Education Policy (Policy Studies)

Policymakers at the federal, state and local levels are actively exploring strategies to improve educational outcomes for all students. Increasingly these strategies include dramatic changes in the way schools are organized, in who teaches and how these teachers are prepared, and in how schools are held accountable for student outcomes. Unfortunately, there is little good evidence on which to base many of these important policy decisions. This has led to a growing need for careful, experimental and quasi-experimental research to inform key education policy issues.

The faculty are committed to increasing the diversity of education researchers.  Our backgrounds importantly shape the way we teach and our choice of research questions.  Increasing the diversity of our faculty and students creates a much richer and more interesting environment in which to pursue a variety of questions related to improving the educational outcomes of children and young adults.

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Program Overview

The Curry program in Educational Policy provides students with preparation that draws on a theoretical foundation and employs appropriate methods to offer evidence on important education policy questions. The program is organized on four conceptual components: strong preparation in methods that permit causal inference, a grounding in a social science discipline, an understanding of the working of schools, and a strong knowledge of the existing educational policy landscape and literature.  In addition to the PhD in Education, many students pursue the MPP through UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. 

We employ an apprenticeship model where students work closely with faculty on research projects to examine the impact of a variety of educational policies on student outcomes.  Graduates are prepared to take positions in academia or research organizations.

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