This study investigates professional development among educational policy-makers, institutional leaders and teachers. Through a synthesis of associated literature, this study identified a large number of articles focusing on professional development among teachers and lecturers. However, only a few studies on professional development among leaders and managers of educational institutions were ascertained, and research on professional development for educational policy-makers is also limited. This article first presents key aspects of professional development. It then reviews professional development theories and practices for policy-makers, institutional leaders and teachers. Finally, a discussion and recommendations are provided. This article contributes to the limited literature on professional development at the meso-level for institutional leaders, and at the macro-level for policy-makers. 2018 British educational leadership, management & administration society (belmas).