The Schar School and College of Education and Human Development Launch a New Master’s-Level Track in Education Policy


Leading scholars and education policy practitioners from George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and the Schar School of Policy and Government will help students understand how education policy is debated, created, and implemented in a new master's level program this fall.

The graduate-level emphasis area, Education Policy, is offered in the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program and is spearheaded by CEHD associate professor Spiros Protopsaltis, a former deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Education and senior Senate aide, and former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, now a visiting professor at CEHD and the Schar School. 

“Among the most important responsibilities of government is to provide for the education of their citizens,” CEHD Dean Mark Ginsberg said. “This innovative new graduate-level emphasis area will provide students with the background and skills to form and influence education policy, a critical issue for our society. I am truly excited about our partnership with the Schar School and confident that this program track will be highly valued by our students and graduates, as well as those who employ education policy professionals.’

“Education is a third of every state and local government, and a major influence in the private sector as well, with education think tanks, non-profit and for-profit companies playing increasing roles," said Holton.  "When we get education right, we get economic development right, as well as equity and fairness." 

The coursework will provide the knowledge and skills needed to achieve professional goals or pursue doctoral studies.

“Students will learn how to analyze problems, develop solutions, advocate, engage with and advise policymakers, and overall have a positive impact in improving education for all,” Protopsaltis said.

"We're excited to offer this new opportunity to public policy students, combining the expertise of both the Schar School and the College of Education and Human Development faculties,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School. “This emphasis area is a model of collaborative academic initiatives that leverage the skills of faculty members across relevant academic units." 

The MPP emphasis area should appeal both to students who already have experience in education policy and policy analysis as well as to those who want to enter the field. It was designed to provide a strong foundation in education policy, which can be useful to students working in this area who wish to dive deeper, expand their skillset and advance professionally.

“But it also prepares students without prior knowledge or experience to pursue careers in this area,” Protopsaltis added. 

Students will receive the necessary academic grounding for pursuing a doctoral degree, such as the PhD in Education with an education policy specialization offered by CEHD and the PhD in Public Policy offered by the Schar School.

“Our effort capitalizes on the unique strengths and advantages of Mason, the Schar School and CEHD,” he said, noting that the faculty includes both accomplished scholars and former education policy makers. 

All courses will be offered at Mason’s Arlington Campus, which provides convenient access to jobs, internships and networking opportunities unique to the Washington, D.C. area, Protopsaltis said.

“There is a very strong demand for professionals who have the knowledge and skills to think critically and creatively about today’s pressing challenges facing our education system, from preschool through college,” he added.