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Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies

Education is a joint venture. Government, business, schools, and civil society all contribute to the provision of education. The mission of the Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies (POLS) program is to equip our students with the knowledge, theory, and practical skills they need to bring about the change they want to see in education.

The program

This nine-month, full-time residential program combines coursework and field work to prepare students for effective leadership in a wide range of education enterprises. Our cohort model emphasizes teamwork, understanding complex problems, and designing solutions. Students collaborate with faculty, peers, and field site hosts. The program awards a master of arts degree.

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Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies at Stanford

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Why Stanford?

Stanford is known for its interdisciplinary approach to learning and problem solving, and POLS students have access to classes and faculty across the university. At the GSE, the POLS program situates students at the intersection of cutting-edge education research and practice in the field of education.

A student working on his laptop in a cafeteria.

Why you?

POLS students want to lead change to bring about more just and equitable education for all learners. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and share a desire to learn in a collaborative environment and develop the skills they need to become more effective leaders.

Learn more about POLS students

The back of graduating students in their caps and gowns.

After you graduate

POLS does not prepare students for a particular role or job. Rather, it cultivates education leaders who go on to be change makers in a variety of roles and domains. POLS alumni work in schools, government, business, philanthropies, education technology, and more. Stanford offers strong career support to students and alumni, both through GSE EdCareers and Stanford Career Education.

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Faculty affiliated with POLS

POLS Program Director
Associate Dean of Educational Affairs
Adjunct Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor

Our community

Tracie Benally is a POLS student who graduates in June.
Tracie Benally, MA '24 Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies
Building on the past for a better future
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Aaron Ragsdale is the manager of the GSE Makery.
Aaron Ragsdale, MS ’15, GSE Makery Manager
Creating tools for change
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Shyheim Snead, smiling, in front of a colorful wall mural and wearing a Stanford sweatshirt
Shyheim Snead, MA/MBA '24 Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies
Forging collaborations to support students, families, and communities
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What you need to know

Admission requirements

To learn more about requirements for admission, please visit the Application Requirements page.

Financing your education

To learn more about the cost of the program and options for financial support, please visit Financing Your Master’s Degree on the admissions website.

Contact admissions

For admissions webinars and to connect with the admission office, see our  Connect and Visit page.

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