MA in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy (ELPA)

Work to Achieve Social and Educational Equity

Change the future of education with a career in leadership, politics, and advocacy. In this master of arts program, you will explore educational politics and policy and the burgeoning role of educational organizations working with schools and communities, both nationally and internationally; learn to lead cross-sector; create collaborative networks; and engage in research and policy analysis. If you are an educator or have some experience working with children and youth or community-based organizations, this degree will prepare you to lead in educational non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and advocacy organizations.

This program does not lead to New York state certification as a school building leader (assistant principal or principal). If you are interested in obtaining state certification through a master’s degree, see our MA in Educational Leadership: School Building Leader.

What you'll learn

  • How to critically analyze and act effectively on issues of leadership and policy
  • Competencies to lead cross-sector
  • How to employ multiple approaches to inquiry, research, and analysis
  • Enhanced study of topics through elective courses and internship opportunities 

See the curriculum and degree requirements for this program. 

How you'll learn

Core Courses and Electives
The MA in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Advocacy combines content courses with fieldwork and electives. Each course examines multiple theoretical perspectives, themes of equity and social justice, a focus on the needs and experiences of low-income urban children and youth, and implications for leadership within and outside of educational settings.

Areas of Focus
In your core seminars, you'll study Education Advocacy, Organization and Leadership Theory, the Politics of Education, Participatory Action Research, Demographic Analysis, and pursue additional study based on your chosen focus: leadership, politics, or advocacy. You can pursue multiple paths toward analyzing and critically assessing issues of leadership and policy at the federal, state, and local levels and develop competencies to employ multiple approaches to inquiry and research. You'll also choose from a wide array of options, including economic analysis, policy analysis, demographic studies, community asset mapping, participatory action research, survey design, and ethnographic and case study inquiry.

Flexible Study
The curriculum offers considerable flexibility in creating a program of study that you and your adviser can tailor to fit your professional goals and interests. You can choose to study full-time or part-time. Full-time students can complete the 36-credit program in just three semesters. Students have finished in two summers and two semesters as well, or, in rare cases, in two semesters and one summer. Students will soon be able to complete the MA in ELPA within a 14 month or 1.5-year time frame. Details coming soon.

Fieldwork and Internships
As part of your graduate studies, you will participate in an internship in community-based advocacy organizations, schools, or policy centers. Placements are based on your academic and career interests. Additional field-based opportunities are also included in coursework throughout the program. Thirty-nine percent of our graduates’ internship placements resulted in a paid position within the organization.

In addition to this MA program, NYU Steinhardt offers students two other options to study education and policy. We encourage you to explore these options further to find the program that best matches your personal interests and career goals.

Prepare for a career as a

  • Program director
  • Career and internship coordinator
  • Manager of economic opportunity program
  • Director of admissions and recruitment
  • Development and communications director
  • Program or data analyst

Our graduates work in and lead child and community advocacy organizations; policy and research centers; private, charter, and independent schools; non-profits, and international NGOs. Some direct programs in places such as Harlem Village Academies, several city and state Departments of Education, including the NYC DOE, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, San Diego Youth Development Office, The Highlander Center, Brooklyn School for Music and Theater, Good Shepherd Services, Points of Light Foundation, Hunts Point Alliance for Children, Young Women’s Leadership Network, the After School Corporation, Year Up, and Posse Foundation. Others  go on to pursue doctoral study. 

For more information about this MA program, please contact

Noel Anderson
Program Director