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Master's Degree Program

Education Policy and Analysis

Gain the skills to design, evaluate, and scale the effective policies and practices critical to improving outcomes for learners — at the global, national, state, and local levels.

The Education Policy and Analysis (EPA) Program will prepare you to lead and engage in education policy development, analysis, and change in organizations and settings throughout the United States and internationally. You also will learn how to scale effective education practices and how to leverage policy in order to expand their reach. The program will provide you with the theoretical frameworks and analytic methods that will enable you to design, implement, and evaluate policies at the global, national, state, institutional, program, and project levels. Our program prepares you to work in local, state, national, and international sectors, as well as research and consulting organizations, think tanks, institutions of higher education, and policy advocacy organizations. 


"Crafting and evaluating education policy remains a critical part of ensuring better outcomes for all students, and our program leads the way in cultivating the next generation of education policy professionals. From integrating research and practice to improve public policy to identifying the best method of communicating research finding to policymakers, our program will provide you with the real-world tools you need to make a difference."

Carrie Conaway, Faculty Co-Chair

After completing the Education Policy and Analysis Program, you will have a deeper understanding of the following competencies that explore how to:  

  • Integrate values and goals - Integrate the values and goals of your organization or community throughout the policy process, with special attention to equity as a central value in education.
  • Understand the issue and context - Define the educational problem or opportunity with an understanding of the relevant historical, social, economic, and political context, including the differing interests and incentives of stakeholders.
  • Evaluate evidence and tradeoffs - Define policy options and the criteria for evaluating them. Evaluate the quality of the available evidence and use it to compare alternatives, considering fiscal, political, social, individual, and collective consequences and tradeoffs.
  • Communicate and collaborate - Communicate, collaborate, advocate, and negotiate with allies, opponents, and other stakeholders. Convey evidence and reasoning clearly and appropriately for the audience.
  • Engage in the policy process - Make recommendations and implement policy under conditions of uncertainty, revising decisions as new evidence and understandings come to light. Build and share new evidence on policy implementation and impact.

Curriculum Information

The EPA Program is designed to help you gain the knowledge and practice the skills essential to developing, implementing, and analyzing education policy in a wide variety of professional contexts. A minimum of 42 credits are required to graduate with an Ed.M. degree from HGSE.

The main elements of the 2022–23 academic year are: 

  • The Foundations courses (14 credits) — How People Learn, Leading Change, Evidence, and Equity and Opportunity — in which students gain core skills central to the profession of education.
    • This program commences with How People Learn, an immersive online course that runs June–July and requires a time commitment of 10-15 hours per week.
    • You will continue Foundations with Leading Change, Evidence, and Equity and Opportunity on campus in August. 
    • Your Equity and Opportunity Foundations experience culminates in an elected course, which will take place during terms when electives are available. 

To fulfill the program requirement, students must take a minimum of 12 credits specific to EPA, including the following:

  • The EPA Program Core Experience (4 credits) is a 4-unit fall semester course that introduces both practical competencies and theoretical frameworks about the policymaking process. You will survey policies across the sector and advance your learning through cases, problems of practice, and current policy debates. The experience offers exposure to a variety of education levels — early childhood, K–12, higher education, and adult learners — and settings in the U.S. and around the world. Students must enroll in their first fall semester. 
  • Research methods courses (4 credits), course topics may include statistics for educational research, qualitative research methods, and program evaluation. 
  • Policy-related courses (4 credits), course topics may include international comparative education policy, education finance, state and federal education policy, higher education student success, and additional research methods.
  • Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), a written submission that demonstrates application of program competencies to a real-world or simulated organization or client. The PAE may be a final project developed in a course, including the courses above, or in a field experience or internship. The purpose of the PAE is to allow you to practice, demonstrate, and reflect on the five core competencies of the EPA program. 
  • The remaining credits are taken via elective coursework, which includes the opportunity to specialize in a Concentration

Explore our course catalog.
Note, all information and courses are subject to change.

Program Faculty

Students will work closely with faculty associated with their area of study, but students can also work with and take courses with faculty throughout HGSE and Harvard. The faculty co-chairs for EPA are Carrie Conaway and Andrew Ho, and the Program Core Experience instructors are Eric Taylor and Emiliana Vegas. View our faculty directory for a full list of HGSE faculty.

Career Pathways

The EPA Program prepares you for a variety of career pathways, including: 

  • Policy analyst 
  • Policy associate  
  • Local, state, or federal government professional  
  • Research associate or director of research  
  • Senior research portfolio manager  
  • Institutional research analyst  
  • Data analyst  
  • Program/project coordinator
  • Program/project manager
  • Community organizer
  • Policy consultant  


An emphasis on policy as a driver of education transformation is a key component of our Education Policy and Analysis Program. Through coursework, core experiences, and events such as panel discussions and policy debates, the program offers you the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to develop, implement, and analyze education policy. Here are examples of the EPA experience and the impact its community is making on the field:

ICA Winners 2023

HGSE Honors Master's Students with Intellectual Contribution Award

The recognition is given to 10 graduating Ed.M. students (two from each residential Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students

Christopher Cleveland

The Impact of Geography and Policy on Students

Ph.D. candidate Christopher Cleveland's research focuses on issues of equity and the impact of environmental factors on educational opportunity

Cohort and Community

As an EPA student, you will be joining a community bound by a shared passion for improving education outcomes, opportunities, and systems through policy. The EPA cohort is comprised of learners from diverse professional backgrounds and levels of experience; from P–16 educators and leaders to policymakers and business executives; from the U.S. and diverse countries abroad; and from early childhood through postsecondary and adult education. Our community engages in shared learning inside and outside the classroom, including informal policy debates with faculty during brown bag lunches, panels with senior policy analysts who share advice on career pathways, and cohort-wide opportunities to learn about and from your peers.

Tell us about yourself so that we can tailor our communication to best fit your interests and provide you with relevant information about our programs, events, and other opportunities to connect with us.

Admissions Information

Learn more about: Upcoming Admission Events Application Requirements | Tuition and Financial Aid | Recorded Webinars | Brochure Download | FAQs

Connect with Admissions

If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Stanislav Rivkin.

Additional EPA Resources

Connect with Program Staff

If you have remaining program-specific questions, please contact EPA Assistant Director Abbie Bloom.