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 12th straight year. The Education Policy Program is now ranked 2nd, 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:
Higher Education Administration
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.
International Education Policy and Management
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.
Leadership and Organizational Performance
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.
Leadership and Policy Studies with concentrations in K–12 Educational Leadership and Policy, and Higher Education Leadership and Policy.
The Ph.D. course of study is theory-oriented and geared to those who will be new academic leaders.
K-12 Educational Leadership and Policy and Higher Education Leadership and Policy
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.
Online Leadership and Learning in Organizations
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
Joanne Golann was quoted on the Chalkbeat article “ New poverty research could bring more clarity to charter school comparisons ” about how charter schools are attracting low –income families.
Ellen Goldring was quote in the Education Week article “ ‘Thank You for All That You Do': How Educators Are Honoring Assistant Principals Week ” on how assistant principals have key leadership positions in the school.
Carolyn Heinrich ’s quoted Chalkbeat article “ Credit recovery becomes key strategy for Detroit district’s graduation rate boost ” the effects of credit recovery program have on student learning.
Carolyn Heinrich’s quoted in the Finacial Times article “Suella Braverman, Rwanda and when medieval-style ‘ordeals’ become government policy” about how the arbitrary distinctions the South Africa’s Child Support Grant families received less support than they were entitled to and had a negative impact on the adolescents of those families.
Christopher Loss was quoted in the Washington Post article “ Political polarization is sorting colleges into red and blue schools ” about how colleges and universities address political debates due the broad spectrum of views.
Lauren Covelli and Hannah Kistler were recipients of the AERA Grants Dissertation Grantees .
Laura for her dissertation “ACT Testing Policy in Tennessee: Effects on Test-Taking, Scores, and College Enrollment”
Hannah for her dissertation “Principal Attributes and Teachers’ Returns to Experience”
Matthew Shaw was quote in the Chalkbeat article “ Tennessee is talking about rejecting federal education funding. What would that mean for kids? ” about how states do not have to accept federal money because of the objectives the federal government is to give the states the states the money they think it would take to run program.
Felipe Barrera-Osorio moderated the panel “Expanding Opportunities for Alternative Education” at the Clinton Global Initiative University, hosted by Vanderbilt University March 3-5. The session focused on the increasing importance of alternative education options in emergency and post-conflict situations around the globe, including how to support the safety of schools and schoolchildren, how social entrepreneurs and nonprofits could support access to education and innovation in basic education, and examples of community-based education for people in areas affected most by crisis. Panelists were Pashtana Durrani, executive director of LEARN, Danielle De La Fuente, founder and CEO of Amal Alliance, and David Barth, vice president of International Programs at Save the Children.
Rich Milner will speak on “Cultivating Relationships and a Sense of Belonging in Education and Community” as the Rosel Schewel Lecturer at the University of Lynchburg on March 22.
Richard Welsh ’s Educations Week article " Why, Really, Are So Many Black Kids Suspended? " was cited in the Truthout article “ Black Student Sues School After Teacher Assaulted Her for Not Reciting Pledge ”.
Kelly Slay was on the “ Understanding Race Conscious Admission in our Past, our Present and our Future” panel with the former solicitor general and current dean of admissions at Amherst College.
Cynthia Osborne 's Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap data was referenced in the Early Education section Tennessee expand programs to support young children and their caregivers of the 2022 State of Tennessee's Kid Count State of the Child report.
Cynthia Osborne was quoted in the Desert News article “ Gen Z, millennial women have different ideas of the ‘perfect’ mom but want to be one ” on about the how the developmental skills of young children are simple and very basic for any parent to help their child thrive in life.
Richard Welsh was quoted in the Chalkbeat article “ COVID exodus: Where did 1 million public school students go? New data sheds some light ” about the reasons why public-school enrollment is down and homeschooling is still on the rise.
Carolyn Heinrich will be giving The George Eastman Lecture: “Bad bets, bad apples, or bad policy? Should ordeals be a policy tool of the twenty-first century?” on Monday, February 20 th at 6:00pm at Oxford University.
Kelly Slay was on the “ Understanding Race Conscious Admission in our Past, our Present and our Future” panel with the former solicitor general and current dean of admissions at Amherst College.
Cynthia Osborne Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap data was referenced in the Early Education section Tennessee expand programs to support young children and their caregivers of the 2022 State of Tennessee's Kid Count State of the Child report.
Ellen Goldring , Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair and professor of educational leadership and policy, gave a keynote address at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement , held between January 10 and 13 in Viña del Mar, Chile. Her presentation, “Performance Feedback: A Missing Link in School Improvement,” addressed the need for school principals to receive feedback from teachers and supervisors to become more effective leaders and improve schools. Feedback alone is not enough to improve principals’ leadership, Goldring advised; it should be coupled with a system of professional learning support, such as coaching, for principals to make sense of the feedback they receive. The support system should include clear and consistent communication, discussions of feedback and action plans, and mechanisms to recognize and reward feedback use.
Xiu Cravens and Marisa Cannata , professor and associate professor of the practice of leadership, policy, and organizations, respectively, also attended the ICSEI. Cravens presented “Sustaining Collaborative Inquiry Cycles for Instructional Improvement in U.S. Public Schools,” and Cannata presented “The Role of Improvement Research in Supporting Systems Learning in Challenging Contexts.”
Liliane Nienstedt was named to the APPAM Policy Council ‘s Student Activities Committee.
Rich Milner book Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There was cited in the EdSurge article “To Serve All of Our Students, 'We Have to Do Something Different’.
Cythina Osborne was quoted in the Desert News article “ What family experts hope Congress will consider in ‘23 " about the hope that state and federal lawmakers prioritize making paid family and medical leave available to all families.
Carolyn Heinrich co-authored The Conversation’s article “ College students who work more hours are less likely to graduate ”.
Mark Chin was quoted in the Chalkbeat article “ Bill would curb ‘implicit bias’ training in Tennessee schools, universities ” about how based on this research paper “ Bias in the Air: A Nationwide Exploration of Teachers’ Implicit Racial Attitudes, Aggregate Bias, and Student Outcomes ” suggests that there is a need to address bias in the classroom.
Chris Candelaria ’s working paper “ Teacher Shortages: A Unifying Framework for Understanding and Predicting Vacancies ” was featured in the Education Weeks’s article “ All Teaching Shortages Are Not Equal: 4 Takeaways From New Research " .
Clarie Smrekar was featured in the Nashville Business Journal’s article, “ Stakeholders weigh in on Tennessee Education Savings Account program ” about the pros and cons along with Tennessee's rollout of the school voucher program.
Shaun Dougherty was quote in the Scary Mommy’s article, “ I Realize I Need to Back Off the College Talk with my Kids ” about how parents need to alter their perspectives on their childern being college educated verse working towards a skilled trade.
Cynthia Osborne was featured in the Vox article “ 5 experts share how to make day care less germy ” about well-being of child care providers makes the children they care for stay healthier.
Will Doyle was quoted in The Hechinger Report article “ A s enrollment falls and public skepticism grows, some colleges are cutting their price ” about colleges and universities have the demand to raise tuition knowing that people will pay but now know with people are forgoing college because cost and demanded to make it more affordable.
Richard Welsh was quoted in the Education Week article “ Here’s How the Pandemic Changed School Discipline ” how school systems had a decline in discipline incidents over the 2021-22 school year but those number would rebound if schools turning to restorative justice or other non-punitive practice.
Rich Milner was quoted in the Education Week article “ Schools Trying to Prioritize Equity Have Their Work Cut Out for Them, Survey Shows” , about how the equity efforts have shifted. Prior to 2020 the conversations were about mental health and psychological wellness for students and educators. Then in 2020, equity efforts shifted to social injustice and school districts, superintendents, policymakers, organizations, even families were open to thinking about the ways in which structural inequity manifest it way into policies and practices.
Cynthia Osborne was quote in the Desert News article “ What do babies need before age 3 to thrive — and how can state family policy help? ” about how the families with young children may struggle with social, financial and health need during the fragile economic state and the impact of COVID –19.
Cynthia Osborne was quote in the The Hechinger Report article “ With little federal support for families, states are stepping up ” about how the first three years of life are a sensitive and rapid period of development that lays the foundation for all health and well-being and poor experiences can also impact health later on, educational outcomes. Policies aimed at supporting infants, toddler and families are critical this stage.
Marisa Cannata was featured in the Fortune article “ How much do people with an Ed.D. degree make? ” about how an Ed.D. degree and Ph.D. degree are different and the differences between an Ed.D. and Ph.D. career paths.
Faculty and Staff
- Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Associate Dept. Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Program Director of the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.
- 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
- Administrative Officer, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Educational Coordinator, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
- Administrative Specialist to the Department Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Research and Outreach
Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center
The first three years of life have a powerful impact on the future of every person. The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, an academic center housed at Vanderbilt University, helps state leaders take the actions needed for babies and their families to thrive. Our work is grounded in the most rigorous research and is entirely non-partisan. Our mission is to conduct the scientific evaluation needed to better understand which state investments work, for whom, and under what conditions.
Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA)
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.
Strategic Talent Management Decisions for Principals
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.
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 21 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.
The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools - Personalization for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (PASL)
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.”
Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
230 Appleton Place Nashville, TN 37203-5721