Educational Policy and Planning

Doctoral Program

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

The Educational Policy and Planning (EPP) program prepares the next generation of scholars, researchers, and analysts who will significantly and positively change public education. The EPP doctoral program (Ph.D.) prepares future faculty members, policy analysts, and researchers to be anti-racist education policy scholars and analysts, with a critical focus on issues of equity.

Students will gain a theoretical foundation in educational policy development, implementation, and analysis, as well as the legal, sociocultural, and sociopolitical foundations of educational policy. Upon completion, graduates will be prepared for careers in research and teaching at universities, research- and community-based organizations, and government agencies.

Our graduates will: 

  • Understand the complexity of the educational system, including the historical, cultural, economic, political, and social conditions that may affect student learning. 
  • Research the effectiveness of policy proposals and better understand the implementation of existing policies, particularly as they affect outcomes for traditionally marginalized students. 
  • Advocate for the implementation of different approaches to enhance student learning for all children from marginalized groups. 
  • Critically consume, synthesize, and produce cutting-edge knowledge in the field of educational policy. 
  • Approach policy research from a multidisciplinary perspective. 
  • Learn the most sophisticated policy research techniques and methodologies. 

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall

Deadline to Apply: December 1

Location: On Campus

GRE Required? No

Schedule: Full time or part time permitted per discussion with program head

Length of Program: 48 months, 57 hours

Cohort model 
Full-time study 
Rigorous training in quantitative and qualitative methods 

Leadership acumen for the transformation of lives in education and in society 
Critical understanding of the racial and other structural inequities in schools and the policies and practices to address them
Rigorous scholarship 
Interdisciplinary thinking 
Expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodologies 
Fluency in working with large and small data sets 
Deep understanding of law, policy, education, and research 

Total minimum hours: 66 including dissertation

  • ELP 390E Educational Economics & Finance Policy
  • ELP 390S Social & Cultural Contexts of Education
  • ELP 390P Educational Politics & Policy 
  • ELP 390R Organizational Design & Behavior

Policy Requirement

  • ELP 394E Policy Research Problems  (Capstone)
  • ELP 390C Introduction to P-20 Research and Careers (Pro Seminar)
  • ELP 384C Policy Analysis 

Policy Electives (Choose 2 from the following)

  • ELP 384F Foundations of Educational Policy
  • ELP 384M Policy Implementation
  • ELP 384V Poverty and Educational Policy

Advanced Policy Seminars (Select 2)

  • ELP 394K.1Seminar in Latinx Education  
  • ELP 394K.2 Market Based Reforms in Education
  • ELP 394K.3 Place, Opportunity, and Education 
  • ELP 394K.4  Schools and Gentrification
  • ELP 394K.5 Law, Leadership and Discipline Policy   
  • ELP 394K.6 Language Policy in Education
  • ELP 394K.7 Immigration Theory in Education 
  • ELP 394K Accountability & School Reform
  • ELP 394K Race and Ethnic Relations in Schools
  • ELP 394K Contemporary Education Policy Issues
  • ELP 391E Epistemologies of Educational Research  
  • ELP 391P Quantitative Research Design & Analysis
  • ELP 391Q Qualitative Research Design
  • ELP 392Q Advanced Qualitative Research 
    ELP 392P Advanced Quantitative Research & Analysis 
    _____ Advanced Course in Research Methodology (out of the department, as approved by your faculty advisor)  

Ph.D. students are required to take courses from other colleges within the university. This may be accomplished within a single discipline or in a multidisciplinary form. Program advisor must approve in advance the multidisciplinary option.

  • ELP 399R
  • ELP 399W

All graduate students are required to apply to the state application system ApplyTexas. We strongly encourage you to start this process well in advance of the deadline to allow us time to process your information. Visit our “How to Apply” page for departmental requirements and processes.

The GRE is no longer required for those applying for admission to the EPP Ph.D. program. If applicants choose to submit GRE scores, they will not be reviewed or considered by the admissions committee.

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose should describe:

  • why you are interested in a doctoral degree in the Educational Policy and Planning Program (EPP) at UT Austin; what is it about our program, specifically, that interests you?
  • your research interests; what compels you to pursue a doctorate? What kinds of research are interested in conducting? Which faculty members would you like to work with? What are your burning questions?
  • any key life experiences that have shaped to your decision to pursue a doctorate in EPP;
  • any personal experiences, achievements, or accomplishments that would help you contribute to the program and the University’s mission for diversity and inclusiveness, and
  • your career aspirations once you complete your degree. 

Writing Sample

Submit a writing sample (e.g., course paper, master’s thesis, published article, paper prepared for a professional conference, etc.) to the “Miscellaneous Admissions Document” section in MyStatus. There is no page requirement, but we typically receive writing samples between five and 30 pages. After you submit your materials, you will receive an acknowledgment email from the Graduate School which will also contain your UT EID.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae

You will be asked to submit a recent resume or curriculum vitae (CV). We recommend that you use this template so that admissions committee members can be sure to see all relevant information.

Photo of faculty member Christopher P Brown

Researches how early childhood stakeholders respond to and conceptualize policies affecting the the complex educational, cultural, and individual goals and aspirations of teachers, children, and their families.

Photo of faculty member Norma V Cantu
Ken McIntyre Professor for Excellence in School Leadership

Teaches topics in civil rights and the intersection of law and policy in education; served as assistant secretary of education for Civil Rights during the Clinton administration.

Photo of faculty member Joshua  Childs
Assistant Professor

Examines collaborative approaches involving community organizations and stakeholders that improve academic achievement and reduce opportunity gaps for students. Also studies chronic absenteeism, the role of high school athletics in school settings, a...

Photo of faculty member David E DeMatthews
Associate Professor

Focuses on urban school and district leadership, inclusive practices for students with disabilities, and school improvement with an emphasis on addressing inequities in classrooms, schools, and communities.

Photo of faculty member Stella M Flores
Associate Professor

Examines the effects of state and federal policies on college access and completion outcomes for low-income and underrepresented populations including immigrant and English Learner students.

Photo of faculty member Barbara H Gideon
Assistant Professor of Practice

Develops school leaders with the knowledge, skill, and disposition to foster collaborative instructional systems to produce high levels of adult engagement in their unique school environments to assure every student learns well and thrives, with a fo...

Photo of faculty member Terrance L Green
Associate Professor

Examines principals and school-community engagement/community development and issues of educational equity and opportunity.

Photo of faculty member Jennifer J Holme

Focuses on the politics and implementation of educational policy with an emphasis on school reform, equity and diversity in schools.

Photo of faculty member Sofia R Malik
Assistant Professor of Practice

Photo of faculty member Charles  Martinez
Dean, College of Education

Focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families from vulnerable and underserved populations.

Photo of faculty member Pedro  Reyes
Department Chair, Educational Leadership and Policy, Education - Office of the Dean

I study student success for children experiencing poverty. I analyze how school leadership and state policy facilitate student success across the education pipeline.

Photo of faculty member Angela  Valenzuela

Specializes in urban education from a sociological and multicultural perspective, with a focus on minority youth in schools, particularly at the K-12 level.

Photo of faculty member Sarah L Woulfin
Associate Professor

Uses lenses from organizational sociology to study how district leaders, principals, coaches, and teachers implement policy

Photo of Sarah Woulfin

Ph.D. Program Co-coordinator
Sarah Woulfin

Ph.D. and M.Ed. Program Co-coordinator
Sofia Malik

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