The only policy program of its kind, tackling systemic equity and social justice issues in the educational system

You've worked in education and can see that something is broken in our system–too many students are underserved and under-represented. Data-driven educational policies offer an opportunity to create change, and Loyola's master's degree program in cultural and educational policy will equip you with the tools to conduct this change-making research.

Our commitment to you

You'll join the ranks of alumni who have won Illinois' Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, a pastor advocating for foster children in her congregation, and Fulbright Scholars making a difference in international nongovernmental organizations.

Upon graduation with a master of arts degree in cultural and educational policy from Loyola, you will possess the following knowledge, skills, and professional values necessary to address social inequity in education policies, or move on to further graduate work in this area.


You will examine education policy and practice through a multidisciplinary approach, with an overarching emphasis on social justice. And you'll develop expertise in a focused discipline of study (history of education, international comparative education, philosophy of education, or sociology of education), including specific skills and competencies needed to carry out research in that discipline.


You'll develop expertise in the analysis, research, and improvement of education policy and practice, as well as learn how to conduct your own in-depth research. You will recognize the cultural dimensions of education and leverage cultural analyses in your work to improve educational experiences and institutions. And, you'll facilitate educational research as the foundation for forming and implementing educational policy and practice.

Professional Values

You will understand and engage with policy as advocates, leaders, analysts, researchers, activists, and educators committed to social justice and equity in our local and national educational systems.


Completion of the master of arts in cultural and educational policy degree program requires 24 semester hours, a thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis.

Program Length

For full-time students taking three courses in the Fall and three in the Spring, the required coursework can be completed in three semesters. While the completion of the thesis varies with the topic of the research project, the standard time to complete the degree is two years.

Master's students in cultural and educational policy studies are required to maintain the status of continuous enrollment during their program of studies. This means that during each semester of each academic year (excluding Summer Sessions), each student must do one of the following:

  • Enroll in one of the following: 
    At least one course 
    Or ELPS 605: Master's Studies
    Or ELPS 595: Thesis Supervision
  • Request a formal leave of absence, which must be approved by the Graduate School’s Associate Dean.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • Research Methods Course (3 semester hours)
    RMTD 400: Research Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Foundation Courses (6 semester hours)
    Choose two from the following outside major area:

ELPS 410: Sociological Foundations
ELPS 420: Philosophy of Education
ELPS 444: American Schooling and Social Policy
ELPS 455: Comparative Education
ELPS 446: Historical Foundations of Western Education*

* Available as a foundation option for those admitted prior to Spring 2008.

Major Area (9 semester hours)
Students should consult with their academic advisor for course selection in one of the following areas: comparative and international education, history of education, sociology of education, or philosophy of education.

Elective (6 semester hours)
In consultation with an advisor, students choose two elective courses. MA students are strongly encouraged to take at least one additional research methodology course that will prepare them to design and conduct their thesis study.

Thesis and Oral Defense: Students select a topic with their academic advisor for a culminating research paper/project.‌ See the program handbook for thesis guidelines. Thesis Forms


Sarah Tolman (MA '18)

International Student Advisor, Office of International Affairs at the University of Chicago

"Because the program is so interdisciplinary, I learned not only about my focus in the field - international higher education - but about other aspects of the field, including secondary education policy, the complex Chicago school system, international development, and education systems in other countries."

Wallace Grace (MA '19)

Doctoral Student in Education Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison

"CEPS helped me learn to examine educational problems through a multidisciplinary perspective – to think about the inherent philosophical, historical, and sociological connections of contemporary education problems. The size of the program facilitates close-knit relationships, which really mattered to me."

Alicia Garcia (MA '12)

Director in the Policy, Practice, and Systems Change Program at the American Institutes for Research

"CEPS provided me important foundational knowledge about education policy that increased my credibility and continues to inform my day-to-day work. Upon graduating, I was promoted within the American Institutes for Research and have since received a second promotion."