Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies EdD/PhD
The Department of Leadership in Education in the College of Education and Human Development at UMass Boston is seeking applicants for a non-tenure-track one-year position as a visiting assistant professor, to begin September 1, 2022. Learn more about the position.
The admissions application deadline is March 1. See the Cost & Admission section below for more details
The mission of the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program is to develop dedicated, critical, and reflective leaders seeking to improve urban education through research and practice. While focusing on urban school issues, this program recognizes the interconnectedness of such issues on state, national, regional, and global scales. We prepare educational leaders who represent a variety of backgrounds, and support equity and diversity in all its forms, striving to contribute to the public good and a more socially just world. Through the course of their doctoral trajectory and culminating in a dissertation, students investigate issues of their choice that are relevant to their professional lives as leaders committed to educational change.
The program uses a cohort model and accepts students once a year, in the spring, to begin their studies in the summer.
Why Apply for UMass Boston's Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program?
Through the course of study toward the EdD or PhD, the Urban Education program at the University of Massachusetts Boston offers a range of knowledge, skills, and experiences to students, enabling them to:
- Engage with multiple sources of information (e.g. media, policy, research, history, and empirical data) and learn multiple research methods and theories within an area of concentration;
- Conduct original research on critical problems in K-12 education that relates to their professional practice and contributes to the ongoing academic conversation in their concentration area and in the fields of urban education and leadership;
- Create new knowledge from research that addresses real world problems, culminating in a dissertation;
- Apply social justice-oriented frameworks and research-based knowledge to real world academic and practical issues facing K-12 education institutions in order to be change agents in education;
- Advance their careers as leaders and successfully compete for employment in a wide variety of national and international school-based, agency, and community roles including higher education faculty, state department of education personnel, community agency/organization educational leaders, policy analysts, and researchers.
The Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Doctoral Program seeks applicants who already hold a master’s degree or equivalent, and who can demonstrate:
- accomplishment in the field of K-12 education, particularly through school reform initiatives
- sustained interest in the culture, structure, and operation of urban schools in new approaches to administration and policy development and in issues of learning and teaching
- the potential for academic success and for completing the program without delay
- a desire to provide leadership for change in urban education
Applicants are invited to demonstrate these qualifications through submission of an admissions portfolio consisting of:
- an essay (about 1,500 words long) describing the applicant’s background and career aspirations, with an emphasis on the kinds of changes in elementary or secondary education they are interested in bringing about. The essay must include a description of a critical incident (involving change) in which the applicant took part, explaining his or her role in it. The essay ought to describe the applicant’s potential area of research interest and how this relates to their past experience or future professional commitments.
- a résumé or curriculum vitae;
- two letters, including one from an employer and at least one from a colleague, describing and giving evidence of the applicant’s potential as an initiator and implementer of education reform and assessing the applicant’s level of motivation for and commitment to a leadership role in elementary or secondary education;
- official transcripts of all previous academic work, graduate and undergraduate, demonstrating particularly that the applicant has earned a master’s degree or equivalent from a college or university of recognized standing.
- A signed employer agreement describing the arrangement made between the applicant and their employing institution is required. (PDF)
- Optionally, applicants may submit test scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
The admissions committee will interview all finalists before making its recommendations for acceptance to the program. All application materials are due to Graduate Admissions by March 1 (Deadline extended to March 15 for Summer 2023 admissions).
The degree options in the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program include a 65-credit EdD or PhD. The total for tuition and fees can be calculated by using the graduate tuition rates listed on the Bursar’s Office website.
This is one program with two degree options. Students take the below required courses in both degree options. In addition to these courses, students will take one advanced research methods course and five electives, totaling 65 credits.
Required Core Courses (26 credits)
- EDLDRS 701 – Leadership Workshop I
- EDLDRS 703 – Critical Issues I
- EDLDRS 705 – Introduction to Inquiry for Educational Leaders
- EDLDRS 714 – Integrative Seminar I
- EDLDRS 715 – Integrative Seminar II
- EDLDRS 720 – Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum in Urban Contexts
- EDLDRS 730 – Historical Roots of Contemporary Urban Schooling
- EDLDRS 732 – Organization and Leadership in Educational Institutions
- EDLDRS 750 – Education Policy
- EDLDRS 760 – Qualifying Paper Seminar
Required Research Courses (21 credits)
- EDLDRS 740 – Research Methods I (Quantitative)
- EDLDRS 741 – Research Methods II (Qualitative)
- EDLDRS 891 – Dissertation Seminar I
- EDLDRS 892 – Dissertation Seminar II
- EDLDRS 893 – Dissertation Seminar III
- EDLDRS 899 – Dissertation Research (8 credits)
In addition to coursework, students in the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Doctoral Program must successfully complete four major benchmarks:
- comprehensive assessment
- qualifying paper
- dissertation proposal and hearing
- dissertation and defense
The dissertation is designed to demonstrate students’ ability to analyze a problem in urban education extensively and to assess its implications for practice or policy. The problem involves a specific issue or policy, which is of critical concern in urban education. The problem can be drawn from organizational or administrative practice, theories and practices regarding learning and teaching, historical or cultural issues, or public policy at the state, regional, national, or international level.
Ninety-five percent of graduates work in eastern Massachusetts as district and school administrators, as college faculty, as scholar-practitioners, and in policy analysis.
Examples of positions our graduates have held or currently hold include:
- Superintendents of Schools (Lynn, Avon, Malden, Canton, Archdiocese of Boston, Revere)
- Assistant superintendents and district-level directors in Boston and surrounding areas
- Principals and assistant principals in public, pilot, and charter schools
- Mayor of Framingham, MA
- Full-time higher education faculty members (UMass Lowell, Emmanuel College, Wheelock College, Northeastern University, Cambridge College, Bridgewater State University)
- K-12 practitioners who hold adjunct appointments at the college level
- Policy professionals who work for state and local offices, education reform and advocacy groups, and nonprofits
1. May I arrange a meeting with the program director or faculty to discuss the program?
We welcome communication from applicants by phone, email, or face-to-face meetings. Prospective applicants may schedule meetings with any faculty during regular office hours, or email questions to the program director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. What are the requirements for admission to the program?
A personal statement, graduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and resume are required. The admissions committee will not consider incomplete files. Please follow the application instructions provided by Graduate Admissions.
3. What is the main criteria for admission?
Applicants must have at least three years of experience working in an urban education setting and a master’s degree. Additionally, the admissions committee places great importance on a candidate’s personal statement, résumé, and transcripts. They should show that the applicant has the desire and capability of succeeding in the Urban Education doctoral program. Applicants should demonstrate a sustained interest in the culture, structure, and operation of educational institutions, in new approaches to administration and policy development, and in the nature and purpose of learning and teaching. The personal statement must also demonstrate that the candidate would fit in well with the program’s strengths and has the capacity to apply analytic writing and research skills to various debates and controversies around urban schooling. The program seeks candidates with demonstrated commitment to urban education and urban populations. The résumé should outline the candidate’s accomplishments and work/leadership experience. The candidate’s graduate record and the letters of recommendation are also very important in determining admission.
4. How long should the personal statement be?
A personal statement of no more than four pages should be sufficient to explain the applicant’s academic background, motivation, and research interests.
5. Who should write the recommendation letter?
The admissions committee prefers letters from those in a position to assess the applicant’s experience in education and leadership as well as likelihood of academic success in graduate school.
6. Will the department consider incomplete applications?
7. Should the application be submitted to the department?
No. The complete application is to be sent to Graduate Admissions.
8. How and when will applicants receive notification of the decision?
Admitted students are typically notified by mail by the end of May.
9. How much time is allowed to consider an offer of admission?
Approximately four weeks from the receipt date of the decision letter is a reasonable time to consider an admission offer. We appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible, since your slot may then become available to another applicant.
10. Will I have a chance to talk to someone before I decide to accept an offer of admission?
Yes, we encourage visits, so that an informed decision can be made.
11. Can I defer my offer of admission?
In certain circumstances, admission may be deferred.
12. When will I receive information about registration?
New Student Orientation is held in late May or at the beginning of June. Information about registration will be provided then.
13. How much does the program cost, and is there financial aid available?
For a description of costs, visit the Bursar’s Office page. We do not handle financial aid at the department level. Visit the Cost & Aid website for information about financial aid. We do provide a limited number of part-time graduate assistantships that you may apply for if you are admitted to the program.
1. What is the student body makeup in the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program?
The diverse student body includes teachers, coaches, principals, councilors, district administrators, consultants and state policy-makers from many nationalities and backgrounds. Students come from public and private schools, district offices, education partners, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
2. How much contact do graduate students have with professors?
The relatively small department prides itself on the quality and extent of interaction between faculty and students.
3. Are there any particular areas around which students’ interests revolve?
Students’ interests vary, and we encourage students to pursue topics that they are passionate about and are relevant to their professional interests. While students work closely with faculty, it is uncommon for students to pursue the same research as faculty members.
4. How long does it typically take to complete the Urban Education Doctoral Program?
The program is designed to be completed in four years; however, depending upon the student and his/her dissertation research, it may take longer. Most students graduate within 4-6 years.
5. I already have a master’s degree. Will this reduce my time to the PhD/EdD degree?
No. All students are required to have a master’s degree upon entering the program. Students who enter with graduate credits beyond the master’s level must still complete all program components. However, we will accept six transfer credits from graduate level courses taken beyond the master’s degree.
- Abiola Farinde-Wu, Graduate Program Director, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies
- Patricia Krueger-Henney, Associate Professor, Urban Education, Leadership and Policy Studies
- Wenfan Yan, Professor, Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program