Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
The mission of the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations (LPO) is to increase understanding and guide improvements in human learning and outcomes, in the political, economic, organizational, social, legal and regulatory contexts in which human development occurs. In our research, teaching and research-practice collaborations, the department embraces a range of disciplinary traditions and methodological approaches and fosters diversity in the study of education leadership, policy and practice.
The U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings for programs placed our Educational Administration and Supervision Program 1st in its category for the 11th straight year. The Education Policy Program ranked 4th, and the Higher Education Administration Program, 8th.
Degree Programs: Leadership that Works
Want to deepen your knowledge and strengthen your credentials? LPO's professional M.Ed., Ed.D., M.P.P., and online Ed.D. in Leadership and Learning in Organizations programs will prepare you for leadership in any number of organizations—from K–12 schools, colleges, or universities to corporations or policy-making and non-governmental organizations. Considering an academic career in a college or university? As an LPO Ph.D. candidate, you’ll work with faculty mentors recognized as among the best in their disciplines both nationally and internationally.
Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action, and encourages individuals from diverse, under-represented populations to apply to its graduate programs. The university does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, socio-economic background, or disability.
Here’s a look at the graduate degrees offered in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations:
Note: The GRE is optional for admission to master's programs for the 2021 application cycle only due to ongoing restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have taken the GRE and believe your scores will improve your application, you may submit the GRE with your application.
The Higher Education Administration degree will prepare you for professional roles in academe, state education agencies, or related nonprofits. Through coursework and real-world experience, you will learn about the contemporary higher education system and how to lead from within it.
With training available in three areas – student affairs, enrollment management, and general administration and policy – the Higher Education Administration program is for aspiring professionals in search of education careers that matter.
This unique 15-month program of advanced study fosters leaders who understand the complex educational, political, social, fiscal, and moral dimensions of independent schools, and who are able to propel their schools to high levels of achievement.
Be a changemaker in the fields of international education and human and economic development. The master’s degree in International Education Policy and Management (IEPM) will equip you with the skills needed to address contemporary public policy issues facing education and informal learning environments around the world.
The Education Policy master’s degree (M.P.P.) is a nationally ranked program that fosters knowledge of the social, economic, political, and historical contexts for education policy and practice. As a part of the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, the program sits at the crossroads of public policy and education policy, allowing you to dive deep into policy decision-making and the impact of those decisions on today’s educational systems.
A dual degree (J.D./M.P.P.) is also offered.
Explore the contexts in which human and organizational performance intersect. The master’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Performance combines contemporary research and practice from relevant fields to prepare you to lead for-profit, non-profit, government, and educational organizations.
Note: For the 2021 application cycle only, GRE scores are not required, although they are strongly recommended.
The Ph.D. course of study is theory-oriented and geared to those who will be new academic leaders.
Note: For the 2021 application cycle only, GRE scores are not required, although they are strongly recommended.
Bridge the divide between theory and practice while working closely with Peabody faculty and aspiring educational leaders from across the country through the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program. The 36-month education doctorate is an innovative, cohort-based program for working professionals that equips graduates with the skills and knowledge to make a positive influence in education leadership, policy, and practice worldwide.
Bridge the divide between theory and practice while working closely with Peabody faculty and aspiring organizational leaders from across the country through the online Ed.D. program in Leadership and Learning in Organizations. Designed for experienced mid-career professionals, Peabody’s online Ed.D. program equips students with the knowledge and practical skills to implement systemic change and lead organizational improvement in a range of professional contexts.
The Ed.D. and online Ed.D. are application-oriented and geared to those who will be senior managers.
In the News
Betsega Bekele, LOP M.Ed.'14 was recruited to PBS in DC last spring to serve as the Director of a 50 person team to develop and launch a series on the American Dream: PBS American Portrait: A national storytelling project. Despite COVID-19 and it's challenges, they succeeded. PBS American Portrait, is a national storytelling project aligned with PBS’s 50th anniversary celebration, and is the organization’s most ambitious multi-platform project in its history. PBS American Portrait began as a platform for user-generated content participation, and is envisioned to encompass publishing, short form content, classroom engagement, a web miniseries, public art installations, and live events. On January 5, 2021 the first episode of the nationally televised documentary series aired on PBS stations. Read more about the project and view the first episode here .
The 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings were released, recognizing the top 200 university-based scholars who had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy last year. The Leadership, Policy, and Organizations Department has 4 scholars on the listing, along with the Dean of Peabody College, Camilla P. Benbow and Professor Lynn Fuchs from the Dept. of Special Education also on the esteemed listing. The Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings are compiled each year by Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy for the American Enterprise Institute, and published by Education Week. The annual ranking draws on nine metrics that tabulate activities that contribute to the shaping of educational practice and policy, including social media presence, book and journal publication and citations, education press mentions, and number of times cited by members of Congress. Given that more than 20,000 university-based faculty in the U.S. are researching education, simply making it onto the Edu-Scholar list is an accomplishment in its own right. The list is comprised of university-based scholars who focus primarily on educational questions ("university-based" meaning a formal university affiliation).
The list includes the following LPO faculty members:
Matthew Shaw, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, and Assistant Professor of Law in the Vanderbilt Law School, has been elected to the Board of Trustees of the Law and Society Association. LSA is the primary law and social sciences community within the legal academy.
The Fall 2020 LPO edition of the Ideas in Action newsletter is available online.
A new online Master’s in Leading Organizations program (MLO) will be housed in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations beginning in January 2021. Classes are tailored to apply each student’s work experience and prepare them for leadership in for-profit, nonprofit, government, educational and startup organizations. Click here to learn more about the program.
Dr. Xiu Cravens , Associate Professor of the Practice of Educational Policy, and Associate Dean for International Affairs, has been named a committee member on the 2020-21 University Diversity Council. Formed last year, the University Diversity Council advocates for equity, diversity and inclusion across all areas of Vanderbilt and provides strategic recommendations to Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente.
LPO new faculty member Dr. Felipe Barrera-Osorio, was recently featured in MyVu. Learn more about Professor Barrera-Osorio, and his recent research on education policies in lower and middle-income countries to determine their impact in furthering the development of the labor force. Read more here.
Dr. Maya Bugg, LPO Ed.D. Graduate '18, now CEO of Tennessee Charter School Center, is featured in the Tennessean on how she battles the disparities in education she has seen firsthand since she grew up in a working-class Black neighborhood in Philadelphia. Read more here.
Joseph Murphy has studied the growth of homeschooling, publishing one of the first books on the subject. With the pandemic driving global interest in Homeschooling Professor Murphy has been called upon by many different news outlets for his thoughts. Read his most recent interview with The Nashville Ledger here .
Congratulations to LPO Department Chair, Carolyn J. Heinrich and LPO Doctoral Candidate Jennifer Darling-Aduana, along with colleagues Annalee Good (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Huiping (Emily) Cheng (University of Wisconsin-Madison), on receiving one of the 2020 AERA awards for excellence in education research. The 2020 AERA Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award is given for an outstanding article appearing in AERA Open, the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, or the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics. Their paper, “A Look Inside Online Educational Settings in High School: Promise and Pitfalls for Improving Educational Opportunities and Outcomes” was featured in the American Educational Research Journal, Volume 56, Issue 6, December 2019.
Dr. Dominique Baker, '16 Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies has a new article “Name and Shame”: An Effective Strategy for College Tuition Accountability? published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, which is also being featured by AERA. Dr. Baker is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy at Southern Methodist University in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
Christopher Bennett, Ph.D. candidate in the Dept. of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations is a recipient of the 2020 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. The title of the main paper that Christopher described in his dissertation award application is Master’s for Hire: Experimental Evidence on Employers’ Perceptions of Master’s Degrees from For-Profit Institutions. This is one of three papers that make up his dissertation. His research examines the ways that higher education policies can influence the trajectories of individuals and institutions, with a particular emphasis on students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Through his work on several surveys of current and former graduate students, he developed a strong interest in graduate/professional education, which is the focus of his dissertation. Selected from a pool of 429 applicants, each of the 35 Fellows will receive $27,500 for a period of up to two years to complete their dissertations and also attend professional development retreats. Read more about the award here.
Faculty and Staff
- Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
- Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Associate Professor of Public Policy & Education, and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- LPO Dept. Chair; Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Professor of Health Policy (secondary appointment), Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
- Associate Dept. Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Program Director and Practicum Coordinator, Higher Education Administration
- Administrative Officer, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Administrative Specialist to the Department Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Grants Manager, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Administrative Assistant, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Educational Coordinator, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Research and Outreach
The Tennessee Education Research Alliance is a research-policy-practice partnership committed to creating an expanding body of knowledge on a set of interrelated areas of focus that directly impact Tennessee’s school improvement strategies.
There is growing recognition that schools need to be more strategic in how they manage their primary resource, teachers. Investment in measuring effective teaching—including value-added estimates, teacher observations, and student surveys—has increased the availability of data to make teacher talent management decisions. These decisions include decisions about teacher recruitment, hiring, induction, assignment to classrooms and subjects, evaluation, feedback and support, professional development, leadership responsibilities, and retention. Principals need targeted training and support to facilitate the use of teacher effectiveness data for such decisions.New Jersey Families Study
Families are children’s first teachers, and the home is their first school. From birth to age 5, children develop skills that set the foundations for their later success. In this project, we ask: How do families build skills in their young children and get them ready for school? Surprisingly, we know little about the day-to-day ways that families teach their young children. To fill this gap, this project aims to film and document the everyday lives of 15-20 families from diverse backgrounds for two weeks to provide a look into how families support their children’s learning in the earliest, and most critical, years.
A new online PASL Toolkit (personalization for academic and social emotional learning) comes from a multi-year partnership between Broward County Public Schools, Florida State University, and Vanderbilt University that has as its goal to make high schools places where adults, through routines and school culture, cultivate caring and trust for students. In 2010, we joined in a partnership to understand why some urban high schools performed better than other high schools in the same county. Funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education, we call our organization the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools (NCSU) and sought to identify and learn from effective high schools and adapt and scale their practices to other high schools in the same district.Through intensive study of higher and lower-performing high schools in the district, we identified a construct we named Personalization for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (PASL) as the core differentiating feature between these schools.
Alumni Success Stories
Vanderbilt University Undergraduate Admissions“I enjoyed the real-world applications that not only aided me in my practicum and graduate assistantships but have continued to influence my professional approach in the field of enrollment management.”
Mountain View Whisman School District“[At Peabody], you're going to learn more about yourself, what you believe, and how you want to lead others in education.”
University of Florida, College of Education“At Peabody, I had many opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research projects. These experiences, combined with my coursework, helped develop my skills in conducting rigorous educational research.”