Walker Swain is an interdisciplinary quantitative policy researcher focused on issues of educational equity, poverty, and inequality. His recent work has examined intersections of education and health, teacher policy, early childhood education, neighborhood change, and school choice.

His research has been published in academic journals, such as Sociology of Education, Economics of Education Review, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, AERA Open, and Human Nature. Media coverage of his research includes The Atlantic, Education Week, NPR, The Social Pages, and Black Enterprise.

He is a co-founder and planning committee member of the Just Ed Policy Institute for Developing Scholars. He is recipient of the Mary McLeod Bethune Educator Award and the MFE COE Keith Osborn Faculty Senate Award for Teaching Excellence.

Swain holds a B.A. in political science and biology from UNC-Chapel Hill, an M.A. in teaching from the University of Louisville, a Master’s Degree in public policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and a PhD in leadership and policy studies from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Areas of Expertise

  • Social Policy
  • Teacher Policy
  • School Choice
  • Poverty & Inequality
  • Quantitative Methods


  •  PhD in Leadership & Policy Studies, 2017
    Vanderbilt University
  •  MPP in Public Policy, 2012
    Duke University
  •  MAT in Science Instruction, 2009
    University of Louisville
  •  BA in Political Science & Biology, 2006
    University of North Carolina



A statewide analysis of the relationship between school based health centers and academic outcomes. Spencer Foundation