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

Working to Achieve Social and Educational Equity

Change the future of education with a career in leadership, politics, and advocacy. In this master's degree, you will explore the sociocultural, political, and economic contexts of education, learn to create collaborative networks, engage in research and policy analysis, and improve communication between educational systems, human service providers, and the people they serve. If you are an educator or have some other experience working with children, youth or community-based organizations, ELPA will prepare you for leadership roles in non-profits, educational policy, advocacy, and youth engagement.  

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 the MA in Educational Leadership: School Building Leader

What you'll learn

  • How to critically analyze and act effectively on issues of leadership and policy at the federal, state, and local levels
  • Competencies to employ multiple approaches to inquiry and research
  • Depending on your choice of electives: How to develop effective policies and practices for children and youth, how to advocate effectively on behlaf of diverse communities, how to lead a non-profit education organization.
  • Enhanced study of topics through elective courses and internship opportunities 

The MA program in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy prepares students who want to work toward social and education equity through leadership, policy, and advocacy positions in and around schools. Our graduates work in and lead child and community advocacy organizations; policy and research centers; private, charter, and independent schools; non-profits, and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

For instance our alumni 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 to name a few. Some also go on to pursue doctoral study. 

Students 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. Students can 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, to name a few.

How you'll learn

Core Courses and Electives
The MA in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Advocacy combines content courses with fieldwork and electives. 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. 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.

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. 

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.

See the curriculum and degree requirements for this program. 

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

For more information about this MA program, please contact

Noel Anderson 
Program Director