Educational Leadership and Policy
The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) is a rigorous and comprehensive program that prepares graduates with the entry-level skills required to lead and shape educational institutions and policies at local, national, and global levels. The program also allows teachers and current or aspiring building leaders to continue their work at the building or district level, returning to those settings with skills that focus on reform and justice.
The program's curriculum combines theoretical and practical coursework to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues facing educational institutions and policies. Core courses cover topics such as identity and social justice, leadership development, educational policy analysis, educational history and reform, and research methods. Students also choose from a range of elective courses both within the Marsal School as well as throughout the University of Michigan to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals.
We bring together a diverse cohort of students with shared interests in understanding and improving schools, instruction, and K-12 students’ educational outcomes. Increasing both the excellence and equity of schools must be a national priority. To address this imperative, state and national education reform efforts are increasingly focused on improving the professional knowledge base and preparation of educational leaders, as catalysts for improvement. We engage deeply and meaningfully with you in this work.
The program is centered on values of diversity, equity, and inclusion–or, as we call it at the Marsal School, “dije: diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity”–and offers specialized coursework in these areas. Students are asked in every course to engage in ongoing discussions and reflection on these issues to develop their critical thinking skills and to learn how to promote equity and justice in their future leadership roles.
Another strength of the ELP program is our faculty, who are leading experts in the field of educational leadership and policy. They bring a wealth of research and practical experience to the classroom, and many have held leadership positions in educational institutions and policy organizations. Their unique blend of the theoretical and the practical will offer you the opportunity to graduate with a degree that is both practice-based as well as having developed the research skills to grapple with today’s vexing educational problems.
The ELP advising process is student-centered and highly personalized. You will develop a close relationship with your faculty advisor as well as with your other professors, all of whom will guide and coach you throughout the program as well as during your job search.
Overall, the Educational Leadership and Policy master's program offers an exceptional educational experience that prepares graduates to become effective leaders and advocates in education. Its combination of theoretical and practical coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion make it an excellent choice for students who are passionate about shaping the future of education.
Finally, because we rely so much upon students learning from their faculty as well as from one another, the ELP MA program only accepts students who have had a minimum of two years of professional experience before beginning the program.
* Please note that ELP only accepts applications to begin the program in the fall term. The program begins with EDUC 570 in August, before the start of the fall term. All incoming students complete this coursework in person in August and register for EDUC 570 in the fall term.
ELP Summer Launch 2024 will take place at the Marsal Family School of Education on Saturday, August 10 and Saturday, August 17. The timing for both days will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; students should plan to be present for the entire time both days in person. Note that there will be no opportunity to join remotely for those two Saturdays. During the intervening week, there will be both individual work and teamwork to do, all of which will be done remotely. Students should plan on doing about 8-10 hours of work during that week. Note that we have specifically designed the ELP Summer Launch to be convenient for full-time working folks.
Throughout our two in-person days together and during the intervening week, we will engage in activities designed to help you acclimate to graduate school; understand the scope and focus of our program; explore some of your own experiences and ideas around leadership; and, offer you an initial base of readings that will inform your work as we enter the fall term.
Students can complete the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy on a full-time or part-time basis.
The program can be completed in two terms, in which case students usually take 15 credits in the fall term and 15 credits in the winter term. Students can take elective credits in the spring term; however, course offerings and financial aid opportunities are limited. It is important to note that full-time working professionals cannot complete the program in one year.
Many students complete the ELP program in three or four terms because they might be working full or part-time, juggling family responsibilities, or simply choosing to take more time to complete the coursework. Most international students choose this option. We greatly value and welcome the contributions of part-time students who pursue ELP while working full-time, often as K-12 educators and leaders.
Required ELP courses take place in person, during the evening (5 - 8 pm). We try to offer as many elective courses during this time frame as well. It is important to note that if you are not a full-time student, not every elective course will be available for you to take.
Want to learn more about the program?
See our upcoming information sessions.
The curriculum below pertains to students entering the master’s program in Fall 2023. Please refer to the Intranet to review your degree requirements if you began prior to Fall 2023.
Students complete the following courses:
Program specialization credits
Students complete the following courses:
- EDUC 572 – ELP Capstone Course
- EDUC 575 – Introduction to Leadership Development
Students also complete one of the following courses:
Students complete a minimum of fifteen credits of graduate coursework from available U-M offerings. All electives must be approved by a faculty advisor. Students are encouraged to take at least one course outside of the Marsal School.
Frequently Asked Questions
Explore more offerings
Connect with ES
Interested in ES? Schedule an appointment with our recruitment team:
Location and Office Hours
610 E. University Avenue
Room 4218 - Educational Studies
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
This program begins in the Fall term. Applicants who apply by the deadline will receive priority scholarship consideration and have the opportunity to attend Campus Visit Day. After the deadline passes, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and as space allows.
To submit a successful application for admission, you need to provide the following:
- Academic Statement of Purpose
- Part-Time Admission: Applicants seeking admission to a master’s program may attend on a part-time basis. Please indicate this by answering the “part-time” question on page 9 of the application.
- The Academic Statement of Purpose serves to demonstrate a fit between your background/interests and the Educational Studies master’s program’s philosophy, structure, and offerings. The statement should take the form of a concise and coherent essay, approximately 2-3 pages in length, double-spaced.
- Please be sure to address the following elements in your statement with regard to the specific thread of the Master’s in Educational Studies degree to which you are applying:
- A clear statement about the opportunities, issues, and/or problems of education that motivate you to pursue your chosen thread of the Master’s in Educational Studies.
- A concise summary of relevant academic or professional experience. Please explain the connection between your academic or professional experience and the opportunities, issues and/or problems of education introduced in #1.
- An overview of your short-term and long-term career goals. Please introduce how you will go about addressing the opportunities, issues, and problems of education introduced in #1.
- A clear statement explaining how you expect that program thread will allow you to better understand the opportunities, issues, and problems of education that motivate your graduate studies and on which you will focus your career. Please make specific reference to details such as course offerings, experiential learning opportunities, campus resources, and the expertise of specific faculty members.
- Personal Statement
- 500 word limit
- How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? For example, if you grew up in a community where educational, cultural, or other opportunities were either especially plentiful or especially lacking, you might discuss the impact this had on your development and interests. This should be a discussion of the journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Please do not repeat your Academic Statement of Purpose.
- Three (3) letters of recommendation
- We strongly encourage two of your letters come from individuals who are familiar with your academic performance. The third may be from a professional reference.
- Register your recommenders' names and contact information on the online application so that they will be sent instructions for submitting their letters via the application system. Let your recommenders know that they need to upload a letter and that it is required by the program.
- As soon as you click "save" on the page of the application where your recommenders' contact information is entered, they will receive an email with instructions for completing the process. Proceed to this point in the application process as soon as possible to trigger that email.
- Resume or CV
- Test Scores (See test details in Step 5 below)
- English proficiency scores (for non-native speakers of English only)
- GRE Test Scores are not required for admission
Create an account with Rackham Graduate School.
This program, like all of the Marsal Family School of Education's graduate programs, is administered through the University of Michigan's Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Rackham offers a host of resources and administrative support to help see you through from submitting your application to completion of your degree.
- After completing page 5 of the application, you will receive an e-mail with your U-M ID. A U-M ID number will be issued to you via email within 5 business days of completing pages 1-5 and advancing to page 6 of the ApplyWeb application. Having your U-M ID number to include on all your application materials ensures accurate and timely processing, so we encourage you to complete pages 1-5 early in the process.
- If you need to submit your application before you receive your U-M ID number, you may still complete the application. Include your date of birth and the program’s name on your application materials.
- Current and former U-M Ann Arbor students, alumni and employees: You do not need to obtain a new U-M ID number. Use your previously obtained U-M ID number.
- If your personal information has changed (for example, legal name, gender), make sure the personal information you submit with your application matches your previous Ann Arbor campus record. If your previous Ann Arbor campus record does not display your current personal information, contact the Registrar’s Office or the Shared Services Center to change your personal information before you apply.
Include at the top of each document:
- The type of document (Academic Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, or Curriculum Vitae or Resume)
- Your name
- The name of the graduate program
- Your 8 digit U-M ID (if known)
Make sure margins are at least one-inch so nothing is cropped when you upload the documents to the application.
- TOEFL, MELAB, ECPE, or IELTS scores (for non-native speakers of English only; valid 2 years from test date)
- Information regarding English Proficiency tests and exemption guidelines can be found on the Rackham Graduate School website.
- GRE Test Scores
- GRE test scores are not required for admission, but scores (valid 5 years from test date) can be included with your application.
- Provide ETS with the U-M Institutional Code of 1839 and your scores will be sent directly to the university.
- Test scores must be sent directly from the testing center to the Rackham Graduate School. We recommend starting this process early as it can take up to two weeks for the scores to be received.
- Upload an electronic version of your official transcript(s) for each Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral degree earned or in progress through your ApplyWeb application account (part of the Rackham application system).
- Do not upload academic records printed from your school’s website or student portal.
- You are not required to send official transcripts at the time of application. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcripts. Admitted applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcripts are required.
- Students who have studied in a country outside of the U.S. should review the required credentials from non-U.S. institutions. For all degrees obtained at non-U.S. institutions—Request that degree-granting institutions submit official transcripts/records to the Rackham Graduate School at the time of application.
- Information for submitting official transcripts can be found on the Rackham Graduate School website.
Check on your application status. If you’ve been accepted, you will receive an email with information on how to send your official transcripts.
- If you have been accepted, congratulations! You may accept or decline the offer of admission in your U-M Friend Account.
- For international students that accept offer of admission, Rackham prepares immigration documents for visas.
Application fee waiver
The $75 application fee is waived for all U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents
GRE general exam scores
Undergraduate GPA guideline
Applications are evaluated using a holistic process, which means that reviewers carefully consider all materials provided and no single factor is used in either accepting or denying an applicant for admission
Online, evening, or weekend courses
Professional trajectories of graduates include:
- Classroom teaching
- Department chair
- Assistant principal
- Various central office roles
- Curriculum design and development
- Policy analysts and other policy-centered roles
- Program administrators, directors, coordinators, and specialists
- Non-profit leadership roles
Career outcomes of recent graduates:
The Educational Leadership and Policy program does require an internship. However, students may complete an internship during the winter term and earn graduate credits with the approval of their faculty advisor.
Please see Internship Resources for ES Master's Students for more information.