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Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies

Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Ph.D. Program Overview

LPO's doctoral-level program in Leadership and Policy Studies is a top-ranked program that allows students to examine education policy and problems through an interdisciplinary lens that incorporates economics, political science, sociology, and international and comparative education. Students in LPO benefit from close mentorship by department faculty, along with access to the resources of both a world-class college of education and a major research university.

The Ph.D. program is designed for those who intend to build an academic career focused on the study of education and policy as researchers, professors, and policy analysts. It is a full-time, four- to five-year program that equips its graduates with the knowledge and methodological tools to conduct cutting-edge research on the pressing educational issues of the day.

 

The program offers two concentrations: Educational Leadership and Policy and Higher Education Leadership and Policy. As a doctoral student, you focus on your selected areas of interest throughout the program. Through your coursework and work with faculty, you will develop strong statistical and data analysis skills while developing expertise in other tools of inquiry, including experimental and quasi-experimental design, survey research methods, and qualitative research methods. All students in the Ph.D. program conduct research, present papers at national academic conferences, and publish in academic journals throughout their time in graduate school.

At the heart of the program is the mentor-apprentice model, in which students work on research projects alongside a collection of esteemed faculty. As a doctoral student, you will be matched with an LPO faculty member whose research interests align with your own, and you will design an individualized program of study that reflects your specific interests and background. Through your research, you will learn to present papers at scholarly conferences and submit journal articles for publication. Ph.D. students regularly publish research with LPO faculty, as well as with fellow Ph.D. students.

Success Stories

The Ph.D. program is designed for those who intend to build academic careers focused on the study of education and policy, as researchers, professors, and policy analysts. In recent years, LPO Ph.D. students have won top national fellowship awards, including the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the American Education Research Association Dissertation Fellowship, and the Association for Education Finance and Policy New Scholar Award.

100% OF LPO PH.D. GRADUATES ARE EMPLOYED AT THE TIME OF GRADUATION

Below is a list of graduates from the past 3 years and their job placements (in alphabetical order). We encourage you to learn more about the great work of our graduates:

  • Dominique Baker, Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University
  • Brendan Bartenan, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
  • Richard Blissett, Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University
  • Sy Vinh Doan, Associate Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation
  • Ngaire Honey, Associate Researcher, La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Seth Hunter, Assistant Professor, George Mason University
  • Sarah Kabourek, Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Adam Kho, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
  • Jenna Kramer, Associate Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation
  • Chris Marsicano, Visiting Assistant Professor, Davidson College
  • Tuan D. Nguyen, Assistant Professor, Kansas State University
  • Christopher Redding, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
  • Luis Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, New York University
  • Laura K. Rogers, Assistant Professor, University of Utah
  • Christopher J. Ryan, Associate Professor, Roger Williams School of Law
  • Benjamin T. Skinner, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
  • Walker Swain, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia
  • Samantha Viano, Assistant Professor, George Mason University

Program Curriculum

Our program relies on a cohort-based model, in which students take most of their classes in the first two years together, allowing for a supportive, collaborative learning experience. All students take a 3-semester quantitative methodological sequence, at least one qualitative methods course, a course in causal research, and disciplinary courses in the history, politics, economics, and sociology of education. All students take a year-long course practicum course in their first year that allows them to begin conducting quantitative research from the very beginning of their time in graduate school. In addition, students take seminar courses with department faculty in their areas of expertise and can take full advantage of the breadth of courses available throughout Peabody College and Vanderbilt University.

Learn more about the curriculum for Higher Education Leadership and Policy and Educational Leadership and Policy.

Program Curriculum

Faculty

The following faculty currently advise Ph.D. students:

Christopher Candelaria
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Sean P. Corcoran
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy & Education, and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Shaun M. Dougherty
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy & Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
William Doyle
  • Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Brent Evans
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Joanne Golann
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Ellen Goldring
  • Executive Associate Dean, Office of the Dean
  • Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair, Professor of Education and Leadership, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Jason Grissom
  • Faculty Director, Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA).
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Carolyn J. Heinrich
  • LPO Dept. Chair; Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Christopher P. Loss
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Associate Professor of History.
  • Chancellor Faculty Fellow (2016–18).
Joseph Murphy
  • Professor of Education; Endowed Mayborn Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Matthew Patrick Shaw
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Assistant Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School.
Adela Soliz
  • Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Current Ph.D. Students:

See a list of current Ph.D. students, as well as more information about their research and how to contact them:
Current LPO Graduate Students