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The resumption of the EPSF master's program will take place this upcoming fall semester.

The David O. McKay School of Education is excited to announce the resumption of the Education Policy and Social Foundations (EPSF) program, a rigorous two-year emphasis in the Educational Leadership and Foundations (EdLF) master’s degree in education (MEd). The program was previously offered from 2000 to 2009, but has not been available to students in recent years.  

EPSF offers a necessary complement to the department’s existing emphasis in School Leadership, by addressing the larger social, political, and cultural contexts in which schools operate. 

According to Professor Vance Randall, chair of the EPSF program, “where the School Leadership emphasis assumes a given set of policies, the EPSF emphasis questions these same policies and asks, ‘Are these policies the best way to achieve our education objectives?’ Hence, there exists a mutually supportive relationship between these two tracks within the MEd in Educational Leadership.” 

When the program was previously offered, EdLF department chair Pamela Hallam had the opportunity to teach EPSF students alongside current schoolteachers who were preparing to be school principals. 

“I found the dynamic to be real as I watched these two groups of students from different career backgrounds exchange diverse and sometimes hotly competing views of education,” noted Hallam. “This interplay of ideas enriched the learning experience of everyone—including myself! I feel that we truly lost something important over the past seven years by not offering the EPSF emphasis, and I am anxious for our current School Leadership students to again have that experience.” 

This policy-focused track in the Educational Leadership master’s degree program will prepare students to contribute to education change, policy, and research on a local, national, and global scale. 

“We want to increase our influence in terms of shaping the direction that education goes, not only in Utah, but also nationally,” said associate chair of the EPSF policy committee Donald Baum. 

Students can expect to be introduced to a wide range of perspectives on education policy, including the examination of educational movements, reforms, outcomes, and controversies using modes of inquiry associated with a variety of scholarly fields and disciplines, including history, philosophy, political science, economics, policy studies, and comparative studies. 

“We expect that this will be a cutting-edge program that provides students a lot of potential opportunities. One of the nice things about the program is that we draw from a large range of undergraduate programs,” shared Baum. “We’ll get students from economics, political science, international development, and sociology, as well as those who come with a background in education. It’s a diverse, multi-disciplinary group that I think helps to expand the worldviews of students coming from one particular perspective.” 

The EPSF program prepares students for careers in a diverse range of areas. Former graduates have gone on to successful careers with education foundations, private research and development firms, international development organizations, local and regional school districts, state offices of education, federal regional education laboratories, and the US Department of Education. 

“We really see it as an opportunity for students who have an interest in education and want to make a difference in education, but don’t plan on being teachers or school administrators. We meet with a lot of students who are passionate about education, but for whatever reason don’t see themselves as teachers or school principals,” Baum explained. “Oftentimes students aren’t aware of options outside of teaching, so it’s good to let them know that there are many different paths.”

Classes will begin fall semester 2017 and ongoing admissions will continue afterwards. 

To apply to the program, applicants must submit an online application form through the BYU Graduate Studies website. Details on the application process can be found at  

Writer: Janine Swart
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922