Online EdD Programs in Education Policy

Updated: March 27, 2024

While curriculum, instruction, and school administrative services all directly impact student education outcomes, education policy establishes the standards for curriculum content, instruction, and student evaluations. Leaders in education policy have the power to make a significant impact on student learning outcomes by creating and improving legislation at the local, state, and national levels. There are currently six schools that offer online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs with a specialization in Education Policy.

Online EdD programs in Education Policy give students an in-depth understanding of America’s public and private education systems and the local, state, and national laws that impact them. Students of EdD programs in Education Policy also learn about education data analysis, curriculum and program development, and the social and economic factors that impact students’ educational attainment. Graduates of these programs can work in government departments, education non-profit organizations, schools, and school districts.

This page only includes online EdD programs with a specific specialization in education policy. Students interested in pursuing a degree in this field may also want to check out our more comprehensive Online EdD in Education Leadership page, as many of those programs offer coursework or electives in education policy.

Curriculum for Online EdD Programs in Education Policy

EdD programs in Education Policy include core courses in the history and structure of the American education system, theories of learning, curriculum development, and organizational leadership. Examples of classes that may comprise the core of EdD programs in Education Policy include:

  • The American Education System: An overview of the American education system from its inception to its present state. The standards for educational attainment at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and the economic, social, and political factors that influence these standards. Current issues in public and private education, such as education disparities and funding challenges, and how to address them.
  • The Foundations of Teaching and Learning: The fundamental theories of learning and principles of teaching, and how to apply them to the design and implementation of curricula, the instruction and support of students of all ages in different academic contexts, and the assessment of learning outcomes.
  • Principles of Education Research: How to use quantitative and qualitative research methods and analysis to determine the effectiveness of education policies and programs. How to use research findings to establish evidence-based best practices in education.
  • Diversity in Education: Issues of diversity and multiculturalism in education, including the marginalization of minority groups in academic settings, the importance of diversity education, and addressing bullying and discrimination in academic environments.

In addition to classes that cover fundamental concepts in education leadership and administration, EdD programs in Education Policy typically include classes that examine education policies and how they impact institutions of education, student learning outcomes, and teacher and staff responsibilities. Courses specific to the concentration will generally focus on the legislation that shapes education systems, standards, and curriculum content; analysis of educational programs and their effectiveness; and an examination of how other disciplines, such as economics and sociology, can help create models that explain and help to address issues in education and student attainment.

  • Education Policy: How public policy impacts education and vice versa. How policies at the local, state, and national levels shape education in the public and private sectors, and at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Topics such as early education, student performance, truancy prevention, school funding, diversity and multiculturalism, language and literacy, and STEM courses are covered. Students explore and analyze current issues in education and how public policy seeks to address them.
  • School Reform and Public Policy: Students investigate and discuss the history of school reform as a result of public policy, and explore the process of identifying issues that lead to gaps in student achievement and addressing them through changes to legislation. Current debates in education reform at the local, state, and national government levels, and an investigation of the needs and interests of different stakeholders in these debates.
  • Teaching Policies in American Education: An exploration of the legislation around teacher certification, mentorship, instruction, tenure, and other topics that directly impact teachers’ professional development and work with students. Different types of teachers at all levels of education and in different settings (e.g. public versus private, academic versus corporate training settings), and the policies that impact their daily work.
  • Education Economics: How public and private institutions of education are funded, and how they finance student programs. How to use economic principles to analyze different challenges facing public and private education systems, and how economic policies may contribute to and can help to address these issues.

Some EdD programs require students to take a number of elective courses that are not part of their specific concentration, but which are relevant to their desired role(s) post-graduation. Examples of such classes include:

  • Education Technology: Different forms of education technology, including educational apps, e-learning platforms, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and laptops in the classroom, and how they can enhance student learning. Ways to incorporate technology into curricula at multiple levels of education, from primary to post-secondary.
  • The Design of Supportive Learning Environments: The theories, principles, and methods of developing supportive learning environments for students in the classroom and on campus. How to create programs that facilitate learning and student support at the school and school district levels.

During the second half of their program, students of EdD programs typically begin their dissertation, which is an in-depth research project that examines an issue in education and discusses how this issue can be mitigated or resolved. Students of EdD programs with a concentration in Education Policy may be required to select a research topic that concerns the development or improvement of legislation around education. After the completion of their dissertation, students are generally expected to present their findings.

Most EdD programs have a dissertation requirement; however, some EdD programs allow students to waive this requirement if they complete a sequence of research-intensive courses that train them in the research process. For more information about the dissertation and/or research requirements for online EdD programs, please refer to our Dissertation and Research Requirements for EdD Programs resource page.

The curriculum descriptions above should be viewed as guidelines, as both course content and sequencing can vary from program to program. For more information about EdD programs’ structure and curricula, please see our Structure of Online EdD Programs resource page.

Career Paths for Graduates of EdD Programs in Education Policy

Students who complete their EdD in Education Policy are prepared to work in government education departments, schools in the public and private sector, and education non-profit organizations and advocacy centers. Their knowledge of the American education system and the legislation that shapes it allows them to understand and improve education policies and programs at the institution, community, state government, and national government levels. Examples of roles that students of EdD programs in Curriculum and Instruction may assume include:

  • School Superintendents: School superintendents oversee multiple schools within a school district. They collaborate with a district board to oversee teacher and student performance, help develop educational programs, and improve student services at the schools under their supervision. School superintendents work with teachers, principals, government officials, students, and parents to develop solutions to educational challenges. They also help to establish educational standards at schools, oversee the design and implementation of curricula, and resolve larger school problems such as campus bullying and discrimination.
  • College and University Deans: College deans oversee one or more academic departments at universities and colleges. They supervise the design and implementation of academic programs, manage funding for these programs in collaboration with other department staff, support faculty in their research and professional development, and work to ensure that students in their department receive the academic support they need.
  • Education Policymakers: Education policymakers work in education departments of local, state, and national governments to formulate policies that serve student and educator needs. They may work on updating existing legislation to address structural problems in the public and/or private education systems, or they may develop new legislation that seeks to mitigate barriers to education attainment or student performance.
  • Directors of Education Organizations and Companies: Directors of education organizations, which include education non-profits and advocacy centers, as well as for-profit companies and startups, oversee daily operations at their organization. They may oversee the design and execution of projects that further their organization’s mission statement, such as community education initiatives, student counseling and support services, campus bullying intervention programs, or new advancements in education technology that can enhance student learning.

Online Ed.D. Programs in Education Policy

The following schools are sorted by state for easy reference; however, most online EdD programs accept students from other states as well. For out-of-state programs, students should confirm with an admissions advisor that the program accepts students from their state of residence before applying.


District of Columbia

Accreditation: MSCHE, NCATE
Department: School of Education


Accreditation: SACSCOC
Department: College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences


University of Illinois

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: College of Education

New York

Accreditation: MSCHE
Department: Graduate School of Education

North Dakota

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: College of Education and Human Development


Accreditation: MSCHE, CAEP