Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Graduate Programs

The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies offers a broad range of graduate professional programs in educational leadership and policy. For complete program information, contact the department.

Graduate programs in educational leadership and policy studies promote the professional and intellectual development of practitioners, teachers, and scholars in this field at all levels of education. The department offers Master of Science in Education degrees in educational administration (K-12), social and cultural studies in education, higher education, and educational technology, as well as Ed.D. and Ph.D. degrees in educational leadership and policy studies with concentrations in educational administration, social and cultural studies in education, educational technology, higher education, and policy studies.

Graduate Admission to the School of Education

Graduate programs in education are open to students with acceptable baccalaureate and graduate degrees whose academic records indicate that they can do successful work at the graduate level. Regular admission requires a grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Individual departments may require additional information and may have more stringent admission and retention requirements.

Some departments may offer special provisional admission categories to students who may not qualify under traditional admission criteria. Departments that offer provisional admission require a grade-point average of at least 2.5.  Applicants must provide evidence of ability to work successfully at the graduate level, including experience in and commitment to the profession. Exceptions to established policies must be sought individually by petition to the Graduate Division of the School of Education.

See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog for more information.

Each department in the School of Education sets its own application deadlines.  Prospective graduate students should contact their departments for more information.


Graduate Admission

Applicants for all programs must submit the following materials:

  1. Graduate application.
  2. 1 official transcript from each degree-granting collegiate institution attended.
  3. Original Graduate Record Examination general test scores for all doctoral applicants (Ed.D. and Ph.D.). The GRE is not required for master’s applicants in educational administration, higher education, social and cultural studies in education, or educational technology.
  4. Statement of purpose/relevance of degree to career aspirations.
  5. 3 letters of recommendation evaluating the applicant’s capacity for rigorous graduate study and qualifications for leadership positions in education and related fields.
  6. A vita or resume.

Individual program concentrations may require additional application materials. Please consult the appropriate program advisor. The following application deadlines apply:

Educational Administration

SummerMaster’s and doctoral applicantsApril 1

Higher Education

FallMaster’s applicants who intend to enroll full-time and seek graduate assistantshipsearly January
FallMaster’s applicants who intend to enroll full time and seek graduate assistantships in housing onlyearly March
FallMaster's applicants who are working professionalsAugust 1
SpringMaster's applicants who are working professionalsJanuary 1
SummerMaster's applicants who are working professionalsMay 15
FallDoctoral applicantsJuly 1
SpringDoctoral applicantsNovember 1
SummerDoctoral applicantsMarch 1

Social and Cultural Studies in Education

FallMaster’s and doctoral applicantsJuly 1
SpringMaster’s and doctoral applicantsNovember 1
SummerMaster’s and doctoral applicantsApril 1

Educational Technology

FallMaster’s applicants interested in program on Lawrence CampusJune 1
FallMaster's applicants interested in program on Edwards CampusJuly 15
FallDoctoral applicantsJune 1
SpringMaster’s and doctoral applicantsNovember 1
SummerMaster’s and doctoral applicantsApril 1

Policy Studies

FallDoctoral applicantsJuly 1
SpringDoctoral applicantsNovember 1
SummerDoctoral applicantsApril 1

Submit your graduate application online. Supporting materials, such as the résumé, statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of reference may be uploaded to the application. Original transcripts from degree-granting institutions and official test scores should be sent directly to the department:

The University of Kansas
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Joseph R. Pearson Hall
1122 W. Campus Road, Room 421
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101


Ph.D. Degree Programs

The Ph.D. prepares scholars for roles as professors, policy makers, or researchers who are qualified to contribute theoretically grounded, original research. All doctoral students must complete a program that provides a broad understanding of educational leadership and policy as well as a concentration in educational administration, higher education, social and cultural studies in education, or policy studies, or a focus in educational technology.

All Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of 36 hours in the major/concentration (e.g. higher education, social and cultural studies in education), 12 hours of research, EDUC 800, and complete a dissertation.  Additionally, Ph.D. students are required to complete a Responsible Conduct of Research component and a college teaching requirement.

A general description of each concentration is given here. 

Educational Administration

The educational administration concentration prepares teachers and administrators for school district leadership roles. Studies stress fundamental fields of knowledge and educational policy development necessary for effective leadership of school districts. Students pursuing this concentration must take course work in the summer.

The courses in the major are taken within the ELPS department.  The elective courses are taken from other departments both within and outside of the School of Education.  Students in this program design individual programs with their advisor and are not part of a cohort group.  Students may begin the program at any time but normally are accepted in the spring and start in the summer.  Completion of the Ph.D. program does not necessarily lead to district licensure.  To obtain licensure, all the courses from the major listed below must be completed.  These additional courses may be taken during or after completion of the degree program.

Required Courses for the Major:

Students choose 5 courses from the following list:
ELPS 956District Leadership3
ELPS 958American Educational Reform Movements: Past and Present3
ELPS 955District Business Management3
ELPS 957Educational Policy, Ethics and Law3
ELPS 954Sociology of Educational Organizations3
ELPS 951Supervision of Instruction3
ELPS 953District Human Resource Management3
C&T 903Curriculum Supervision3

In addition, 12 credit hours in a field outside of the ELPS Department is required for the Ph.D. Examples might include a minor in educational research, business, public relations, economics, psychology, or other leadership related areas

Required Research Courses:

EPSY 710Introduction to Statistical Analysis3
EPSY 711Lab for Introduction to Statistical Analysis1
EPSY 816Evaluating School Programs3
Qualitative Research Course3
Statistical Methods or Measurement Course3

Other Requirements:

ELPS 996College Teaching Experience in: _____2
ELPS 999Doctoral Dissertation1-15

Social and Cultural Studies in Education

The social and cultural studies in education area features a broad examination of educational theory and its practical application on local, national, and international levels. Emphasis is placed on social, philosophical, historical, comparative, and interdisciplinary inquiry into the relationship between human aspirations and the aims and methods of education. Courses of study are flexible and reflect the particular needs and aspirations of each student.

Within the doctoral major area of study, students take both a series of Social and Cultural Studies in Education (SCSE) courses and a cognate concentration outside of SCSE.  The SCSE portion of the major represents courses related to the history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology or politics of education, selected with the guidance of a faculty advisor and faculty committee.  A minimum of 18 hours of coursework is required in this aspect of the major concentration.

Also within the major, students are expected to identify a cognate area of study related to SCSE, typically outside the ELPS department.  This can have a disciplinary focus, such as history, philosophy or sociology; it also can represent interdisciplinary coursework with a particular thematic or topical orientation within or outside the School of Education.  A minimum of 12 hours of coursework is required for this aspect of the major concentration;  a maximum of 15 hours may be used to fulfill cognate requirements for the doctoral major.

Other aspects of the PhD. in SCSE include 12 credit hours of research methods coursework.

A typical PhD. in the SCSE concentration will entail approximately 13-16 courses, depending on the student's prior record. Students are eligible for comprehensive examinations following successful completion of coursework.  Focused dissertation work begins after passing the examinations. 

Summary of principal program elements:

Major SCSE Concentration Coursework18-21
Major Cognate Coursework12-15
Doctoral Core3
Research Methods Coursework12
College Teaching2
Comprehensive Exam
Dissertation Research18-22
Dissertation Defense

Higher Education

The concentration in higher education provides current and prospective college or university staff members and administrators with theoretical and practical knowledge of higher education as a complex human activity. The Ph.D. program includes required and elective courses in the concentration, in a cognate area.

Major/Area of Concentration - 36 hours total

Higher Education Core -18 hours

ELPS 882Higher Education in the United States3
ELPS 884Research on College Students3
ELPS 980Postsecondary Finance3
ELPS 983Curriculum Innovation in Higher Education3
ELPS 986The Governance and Administration of Higher Education3
Applied Research course elective3
TOTAL HOURS18

Electives - 18 hours

Higher Education Elective 13
Higher Education Elective 23
Higher Education Elective 33
Higher Education Elective 43
Elective 1 outside of ELPS3
Elective 2 outside of ELPS3
TOTAL HOURS18

Research Skills - 12 hours (minimum)

EPSY 710Introduction to Statistical Analysis3
EPSY 711Lab for Introduction to Statistical Analysis1
EPSY 810Regression and ANOVA: General Linear Models3
ELPS 871Introduction to Qualitative Research3
Advanced methods/statistics course3

School of Education Doctoral Core - 3 hours

EDUC 800Education as a Field of Scholarship3

Dissertation - 18 hours

ELPS 999Doctoral Dissertation1-15

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS FOR PROGRAM - 69 hours minimum

In addition students must complete a supervised college teaching experience during their period of doctoral study.  This may be met by demonstrated current college teaching experience or by enrolling for ELPS 996.

Policy Studies

The education policy studies concentration features a multidisciplinary approach to policy analysis. Students prepare for roles as researchers, policy analysts, higher education faculty, and educational leaders through individualized programs. 

Within the doctoral major area of study, students take a major concentration of courses entailing a minimum of 18 hours of coursework (6 courses).  This program of study is designed by the student in consultation with a major advisor and a faculty advisory committee.  At least 2 courses from each of 2 or more of the department's various program areas (Leadership, Social & Cultural Studies, Higher Education, Technology) must be included in the major concentration.  Such courses should offer an opportunity for students to focus on policy questions.

Students are also expected to identify a cognate are of study related to education, typically outside the ELPS department.  This can have a disciplinary focus, such as the social science or other education-related disciplines; it also can represent interdisciplinary coursework with a particular thematic or topical orientation, inside or outside the School of Education.  A minimum of 12 hours of coursework is required for this aspect of the major concentration, a maximum of 15 hours may be used to fulfill cognate requirements for the doctoral major.

Students in the Policy Studies concentration will usually take ELPS 757:  Education in American Society (or an equivalent) during the first year of the program.  They will also take a seminary in policy research near completion of coursework.  These courses will both count as part of the concentration.

12 credit hours of research methods coursework are also required, the content of which depend on the student's research needs and interests.  Students must also fulfill a college teaching requirement and the School's doctoral core.

Summary of principal program elements:

Major Concentration Coursework18-21
Major Cognate Coursework12-15
Doctoral Core3
Research Methods Coursework12
College Teaching2
Comprehensive Exam
Dissertation Research18-22
Dissertation Defense

Educational Technology

The Ph.D. with a focus in educational technology advances research, theory, and practice in the design, development, and application of information technology in education. The focus includes required and elective course work in educational policy, educational technology, the School of Education core, research, and a cognate. Program graduates typically assume leadership positions as faculty in higher education, researchers or directors of educational technology in schools, and in corporate and governmental settings.

Major/Minor Course List - 36 hours

ELPS 760Integration of Learning Technology3
ELPS 810Instructional Media Development
ELPS 811Constructivist Learning Technology3
ELPS 812Design of Learning Technology3
ELPS 820Practicum in Educational Technology3
ELPS 896Seminar in: (Educational Technology)3
ELPS 975Education, Technology and Social Change3
Minor Elective 1
Minor Elective 23
Minor Elective 33
Minor Elective 43
Minor Elective 53
TOTAL CREDIT HOURS36

Research Skills - 12 hours

Doctoral Seminar - 3 hours

EDUC 800Education as a Field of Scholarship3

College Teaching Experience - 2 hours

EDUC 800Education as a Field of Scholarship3

Responsible Conduct of Research - 3 hours

ELPS 760Integration of Learning Technology3

Dissertation - 18 hours (minimum)