Educational specialist

The Education Specialist, also referred to as Educational Specialist or Specialist in Education (Ed.S.), is an advanced degree in the U.S. that is designed for individuals who wish to develop advanced knowledge and theory beyond the master's degree level, but may not wish to pursue a degree at the doctoral level.

Advanced programs beyond the master's degree are designed to provide the necessary background and professional expertise for students planning to go into university teaching, supervisory or leadership roles in post secondary schools, curriculum planning, consultant work, or similar positions. Generally, the Ed.S. or S.C.C.T. is considered a sixth year course of study although it may take more than an additional year beyond the master's program to complete. This degree may be completed en route to a Ph.D., Ed.D., or as a terminal (end) degree, which was its original intent.

Since the course work in an Education Specialist degree is at an advanced graduate level many schools will transfer the credits earned directly into a doctoral degree (Ed.D., Doctor of Education).


In the K-12 arena, individuals who earn an Ed.S. degree seek to increase their skills for advanced licensure requirements (such as principalship), earn the credits needed for re-certification or other professional objectives. Others may pursue an Ed.S. degree in order to meet state or professional requirements for career advancement.

In the higher education arena, individuals who earn an Ed.S. seek to increase their knowledge for preparation in academic or administrative leadership role.

Major areas available with this degree include educational technology, adult education, adult learning, special education, higher education administration, school counseling, school psychology, educational leadership, ESL, educational administration, curriculum and instruction, superintendent, career and adult technical education, community college administration, and community college teaching.[1]


The Ed.S. degree is an advanced professional degree program that is considered by some accrediting bodies as the completion of the sixth year of collegiate study, (between the master's and doctorate). Historically, it has also been considered a terminal degree.The degree is best suited for those who do not wish to complete a doctoral degree. Programs typically require from 30 to 45 semester hours beyond a master's degree. In some instances, an oral defense of a scholarly thesis or field study may be required, similar to a dissertation at the culmination of the degree. Some post-secondary faculty union contracts in the U.S. recognize the Ed.S. as equivalent to a doctorate on their salary scales. Some Ed.S. degree holders were on their path to earn the Ph.D. or Ed.D. but may have stopped short of completion due to some unforeseen contingencies. Some Ed.S. programs function as a bridge between a master's degree and a doctorate via articulation agreements.

An Ed.S. program typically requires about 60-70 semester hours beyond a bachelor's degree, or about 30 hours beyond a master's (making it approximately the same workload as a second Master's in terms of credits, but often the coursework is at the doctoral level) However, according to the U.S. Department of Education's International Affairs Office's leaflet, entitled, "Structure of the U.S. Education System: Intermediate Graduate Qualifications," (Feb 2008), the Ed.S., as a degree, is equivalent to the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D./D.Psy.), and the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.).[2]

The Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) degree is similar to the Ed.S. in School Psychology. It is typically granted when the program is located in a department of psychology rather than education.

Some universities may use an abbreviation other than Ed.S. to indicate completion of this degree. At Arkansas State University, for example, students may earn an S.C.C.T. (Specialist in Community College Teaching).

Leadership Ed.S. degrees can also be obtained and are best suited for those who seek further professional preparation in curriculum design and leadership education. The George Washington University offers an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration degree program[3] focusing on high-quality leadership learning for students in a district, sub-district or school-wide level.

Academic dress

According to The American Council on Education “six-year specialist degrees (Ed.S., etc.) and other degrees that are intermediate between the master's and the doctor's degree may have hoods specially designed (1) intermediate in length between the master's and doctor's hood, (2) with a four-inch velvet border (also intermediate between the widths of the borders of master's and doctor's hoods), and (3) with color distributed in the usual fashion and according to the usual rules. Cap tassels should be uniformly black.”[4] The other such degrees in the United States are the Licentiate degrees granted by pontifical universities and the professional engineer diploma.[2]

See also


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