The master of arts program in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies draws upon an integrated knowledge base, the expertise of renowned faculty, and practical experiences to equip students for education leadership.
Students complete 45 units within three consecutive quarters, 27 units of which are within the Graduate School of Education. In addition, students complete a field project that addresses a specific educational challenge. The small cohort, freedom to pursue interests, support of the POLS seminar, and mentorship of a faculty advisor make the learning experience personal.
POLS gives students a high degree of freedom to shape their course of study in accordance with their goals and interests. POLS students typically take courses in other Stanford schools and departments, including business, law, public policy, engineering and design, economics, history, fine arts, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.
All POLS students must take 27 units in the GSE, including the following requirements:
The field project is a cornerstone of the POLS learning experience. It provides each student the opportunity to gain experience in a specialized setting and apply theory and methods to real-world problems. Student field project work is supported within the POLS seminar.
Students spend approximately 150 hours over two quarters working on their field project. This work includes (but is not limited to) work with a school, district office or university, an ed-tech startup, a research group, an education consultancy, a policy institute, or a philanthropic organization. Students can choose among pre-arranged sites or negotiate their own.
The field project culminates in a “deliverable,” which can be a research report, policy paper, business plan, curriculum, or other output that successfully demonstrates student accomplishment while providing the site host with valuable insight. Students present their work in the spring.
3 Lessons Schools Can Learn From Startups
Working with Entangled.Group was a true privilege and eye-opening experience. “3 Lessons Schools Can Learn From Startups” captures my reflections on this experience and the other two documents are...
Reducing Digital Inequities in Higher Education
Kate Berkley and Shadman Uddin
In recent years, American universities have implemented an array of innovative strategies to enhance the academic success of students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. Yet first...
SWAG: Where Practice Meets Research
As a research intern with the Students with Amazing Goals (SWAG) Research Team at the John Gardner Center, I was privileged to complete three deliverables: a literature review exploring successful...
For more detail on coursework and fieldwork, visit the Student Handbook.
Throughout the program year students have the opportunity to engage in conversations with leaders from a variety of domains including schools and districts, state and federal government, and the public and private sectors. Students facilitate these intimate gatherings and have the opportunity to pose questions and consider aspects of leadership from different perspectives.
POLS students who wish to further their analytical and policy analysis skills may apply to a two-year joint degree program to earn a master’s in education at the GSE and a master’s in public policy in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Students attracted to this joint degree have a wide variety of interests, including education policy, management, technology, and teaching and learning.
The overlapping curriculum allows students to complete the two degrees (MA/MPP) in two years rather than the three years the programs would take if pursued independently. Students spend their first year taking public policy core courses and education electives, and completing the POLS field project. Students typically devote the second year to intensive education study and the completion of the MPP practicum.
Hear from our students about why they chose to study education policy and leadership at Stanford GSE, what their learning journey has been like, and what advice they would give to future POLS students.