When she originally trained as a school psychologist, Meg Filkins attended graduate school fulltime. But years later, when she decided to go back and get her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, she had a fulltime job to worry about. She knew she’d have to find a way to fit in schoolwork while continuing her career.
“It wasn’t going to be financially possible for me to go to school fulltime,” Filkins says. “How do you balance working fulltime and going to graduate school fulltime? That was my biggest challenge in heading back to school.”
Filkins found the flexibility she needed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
“All of the coursework is offered on weekends,” she says. “I was going for five weekends each semester–Friday night and then all day Saturday. That allowed me to work Monday through Friday. I didn’t have to take any time off work to be part of classes.”
UW-Madison offers the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis as a Wisconsin Idea Executive Cohort program in K-12 leadership. The program emphasizes improving student performance and closing achievement gaps. Participants learn to address inequities in a school district, provide guidance on instruction, and evaluate programs. They can defend their dissertations within three or four years.
A leadership role
Filkins enrolled in the UW-Madison program because she wanted to assume a leadership role in her school district. The coursework gave her both the practical and theoretical grounding she needed.
“It opens up opportunities for me and allows me to be seen as more credible within a school,” she says. “The background and experiences I’ve gotten through the coursework make me better able to make leadership decisions within schools.”
Filkins’ fellow students all had experience in the field, and professors capitalized on their knowledge.
“I appreciated that the professors recognized that we had as much to contribute to the class in terms of our knowledge base and our experience base as they did,” she says. “And that we were learning from each other throughout the whole process.”
For more information on UW-Madison’s Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, see here.