Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Launches Online Doctoral Program in Education Policy

Robert Stein

October 2, 2018


The degree is the latest fully online doctoral program offered by Texas Tech and one of just a handful of online education policy doctoral programs in the nation.

Texas Tech University is using the latest digital technology to push educational policymaking forward with a doctoral program accessible to students regardless of geographic location.

This year, the College of Education launched a fully online, four-year doctoral program in Educational Leadership Policy

The inaugural cohort of 12 students was admitted in the fall, and admissions are now open on a rolling basis for the second cohort. Prospective students can apply online through the Graduate School.

The 60-credit-hour program is designed to produce critically engaged educational policymakers who can use data-driven methods to craft policy with a focus on making educational systems more equitable for students and families. Students receive rigorous training in leadership, organizations, policy theory, research methods, policy implementation and advocacy.

“Policy drives everything that happens in education,” said Scott Ridley, dean of the College of Education. “From school lunch menus to required curriculum, policy forms the basis for P-20, or pre-K through college graduation, educational initiatives. Although often invisible to the daily functioning of education, policy is the site of reform and progress. In light of this reality, the College of Education has launched a new interdisciplinary doctoral degree program on educational policy to meet the growing need for individuals with a unique skill set for change.”

Graduates will be prepared for leadership positions in a wide variety of settings at local, state, national and international levels. Those include school districts, universities, government agencies, nonprofits and policy think tanks.

A key focus of the program is bridging the gap between policy and practice, said Alexander Wiseman, a professor in the College of Education who specializes in educational policy. The curriculum involves application of theory to real-world issues such as racial and economic disparities in student achievement or the role of charter schools in education reform.

An emphasis on “policy to practice,” paired with the fact that all affiliated faculty members have worked in K-12 settings, sets the doctoral program apart from others like it, Wiseman added.

“We want to talk about how to create and enact policy that leads to actual change that's sustainable,” he said. “A lot of policy is expecting or anticipating how you should change things to make them better or run smoothly, but policy is often implemented without a clear strategy for making that change. That's one of the problems this program will address.”

The degree is the most recent addition to the College of Education's graduate-level offerings and is the college's sixth doctoral degree program. It is the latest fully online doctoral program offered by Texas Tech and one of just a handful of online education policy doctoral programs in the nation.

Wiseman said he was excited about the learning possibilities opened by the online format. Using video conferencing, students regularly engage in a virtual classroom as if they were face-to-face. Instructors can share content like videos and slide presentations or use virtual whiteboards to interact.

“What's great about the online program is the opportunity to work with a truly diverse group of students with experience from communities that share different values,” Wiseman said. “You are always trying to craft policy that does as much as possible for as many as possible, so learning how to navigate those different backgrounds, perspectives, cultures and values is one of the biggest advantages of an online student base.” 

For more information, visit the College of Education website.