International Education Policy Ph.D. Program

Core Faculty:
Steven J. Klees
Jing Lin
Taylor Woodman
Zeena Zakharia 

Visiting Professors/Scholars:
Mark Ginsburg

Affiliate Faculty:   
Sahar Khamis 
Deepa Srikantaiah

Program Philosophy

The International Education Policy (IEP) program offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees designed to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of today's educational policy and practice. The focus is on the relation of education to economic, political, and social development in both developing and developed countries at local, national, regional, and global levels. The IEP program offers comprehensive treatment of all levels of education, from formal schooling—pre-school to higher education—to non-formal, adult, and community-based education.

In the 21st century, marked by the rapid pace of global change, comparative and international education has become of paramount importance. Needed improvements in equity, social justice, and our ability to promote sustainable development and international peace at a global level require transforming our educational and social institutions. New actors in these processes, notably non-governmental organizations and coalitions of civil society, have gained much greater importance. By understanding and critically reflecting on current policies, practices, and conditions, the goal of the IEP program is to contribute to progressive educational and social change. The IEP program aims at creating a community of faculty, students, and development professionals that strives to further cross-cultural and multicultural understanding and bridge the gap between scholars and practitioners. The IEP program is one of the top programs of its kind in the country. One of the biggest strenghts of our program is our students. Meet some of them here

IEP courses give students knowledge of the foundations of educational theory and practice, the nature of comparative and international education, and the application of cultural, economic, political, and sociological perspectives to gain an understanding of education and its contribution to development. Beyond the core courses, an individually tailored program is designed for each student that uniquely reflects their background and career goals. Students are encouraged to draw upon the entire range of resources the University of Maryland has to offer and to choose courses appropriate to their interests in the social sciences, the humanities, cross-cutting areas (e.g., focusing on gender or race issues), professional educational specializations (e.g., early childhood, international exchange, or higher education), and regional emphases (e.g., Africa, Asia, or Latin America). The University of Maryland has made a specific and strong commitment to internationalization throughout its programs and policies.

Advantages of Washington, D. C.
The University of Maryland is located a few miles from the Washington, D.C. border, is a stop on Washington’s green metro line, and therefore provides easy access to everywhere in the District. Our geographic proximity to Washington, D.C. offers unique advantages to the IEP program in terms of internships, employment possibilities, and access to seminars, workshops, and internationally renowned speakers. Cooperative arrangements with universities in the area, such as American University and George Washington University, give students access to courses and seminars offered by other strong programs in related areas.

Ph. D. Program
The Ph.D. program in International Education Policy (IEP) is looking for first-rate students with an interest in the field of comparative and international education. We especially welcome applications from underrepresented minority groups. This degree seeks to form professionals with a deep understanding of the complex array of issues concerning educational policies and practices in developing as well as industrialized countries. It also seeks to form professionals who will either join institutions working on national development efforts in which education is a main sector or who will work in academic settings and international institutions conducting research or helping develop public policies in education for all levels and types. 

The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 90 credits beyond the B.A. Twenty-four credits are usually accepted for transfer from a previous M.A. degree and 12 credits are awarded for dissertation research, which means the degree generally requires 54 credits of coursework which can be completed in 2 to 3 years. The program is distinguished by the development of a unique program of study to suit the needs of each student. Initial program plans are flexible and are usually revised throughout a student's graduate work as particular directions and their implications for coursework develop. The Ph.D. program allows a student to specialize in one or multiple areas, as will be illustrated below.

Core Courses: 9-12 credits
EDHI605 — Comparative Education
EDHI606 — Political Economy of Education in a Global Context
EDHI607 — Education and Culture in a Global Context
EDHI750— International Higher Education 
PROSEMINAR—Attendance required in at least 4 proseminars per academic year for first and second year students (0 credits)

Research Methods: 15 credits
EDHI 672 — Modes of Inquiry
Plus one quantitative course, one qualitative course, and two others in the
methodological approaches most relevant to the student’s research interests.

International Education Specialization Course Electives: 12 credits
Select four of the following or equivalents:
EDHI 608—Gender and Education
EDHI 680—Gender, Education, and Development
EDHI 681—Education for Global Peace
EDHI 682—Ecological Ethics and Education
EDHI 683—World Religions and Implications for Education
EDHI 684—Alternative Education, Alternative Development
EDHI 788—International Education and Cultural Exchange: Policies and Practices
EDHI788—Contemplative Inquiry and Holistic Education
EDHI 805––Seminar in Comparative Education
EDPS 624––Culture in Education Policy and Practice

Disciplinary and Professional Course Electives: 12 credits
For example, courses may be selected in the areas of public policy, communications, anthropology, economics, sociology, gender studies, higher education, early childhood education, or from elsewhere in the College of Education, the University, or the Washington Regional Consortium.

Internship -- Optional: 3 credits 
EDHI889 — Internship in Education

Transfer from previous master’s program: Maximum of 24 credits

Comprehensive Exam: 3 credits
EDHI 898 — Pre-Candidacy Research

Doctoral Dissertation: Minimum of 12 credits 
EDHI 899 — Dissertation Research

Total: 90 credits


All IEP students are expected to take both disciplinary courses and professional specialty courses. Disciplinary courses refer to those in the social sciences and humanities, such as Anthropology, Economics, or History. While some courses in these areas are offered within the Department, it is expected that doctoral students will also take coursework outside the Department and College of Education. Professional specialty courses refer to those that develop expertise in areas relevant to working in education. For example, students may want to specialize in higher education, early childhood education, curriculum development, or distance education. Courses in a variety of departments and colleges provide specializations in these areas.

This division between disciplinary and professional courses is not meant to be interpreted rigidly. Some of the areas in which students wish to develop expertise may not be easily classified as one or another, for example, gender studies, public policy, Latin American studies, and others. The division above should therefore not be seen as constraining, but interpreted in a way that allows students to develop the best program of study for their own needs.

While graduate degrees have traditionally encouraged high levels of specialization, the field of comparative and international education comprises many researchers and practitioners who are generalists or have multiple areas of specialization. This is especially important in our field, as over a person’s career they will likely work across considerable substantive and geographical diversity. The flexibility built into the IEP program structure is designed specifically to prepare students for this kind of diversity.

Both MA and PhD students may pursue specializations, although the longer period of study for PhD students gives them more options. For example, a PhD student could decide to become a specialist in the economics of international higher education. As part of their PhD program in IEP they could take substantial coursework both in the College’s offerings in higher education and in the Department of Economics or School of Public Policy. If desired they could even pursue M.A. degrees in one or both of these areas as part of their PhD program in IEP.

A much more generalist approach is also possible. An IEP student may want to have a primary focus on distance education in developing countries, for example. While this could be combined with a disciplinary specialty it could also be combined with an interdisciplinary strength in issues of development, honed through coursework in anthropology, economics, and sociology. The student's interest in distance education might for instance be focused on secondary and higher education with appropriate coursework in these areas.

There are five organized specializations in the IEP program. These are listed below, with example courses.

Education in Conflict and Emergencies: This specialization examines educational issues in contexts of conflict and emergencies, such as under conditions of war, forced migration, epidemic and pandemic, and climate disaster. Students gain familiarity with global humanitarian frameworks and interventions in Education in Emergencies, as well as national, local, and school-based responses in different parts of the world. Through critical and reflective exploration of theoretical, conceptual, and practical dimensions, students work to advance their contributions to related research, institutions, and educational contexts. Possible courses include:

Education in Conflict and Emergencies (EDHI788J)
Education for Global Peace (EDHI 681)
Global Climate Change and Education: Policy and Practice (EDHI788F)

Intercultural Education and International Student Exchange. Intercultural education is of paramount importance in today’s world where contact across cultures is increasing exponentially. This specialization offers an examination of the fundamental issues that combines culture, education, and development. These issues have recently been gaining importance to universities as they respond to globalization through internationalization initiatives, programming, and policy.  This specialization offers an examination of the higher education context in which those initiatives take place.  Possible courses include:

Education and Culture in a Global Context (EDHI607)
International Higher Education (EDHI750)
International Education and Cultural Exchange: Policies and Practices (EDHI788T)
International Investigations in Cuban Education (EDHI788X)

Gender and Development. Though attention to class, gender, race, and ethnicity permeates the courses in the IEP program, students can develop a specialization in gender and development which seeks to enhance their understanding of how gender operates in society and thus influences a variety of educational outcomes. Students are prepared to draw policy implications and design concrete practices to diminish the negative impact of gender and to increase individual and collective action toward its transformation.  Possible courses include

Gender, Development and Education (EDHI680)
Approaches to Women’s Studies (WMST602)
Gender and Development (WMST698R)

Peace and Environmental Education. This specialization provides students with an understanding of conditions, global and local, that lead to wars, conflicts, environmental destruction and climate change. It informs students of theories and practices in peace and sustainability education for peace building and preservation of nature. Also emphasized are understanding of political, economic, cultural, religious, and educational contexts for peace and sustainability. Peace is defined as a deep respect for each other as human beings, and for nature with sustainable ecological ethics. Further, peace is seen as being achieved through both external efforts and internal endeavors to cultivate wisdom and equanimity. Through coursework, students study alternative and transformative paradigms and acquire practical knowledge for peace and sustainability education.  Possible courses include:

Education for Global Peace (EDHI681)
World Religions and Implication for Education (EDHI683)
Global Climate Change and Education: Policy and Practice (EDHI788F)
Contemplative Inquiry and Holistic Education (EDHI788)

Political Economy of Education and Development. The term “political economy” is a contested one but generally has to do with a broad and integrated understanding of the politics and economics of issues. This specialization offers students an understanding of the debates about the theory and practice of political economy, current educational policies, and their relationship to development.  Possible courses include:

Political Economy of Education and Development (EDHI606)
Alternative Education, Alternative Development (EDHI684)
International Investigations in Cuban Education (EDHI788X)

NOTE: In addition to the above specializations, others are possible. For example, students have developed specializations in professional areas such as Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Primary and Secondary Education, Teacher Education, Education Leadership, Education Policy, Higher Education, and Public Health Education. Specializations have also been developed in social science disciplines and applied areas such as Anthropology, Economics, Public Policy, Sociology, and Women’s Studies. The University of Maryland is a strong multiversity, offering many specializations, and we strongly encourage students to take additional courses outside of the IEP program from elsewhere in the Department, the College, the University, and the Region. (See the UMD DC Consortium webpage for details on schools where UMD students can enroll in classes.)


  • General Secretary of Education International
  • Chief of Staff to the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education
  • Head of Programs & Partnerships, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Academy
  • Professor and Chair, Education Department, Kenya Methodist University
  • Vice President at World Learning
  • Professor, Western University, Canada
  • Associate Professor, UMass at Amherst
  • Director of Institutional Research, Simon College
  • Senior Education Advisor, USAID
  • Senior Program Officer, Global Education Partnership
  • US Cultural Ambassador to India and Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Program Officer, Critical Language Scholarship Program, U. S. Department of State
  • Senior Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace
  • Senior Director, US Census Bureau  
  • Program Manager, USAID/Regional Development Mission for Asia  
  • Chairwoman, Society for International Development, Creative Associates
  • Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes
  • Assistant Professor, School of Education, Universidad Catolica de Chile
  • Assistant Professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia
  • Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii
  • Senior Research Education, Analyst at Research Triangle Institute
  • Executive Director, Global Teacher Education/Educator, Smithsonian
  • Program Officer, Kenya
  • Program Officer, Open Society Foundation
  • Program Coordinator, Action for Healthy Communities
  • CFO, Dream Corps International, Beijing, China
  • Director of Education and Literacy, Nascent Solutions, Inc.
  • Director, Creative Associates International
  • Executive Director, the Board of Trustees, Sogang University.
  • Director of International Education, College Board, NY
  • Associate Director of Capital Giving, Swarthmore College
  • Assistant Principal at Howard County Public School
  • Executive Officer for Diversity & Equity, MNPS, Nashville, TN