Program Overview

Course Components

CPRL’s intensive, full-semester seminar and practicum immerses students in the theory and practice of managing, governing, and transforming the public systems and social-sector organizations that deliver public education in the U.S. and abroad. Hosted at Columbia, this experiential offering has three components:

  1. A comprehensive seminar in the design, governance, regulation, democratic accountability and transformation of P-12 school systems and allied public- and social-sector organizations 
  2. Skills training in a range of twenty-first century problem-solving competencies, including working in diverse teams to address multi-dimensional problems; design thinking; taking full advantage of difference and diversity; collaborative inquiry; quantitative and qualitative analysis and measurement; organizational macro- and micro-design; project and product management; client-centered and policy-focused information gathering; and the presentation of professional advice to government and social-sector clients
  3. A high-priority, professionally guided consulting project on which an interdisciplinary team of graduate students provides design, strategic, planning, and/or implementation advice and support on matters that combine management, legal, governance, policy, regulatory, and/or technological issues crucial to the mission of the client organization—typically, a state department of education, school district, charter school organization, school-support or advocacy group, or other non-profit serving children

James S. Liebman, Columbia Law professor and former senior official at the New York City Department of Education, leads the course and conducts its academic seminar. Experienced former P-12 managers and consultants guide the consulting projects.

CPRL provides placement support services to help interested students obtain attractive professional and management-level jobs in the education sector, along with mentorship and networking opportunities to enhance leadership skills and access. The program serves as a talent pipeline into many P-12 organizations, including CPRL clients and other organizations eager to recruit CPRL students and alumni to open positions.


Students devote an average of 40 hours a week to the full-semester immersive program, including class time, class preparation, and project work:

  • Approximately 59 seminar hours over the full semester
  • Approximately 24 hours of focused skills training over the semester
  • Average of 28 hours/week working on consulting teams for P-12 organizations under the guidance of experienced Engagement Managers

The classroom components of the course are front-loaded in the semester to enable student teams and their team leaders to focus attention thereafter on their high-priority research and consulting projects. These often include time on-site with client organizations throughout the U.S. (travel expenses are covered by CPRL). Students admitted to the program communicate their areas of project interest to CPRL staff who place them on projects that conform to their preferences.

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