Inspiration and Impact

FIU, Miami-Dade County Public Schools tailor educational leadership degree to district’s challenges

–By Isabel Gamarra for FIU News
FIU has launched a customized doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies to respond to urgent issues facing Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), America’s fourth-largest school district.
Faculty in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education worked closely with M-DCPS to redesign the doctoral degree to focus on specific challenges impacting education today in South Florida, such as teacher retention, limited family involvement and curriculum issues.
To identify the school district’s needs, FIU surveyed more than 400 M-DCPS school site administrators. M-DCPS then selected top issues that the different classes will work to address. The current class of 11 administrators is focusing on teacher retention. The students, who began their studies in January, include principals and assistant principals from throughout the district.
“At FIU, we’re always working to stay ahead of the game. We routinely ensure our degree programs are relevant and give our students the skills and knowledge employers need,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “The findings and work that will be completed by these students will help M-DCPS address critical issues and also have major implications for educational policy.”
The 72-credit hour program can be completed in seven semesters. Some future topics that these classes will tackle include educational policy, applications of educational psychology, and education research and data analysis.
“FIU’s fully-customized Educational Leadership program offered a rigorous curriculum that is ideal for principals and assistant principals,” said Miami Palmetto Senior High School Assistant Principal Tierney E. Hunter. “The support, guidance and motivation I received from award-winning educators will prove instrumental to my success as an educator.”
The second class of seven administrators will begin in the fall.
“Providing our classroom teachers and school administrators with learning opportunities that will expand their bandwidth of knowledge is critical to elevating student academic performance and narrowing the achievement gap,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho. “I am thrilled about our ongoing partnership with Florida International University and the school’s new doctoral degree program which focuses on issues such as education policy, accountability, research, and teacher retention in Miami-Dade County Public Schools – all of which impact student performance.”
FIU and M-DCPS have worked together over the past seven years through a collaboration known as Achieving Community Collaboration in Education and Student Success (ACCESS). An achievement-oriented partnership, ACCESS aligns the combined instructional, research and creative talents of FIU and M-DCPS to improve the academic success of K-12 students.
To learn about how you can support programs at FIU that prepare students to lead the South Florida community, visit