are required to provide the following materials:
- Application: Online Application
- Application fee: Waived for all applicants
- 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.
- International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required
- Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
- Essays: see below.
- 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. One of these individuals should be your supervisor. Your supervisor and the other person writing a letter of reference on your behalf should comment on your qualities and experience as an educational leader and/or your ability to undertake doctoral-level graduate study
- TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.
Where to send transcripts and application materials
Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:
Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412
Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to email@example.com.
For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation.
Special Essay Question
In addition to the general requirements of the program, candidates for the Ph.D. in Public Policy with a Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy should address the following questions. Both essay questions are required.
The essay questions are as follows:
- 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)
If you submit your essays separate from your online application, please be sure that your name is clearly stated on the document.
In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:
- College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
- Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation
- International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.
English Proficiency Test Scores
Official English proficiency examination scores are required from international applicants and/or applicants whose primary language is not English, unless the applicant has received a degree from an English-speaking institution. The University of Southern Maine accepts the following score reports sent directly from the testing agency. TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for a graduate program