MA in Education and Social Policy

The MA program in Education and Social Policy addresses the growing demand for professionals who can use up-to-date methods, data, and research results to formulate, implement, and evaluate education policies, ranging from the national No Child Left Behind Act to local or state policies such as New York City's Children First initiative. As the national and international concern with the quality of education grows, local, state and federal education agencies, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations are seeking individuals with the skills and knowledge to help craft education reforms that improve the effectiveness and fairness of educational outcomes.

Based in the social science disciplines of economics and sociology, the program teaches you to use statistics, large datasets, and research designs to analyze education policies for grades K-12 and higher education.

The curriculum is designed to assure that you master appropriate analytical methods as well as develop knowledge of issues in a specific education policy area, such as higher education, race and class, international education, or K-12 education issues. No previous knowledge of education policy or statistics is required.

The degree is distinguished from other master’s degrees in education policy by its strong emphasis on using quantitative methods to ascertain causal effects of programs and policies. You begin your studies with a first course in statistics and progress through more rigorous analytical courses, including regression and econometrics. The sequence of methods courses culminates in a final directed group research project in which groups produce a professional study of an educational intervention or policy of their choosing.

Throughout the course of study, you gain experience:

  • in working with large longitudinal education databases
  • with using economic and sociological principles to analyze K-16 education, and
  • with principles of management, planning, and policy making in the public and nonprofit sectors, which draw on the expertise of faculty in NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

The curriculum places a strong emphasis on understanding the context, purpose, unintended effects, and finally the actual impact of alternative education policies and programs. You will use elective choices, which you’ll choose in consultation with your adviser, to gain knowledge of policy issues.

Students also gain experience through the required Capstone course, where they work in teams during their final semester to design and perform a research study. Projects are designed and written for a particular “clientele” in the policy community. Throughout the tenure of their capstone project, students are expected to consult with faculty who have relevant expertise in appropriate fields of research specialization. As an alternative to the Capstone course, our program has partnered with Columbia University to offer selected students an opportunity to become a fellow in the Consortium for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) during their final semester of full-time study. This interdisciplinary fellowship program focuses on K-12 education reform and consists of a comprehensive seminar, skills training, and inclusion in a professionally guided consulting project with a public agency, school district or non-profit organization.

Graduates are prepared to work in a wide variety of organizations that have a role in policymaking and implementation in the education area, including local, state and federal education departments, foundations, think tanks, and consulting, grant-giving and public-relations departments in selected private organizations. Students in the Education and Social Policy program learn about education policy in New York City--one of the best urban laboratories in the nation. Through this experience, alumni of the Education and Social Policy program are prepared to work in education policy throughout the country, and even in major cities in other nations like China and Japan.  

View and download our PDF brochure to learn more about the Education and Social Policy  program.

Mission Statement

The MA in Education and Social Policy prepares graduates to become professionals who use statistics, large datasets, and research designs to formulate and evaluate education policies in grades kindergarten through twelve and higher education.

The program provides an opportunity to specialize in specific areas of education policy, such as higher education, race and class, international education, or K-12 education issues.

Student Learning Objectives
  • Students will apply principles of economics and sociology to formulate and analyze K-12 and higher education policies.
  • Students will conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses using large longitudinal education databases to interpret and identify causal effects of programs and policies and to apply conclusions to make policy recommendations.
  • Students will understand the policies already implemented as well as needs for additional policies in their chosen areas. They will be able to participate in quantitative studies to further evaluate existing policies and to provide evidence on the possible effects of new policies.
Other Options to Study Education and Policy at Steinhardt

In addition to the MA in Education and Social Policy, the Steinhardt School offers students two other options to study education and policy and to prepare for a career in this field. We encourage you to explore these options further to find the program that best matches your personal interests and career goals.