What Is an Educational Specialist (EdS) Degree?

educational specialist works with students to help develop curriculum

If you’re currently a teacher or other educator who wants to advance your career, gain new skills, and qualify for better pay, there are many degree options that can help you help you achieve your goal-and one of the most effective is an EdS, or Educational Specialist degree.

An EdS is a postgraduate degree unique to the field of education, which is considered more advanced than a master’s degree but generally requires less coursework than a PhD or EdD. For professionals who already have a master’s degree, and EdS is a great way to reach the next level without the time or cost required for most doctoral degrees. They generally require between 30 and 65 credit hours of coursework (depending on your specialty and school) and can often be completed in a little over a year (or up to two years) after earning your master’s.

Before deciding on a specific EdS degree, you’ll need to consider what specialty you want to pursue based on your career goals. There’s quite a bit of difference between programs and the career opportunities you’ll have with each degree.

Below are the top four EdS specialties: curriculum and instruction, educational leadership and administration, special education, and school psychology. Which one’s right for you?

Educational Specialist Degrees

EdS in Curriculum and Instruction

In an EdS in curriculum and instruction, you’ll learn how to develop curricula so that other teachers can teach more effectively. That means you’ll work on instructional content, teaching materials, teacher resources, and the best ways of evaluating student progress and educational objectives for each class curriculum you develop.

During your degree, you’ll take classes such as these:

  • Leading the Future of Education
  • Learner-Centered Curriculum
  • Research Theory, Design and Analysis
  • Program Evaluation for Continuous Improvement

With today’s focus on teacher accountability, anything that helps teachers attain “adequate yearly progress,” as required by No Child Left Behind, is always appreciated. And your subject-matter expertise and mastery of the art of teaching will make you qualified to develop curricula to help teachers help their students truly understand what they learn. There’s a big difference between simply memorizing and deep learning, and with an EdS in curriculum and instruction, you’ll study what teaching strategies really work.

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EdS in Educational Leadership and Policy

Educators who want to become school principals or administrators, but who don’t want to get a PhD, will find that an EdS in Educational Leadership and Policy is a great degree for them. In this EdS degree, you’ll take the following classes, and more:

  • Foundations of Educational Leadership and Administration
  • Teaching and Learning for School Leaders
  • Using Data to Strengthen Schools
  • Quality Education for Students With Diverse Needs
  • Budgeting and Resource Allocation

EdS degrees in educational leadership are based on the most recent research, and they’re ideal for educators who want to have a greater impact on their learning communities and improve the quality of education not just in their classrooms but school- or system-wide.

EdS in Special Education

An EdS degree in special education will prepare you for leadership roles in schools across the country helping this high-need group of students.

If you do an EdS degree in special ed, you’ll take classes such as the following:

  • Critical Trends in Special Education Today
  • Theory and Practice of Special Education
  • Strategies and Problem-Solving for Special Ed Teachers
  • Leading Change in Special Education: Advocacy, Policy and Law
  • Research Theory, Design and Analysis
  • Designing Specialized Instruction for Diverse Learners

You’ll also do a capstone project to apply what you learned in a real-life situation.

If you want to improve the quality of special education in your school, an EdS degree might be the best degree for you.

EdS in School Psychology

An EdS degree in school psychology is one of the most intriguing because it’s the one degree that will let you practice psychology without getting a doctorate. With an EdS program in school psychology, you’ll gain the following knowledge and skills:

  • The role of school psychologists
  • Best practices for school psychology
  • Interpersonal relations with pupils, parents and colleagues
  • Psychological assessment, and direct and indirect interventions
  • Ethical and legal issues related to school psychology

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