Ph.D. in OLPD
Education Policy and Leadership Executive cohort

This doctoral program focuses on leadership of educational systems and is specially designed to meet the needs of mid-career educational leaders. The curriculum establishes foundational understandings of educational systems, leadership dynamics and the realities of power and politics in schools, as well as the role of research in educational innovation and improvement. Students will learn to examine multiple dimensions of PK-12 educational systems, including their cultural and historical contexts, policies and mandates that shape practice, and strategies to build consensus among diverse stakeholders.

Benefits of this cohort program

  • Course content is relevant to the needs of experienced educational leaders.
  • Courses are taught by OLPD faculty and faculty from across the University who are experts in educational policy and research, educational politics, leadership, organizational theory and practice, systems thinking, and research methods. They are widely recognized for their scholarly work and are excellent and committed teachers and advisers.
  • A cohort-based program comprised of diverse education professionals provides a robust learning community in which members support and learn from each other.
  • Courses are offered on the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities campus during a 3-4 week summer session and in full-day meetings twice a month during the academic year.
  • It is possible to remain fully employed while completing requirements for this degree.


  • Department of education executive level superintendent
  • School district director of human resources, special education, community education, or equity
  • Director of curriculum, teaching and learning, or staff development
  • Philanthropic of non-profit executive leader or education program officer
  • Superintendent or assistant, associate, area, or deputy superintendent
  • Non-profit or philanthropic executive leader
  • Assistant, associate, area, deputy superintendent
  • Chief of schools
  • District administrator


  • 70 credits completed in 3-5 years for full time students


Students take 48 credits of coursework examining system leadership focusing on:

  • Systems thinking and the interdependent structures of organizational systems
  • Theory and practice of leading complex learning systems
  • Organizational culture and change
  • Analysis of education policy and practices and their influence on student learning
  • Politics of decision making and communication
  • Public engagement and cross-sector partnerships
  • Global innovations in educational leadership and school effectiveness
  • Evaluation of program effectiveness
  • Analysis and application of research

Students also take courses in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed/complementary research methods. For the culminating Ph.D. dissertation, students identify a researchable problem, process or topic of interest, carry out original research, and disseminate findings to relevant audiences.


Jeremy Hernandez
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
612-626-9377 |