How to Get An Ed S Degree | Salary & Programs 2021

Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree Overview

Earning an education specialization degree is a great way for educators to open new career opportunities, increase salary potential, and learn new skills. Educators can specialize in a specific field to learn the skills needed to advance their career. 

The BLS reports increased earning potential for individuals with an education specialist degree. For example, an elementary and secondary school principal can earn an average of $99,690 per year.1 

This Ed S degree guide explores the options available for educators with an education specialist degree (EdS) and compares online and on-campus options. 

What is An Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree?

An education specialist degree is a post-masters degree for teachers and educators that teaches specific information for potential future careers. Coursework is often more intense than a graduate level program but falls short of a terminal degree. 

Graduates can go on to earn their doctoral degree in over a dozen specializations. For example, if the goal is to become a principal or superintendent, then the best degree specialization would be leadership and administration. 

Depending on the program, classwork can be accomplished in person or online, and many students complete their degree while working full-time as an educator.

Outstanding Schools With Ed S (Education Specialist) Degrees in the U.S.

Finding the perfect Ed S program can be overwhelming, so we’ve featured six here that offer outstanding Ed S programs with multiple specialities for graduate students. Each of these schools has high marks in accreditation, affordability, high student satisfaction, or a combination of the three. 

  • The University of Alabama – The University of Alabama offers an EdS in Elementary Education that is strictly online. Thirty credit hours are required with a cost of $420 per credit hour. Courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on the UA campus and can be completed online from any location. Applications are accepted year round to this post master’s program.
  • Walden University – Walden University offers the following eight EdS programs. These programs are offered strictly online and have flexible start dates. A highlight of Walden’s programs is the ability to transfer up to 22 credits to be applied towards the degree. This not only cuts down on cost but also cuts down on the overall length of the program.
    • Educational technology
    • Special education
    • Early childhood education
    • Learning
    • Instruction and innovation
    • Education administration and leadership
    • Educational leadership and administration
    • Reading
    • Literacy
    • Assessment 
    • Curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Northcentral University – Northcentral University offers fifteen EdS programs to students in an online environment. Each program is 33 credit hours with 11 courses in each program track. The recommended completion time is 18 months, and classes start every Monday. This program offers great flexibility for working students and those with families.
  • Ohio State University – Ohio State University offers a school psychology education Ed S program, which is not found at most universities. One of the least common programs but most highly sought after, this program tops the list of specializations. This program lasts three years and requires 36 credit hours. Significantly longer than other EdS programs, the time and financial commitment is significant, and it’s only offered on-campus to a small cohort of students. By keeping the program small, students are able to gain a great understanding and appreciation for the information.
  • University of Florida – The University of Florida offers the EdS in Curriculum and Instruction that must be completed within seven years of acceptance. Completed online, the program is a minimum of 36 credits. While a thesis is not required for this program, each program will include continuing attention to a research component to the professional role for which the student is preparing.
  • University of Virginia – The University of Virginia offers an EdS in Curriculum & Instruction degree, which is a 30-credit hour post-master’s degree. This program is offered full or part-time in Charlottesville and online. Students have the ability to choose between online learning or in person instruction, as there is no hybrid option. For students interested in completing the program online, professors are the same that teach the in-person classes.

What Can I Do With an Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree?

Earning an Ed S degree can open countless career opportunities both in and out of the classroom.  Here are some possible career opportunities: 

  • Academic advisor
  • Classroom teacher
  • Curriculum coordinator
  • Dean
  • District administrator
  • Educational technology specialist
  • Education consultant
  • Higher education administrator
  • Instructional technology coordinator
  • Postsecondary teacher
  • Principal
  • Provost
  • Reading specialist
  • Registrar
  • School counselor
  • School psychologist
  • School superintendent
  • Special education coordinator
  • Special education specialist

Ed S (Education Specialist) Salaries

BLS doesn’t have an exact salary breakdown for Ed S graduates. However, common jobs such as superintendent or school psychologist indicate that those holding an education specialist degree will make more than a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. 

Salary potential is directly related to career path, and there are multiple opportunities for educators with advanced degrees. Here are some of the most common: 

Ed S (Education Specialist) Career Paths

CareerSalaryProjected Job Growth (2019-2029)About the Position
School and Career Counselors$58,120 per year 8%School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills that lead to success in school. Career counselors help people develop skills, explore a career, or choose an educational program that will lead to a career.
Special Education Teacher$61,030 per year3%Special education teachers work with students who have learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects to students with mild to moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills to students with severe disabilities.
Instructional Coordinators $66,970 per year6%Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop educational material, implement it with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness.
Elementary and Secondary School Principal $98,490 per year4%Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curriculums, manage staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists$ 89,290 per year3%School psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how students relate to one another and to their environments in a school setting. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors. 
Postsecondary Education Administrator$100,060 per year4%Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Their job duties vary depending on the department in which they work, such as admissions, student affairs, or the registrar’s office.
Interpreters and translators$52,330 per year 20%Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language. Interpreters work in spoken or sign language; translators work in written language.

Earning an Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree

Education Specialist degrees are ideal for educators who already possess a master’s degree but do not want to commit to a doctorate

An Ed S degree can be time consuming and costly. However, for some, it is the only way to achieve a certain career.  While a doctorate is often preferred for educators, an Ed S degree allows you to spend less time, money, and study hours. 

Types of Ed S (Education Specialist) Degrees 

There are over a dozen specializations tailored to respective careers. Students in Ed S programs are typically seeking very specific job skills related to a certain position they are trying to obtain, such as principal or counselor. 

Here is a list of Ed S degree specializations: 

  • Curriculum and instruction 
  • Early childhood education
  • Educational leadership and policy elearning
  • Elementary education
  • English second language
  • General education
  • Global training and development
  • Higher education administration
  • Instructional leadership
  • International educational 
  • Learning analytics in high education
  • Learning analytics K-12
  • Middle grades education
  • Organizational leadership
  • School administration and supervision
  • Secondary education 
  • Special education 
  • Sports and athletic management

Courses in Ed S (Education Specialist) Programs

Specific courses can vary depending on the specialization and university, but most students can expect to take these similar courses throughout the program: 

  • Alternative curricular approaches
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Assessment of intelligence
  • Assessment of personality
  • Assessment practice to promote healthy development and learning
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Career counseling and development
  • Child development in the critical early years
  • Crisis management in the schools
  • Curriculum theory 
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Diversity and multicultural perspectives
  • Education policy for school leaders
  • Evaluating and supporting early childhood programs
  • Group counseling in schools
  • Historical and contemporary issues in school psychology
  • Improved policy
  • Informed advocacy
  • Inspired leadership
  • Interventions with families and schools
  • Leading evidence-based action research for school improvement
  • Leading the future of education
  • Phenomenology and Theory of Childhood Disorders
  • Research theory, design, and methods
  • School finance and resource management for school leaders
  • School law and policy
  • School law in educational leadership
  • Special topics in educational leadership
  • Supervision of curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Teaching the college student in higher education administration
  • Techniques and strategies in school based counseling
  • Theories in school-based counseling

How Long Does it Take to Get an Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree?

Ed S (Education Specialist) degree programs typically require 30 credits over the course of two years. Education Specialist degrees are intended to focus on giving you specialized, advanced education training and research beyond the graduate level. 

However, the Ed S is not intended to be a full-length doctoral program. Some may take longer to complete this degree due to work schedules, family commitments, and monetary support. However, due to the program structure, there is usually a class progression plan that requires students to take classes in a set pattern, at a specific time. 

Skills Learned in an Ed S (Education Specialist) Program

The skills learned in an education specialist program prepare you to gain advanced knowledge and a strong foundation in both theory and research. This post-masters degree falls between a master’s degree and a doctorate and provides advanced learning without the required commitment to research or a dissertation. 

 You can expect to learn the following: 

  • Administrative skills
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Marketing and sales skills
  • Project management skills
  • Research and writing skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Teaching skills
  • Technology skills

Choosing the Best Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree

Your Ed S degree program specialization will depend on the career you are interested in pursuing. 

The most common career path is administration. While this does require an advanced degree in most cases, a doctorate is not always required. An education specialist degree will provide the advanced education and skills without the time commitment of a doctorate. 

Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree Specializations

There are numerous education specialist degree specializations one can pursue. It is important to know what you want to specialize in before applying for a post-master’s program. Here are some of the options: 

  • Curriculum and instruction → most common
  • Early childhood education
  • Educational leadership and policy → most common
  • eLearning
  • Elementary education
  • English second language
  • General education
  • Global training and development
  • Higher education administration
  • Instructional leadership
  • International educational 
  • Learning analytics in high education
  • Learning analytics K-12
  • Middle grades education
  • Organizational leadership
  • School administration and supervision
  • Secondary education → most common
  • Special education → most common
  • Sports and athletic management

There are also multiple career paths available upon completion of an Ed S degree:

  • Classroom teacher
  • Educational technology specialist
  • Postsecondary teacher
  • Principal
  • School counselor
  • School superintendent
  • Special education specialist

Online vs. On Campus Ed S (Education Specialist) Degrees

Students have many options for graduate school, including online or on-campus learning. Determining which format is best for you and your family is the first step to deciding if a program is right for you. 

Many educators opt to complete their post-masters degree online because online programs are convenient, particularly for working teachers. Here are some benefits of online learning:

  • Convenience of taking your class anywhere, anytime
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Freedom to work at your own pace
  • In many cases, a cheaper price tag than on-campus options
  • No on-campus commute
  • Retain current employment
  • Wider range of graduate programs options

On-campus options also have a lot of benefits if it is a feasible option for you:

  • Active discussion opportunities
  • Consistent schedule
  • Networking opportunities
  • Face-to-face learning with professor
  • Socialization with like minded professionals

Post-graduate programs are usually designed for working professionals, so in person classes are held at night to accommodate teachers’ work schedules and maintain a consistent schedule throughout the duration of the program.

Should I Complete Courses Online?

Many education specialist degrees can be completed entirely online. Accredited online programs match the quality of in-person programs while allowing you to complete courses at your own pace. There is often increased flexibility with assignment deadlines since most students teach full time during the week. 

Programs use either synchronous or asynchronous courses, which is likely a deciding factor for prospective students. 

  • Asynchronous courses do not require attendance at a set time. Lectures and class content are pre-recorded, and students interact through an online platform. Students can work on their assignments at any time of day, which is ideal for adult students with families, jobs, and responsibilities.
  • Synchronous courses are like attending traditional in person classes but from the comfort of your own home. Students attend live lectures via a digital platform and work on assignments in real time. 

How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

Whether the classes are synchronous or asynchronous, courses can be as short as 4-5 weeks while the longest could take a full semester. On average, online classes last roughly 8-9 weeks. However, some programs specialize in accelerated degrees so students can complete their Ed S quickly and efficiently. 

Accreditation

Ensuring an Ed S program is accredited is important for any prospective student. Accreditation is the process of evaluating graduate programs to determine if they meet specific state and national standards. This is a voluntary process, but most major universities and colleges are accredited. 

Accreditation is designed to do the following:2

  • Assess the quality of academic programs at institutions of higher education
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement of academic quality at colleges and universities and stimulate general raising of standards among educational institutions
  • Establish criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation
  • Involve faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning”

Accredited programs benefit students in many ways, including: 

  • Job market competitiveness
  • Professional certification and licensure 
  • Ability to receive federal financial aid
  • Transfer credits towards the program

There are multiple types of accreditation for graduate level programs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED)3 and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)4 oversee regional accrediting agencies.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. Schools receive regional accreditation from one of seven regional accrediting bodies, depending on where the school is located:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs, departments, or schools that function as part of larger institutions. This type of accreditation is often granted by professional associations, industry organizations, and groups of experts in a specific discipline. 

Applying to Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree Programs

Applying to an Ed S post-graduate degree can be overwhelming, especially if you are working full-time. From gathering references to paying application fees and submitting graduate school transcripts, the process can be tedious and time consuming. However, all schools generally require the same forms and documents for the admissions process.

Remember, before considering applying to a post-graduate education program, you MUST hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution. Without this, you cannot start a post-graduate education program. 

It is also important to know what type of education specialist program you will apply to. The most common include:

  • EdS in curriculum and instruction
  • EdS in educational leadership and policy
  • EdS in special education
  • EdS in school psychology

It’s important to remember that all requirements and prerequisites must be met in order to be considered for acceptance. 

Pro tip – make a spreadsheet of all required documents and deadlines for each post-graduate program. Most programs have deadlines in the spring, but sometimes applicants can turn in applications any time in the year. Online programs typically have increased flexibility regarding application deadlines. 

Admission Requirements for Ed S (Education Specialist) Programs

  • Application: Each education specialist program has its own specific application on their website. 
  • Application fee: The application fee varies by institution, though it can be waived for attending an open house event for the program or by contacting a university counselor. 
  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution: This is a MUST for all post-graduate programs. You will not be considered for acceptance if you do not already have a master’s degree and the required coursework. 
  • Current Resume or CV: Submit an up-to-date resume with all past and current education as well as work experiences. Included in the resume should be volunteer opportunities, committees and organizations you’re a part of, and any awards nominated for and/or won. 
  • Experience teaching: Relevant teaching experience
  • Official Transcripts: All official transcripts must be submitted from all colleges attended. Unofficial transcripts may be submitted initially for advising purposes.
  • Personal statement or essay: The personal essay is your chance to explain why you are pursuing an Ed S degree. Making the essay personal can help appeal to the application committee.
  • Professional letters of recommendation: The specific number of required letters of recommendation depends on the program, but expect to send in at least 2-3 letters. These recommendations could be from current or former colleagues, administrators, or undergraduate professors, if recently out of school.

Paying for an Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree

Financial assistance options for graduate school can be difficult to navigate, especially since resources and financial opportunities are not as readily available as undergraduate assistance. 

It is also important to speak with your employer. Many education systems offer some form of tuition reimbursement for educators, especially those earning their master’s in elementary education. Tuition reimbursement is very helpful for students interested in pursuing an advanced degree. 

Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of the different types of monetary aid available. Remember, research the different types of aid you may be eligible for and apply early. 

Scholarships

Scholarships provide financial aid to a student to further their education without any repayment requirements. There are a variety of different types of scholarships. These include:

  • Merit-based
  • Need-based
  • Student-specific (gender, race, religion, family, and/or medical history)
  • Career-specific
  • College-specific

Most scholarships require letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, and personal essays. Monetary amounts can be as little as $100 or as much as the cost of your education. You can apply to multiple scholarships as long as the school is on the scholarship’s approved list. 

Grants

Grants are determined by financial need. They can be used to cover costs like tuition, books, teaching supplies, and educational supplies. Grants typically inform applicants exactly how funds can be applied towards their education. The amount of money you are eligible to receive depends on your financial situation.

Like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid as long as you graduate with your master’s in the allotted time. 

Student Loans

Unlike scholarships and grants, student loans must be repaid. Loans incur interest, so you ultimately repay more than the initial amount of the loan. The exact terms of the loan depend on the lender and other factors, and there are several types of student loans.

The most common loans are Federal Student Loans.5 Federal student loans are a great option for most students for the following reasons:

  • They don’t have to be paid back while you’re in school
  • They charge lower interest than loans from private lenders
  • If you’re having trouble paying back your loan, there are programs you can qualify for to assist you
  • You don’t need any credit history to get a federal student loan

Two other fairly common loans are direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans, more commonly referred to as Stafford Loans.6 

Direct Subsidized Loans

  • U.S. Department of Education loan
  • Must meet certain income requirements
  • Must demonstrate financial need
  • Government pays an interest rate on loan while in school
  • Begin payback after graduation

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • U.S. Department of Education loan
  • Don’t have to meet income requirements
  • Student is responsible for accrued interest
  • Begin payback after graduation

Federal Perkins Loan 

  • Very low-income students
  • Lender is the education institution
  • Meet income requirements
  • School must have funds available, and there are limited monetary amounts

Private Student Loans

  • Money comes from banks and credit unions
  • Very high-interest rates
  • Payments required while attending school

How Much Does an Ed S (Education Specialist) Degree Cost?

Earning a graduate degree as an education specialist can cost as little as $10,000 or upwards of $80,000. This depends on the program of choice, whether it is a public or private university, or online or brick-and-mortar school. 

It’s important to remember to speak to your employers regarding tuition reimbursement. This might not always be an option, but it is worth reaching out to the appropriate individuals. An education specialist degree will also depend on the specialization of the degree. 

Scholarships for Ed S (Education Specialist) Students

  • Donald H. and Verna S. Duncan Fellowship 
    • Award: $1000
    • Deadline: June 1st
    • Eligibility: College transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a 1,000-word paper addressing a future role as an educational leader.
  • Harry Passow Classroom Teacher Scholarship 
    • Award: $2,000
    • Deadline: May 4th
    • Eligibility: Nomination form with two letters of recommendation, proof of acceptance at an accredited U.S. university in a gifted education program, a current curriculum vitae, and a personal letter outlining why you’re an appropriate recipient for the award
  • Pi Lambda Theta Graduate Student Scholar Award
    • Award: $1,000
    • Deadline: April 1st
    • Eligibility: Pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, have completed at least 12 semester credits of graduate work, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.75, display strong leadership potential, and have made significant contributions to local or national education efforts
  • Pursue Your Path Scholarship 
    • Award: One full-tuition scholarship and three $20,000 scholarships to new and eligible graduate students
    • Deadline: April 26th
    • Eligibility: Submit either a 500-700 word essay (maximum two pages, double-spaced), or a 2-4 minute audio or video file (minimum 2 minutes, maximum 4 minutes)

Ed S (Education Specialist) Career Resources

The organizations listed below are great resources for education specialists. Each offers a unique perspective and opportunities for educators. Several are union-based while others are strictly professional organizations offering career advice and job opportunities. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-5
  2. https://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg2.html 
  3. https://www.ed.gov/
  4. https://www.chea.org/
  5. https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
  6. https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized