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Program Overview

The College of Education at Michigan State University is recognized nationally and internationally for the work of its faculty and students in the area of educational policy. In keeping with the University's land-grant mission, educational policy work in the College includes research on urgent policy issues, the training of policy professionals, and outreach to policy makers and policy communities in Michigan and beyond. The doctoral program in educational policy prepares students to assume a variety of professional roles in educational policy analysis and policy development in local, state, national, and international organizations, as well as faculty positions in higher education.

Faculty and students in the College of Education are currently involved in a number of funded research projects on educational policy issues. Several of these projects focus on the labor market for teachers, and on policies aimed at increasing the supply and improving the performance of teachers. For example, MSU is the coordinator of the new International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) study that will examine the preparation, recruitment, and induction of teachers in more than 30 countries around the world. Other current projects are investigating a variety of policy initiatives aimed at improving teacher quality in Michigan and in the United States. These include a study on policies aimed at retaining new teachers in the profession and another on the teaching force in charter schools. In addition to these projects, the Education Policy Center at MSU is engaged in a continuing program of policy research that seeks to contribute to current policy debates in Michigan and at the national level. Recent work in the Policy Center has focused on two broad sets of issues: educational governance and finance, and curriculum content and opportunities to learn. The College of Education is also home to Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics & Science Education (PROM/SE), and the Teachers for a New Era project (TNE), which will focus on assessment policy and practice in the context of strengthening the preparation of teachers. Graduate students in educational policy work closely with faculty on these projects.

Michigan State University is located in East Lansing, close to the Capitol and the other institutions of state government. Proximity to Lansing facilitates access to key members of the educational policy community, in the Legislature and the Executive Branch, and enables students to keep track of current educational policy issues and debates. Being close to the Capitol, MSU's students in educational policy also enjoy a wide variety of opportunities for internships and field experience in policy-related work, both in and outside state government.

In keeping with its commitment to policy outreach, the College of Education has sponsored a regular series of policy forums on educational issues for Michigan legislators. In addition, in cooperation with the University President's Office, the College has organized an annual conference focused on a particular policy issue. Also, faculty and students in the College work closely with Michigan schools and school districts in a variety of policy areas including technology policy. And within the College there are regular seminars and workshops on educational policy issues, in which faculty and graduate students from the College present their current research.

A unique strength of Michigan State's College of Education is our strong commitment to international work, which is reflected in the educational policy concentration. Faculty from the College are currently involved in policy-related research in countries around the world, including China, Mexico, Tanzania, South Africa, and Thailand, and students from these and other countries are enrolled in each of the departments of the College. Students in educational policy have completed internships in a variety of national and international organizations, including the World Bank.

The doctoral program in Educational Policy draws on the expertise of faculty from across the College of Education: Educational Administration, Teacher Education, and Counseling, Educational Psychology, Special Education. It has been developed in cooperation with faculty from other Colleges at Michigan State, including Social Science, Business, and the MSU College of Law, and students may take coursework in these Colleges as well.

Policy students may design an individual program of study that suits their specific scholarly and professional interests. Possible concentrations within the policy major include:

  • Economics and finance of education
  • Educational politics, urban education, and policy analysis
  • Social analysis of educational policy and educational reform
  • Policy for teaching and teacher education
  • Assessment, evaluation, and quantitative analysis
  • Comparative and international perspectives on educational policy