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Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis: Wisconsin Idea Executive Cohort

PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis

Man in suit leading meeting

Take on the biggest challenge in American education: closing achievement gaps in student performance. The Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD Cohort in K-12 Leadership program’s flexible schedule allows you to attend weekend classes during the academic year and study full time in the summer.


Is this program right for you?

The Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD Cohort in K-12 Leadership program prepares you to take on one of the most vexing problems in American education: closing achievement gaps in student performance.

You will interact with nationally recognized faculty and leading practitioners as you gain sophisticated strategies for using data to address district inequities, provide strong instructional leadership, and evaluate program effectiveness. You will also learn to use the most recent research-based practices to improve student achievement across a district.

The Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD Cohort in K-12 Leadership program is rigorous but designed to allow students to work full time while pursuing the degree. Classes meet on weekends during the fall and spring semesters, and students attend classes full-time in the summer. You can defend your dissertation within three or four years.

Along with attaining a PhD, depending on your needs and interests, you will be eligible for endorsement for licensure for superintendent, director of special education and pupil services, or director of curriculum and instruction.

Is this program right for you?

The Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD Cohort in K-12 Leadership program prepares you to take on one of the most vexing problems in American education: closing achievement gaps in student performance.

You will interact with nationally recognized faculty and leading practitioners as you gain sophisticated strategies for using data to address district inequities, provide strong instructional leadership, and evaluate program effectiveness. You will also learn to use the most recent research-based practices to improve student achievement across a district.

The Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD Cohort in K-12 Leadership program is rigorous but designed to allow students to work full time while pursuing the degree. Classes meet on weekends during the fall and spring semesters, and students attend classes full-time in the summer. You can defend your dissertation within three or four years.

Along with attaining a PhD, depending on your needs and interests, you will be eligible for endorsement for licensure for superintendent, director of special education and pupil services, or director of curriculum and instruction.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.*
  • Hold or be eligible for an administrative license.
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

*The admissions committee may consider an applicant that does not meet these requirements. Supporting factors include documentation of potential for leadership and relevant experiences that affect your ability to serve in leadership roles.”

Application materials required:

  • Online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Essay
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation

Connect with us

Program Overview: Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics

October 12
noon-12:30 p.m.
Interested in using data to make an impact on teaching, learning, and policy in the world of education? Join program staff to learn more about the MS in Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics program, including the curriculum, the application process, and scholarships.
Register for Program Overview: Educational Psychology: Learning Analytics

Program Overview: ELPA: Global Higher Education

October 12
4-4:30 p.m.
Join Program Director Professor Weijia Li to learn more about the Master of Science in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis: Global Higher Education (GHE) Program, including admission requirements, the application process, curriculum, and alumni job placement.
Register for Program Overview: ELPA: Global Higher Education

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Program highlights

  • Along with attaining a PhD, depending on your needs and interests, you will receive licensure for the superintendent, director of special education and pupil services, or director of curriculum and instruction.
  • Interact with nationally recognized faculty and leading practitioners as you gain a sophisticated set of strategies for using data to address district inequities, provide strong instructional leadership, and evaluate program effectiveness.
  • Individuals will be equipped with necessary skills to participate in the nationwide discussion on how to eliminate achievement gaps in student performance which are overwhelmingly apparent in the current American education system.

The UW–Madison School of Education was ranked 5th in the nation in 2022 — marking the ninth straight year it has been rated among the top five by U.S. News and World Report.

How you'll learn

  • On-campus classes held on weekends during the fall and spring semesters, and full time during the summer.
  • Online learning components for many classes.
  • Work individually and in teams to complete class assignments.
  • Research, complete, and defend a doctoral dissertation.

Sample curriculum

Semester 1

  • Doctoral Inquiry in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
  • Critical Epistemologies & Organizational Theory in Education
    Research or Thesis

Semester 2

  • The Politics of Education
  • Introduction to Quantitative Inquiry in Education
  • Research or Thesis

Semester 3

  • Seminar in Educational Law
  • Field Research Designs & Methodologies in Educational Administration
  • Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership

Semester 4

  • Surveys and Other Quantitative Data Collection Strategies
  • Theory & Practice of Educational Planning
  • Research or Thesis

Semester 5

  • Advanced Quantitative Methods OR Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • Urban Education Leadership
  • Research or Thesis

Semester 6

  • Seminar in Educational Finance
    Leadership for Inclusive Schooling
  • Cities, Schools, and the Urban Crisis

Semester 7

  • Seminar in Authentic Pedagogy & Achievement
  • The School Superintendency
  • Research or Thesis

Semester 8

  • Complete the dissertation and defend (continuous enrollment in three graduate credits necessary each term until dissertation is completed)

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • Assistant Principal
  • Principal
  • Superintendent

Market Salary
$99K in 2019

Projected Job Growth
7.9% for Education Administrators (2016-2026)

Job Postings
1,142 in 2019

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2020.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

Ready to learn more about Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis: Wisconsin Idea Executive Cohort?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events.

Connect with a coach

Erin Kuehn-Schettler

 They blended research and theory with what’s practical. It helped bridge the two worlds. I continue to reach out to professors and people I’ve met that are also alumni of UW-Madison. I absolutely love being a part of the Badger nation.  

Erin Kuehn-Schettler, K-12 Administrator
Read more about Erin