Doctoral Programs in Education Policy

Advancing Education Policy.
Advancing Your Career.

Are you interested in conducting research on education policy? Do you want to have a broad impact on education by influencing policy?
Whether you want to become a faculty member in educational policy, pursue  positions in research or policy agencies, or contribute new knowledge about educational or public policy, Warner’s flexible doctoral program in educational policy will help you achieve your goals. 

We invite you to check out our doctoral program, and see how you can benefit from the expertise and support of faculty involved in cutting-edge research and innovative education reform projects, while pursuing your specific interests.
We Can Customize Your Doctoral Program to Meet Your Career Goals and Interests!

Program Quickview

The PhD in education, with a specialization in education policy, can be easily customized to meet your specific career goals and interests. No matter what issues or area within education policy interest you, Warner will work with you to help you achieve your goals for your doctoral program.

If you are interested in other Warner doctoral programs, check our Related Programs.
  • A master’s degree in education policy, public policy, or a related field.
  • Relevant work experience is highly desirable.
Key Program Features:
  • Minimum Credits: 90 graduate credits, up to 30 of which can be transferred from a previous program.
  • Customizable: Program includes a mix of rigorous, core research and policy courses, and elective courses at Warner and elsewhere in the university to enable you to tailor the program to your career interests and needs. You also can take advantage of the opportunity to complete an advanced certificate in program evaluation or online teaching for few additional required credits.
  • Choice of Research Methods: Benefit from a vast array of research methods courses, and choose from a variety of research methods for your dissertation.
  • Exciting Research Opportunities: Warner faculty are always working on interesting projects that can provide opportunities for research apprenticeships and assistantships.
  • Flexible: Program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, starting in any semester; minimum one year full-time residency requirement.
  • Supportive Environment: Engage with full-time faculty and peers across the Warner School, both inside and outside of the classroom. Work closely with a dedicated faculty advisor to personalize your program to advance your academic and career goals.

Warner Doctoral Program in Education Policy

PhD in Education with Concentration in Educational Policy and Theory  (AT1): Prepares graduates for faculty positions in universities and other higher education settings, as well as research positions in government agencies or other educational organizations.
two students in technology classroom having a discussion
Opportunities for Additional Specializations (with additional credits required):
  • Advanced Certificate in Program Evaluation: To strengthen your research skills in planning and conducting evaluations of existing programs.
  • Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching: To be more competitive for positions that may involve teaching online.
Choosing Between a PhD and an EdD Program … What’s the Difference?
Warner PhD programs are primarily designed to prepare researchers and higher education faculty. Our EdD programs are more appropriate for experienced professionals interested in using research to solve problems of practice, enabling them to pursue leadership positions in educational institutions or to assist them in designing and implementing programs to improve practice in their field.

While the required coursework may be similar, these two degree programs have different expectations concerning dissertation study, expertise in research methods, and residency requirements.  Here’s what you can expect:
  • PhD students are expected to focus on only a few specific areas early on so as to become experts in those areas. EdD students, on the other hand, are expected to develop a broad understanding of their own as well as related fields.
  • While both PhD and EdD students take the same foundational research methods courses, PhD students are required to take additional, advanced research methods courses to develop expertise in using a rich array of traditional research methods.
  • PhD dissertations require independent research that will contribute new knowledge to their field, while EdD dissertations may involve a wider array of choices, including case studies of specific innovations; action research studies to improve specific programs or practices; research- and data-based analysis to inform important decisions; or rigorous evaluations of existing programs.
  • In addition to their dissertation, PhD students are required to engage in research apprenticeships with faculty.
  • EdD students can complete their program part time, while PhD students are required to complete at least one year of residency (i.e., be full time for two consecutive semesters, taking at least 12 credits of coursework each semester, or 9 credits if awarded an assistantship) and are encouraged to complete as much of their program as possible full time.
Contact admissions if you wish to speak with a faculty member to better understand which option will best meet your career goals.

Our Approach

Preparing You to be an Innovative Educational Leader and Researcher.

At Warner, we believe that the study of education policy can serve as a catalyst for change. Our program in educational policy prepares graduates to become effective leaders in influencing policy and practice across educational settings.

Our doctoral program in education policy offers an interdisciplinary course of study that builds on a core of policy courses, but also includes choices from a number of discipline-based courses (i.e., sociology, politics, economics, finance, and law) so that students learn and can apply a variety of conceptual, theoretical, and analytic frameworks to educational policy issues.

The program requires students to acquire a foundation in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and to demonstrate expertise in quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research.
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Learn More About Warner's Approach to Doctoral Programs
All doctoral programs offered at the Warner School are characterized by the following common principles and goals:
  • Integration of Research, Theory, and Practice: We believe that doctoral candidates should recognize the false dichotomy between theory and practice, as well as the complementary values of basic and applied research.  Our graduates will not only gain an excellent understanding of key theories in their field, but will also be able to identify and critically examine the theoretical framework informing research reported in the literature, as well as their own. EdD candidates also form a solid research and theory base that grounds their leadership in their field of practice.   
  • Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration: We encourage doctoral candidates to recognize the need and value of collaborating across fields and constituencies to address complex problems in education.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: We strengthen our doctoral candidates' commitment to equity and social justice and for conducting research that is inclusive of all individuals, communities, and cultures.
  • In-Depth Knowledge of Area of Specialization: Our doctoral candidates develop a broad and solid knowledge of relevant research in their area of specialization, while understanding how that field is connected to others.
  • Research Practices: Our doctoral candidates articulate and pursue worthwhile research questions, and are familiar with and able to use a variety of research methodologies relevant to their field of specialization.   
  • Academic Writing Practices: We prepare our doctoral candidates to effectively communicate research results in scholarly publications, consistent with academic writing expectations.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing Graduates to Innovate, Advocate, and Elevate.

Warner is helping to create world-class educational leaders and researchers who can advance education through policy.
  • Become an innovator and a thought leader in education policy by learning the advanced skills needed to effect change at the local, state, national, and/or international levels.
  • Develop strong research skills by taking advantage of a variety of research methods courses and opportunities for research apprenticeships and assistantships.
  • Broaden your skillset and increase your competitiveness in the job market by adding an advanced certificate for only a few additional credits.
  • Network with the best and the brightest peers at the master’s and doctoral levels.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of accomplished researchers and practitioners who will prepare you to think critically, promote inclusivity, and utilize your skills to examine and address ever-changing challenges in preschool, K-12, and/or higher education.
  • Small, personalized program allows both flexibility to pursue your interests and opportunities to create strong relationships with faculty.
  • Give your degree even more recognition by leveraging the reputation of a leading research university.
While rigorous, Warner can provide a customized, flexible, and affordable program.
  • Go at your own pace by choosing between full-time or part-time options. 
  • Use your electives and choices for core courses to specialize in your area of interest and/or add advanced certificates.
  • Take advantage of online courses to reduce trips to campus.
  • Reduce tuition costs by taking advantage of a wide range of competitive full and partial assistantship opportunities.
  • Are you a University of Rochester employee? Make sure you make full use of your tuition benefits.

All About Experience

Your experience at Warner will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

Brian Brent

A Regional Approach to Address Urban Education Inequality

Brian Brent, Professor at Warner, has been named a 2022 Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow recipient by the National Education Finance Academy (NEFA). The honor recognizes Brent’s years of work around education finance issues.

The Hidden Costs of School Security

The Hidden Costs of School Security

Timely work by Warner professors Brian Brent and Karen DeAngelis on the real costs of school security received considerable attention from the national media. The intent of the research is to provide a comprehensive and more refined account of school security costs than is presently available.

Recognized Expert on Disability and Inclusion

Recognized Expert on Disability and Inclusion

Warner professor Samantha Daley, who holds an appointment across all three Warner program areas, was recently awarded a Faculty Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support her study of how to broaden the participation of students with disabilities in STEM coursework and careers.

Career Opportunities

Warner Doctoral Programs Provide the Perfect Pathway to Wherever You Want to Go.

Warner’s PhD program in education policy prepares students for faculty positions in higher education, as well as advanced-level positions as policy analysts, policy researchers, program analysts, policy/program evaluators, policy advocates, and institutional researchers in policy, advocacy, research/think tank, governmental, non-profit, consulting, and educational organizations in the United States and abroad.
Policy student


An Accessible, Supportive Faculty of Researchers and Accomplished Practitioners.

Core Program Faculty

Brian Brent, PhD
school and district improvement; school choice; social network analysis

Samantha Daley, EdD
disabilities; inclusion; special education; quantitative research methods

Karen DeAngelis, PhD
teacher and administrator labor markets; school and district resource allocation; quantitative research methods

Learn More About All Warner School Faculty


Making Warner Affordable.

Many of our full-time doctoral students benefit from full or partial assistantships to support their studies while gaining valuable career experience at the same time.  Full assistantships require 15 to 20 hours per week of service during the fall and spring semesters, and provide a full-tuition waiver as well as a stipend.  Partial assistantships require five to 10 hours per week of service, and offer tuition reduction and stipends commensurate with hours of service. Contact admissions for more information.

Are You a UR Employee? Inquire about your tuition benefits. If eligible, up to 95% of your tuition costs can be covered depending on your position. Contact the UR benefits office at

Vasquez in class at table with studnets


Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadline

PhD applications are accepted once a year, and can be applied to from October 17 until December 15.

View all application deadlines

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