2023 Best Online Education Specialist Degrees [EdS Degree]

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Explore the best online education specialist degree programs. Advance your education career and unlock opportunities in schools and educational organizations.

If you are looking to advance in your education career and have already completed an education master’s program, you may want to pursue an education specialist degree.

Best Online Education Specialist Degrees

This degree can help you become a knowledgeable expert in your line of work. This advanced degree program might qualify you for promotions, raises, or new job opportunities in schools or other educational organizations.

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If this piques your interest, then it may be time to explore education specialist degrees online and see how one could make a lasting difference in your career trajectory.

Online Education Specialist Degree Programs

Woman getting Education Specialist Degree online

Perhaps, you’ve been working in education for years, and you already have a master’s degree. What’s next for you? If you’d rather not commit to doctoral studies right now, you may want to think about earning an education specialist degree (EdS) instead.

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An EdS is a post-master’s program. It usually includes about 30 to 36 credits of coursework. That’s similar to the number of credits you’d need for another master’s degree, but the classes are typically at a more advanced level. This is typically a highly specialized degree that focuses on one specific aspect of education.

You may choose to study:

  • Athletics
  • Curriculum development
  • Early childhood education
  • Junior high teaching
  • Leadership
  • Literacy
  • Special education
  • Technology

You probably won’t have to write a thesis or a dissertation for this degree. You may be required to complete a final project or an internship, though. Getting your EdS could help you decide whether a Doctor of Education (EdD) is something you’d like to pursue. If so, you may be able to transfer in some of your EdS credits.

Earning your educational specialist degree online could lead to advanced roles in schools or other learning settings. You might become a principal, a curriculum director, a special ed coordinator, or a training consultant.

Common Online Specialist Degree in Education Specializations

Specialist Degree in Education

An education specialist degree isn’t a one-size-fits-all program. There are different specialization tracks that you can choose depending on your area of interest. It makes sense to pick a degree plan that fits your career goals.

EdS in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

This program is designed to boost your effectiveness with student learning and engagement. You’ll likely study ways to reach every student in your classroom. The topics covered may include curriculum selection, educational technology, learner accommodations, and student data.

With this degree, you might work as a curriculum specialist or an instructional coordinator in a school district. You might also work for a curriculum development company as a writer, an editor, or a school consultant.

EdS in Early Childhood Education

Woman working as EdS in Early Childhood Education

This track focuses on the development and education of kids up to age 8. You’ll likely be asked to explore the latest research in the field of early childhood education and consider how it should influence your work.

Topics of study may include literacy, play, social development, and brain science. This program doesn’t usually lead to licensure but can be useful for those who are already preschool or kindergarten teachers. It’s also appropriate for childcare directors and early intervention specialists.

EdS in Educational Administration and Leadership

Often, administration and leadership programs serve as a pathway to principal licensure. Your courses might cover organizational leadership, teacher evaluation, education law, and school finance. There might also be an internship as part of the requirements.

As a licensed principal, you could pursue work in public or private schools. Your students might be in elementary, middle, or high school. Leading a special needs school or a residential school might also be possible.

EdS in Educational Technology

High School Teacher with EdS in Educational Technology

Today’s learners can benefit from technology in many ways. If you choose to get a technology EdS, you may study online learning, multimedia platforms, and cognitive theories. The classes might also provide tips for spearheading change in an organization.

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This degree could help you become better equipped to teach in the classroom or online. In addition to working well for K-12 teachers and instructional coordinators, this program can also be useful for workplace training managers.

EdS in Learning Analytics

As classroom technology expands, gathering student data is easier than ever. Savvy educators can use that data to gain new insights into students’ learning needs. In preparation, you’ll likely study data collection, organization, and evaluation.

Your program might be geared toward elementary and secondary schools or focus on analytics at the college level. You could use this degree to pursue a career in education research. It could also be relevant for curriculum and consulting jobs.

EdS in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment

Man working as EdS in Reading, Literacy, and Assessment

Literacy is a vital skill, but many students struggle. This concentration is designed to equip you with the tools needed to help students become successful readers and writers. Class topics will likely include curriculum selection, student diversity, and family partnerships.

You will also probably explore the latest science about how people learn and recall information. A literacy degree can be useful for classroom teachers, tutors, reading specialists, and curriculum planners and writers.

EdS in Special Education

You can enhance your abilities to provide a great education for every student by pursuing a degree in special ed. The program will likely address learning disabilities, social-emotional needs, and behavioral disorders. You might study education law and advocacy too.

Typically, this program doesn’t lead to licensure but instead helps current special education teachers become even more knowledgeable. It can also be useful for people who want to become the head of a special ed program or department.

Educational Specialist Careers & Salaries

Educational Specialist Careers & Salaries

Getting your EdS can be useful for a variety of education careers, including working in a classroom. Classroom teachers at all levels, from preschool through high school, can learn new things in grad school. Special education teachers can benefit from EdS programs too.

The lessons and ideas explored in an education specialist degree program can inform your teaching and help you deliver meaningful lessons. Plus, many districts give salary boosts to well-educated teachers. You might also be able to use this degree for other jobs in your school district. You might become a curriculum specialist, learning technology director, or special education coordinator.

This degree can be useful for principals too. Some EdS tracks are even designed for initial principal licensure. Childcare and preschool directors can also benefit from EdS studies. The degree may also be relevant to people who work in the curriculum publishing industry. That includes textbook writers, project managers, material editors, and school training consultants.

Some EdS programs are relevant for careers in higher education. You might learn more about college administrative roles, such as working in admissions or student affairs. Also, a master’s degree or above may qualify you to teach or lead research in the education department.

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There’s also the option of overseeing educational programs for adults. For example, some EdS studies could be useful for jobs in the field of workplace training and development. You could potentially become a training manager or a consultant.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the careers you could pursue with an education specialist degree:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Training and Development Managers $120,130
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals $98,420
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910
Writers and Authors $69,510
Education Teachers, Postsecondary $63,910
Instructional Coordinators $63,740
High School Teachers $61,820
Special Education Teachers $61,820
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310

Licensing requirements for these jobs may vary depending on the state where you live, and some jobs may require more experience to acquire than others.

Online EdS Degree Curriculum & Courses

Professor & students taking EdS Degree

To become an educational specialist, you likely need to take 30 to 36 credit hours of advanced classes. While the curriculum will vary depending on the school you go to and the program you take, these are some common courses in education specialist programs.

  • Classroom Behavior: This class aims to help you become more effective at behavior management so that your students can learn in a safe, calm environment.
  • Curriculum Evaluation: This course can help you learn how to think critically about the curriculum used in your school and make adaptations to support all students.
  • Data in Education: This class discusses ways to gather data, interpret the results, and make decisions accordingly, and it may give you hands-on opportunities to test data-collection software.
  • Early Literacy: This course explores how young children acquire language, develop letter recognition, and learn to read.
  • Gifted Education: This class typically explores new instructional strategies for above-average students, how to support their emotional needs, and funding sources for gifted education.
  • Higher Education: This course typically focuses on academics, student life, funding, and other issues related to running a college.
  • Online Teaching: This course covers the strengths and weaknesses of online education and how to design effective online classes.
  • School Law and Advocacy: This class provides an overview of current education regulations and explores how to effectively influence public policy.
  • School Staffing: This class can help you prepare for a career as a principal by teaching you how to recruit, support, and evaluate teachers and other school personnel.
  • Science of Learning: This class explores the latest research and ideas about memory, cognition, motivation, and developmental psychology.

Some EdS programs may require an internship as well as classroom work.

Admissions Requirements

Student checking requirements for Education Specialist Degree

Education specialist programs are for people who already hold a master’s degree. To show your readiness for this program, you might need to turn in:

  • Graduate-level writing sample or personal goal statement
  • GRE scores (not required by all colleges)
  • Letters from supervisors or professors
  • Resume listing relevant professional experience
  • Transcripts from bachelor’s degree and master’s degree studies

For some programs, you will also need to show that you hold a state teaching license that is in good standing.

EdS Programs Online Accreditation

University offering EdS Programs Online

It’s important to select a college with regional accreditation for your EdS in education. An institution with regional accreditation has met the standards required for approval from an accrediting organization.

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You can feel better about the education you’ll get at a regionally accredited school. Plus, it’s the most widely recognized form of accreditation, so it can hold great value for your future. Classes from regionally accredited schools are more likely to transfer to other colleges or count toward doctoral programs. Employers usually prefer candidates who have studied at regionally accredited schools as well.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Education Specialist Degree Financial Aid

Before enrolling in a post-master’s program, it can be beneficial to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This can let you know the federal assistance you may receive.

Loans are the most common form of aid for students at this level of education. Your college may have financial aid available for you as well. Schools are often able to provide qualifying students with scholarship funds. You might also be eligible for private scholarship or fellowship programs.

Your school district may also contribute to your education. Workplace-based tuition assistance helps many teachers continually improve their classroom and leadership skills.

What Is an EdS Degree?

An education specialist (Ed.S.) degree is a program that you can enter after completing a master’s degree. It includes classes that are more advanced than those in a master’s program. EdS degrees often focus on specialized subfields of education.

In many ways, an EdS is like a doctorate. Many of the courses will likely be at a similar level of depth and difficulty. EdS studies are shorter than doctorates, though, and they don’t require a dissertation.

What Can You Do with an Ed Specialist Degree?

Man getting an Education Specialist Degree online

People with this degree may work as classroom teachers or head teachers. An EdS can also be useful for people who oversee schools’ athletic, curriculum, or special education departments.

Some people with this degree are principals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that a master’s degree is the entry-level qualification to become a principal, but some people earn their administrative credentials through EdS programs. This degree could also help you write or promote school curriculum materials.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Educational Specialist Degree Online?

Typically, a specialist in education degree can be earned in 1 to 2 years. Many online programs can be completed in 17 to 18 months.

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In that time, you’ll likely have to earn between 30 and 36 credit hours. Licensure-track programs that require an internship may take longer than others to complete. Full-time studies are quicker than part-time programs. If you don’t carry a full course load during each term, your time to graduation will be longer.

What’s the Difference between EdD vs. EdS Online Programs?

Once you have an education master’s degree, you may continue your advanced education in one of two ways. Some people opt for a Doctor of Education (EdD). Others go for the Education Specialist (EdS) degree.

Education Specialist Doctor of Education
  • Typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete
  • Might require a capstone project
  • Not a terminal degree
  • Typically takes 3 to 7 years to complete
  • Often requires a dissertation
  • A terminal degree in the education field

If you decide not to get an EdD right away, some of your EdS coursework may transfer into a doctoral program in the future.

Is an Education Specialist Degree Worth It?

Education Specialist & School Principal discussing

Yes, an education specialist degree is worth it for many professionals. School district compensation is often based on continuing education.

Getting an EdS could potentially qualify you for promotions or move you to a higher level of your school’s pay schedule. Plus, effective leadership is an essential part of a healthy school culture. In an EdS program, you can learn cutting-edge knowledge for in-demand jobs.

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Positions for school principals and higher education administrators are expected to grow by 8% over the next decade. Teaching jobs are also growing at a 7% to 8% rate, depending on the grade level.

Universities Offering Online Education Specialist Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University campus

A Higher Education: Education Specialist degree from Appalachian State University can be earned online on a part-time basis. The program requires 30 credit hours of coursework and can potentially be finished in five semesters. Students can choose a concentration in Community College and University Leadership or Adult and Developmental Education.

Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Columbia International University

Columbia International University campus

Columbia International University’s EdS degree program is available online. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours. It consists of courses such as Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Education, Alternative Educational Delivery Systems, Educational Trends and the Law, and more. CIU provides a Christian education.

Columbia International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The education specialist degree program from Liberty University can typically be completed in a year and a half. Courses are 100% online and offered in 8 week blocks. Numerous specializations are available, including Curriculum and Instruction, Online Teaching and Learning, Educational Leadership, Special Education, Educational Psychology, and more.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Missouri Baptist University

Missouri Baptist University campus

Missouri Baptist University offers an online program for an EdS degree. Students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework and can usually finish in 18 to 24 months. Courses include Differentiated Instruction, Learning Innovations for Continuous School Improvement and Field Experience, Data Analysis for Decision-Making, and more.

Missouri Baptist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State University campus

Northwest Missouri State University offers an online education specialist degree program. It requires the completion of 30 credit hours, including 18 credit hours of electives. Students can potentially finish the program in just 1 year. Course possibilities include Writing and Interpreting Educational Literature and Statistics, Culture and Student Engagement, School Law, and more.

Northwest Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Piedmont University

Piedmont University campus

Piedmont University offers four different EdS options, including advanced certification options in Art Education and Music Education. The other two options are Curriculum and Instruction (Initial Certification) and Curriculum and Instruction (Certificate Upgrade). Courses are available both online and on campus. The programs are primarily intended for those who are already licensed as educators in the state of Georgia.

Piedmont is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas campus

The University of Arkansas offers a flexible, online program for an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction. Students must complete 33 credit hours of coursework and can usually finish in 2 to 3 years. There are four concentrations available: Program Administrator, K-12 Online Teaching, Literacy and Dyslexia, and Education Examiner.

The University of Arkansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Florida

University of Florida campus

The University of Florida offers an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction designed for those who work full-time as teachers. Students in the program must create portfolios demonstrating how they are implementing course content in their own classrooms. There are 7 specialization areas to choose from: ESOL, Educational Technology, Reading, Media Literacy, Secondary Mathematics, Secondary Science, and Interdisciplinary.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Maine

University of Maine campus

The University of Maine offers four different EdS options: Educational Leadership, Instructional Technology, Special Education, and Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. All these programs are 100% online, and they all require the completion of 33 credits of coursework. GRE and GMAT scores are not needed to apply.

The University of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell campus

The University of Massachusetts—Lowell offers 2 different EdS degrees, including Administration, Planning, and Policy and Reading and Language. These programs are designed to meet the needs of practitioners who already had master’s education in these fields and want to extend their knowledge and skills.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Michigan – Flint

University of Michigan - Flint campus

The University of Michigan—Flint offers an EdS degree that can be earned in a flexible online format. Students progress through the program with a small cohort and typically complete it in 20 months. There are two concentration options to choose from: Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction.

The University of Michigan – Flint is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

The University of Missouri offers an online program for an EdS in Learning Technologies and Design with an emphasis in Online Education. The program follows a semester-based calendar, and students typically take one or two classes at a time. No campus visits are required. Coursework includes Introduction to Digital Media, Designing Online Learning, Instructional Systems Design, and more.

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of West Alabama

University of West Alabama campus

The University of West Alabama offers several online EdS options. These include Counseling, Library Media (Certification or Non-Certification), Special Education: Collaborative Teacher (6-12), and Special Education: Collaborative Teacher (K-6).

Other options are Elementary Education, Instructional Leadership, Teacher Leader, School Counseling, and Early Childhood Education. UWA’s online classes are each 8 weeks long. Online students can receive one-on-one mentorship.

UWA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University offers an online program for an EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration (Principal Licensure Preparation). It requires the completion of 36 semester credits and includes field experiences. Coursework includes Policy and Law in School Organizations, Ensuring Quality Education for Students with Diverse Needs, Budgeting and Allocating Resources, and more.

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

William Woods University

William Woods University campus

William Woods University offers an online program for an EdS in Curriculum Leadership that is designed for working teachers. Each class is 8 weeks long, and the degree can typically be completed within 2 years. Courses include Curriculum Auditing and Mapping, Urban Issues in Curriculum and Instruction, Advanced School Law for Teachers, and more.

William Woods University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Education Specialist Degree Online

Woman getting her Education Specialist Degree Online

For more education training after getting a master’s degree, you can consider becoming an education specialist. In a specialized EdS program, you’ll take advanced classes that focus on your area of practice.

Whether you are a teacher, a principal, or another education professional, there’s likely an EdS program that will suit your interests. Online EdS programs may provide the freedom that you need to go back to school. Busy education professionals can often fit online post-master’s classes around their other responsibilities.

You can explore your options by researching accredited education online degree programs offering the specialist degree to find the one that best fits your needs.

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Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.