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Education Policy: Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

With an emphasis on student-faculty mentoring and applied learning, our Education Policy Ph.D. program prepares graduates to directly impact educational policy through careers in academia or research organizations.

At a Glance

Program Results

Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Education Policy

Career Objective

Graduates are prepared to take positions in academia as postdoctoral fellows or university faculty, or as education researchers in research organizations.

Best Suited To

Our Education Policy program seeks students whose research interests are well-aligned with one or more of our faculty members. We strongly suggest applicants review faculty member's profiles, to learn more about faculty members’ areas of expertise and current research projects.

Program Type

  • Full Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

5 years

Application Deadline

December 1

About This Program

Policymakers at the federal, state and local levels are actively exploring strategies to improve educational outcomes for all students. Increasingly, these strategies include dramatic changes in the way schools are organized, in who teaches and how these teachers are prepared, and in how schools are held accountable for student outcomes. Unfortunately, there is little good evidence on which to base many of these important policy decisions. This has led to a growing need for careful, experimental and quasi-experimental and descriptive research to inform key education policy issues. Stay up to date with the Education Policy community by subscribing to our quarterly newsletter.

The UVA School of Education and Human Development program in Education Policy provides students with preparation that draws on a theoretical foundation and employs appropriate methods to offer evidence on important education policy questions. The program is organized on four conceptual components:

  1. Strong preparation in methods that permit causal inference
  2. A grounding in a social science discipline
  3. An understanding of the working of schools
  4. Working knowledge of the existing educational policy landscape and literature

While coursework is important to student preparation, a close mentoring relationship with faculty is crucial to the design of the program. Students work closely with faculty on research projects to examine the impact of a variety of educational policies on student outcomes. Graduates are prepared to take positions in academia or research organizations. Should prospective students wish to engage with our community, we hold regularly scheduled Internal Policy Labs throughout the academic year where students and faculty present their work to receive constructive feedback. Please email [email protected] if you wish to attend one of these sessions to get a feel for our work and our community. 

In addition to earning a Ph.D. in Education, many students pursue the MPP through UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Program Overview

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements that apply specifically to this program are listed below

Ensuring Fit: Our Ph.D. in Education Policy program seeks students whose research interests are well-aligned with one or more of our faculty members. We strongly suggest applicants review faculty member's profiles, to learn more about faculty members’ areas of expertise and current research projects. When submitting their application materials and personal statements, applicants are encouraged to specifically highlight why they believe the Education Policy program at UVA may be a good fit for them, and explicitly discuss faculty members with whom they would be interested in collaborating. Prospective students are welcome to reach out to individual faculty members via email to ask questions about the program, research interests, etc.

  • Applicants should demonstrate a background and interest in quantitative approaches to educational policy, as evidenced, for example, by appropriate social science undergraduate or master’s degrees or prior work experience. 
  • A master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission.
  • In addition to the Ph.D., the School of Education and Human Development offers a dual Ph.D. and Master's of Public Policy in conjunction with the Frank Batten School of Public Policy.  We strongly encourage applicants to apply to the dual degree program.
  • The faculty is especially interested in considering applications from persons of traditionally underrepresented groups in higher education.
  • Please submit a resume as part of the online application.
  • Please submit a statement of professional goals as part of the online application. Identify your specific interests in education policy, your rationale for applying to this program, and your long-term goals. 

Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full admission process.

Graduate Admission

Application for admission is made to the School of Education and Human Development Office of Admission & Enrollment. For more information about the graduate admission process, please visit our Graduate Admission page.


To learn more about specific courses taken as part of the completion of this degree, visit the Graduate Record website. These webpages represent the official repository for academic program requirements. 

  • A set of rigorous methods courses, including at least 5 courses
  • Courses in the following areas: (1) Foundations and Institutions in Education, (2) Social Science Tools and Approaches to Education, and (3) Educational Policy
  • An ongoing, personalized, intensive research apprenticeship during each semester.
  • Teaching experience at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • Completion of a comprehensive exam and dissertation requirements.

Education Policy Course Descriptions

Information on courses that are part of the Ph.D. in Education-Education Policy curriculum can be found on the UVA Graduate Record website.

Ph.D./M.P.P. Dual Degree Option

In addition to the Ph.D. in Education Policy, the School of Education and Human Development (EHD) offers a dual Ph.D. and Master's of Public Policy in conjunction with the Frank Batten School of Public Policy. We strongly encourage applicants to apply to the dual degree program.

The dual degree leads to the completion of a Ph.D. in Education Policy and M.P.P. degrees in five years. Both EHD and Batten seek high-quality students with a commitment to improving policy outcomes, and there is extensive overlap in the coursework in both programs. The goal of a dual Ph.D. in Education Policy/M.P.P. program is to leverage the comparative advantage of both schools toward these mutual interests.

At any point in the program, the student may terminate plans for a dual degree and continue toward a single degree at either school. The student must then satisfy the normal requirements of the school elected, which may include credit for some of the work done in the other school, as determined by the appropriate officials of the school in question.

Dual Degree Admission

A student who wishes to be admitted into the dual degree program must apply to each school separately and be admitted to both EHD and Batten through the normal admissions processes of each school. The fact that the student is a candidate for the dual program is not considered at the application stage. 

Students who have been admitted to both schools and who wish to undertake the dual program should notify the registrar of each school and apply to the faculty advisors for permission to do so. Admission requires the approval of both EHD and Batten faculty advisors.

Application to one school may be made either prior to entrance to or while a first-year student at the other. No students will be admitted to the dual program after completing the first year of either EHD or Batten.

Financial aid is available and will be coordinated by the two schools. Financial aid is not guaranteed and is subject to individual school and University availability and regulations.

Dual Degree Information

For more information about pursuing the Ph.D./M.P. dual degree option in Education Policy, reach out to our Office of Admission & Enrollment.

Additional Program Details

Departmental fellowships and assistantships are provided to a select number of applicants each year. A typical funding package includes funding for nine months in a combination of wages and stipends, tuition and all mandatory fees, and funds to cover student health insurance costs. The University also offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for which students enrolled in Ph.D. programs may apply.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards page for additional funding opportunities.

In 2023, the UVA School of Education & Human Development is ranked #12 in educational policy for graduate schools of education in the U.S. by the U.S. News and World Report.

Program Faculty

Allison Atteberry

Allison Atteberry

  • Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy
  • Director, EdPolicyWorks
Brendan Bartanen

Brendan Bartanen

  • Assistant Professor
Daphna Bassok

Daphna Bassok

  • Professor of Education and Public Policy
  • Associate Director, EdPolicyWorks
Benjamin L. Castleman

Benjamin L. Castleman

  • Newton and Rita Meyers Associate Professor in the Economics of Education
Luke C Miller

Luke C. Miller

  • Research Associate Professor
Beth Schueler

Beth Schueler

  • Assistant Professor
James H Wyckoff

James H. Wyckoff

  • Memorial Professor of Education

Current Ph.D. Students

Below are some current students in this program. Prospective students are encouraged to reach out to current students via email to inquire about the program experience.

Andrew Avitabile

Andrew Terence Avitabile

  • Ph.D. Student
Todd Hall headshot

Todd Hall

  • Ph.D. Student
Liz Nigro headshot

Liz Nigro

  • Ph.D. Student
Erica Sachs headshot

Erica Sachs

  • Ph.D. Student
Jaynae Wright

Jaynae Wright

  • Ph.D. Student

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