Introducing Our Master’s Program in Educational Policy Studies: An Interview with Program Director Marcus Winters

This fall BU Wheelock will welcome the first cohort of students to enroll in our newest Master’s program: the Master of Arts in Educational Policy Studies. We sat down with Program Director Marcus Winters to find out more about this program:

Who is this Master’s program intended for?

We hope to attract people who are looking for a career within education policy. Students might end up working at non-profits concerned with education, within government, at philanthropic foundations, or research organizations – so a broad set of educational organizations looking for people with the analytical and communications skills gained from the program.

What sets this program apart?  

This program is very different from other programs at BU Wheelock. It’s a response to growth within the world of education policy, and represents a movement towards a heavier research focus. It is a much more research focused than our other master’s programs in educational leadership and policy studies.

What should prospective students know before applying to this program? 

Wear your math hat when you walk in the door, because we’re looking for people with the skills necessary to get through rigorous course work on the research side. We’re looking for students who have demonstrated a clear interest in education, in research, and in policy. We’ve designed the program so we can comfortably keep it to a small cohort of students who have the skills to be successful. That said, there’s a very large range of students who would be successful in this program – you can come in with a broad range of interests and skills that will fit here.

What important skills will students learn?  

We’ve structured the program so students would get a mixture of research methods and policy. There’s a limited set of required coursework – we’re asking students to take at least two research methods courses and an advanced course in either quantitative analysis or qualitative analysis. Students will take also take a course in educational policy and a course in social justice in education. Then students have some flexibility in their electives – we require students to take at least one elective outside of Wheelock. We’re also hoping that students will use that opportunity to gain some of the communication skills that will help them when it comes to writing for various audiences in the policy world.

What expertise and experience do faculty teaching in this program bring to the program

We have a small faculty with a diverse set of interests. I’m an economist and I work on school choice accountability and teacher quality issues. My background is from the think tank world, mixing academic research and bringing that research into public conversations. Nate Jones focuses on special education in policy. Stephanie Curenton worked as a policy maker for a while and is focused on early childhood education, and her background is in developmental and community psychology.

Note: The MA in Policy Studies will accept applications on a rolling basis throughout spring. Full-time students are expected to complete the degree in one year. A part-time option allows students to complete the program over two years. To find out more about the program and about applying, please click here.

– Grace Hagerty