Education policy is comprised of legislation, regulations, principles, and other guidelines decided at the state and local levels. Education systems are governed by these continuously changing rules and laws and are often the subject of much debate. School and class sizes, school privatization, teacher pay, curricular content, and school infrastructure are just a few hot-button issues in education policy. Those who want to research, address, and implement policy change generally need to have the academic and professional credentials to do so. A master’s degree in education policy is one of the most prestigious education options for prospective education leaders.
Why a Master’s Degree?
To work in education policy, candidates must complete the necessary level of education and training. The master’s in education policy online is an excellent degree choice for current or prospective education professionals who want to become school leaders, administrators, and policy analysts. Through specialized instruction and leadership training, students will obtain the knowledge and tools needed to address critical elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education issues. If you decide to pursue a higher degree, such as the PhD in education policy, the master’s degree will serve as an excellent precursor.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
An online master’s degree in education policy is a challenging program and considerable time investment. Serious applicants need to have the following educational requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Desired score on the GRE or GMAT
- Minimum required GPA
- Completion of prerequisites
Inside an Education Policy Master’s Degree Program
Masters of education policy programs can last anywhere from one to two years, depending on the student’s program, course load, and pace. Students can expect to take a wide variety of courses, such as introduction to educational administration, organization of higher education, leadership and professional development, administration theory, and political and cultural context of education. Most graduate-level programs also include capstone courses, in which students typically design and conduct a research study and report their results in a final research paper.
Whether you’re taking a few distance classes or completing a degree program entirely online, it’s important to keep up with your course work and maintain good communication with your instructors, classmates, and faculty. Don’t forget to take advantage of the academic, financial, and career resources provided by your school. Online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades on a learning management system, such as Blackboard or Moodle.
What’s Next for Education Policy Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of the education policy master’s degree program are qualified to work as instructional coordinators, school principals, and political scientists/policy analysts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all three occupations have optimistic job prospects for the future. By 2020, employment of instructional coordinators is expected to increase 20%, school principals are projected to grow 10%, and political scientists/policy analysts are expected to increase 8%. In addition to having good job outlooks, each profession also has favorable salaries. According to the May 2012 Occupational Employment Statistics, instructional coordinators earned an average annual salary of $62,420, school principals made $90,800, and political scientists/policy analysts earned $104,600. Annual earnings vary based on an individual’s employer, location, education, and experience.
Although master’s degree holders generally have good career opportunities and are considered strong job candidates, there some employers and advanced positions that require applicants to have additional education or work experience. If you want to further your education policy knowledge and strengthen your leadership skills, then you should consider earning a PhD in education policy. Completing a PhD program can significantly increase your job prospects, earning potential, and marketability in education or politics.