Educational Specialist Programs

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An educational specialist is typically an educator that delivers professional development training to other teachers or corporate staff members. With an advanced degree in research, assessment and evaluation techniques, the educational specialist designs curriculum, educational programs and evaluates the effectiveness of current developed programs through a sophisticated understanding of research techniques. This position provides prestigious and diverse opportunities for those who complete this 30 to 60 credit advanced degree.

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Below is a comprehensive listing of nationally accredited Educational Specialist programs from schools across the US.

What Is an Educational Specialist Degree?

The Educational Specialist degree (often abbreviated as "Ed.S.") sits between a Masters in Education and a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D./Ph.D.). It can be a good intermediate step for teachers who want to eventually pursue an Ed.D. or a Ph.D., but even without a doctorate level degree, the Ed.S. degree itself can help you advance your career. Individuals with this degree have specialized skills in educational theory, policies, and practices.

An Educational Specialist degree is suitable for individuals seeking leadership roles in public schools or positions as teachers in junior colleges and small colleges. Individuals with this degree may pursue positions as superintendents and principals of public schools, curriculum specialists, school psychologists, trainers, college instructors, and central office administrators.

What Program Specialties are Available?

Colleges and universities offer a wide variety of specializations within this degree including:

  • School Counseling
  • Educational Leadership
  • Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Higher Education/Adult Education
  • School Psychology
  • Superintendent Certificate
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Continuing Education
  • Instructional Technology

What Are the Program Requirements?

You may choose to pursue this degree full-time or part-time, online or in a traditional university setting. You should expect to spend at least one year completing the program.

To qualify for admission, you will need a master’s degree in education from an accredited institution, qualifying scores on the Graduate Record Exam, letters of recommendation and documented teaching experience. Some programs have additional requirements.

Individual programs vary but the Educational Specialist degree typically requires 30 to 45 credit hours. Coursework in this degree covers subjects such as staff and organizational development, curriculum development, school law, facilities management, public relations, and assessment. Most programs also require a practicum or internship as well as a comprehensive written examination prior to graduation. Whatever the specifics, these programs all emphasize higher-level skills, knowledge, and critical thinking abilities.

Online Education Specialist Degree Programs

Online education specialist degrees are offered in areas such as curriculum and instruction, school leadership and educational technology, and may qualify you for a school administrator position. Or, if you want to stay in the classroom, an online education specialist degree could lead to a salary bump. Many school districts pay teachers more if they have education credits beyond a master's degree. Education specialist degrees typically require around 30 credit hours of coursework, which is enough for a pay raise in many districts.

Courses taken for an education specialist degree may count toward a later doctorate. Check with each individual program to see if this is the case.

Most online education specialist degrees take somewhere between one and two years to complete. Some programs require applicants to hold a current teaching license and to have several years of teaching experience.

Before enrolling in any online education specialist degree program, you should decide whether an online degree in education matches your learning style. The chief benefit of online programs is their convenience - they can be completed from anywhere, around your schedule. A potential drawback, though, is a lack of face-time with instructors and a lack of in-class discussions.

Because online programs are relatively new, many are still establishing their reputations. Ask people you know and trust, such as administrators in your school district, whether they think the programs you're considering will help you achieve your professional goals. Do your own research, too. Look online to see what graduates of the programs you're considering have to say. If a program produces lots of alumni who say their experience there was valuable, and who have landed the types of jobs you want to someday hold, then that might be the right program for you.

The Benefits of Earning Your Education Specialist Degree

Specialists have the opportunity to select from an array of topics that define their expertise. Education specialists may work in governmental agencies, healthcare facilities or educational institutions that require training programs to meet compliance for state, federal or facility policy standards. For example, an educational specialist with a concentration in special needs for children is responsible for designing educational programs for teachers that focus on how to meet the needs of children who are challenged by learning.

If you are an extrovert and enjoy public speaking, an educational specialist may give seminars, employee in-services or instruct classes to large corporate employees on a regular basis. Educational specialists may be employed in administrative positions that require the development of policies, proposed legislation or the evaluation of applicants for teacher certification.

The Curriculum for an Educational Specialist Program

Most programs for educational specialist require that you have a master’s degree and at least three years of teaching experience. As a post-masters program, generally core courses build on your existing knowledge and experience and apply advanced research, learning theories to deliver highly-superior critical thinking skills to your specialized field. The basic structure of the general education program may include core courses as follows:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods can be applied to the development of training programs, materials, technology support and your field of expertise
  • Positive behavior support for students with disabilities is applied as a general concern to all educators and for those who develop learning programs and curriculum
  • Advanced learning theories in children and adult educational programs can provide evidenced-based design and ensures that instructive methods have value
  • Educational psychology can provide advanced insight on emotional and intellectual learning
  • Educational leadership and professionalism
  • Curriculum instruction, design and evaluation theories provide educators with powerful tools to test and implement effective strategies of learning

Generally, the core courses to satisfy the general requirements of the degree are 15 to 20 credits and 20 to 40 more are dedicated to your field of specialization. Ensure that your credits will be transferable if you eventually decide to finish your doctorate. The educational specialist degree is usually offered in the format of a flexible schedule that accommodates working adults and is usually completed as a part time schedule.

Career Options for Education Specialists

Although educational specialists may choose to apply their superior teaching skills to the classroom, many elect to explore a vast array of areas that require teaching, instruction or the development of training programs. Educational specialists may move into administration, leadership roles or supervisory areas. Positions that may be acquired by education specialists include the following:

  • Continuing education and training programs as large corporations such as MetLife, IBM or Ford Motor Company
  • Develop education programs and curriculum for hospital staff, public health outreach centers or community health education
  • A student support director for the design of curriculum for university staff, student services or admissions operations
  • Work for civil service as an education specialist in governmental or federal agencies
  • Become a supervisory youth development representative and help law enforcement cope in the juvenile court system
  • Preschool coordinator for private and public schools
  • Work for federal agencies and become involved in educational legislation

As an education specialist, you will have a limitless array of professional opportunities available. As a specialist, you may be in the position to define your own job description based on your specialty and focus. You will also enjoy a lucrative salary and excellent benefits. According to the NY Times, educational specialists can add value and teaching skills that matter the most to helping young people decide on a viable or marketable skill in today’s difficult economy.

To become a great education specialist, you need to complete a quality education specialist degree program. Below you will find several programs that can fit your goals in education. We make it simple for you to connect with these schools to receive more information. As a rule of thumb, compare multiple programs to make sure you choose the best one for you!


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Are we missing any schools or programs? If so, please let us know! We appreciate your help in making this the best directory of Education Degree Programs on the web. You can send us an email at schools@educationdegree.com.