What is Education Policy?
Education is a lens through which to examine a number of learning, social justice, and socio-economics issues. Education policy is a growing and evolving field that attracts big picture thinkers, researchers, advocates for social impact, and people who care deeply about affecting the future direction of all levels of education. Policy analysts may look at important questions impacting education, such as how class size affects learning, or how certain institutional or testing structures affect student outcomes.
Education policy analysts and researchers can work within schools, at the local, state, and federal government levels, or in education policy research centers. Private sector companies also hire education policy experts to help market products and advances in educational technology.
What skills are needed?
Education policy can be a rewarding field for those who are interested in education but see their skills and strengths best utilized outside of the classroom. Researching and data analysis are key skills needed for a career in education policy research, which often draws on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. In addition, folks involved in data collection and assessment may have advanced statistics knowledge, while those responsible for gathering information or communicating policy changes have strong skills in public engagement and all types of communication.
There are diverse paths to becoming an education policy expert and can include teaching, public policy experience, nonprofit work, and research. Typically, a master’s degree in education, educational leadership, educational psychology/development, public policy, or law is needed to move up in the field. Lifetime researchers can also choose to earn a doctoral degree.
Sample job titles: Program Coordinator; Analyst; Research Assistant; Education Specialist; Assessment Specialist; Communications Assistant; Data Analyst
Hiring Timeline: Spring to early summer
Additional Education Policy websites and information
- Williams Spreadsheet with list of Education Policy Think Tanks, NGOs, and other research organizations
- Spreadsheet of Education Policy Organizations, compiled by UVA
- Learning Policy Institute
- AIR Education Policy Center
- Massachusetts Association of School Committees
- New America
- Teaching Lab
- Education and Class
- Inside Higher Ed Blogs
- EdWeek Blogs
- Public Policy Lab