Program Evaluation and Improvement Research

Degree: Master of Arts in Educational Studies

Elizabeth Starke, PEIR Alumna

What impressed me during my time in the PEIR program was how extremely kind, empathetic, and pedagogically informed the faculty was. Faculty also focused their attention on the art of teaching and were willing to talk with me about my interests and advise me on my goals. My learning experiences prior to being a student in the School of Education had not included this level of teaching and classroom quality.

I would encourage students entering PEIR to know what they want to get out of the program, so that they take courses that give them the skills they need to reach the next steps in their education and career.

The PIER program allowed me to participate in designing my own curriculum, pursue courses and specializations in my areas of interest, and take courses outside the School of Education, which helped me become more well-rounded in terms of learning and practicing research methods. At the same time, my internship gave me the opportunity to learn how to use statistical analysis software.

I apply what I learned in PEIR to my current work as Research and Evaluation Manager in the UM ADVANCE Program at the University of Michigan. The main goal of UM ADVANCE is to diversify faculty and improve the campus climate for faculty from a variety of backgrounds.

At UM ADVANCE, I assist with conducting climate surveys within departments across campus. These climate surveys are requested by individual departments as part of their external review process, which helps them assess whether or not they are doing a good job with inclusion, if there are discrimination issues that need to be addressed, and if faculty are satisfied with their work. Soon, UM ADVANCE will release a university-wide survey, which it does every five years.

The contemporary policy context places new demands on educational practitioners and reformers to use research to evaluate and improve the quality of education. Research is needed to provide convincing evidence of positive impacts on students’ educational opportunities and outcomes. Research is also needed to support the design and continuous improvement of educational programs and policies. Consequently, there is a growing demand for education professionals with research expertise to support (a) evaluation of educational opportunities and outcomes and (b) continuous learning and improvement in educational systems.

The newly redesigned Program Evaluation and Improvement Research (PEIR) thread gives students the tools to answer questions not just about “what works,” but what works when, for whom, and under what conditions, in order to work in partnership with education systems to create meaningful change. These include tools that illuminate and address inequities in students’ opportunities to learn and that draw on resources of diverse communities of stakeholders.  

Academic Focus

The PEIR thread is distinctive in several ways. Students will have opportunities to learn the practices of research design, data collection, and data analysis that span quantitative and qualitative methodologies; how to conduct literature reviews; how to conduct consultations with education professionals; and how to write reports to meet the information needs of various audiences. Through course projects, electives that draw on diverse resources at U-M, and an internship, students will also have opportunities to develop knowledge in a substantive area of interest and to apply the methods they are learning under supervision of faculty. 

Career Preparation

The PEIR thread is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in research organizations, centers, or projects engaged in evaluation research, or as research support staff in formal and informal educational settings where education professionals are engaged in improving policy and practice, including district, county, and state education agencies. Students pursuing PEIR may also find it to be valuable as preparation for future doctoral study, though we advise students that this program is not designed to lead directly into doctoral study at Michigan.

Interested in hosting students from this program in your organization? Learn more here.

Plan of Study

The PEIR program requires 30 credits across required courses, cognates and electives, and an internship consistent with the academic focus above. Courses are offered fall term (September-December), winter term (January-April) and spring half term (May-June). Full-time students typically complete the program in 10 months. Part-time students, including University of Michigan employees, are welcome. Please be aware that all courses are offered in person on the U-M Ann Arbor campus and at present, we are not able to accommodate students who are only available for evening, weekend, or summer courses. 

Explore Your Fit

To express your interest in the program, please contact Tom Drake at

Preferred Applicants

Are you an alum of our Teacher Education program? Or a U-M alum with an Education minor? You are eligible for our preferred applicant status. As a preferred applicant to our master's programs, the application fee and GRE requirement may be waived. Apply soon as these spaces are limited. To learn more contact

Program Faculty

Program Support

Program Ambassadors

Within This Section

Educational Studies

To inquire about the master's program as a prospective student, click here.

610 E. University Avenue
Room 4218
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259

Visit department webpage »

See Also: