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Kara FinniganProgram Director: Kara Finnigan

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nicki youngNikki Young
Nicoisa (Nikki) Young’s fervent desire to impact the lives of children and help them excel in life has guided her back to her hometown of Washington, D.C.

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melioraWarner Hosts National Research Conference on School District Reform

At a time when there has been a growing national push for higher levels of student performance and accountability in school districts, 21 researchers from across the globe will convene in Rochester, N.Y.

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Graduate Programs in Educational Policy

The study of educational policy serves as a catalyst for change. Whether you want to work in a research organization, local, state, or federal governmental agency, non-profit organization, or educational institution, our program in educational policy prepares you to become an effective leader in influencing policy and practice across educational settings.
Master's Program
The Warner School's master’s program in Educational Policy provides students with the opportunity to examine contemporary educational issues at multiple levels (i.e., pre-kindergarten, elementary/secondary, higher education) and equips students with the knowledge and tools to design, implement, and evaluate local, state, and/or federal policies.

This innovative 30-credit-hour graduate program is structured to impart a set of core skills and competencies that are necessary for successful careers in educational policy. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students to consider and apply a variety of conceptual, theoretical, and analytic frameworks (e.g., sociology, politics, economics, finance, law) to educational issues. It also provides students with the opportunity to gain important analytic skills through coursework in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods.
A distinguishing feature of the program is the culminating master’s project, which can take the form of a master’s essay/thesis or a field-based internship or research project, depending on each student’s interests and career goals. The field-based options enable students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to current issues in local settings. Recent graduates have completed field projects with Warner faculty members and in Rochester-area school districts, higher education institutions, and advocacy, policy, and non-profit organizations. Students who pursue a field-based option are required to submit a final portfolio of their work.  

The master’s program is designed with flexibility to allow students to draw widely from the resources of the Warner School and the University in developing their own area of interest and expertise. Each student is assigned an advisor to help develop a coherent program of study that attends to the student’s specific interests and aspirations.
Students enter the program with varied backgrounds and interests and pursue different opportunities following graduation. The program prepares graduates to assume positions in a variety of research, governmental, non-profit, community, school, and higher education organizations. It also provides a solid foundation for those interested in pursuing doctoral study in educational policy, a social science, or law. Recent graduates have been hired in a variety of organizations, such as the American Institutes for Research, WestEd, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (Washington, DC), National Human Resource Association, Child Trends, Inc., Cesar Chavez Charter School for Public Policy, EnCompass: Resources for Learning, the Rochester City School District, and the University of Rochester.   

The program can be completed in one year (three semesters) of full-time study, typically starting in the summer (late June) and ending the following spring. Students who opt to attend part-time take an additional one to two semesters to complete the program, depending on their course load each semester. The Warner School has four admissions cycles in October, January, March, and June. Applicants for this program are considered in each cycle, although we encourage candidates who plan to study full-time to apply in January or March so that they can start the program in late June and benefit from participating in a “cohort experience” with other full-time students.

Doctoral Program
The PhD Program in Educational Policy and Theory offers an interdisciplinary course of study that prepares students to pursue post-doctoral fellowships, faculty positions in higher education, or policy positions in research, governmental, non-profit, or educational organizations. In addition to completing a policy core, students select and complete a number of discipline-based courses (e.g., sociology, politics, economics, finance, law, history) in order to learn and 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 demonstrated expertise in quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research. In addition to coursework, students complete at least one research apprenticeship with a Warner faculty member during the program. Advanced students also may have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants or course instructors depending on their expertise and career goals.
The PhD program is designed with flexibility to enable students to draw widely from the resources of the Warner School and the University. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor who works closely with the student to develop a coherent program of study that attends to the student’s specific interests and aspirations.
The program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis, but a minimum of one year of residency is required. Prospective students must have a master’s degree in educational policy or a related field or relevant work experience to be competitive for admission to this program. Applications for the program are reviewed once per year during the Warner School’s January admissions cycle.