How To Get an Education Specialist Degree

With an educational specialist degree, you may be able to advance your education and career. Not only can this type of degree set you up to easily obtain a Ph.D., if you later choose to do so, it can also allow you to improve upon your master's degree without necessarily needing a Ph.D. Read on to learn more about educational specialist degree programs and careers.

What is an Educational Specialist Degree?

The Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) is between a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and a Doctor of Philosophy 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. Even without a doctorate level degree, an Ed.S. can help you advance your career. Individuals with this degree have specialized skills in educational theory, policies and practices. 

Unlike a master's degree in education (M.Ed.), which is one of the most general and non-specialized education degrees you can get, an Ed.S. allows access to higher pay and more esteemed career options. The M.Ed. option is good for teachers interested in a career in administration, leadership or policy, especially those interested in obtaining a doctoral degree. If you plan to become a school psychologist, school principal, director of special education or upper-level school district employee, however, you'll want to earn an Ed.S. 

If you already have your teaching license and are looking to expand your studies into graduate-level courses, an Ed.S. degree may be right for you. 

Who Should Consider Ed.S. Programs?

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.

An Ed.S. degree is suitable for individuals seeking leadership roles in public schools or positions as advanced teachers in 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.

You may want to continue your education to earn a Doctorate in Education degree (Ed.D.) if you are interested in becoming a university professor, superintendent of schools or applied educational researcher. An Ed.D. is the likely qualification for many mid-career employees in this field. Most doctoral programs require a master's degree in education or a related field for entry and may include 15 post-master's classes.

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Online programs may not be available in all states

The Benefits of Earning Your Ed.S. Degree

Education specialists can work in a variety of professions within their area of expertise. They 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 career may allow you to give seminars, provide employee in-services or instruct classes to large groups of corporate employees on a regular basis. Educational specialists may work in administrative positions that require the development of policies, proposed legislation or the evaluation of applicants for teacher certification.

What Are the Program Requirements for an Education Specialist Degree?

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

Admission requirements may differ based on the school you choose, but most programs require a master's degree in education from an accredited institution, qualifying scores on the Graduate Record Exam, letters of recommendation, a current teaching license and documented teaching experience. Some programs have additional requirements. 

Individual programs vary but the Ed.S. 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.

The Curriculum for an Educational Specialist Program

Some programs for educational specialist require that you have a master's degree and at least a couple years of teaching experience. At a post-master's program, core courses build on your existing knowledge and experience. 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 education programs can provide evidence-based design and ensure that instructive methods have value
  • Educational psychology can provide advanced insight into 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 for learning 

Typically, 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.

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 60 credit hours of graduate-level study and the completion of a dissertation, 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 while others require a master's degree.

Are Online Ed.S. Degrees Right for You?

Before enrolling in an 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.

What Can You Do with an Education Specialist Degree?

Colleges and universities offer a wide variety of specializations within an Ed.S. degree including:

  • School Counseling – Help students from prekindergarten to grade 12 with academic success, social skills and personal development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school counselors made an average of $55,410 per year (2017).
  • Educational Leadership and Policy – If you want to become a school principal or administrator without earning a Ph.D., this degree is perfect for you. In 2017, BLS data shows that elementary, middle and high school principals earned an average salary of $94,390 annually.
  • Special Education – Take on leadership roles in elementary or secondary schools across the country to help improve education for the students that need it most – special education students. The BLS shows the average salary for special education teachers with a bachelor's degree was $58,980 per year (2017).
  • School Psychology – The one degree that can allow you to practice psychology without a doctorate degree, an Ed.S. program in school psychology usually requires an internship to practice what you've learned in a real setting. The average school psychologist in an elementary or secondary school, according to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, made an average wage of $81,330 per year (2017).
  • Curriculum and Instruction – Learn to develop curricula so that other teachers can learn to teach more effectively themselves. In this role, you may work on instructional and teaching materials, teacher resources, the best methods of evaluating student progress and objectives for the class curriculums you develop.
  • Instructional Technology – Change the way children learn in classrooms ranging from kindergarten to graduate-level classrooms, corporations, small businesses, and hospitals. Instructional coordinators develop curriculum and instructional materials, recommends teaching techniques and creates workshops. According to the BLS, instructional coordinators made an average salary of $63,750 per year (2017).

Educational Specialist Job Description

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 Child Mind Institute, educational specialists can add value and teach skills that matter the most by helping young people with learning disabilities to develop new life skills.

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!