Doctoral Degree: Educational Policy and Leadership Concentration

Specialization in International Education

The educational policy and leadership concentration’s specialization in international education provides students with the opportunity to study the role of education in the context of Asia, Africa, and Latin America and other developing areas. The specialization provides opportunities to focus on non-formal, popular education, adult and community education, teacher education, adult literacy, and gender issues in development.  Students can also choose to focus on issues of formal education and development as well. Courses and co-curricular activities also bring an international dimension to education in the United States. 

Admissions Process

The admissions process for the educational policy and leadership concentration’s specialization in international education has two steps which are outlined below.  We also strongly encourage applicants to be interviewed either in person or by Skype.  We are happy to answer questions or help you obtain the needed forms if necessary. If you have questions before applying, we encourage you to contact us at for help or further information.

Applying to for doctoral degree in educational policy and leadership, international education specialization, requires two steps:

Step One - Complete the online application process for UMass Amherst Graduate School Here.

Step Two - Complete supplemental forms for specialization in international education which are available Here.  Completed forms should be sent to

All students in international education are expected to become aware of social justice issues in education and to understand participatory and popular education approaches to education. Graduates are expected to have developed an in-depth awareness of cultural differences; the ability to apply critical theory and pedagogy in both schools and communities in domestic and international settings; and practical skills in training, project development, research, and evaluation.

Students in international education have the opportunity to become linked to the College of Education’s Center for International Education (CIE) to assure a symbiotic relationship between academic studies and the practical realities of international development work. Many students receive financial support from projects in CIE. The combination of academic courses, a participatory community structure, and active involvement in applied projects and research activities form the basis of the curriculum of the specialization. See Center for International Education web page.

Admissions Criteria

The international education specialization in the educational policy and leadership doctoral concentration leads to an Ph.D. degree. It is designed for professionals with extensive relevant international field experience (a minimum of two years, but often much more). Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate a professional commitment to working in education in developing countries, a commitment to issues of social justice, and career goals congruent with the program. 

Program of Study

The program of study for the international education specialization of the educational policy and leadership doctoral concentration requires a minimum of 42 credits plus dissertation credits as follows:

Six (6) required educational policy and leadership concentration core and research courses totaling 18 credits consisting of:

  • One (1) educational policy and leadership concentration core course (taken in the first doctoral degree semester)
  • One (1) course in the varieties of social thought core area
  • One (1) course in the leadership and management core area
  • Three (3) research methods courses

Two (2) courses in the international education specialization core area totaling 6 credits

Six (6) international education elective courses totaling 18 credits

With the required eighteen (18) dissertation credits, the total number of required credits is 60.

After admission, students work with their faculty guidance committee to formulate an individualized study plan which balances academic work with relevant experience. This plan typically includes work at three interrelated levels: the theoretical, such as the study of the relationship between education and socio-economic or political change; the practical, where skills are developed in planning, curriculum and materials development, training and management, evaluation and research; and the contextual, which focuses on content areas such as literacy, health, or agriculture and the implications of different socio-cultural settings.

The doctoral degree in educational policy and leadership with a  specialization in international education requires 42 credits beyond the master’s degree and successful completion of a dissertation. Typically, four semesters are devoted to courses and study on campus. Four consecutive semesters in residence is expected of all students.  Course work is followed by a comprehensive examination, the form and content of which is related to the student’s program of study and is established in consultation with a faculty committee. After successful completion of the comprehensives, the student writes a dissertation proposal. When that is approved, the student may leave campus to conduct research, sometimes in the context of employment. An oral defense on campus is required upon completion of the dissertation.

  • Integrating Cultures within Formal Schooling: Exploring Opportunities for Cultural Relevancy in Peri-urban Senegal (2015)
  • A Critical Examination of Policy and Practice in the Transition Experience for Students with Math Learning Disabilities in Mumbai, India (2015)
  • Teachers’ Experiences of Professional Development in Katanga Province, Southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo: A Case Study of Teacher Learning Circles (2014)
  • Understanding Health Issues among Adolescent Females in a Northeast Province of Afghanistan (2014)
  • Computer Technology Integration onto Palestinian Secondary Schools: Theory and Practice (2014)
  • Miss, Miss, I’ve got a story!” Exploring Identity through a Micro-ethnographic Analysis of Lunchtime Interactions with Four Somali Third Grade Students (2013)
  • The Process of Organizational Capacity Development in Action in the Post-conflict Setting of the Literacy Department of Afghanistan (2013)
  • Mitigating Negative Externalities Affecting Access and Equity of Education in Low-Resource Countries: A Study Exploring Social Marketing as a Potential Strategy for Planning School Food Programs in Malawi (2012)
  • Can Free Primary Education Achieve Universal Primary Education? A Study of the Intersections of Social Exclusion, Gender, and Education in Kenya (2012)

Contact Information

Associated Faculty

David R. Evans (Professor), Sangeeta Kamat (Associate Professor), Jacqueline Mosselson (Associate Professor), Bjorn H. Nordtveit (Associate Professor), Gretchen Rossman (Professor), Cristine Smith (Associate Professor).

Affiliated Faculty

Joseph B. Berger (Professor and Senior Associate Dean), John Comings (Adjunct Professor), Ash Hartwell (Adjunct Professor), Sharon F. Rallis (Dwight W. Allen Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and Reform).