icon of a paper next to Apply online text
open door next to gray writing "Visit"

 Core Course Description for EdD, PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Core Course Descriptions Image Courses


Introduction to Educational Leadership and Public Policy

This course introduces students to key topics in organizational theory, school administration and educational policy. In doing so, students will also be introduced to leadership theory as applied to educational settings,  explore the nature of organizations, and review the various conceptions of leadership in American Education with an emphasis on recent efforts to reform schools and the people that work in them. They will also review various analytical models used in public policy analysis and their application to education. Structural components of the doctoral program will also be discussed.


Organizational Behavior in Educational Settings

This is an interactive skills building course designed to improve managerial and team performance in educational settings. Students will address concepts, principles, and practices associated with effective leadership and sound management of individuals, groups, teams, and organizations. The focus is on organizational contexts and dynamics of school processes and outcomes, promoting shared responsibility and civic engagement, and the importance of collaboration in decision making processes.


Transformative Educational Leadership

In this course students will address theoretical, cultural, political and ideological frameworks in leadership and management as a transformative practice. They will explore issues of hierarchy, shared collective political processes, perceptions of leadership, organizational responsibility, shared accountability, and systemic change and community relationships. Emphasis will be placed on transformative leadership as an ethical dimension of sustainable democratic environments.


Social, Historical and Philosophical Foundations of American Education

In this course students will gain a historical and philosophical understanding of change in American Education from the colonial times to the present. They will analyze the interdisciplinary nature of the foundations of education with a focus on the intersections of culture, knowledge and power. The course will examine various schools of thought such as perennialism, essentialism, progressivism, social reconstructionism and scientific management and their nexus with dynamics of change and innovation in American Education, such as the politics of disciplinarity, comprehensive schooling, child driven curriculum vs. society driven interests, outcomes driven curriculum, (in)equality challenges, bilingual education, special education, school choice, vouchers, and homeschooling.


Colloquium I - Politics and Education

In this colloquium, students and faculty will explore issues involving the intersection of politics and educational policy and practice and the impact it may have or that has had on the nation (e.g. United States), states (e. g. Massachusetts) and a particular geographical locality (e.g. the South coast region in Massachusetts). Emphasis will be given to the discussion and analysis of the role that the federal and state governments exert through legislative, executive, and judicial action pertaining to education as well as to roles state agencies, school districts, school boards and elected (or appointed) government officials (legislators, mayors, state officials)  play in the formation, analysis, and practice of educational policy.


Research Methods I: Methods and Design

This course will familiarize students with key concepts and skills involved in understanding and analyzing research in education and related areas. It will first provide a quick survey of the various research methods and designs, including historical and descriptive research and program evaluation. It will then introduce students to methods and strategies to conceptualize and develop a framework upon which to implement a solid qualitative research plan around a current issue or controversy in American Public Education. Emphasis will be placed on the use of case studies, action research, interviews, and ethnographic methods as well as issues related to the gathering and trustworthiness of data.


Design and Evaluation of Educational Systems

In this course students will study how public school systems have been designed, organized, implemented and evaluated in the United States.  Throughout the course students will be confronted with historical and contemporary dominant and counter-dominant designs and evaluation formats as well as with various programs and issues akin to the elementary, middle and secondary levels.


Colloquium II: Critical Issues in Teaching and Learning

In this colloquium students and faculty will analyze critical issues in teaching and learning related to school improvement. The course will emphasize the examination of issues quite influential in the daily life of teachers and students such as cognitive coaching, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, multiple intelligences, thinking skills, learning styles, democratic teaching and learning, emotional intelligence, accelerated learning techniques, effective classroom instructional strategies, diversity within unity, transformative teaching and learning,  methods of assessment,  and innovations in educational technology.


Law and Education

This course is designed to provide a comprehensive review of the law and jurisprudence that governs public (and private) education in the United States. Topics will include an analysis of Education as a fundamental right and as a unique governmental function of the Federal and state governments; the constitutional powers, prerogatives and limitations that these governmental entities have for carrying out public education and regulate the private sector; and the rights and duties of parents, students, teachers and administrators inside and outside the schools.  Special attention will be given to the various roles Law has played and continues to play as an agent of social change and in shaping educational policy and practice in the United States.  In so doing, students will study how the idea of providing an equal educational opportunity has evolved through the courts and legislation from equality to equity and from equity to adequacy, and from simple opportunity (access) to meaningful access (fair chance) and then to results in student attainment.


Human Resources and Change Management in Education

In this course students will develop skills necessary to improve organizational effectiveness, to develop an analysis and research expertise, and manage the demands of institutional and programmatic change. Analysis of theory-to-practice models supports the instructional approach to this course. Students will gain advanced research competencies relevant to educational administration as a course outcome.


Public Finance in Education

This course will provide an overview of how education is financed in the United States and the national, state and local strategies used to support education.  Using Massachusetts as an example, students will examine the various revenue sources that states use to fund  educational services, how these funds are allocated (state funding formulas), the resources it provides to schools and school districts,  and the way districts and schools finance and budget their operations (school budgeting and accounting practices).  Students will also discuss some of the key financial issues shaping the future of public education in the country and the states, along with a discussion of several major policy issues shaping its future.


Research Methods II: Statistical Analysis

This course has been designed to follow a case study approach involving the following statistical concepts: descriptive statistics, probability, sampling, probability distribution, statistical estimation, chi-square testing, analysis of variance and simple regression-correlation analysis.


Colloquium III - Innovations in Instructional Design and Educational Technology

In this colloquium students and faculty will examine new ways in which basic educational and psychological research is transformed into evidence based applied science of learning and instruction.  The colloquium will provide a venue to analyze and discuss how new instructional techniques and technologies can advance student learning and improve the organization of schools delivery systems as well as what it would take to make them work effectively in today’s schools.


Research Methods III: Applied Research

This is research-based course that reviews applied research design, secondary data research techniques, appropriate techniques and sources for Internet research, and use of mixed methodological strategies in applied policy research. The course requires students to conduct independent policy research within this framework and to produce a final research paper on a self-selected educational policy issue.


Integrative Seminar

This is a problem based learning seminar where students will have to apply and integrate the knowledge and skills learned from the previous core courses and colloquia in the  search for solutions to particular situations or  problems that schools or school districts may face or have faced before from the perspective of a stakeholder.  The seminar will serve as a comprehensive review of the subject matter covered by the common core courses and colloquia.


Colloquium IV Promoting Parental and Civic Engagement in Schools

This colloquium will serve as a forum to analyze and debate on strategies and practices that may best involve parents in the education of their children and become civically engaged in their communities to improve the schools where their children attend.  Examples of best practices as well as of current or planned initiatives in the region or in the state will be showcased, and scrutinized to improve them as well as to explore their potential for replication or expansion.   Emphasis will be placed on the study of how best to develop and sustain partnerships with families and community members that support the mission of the school and the role of educational leaders in community organizing as part of school improvement plans.