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Education Specialist (EdS)
in Leadership in Higher

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Courses start every Monday

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Take the first step in your National University journey

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230K+ Alumni Worldwide


Just as teachers are now in greater demand than ever before, educational leaders are needed to manage and assist school districts, state educational boards, and institutions of higher learning as they work to improve their instructional capabilities. This specialization prepares you to lead in a variety of higher education institutions, including public, private, for profit, and non-profit. The coursework provides a foundational understanding of communication, leadership, and research techniques, while the specialty studies examine leadership across a variety of functions and considerations, such as student services, strategic planning, academic programs, curriculum development, legal issues, and financial concerns.

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The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

Admission Requirements 

A conferred post-baccalaureate master’s degree or doctoral degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution or an international institution determined to be equivalent through an approved evaluation service.


The Education Specialist (EdS) program requires two foundational courses, two research courses, six specialization courses, and one capstone course for a total of 33 credit hours. Both the Education Specialist (EdS) and Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership (EdS-EdL) require that all other courses be completed prior to starting the capstone course. The estimated time needed to complete this program is 23 months.

Course Details

Course Listings

Your communication abilities have a big influence on your professional reputation. In this course, you’ll develop skills to establish yourself as a competent professional with strong communication skills. You’ll learn competencies related to written, oral, and visual forms of communication appropriate to specific media and audiences. You’ll also explore how the iterative nature of preparing communications and integrating feedback into your work products can support your development and advancement as a professional.

Leadership during times of change can be challenging. This course supports your professional development as an effective leader of educational organizations during periods of change. You’ll explore strategies and techniques for self-reflection, evaluating culture, integrating stakeholder feedback, and incorporating data as part of improvement processes. To conclude the course, you’ll synthesize these skills to design a comprehensive improvement plan that addresses a specific problem within an educational organization.

This course introduces you to the research process by exploring its underpinnings, examining its paradigms, and investigating the foundations of qualitative and quantitative methodologies used in educational studies. You’ll identify criteria for the development of quality research studies that are ethical, accurate, comprehensive, cohesive, and aligned. Specific course topics involve the ethics of conducting research; data collection and analysis techniques; and issues of feasibility, trustworthiness, validity, reliability, transferability, and rigor. The goal is to familiarize yourself with the concepts and skills associated with conducting theoretical and applied research.

Select One of the Following Two Research Courses:

A focus on qualitative research methodology and the designs and methods used to collect and analyze data in educational research. You’ll examine the principles of qualitative research and explore commonly used designs (also referred to as qualitative traditions or genres) with a focus on application and feasibility. Qualitative data collection and analysis methods will be examined for their suitability with regard to the research design selected. Alignment between qualitative designs and research methods, issues of trustworthiness, and the responsibilities of the qualitative researcher will also be explored.

An exploration of quantitative research methodologies and associated designs and methods. You’ll examine paradigmatic perspectives along with the tenets and conventions of quantitative research. Topics for examination include feasibility, validity, reliability, variable operationalization, inferential designs, and analytic software applications used within the quantitative research paradigm. You’ll also look at the components of quantitative research designs that support meaningful studies within the field of education.

As the capstone to your EdS studies, you’ll work with a specific educational program relevant to your current or future professional aims. You’ll review the related literature and evaluate data to inform your development of potential solutions and future areas of research related to your identified problem. Finally, you’ll reflect on your personal learning journey throughout the EdS program.

Specialization Courses

LHE-7100 Leadership, Management, and Supervision in Higher Education 

In this course, you’ll explore the differences between leadership, management, and supervision in the context of the Leadership in Higher Education (LHE) specialization. Your exploration will be grounded in historical trends, theoretical and applied considerations, and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. You’ll also examine the role of shared governance and the ability to effectively manage change and conflict.

LHE-7200 Student Services in Higher Education

Many functions are included within higher education student services, and this course explores them across the student lifecycle in a variety of delivery modalities. You’ll study enrollment, advising, academic support, accommodations and modifications, as well as persistence and retention through graduation. The coursework provides you the opportunity to examine these functions within higher education and as they relate specifically to your interests.

LHE-7300 Legal Issues in Higher Education

Higher education institutions in the U.S. are bound by different legislation and regulation. Leaders must also consider the different types of institutional and programmatic accreditation. In this course, you’ll explore the implications of these different accreditations, regulations, and legislation, with a specific focus on risk management, institutional self-studies, and issues of intellectual property across different types of institutions.

LHE-7400 Academic Program and Curriculum Development in Higher Education

Learning facilitation is the core function of all higher education institutions, and leaders need to know how this capability is designed and maintained. This course explores academic program planning and evaluation, theories and principles of curriculum development, assessment of student learning, and the value of open educational resources and co-curricular activities. Coursework will allow you to tailor your studies toward your current or future institutional contexts.

LHE-7500 Financial Considerations in Higher Education

Financial considerations in higher education can be complex. While accounting departments may be responsible for most of the details, higher education leaders need to understand the scope of financial considerations across the institution. In this course, you’ll examine budgets and budget cycles; sources of revenue, including financial aid, grants, and fundraising; and the regulations that govern these activities within U.S. institutions of higher education. Throughout your financial explorations, you’ll also consider the role of fiscal accountability and related challenges.

LHE-7600 Strategic Planning and Operations in Higher Education

The operational complexity of higher education institutions grows exponentially with their size. This course investigates the typical departments and processes before examining more specific operational aspects of educational institutions, such as human resources, data-based decision making, institutional effectiveness, environmental scanning, strategic planning, and continuous improvement. As usual, your coursework will consider your specific interests in topics and types of institutions.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop skills to support educational practices across diverse instructional and organizational settings
  • Communicate with diverse audiences about educational theories, research, and practices
  • Analyze professional skills, dispositions, and technology options for learning and educating diverse groups
  • Apply evidence-based solutions for addressing educational, organizational, and societal issues
  • Analyze current research, theories, and instructional practices in educational and organizational environments

Why Choose National University

  • Four-Week Courses
  • 190+ Degree Programs
  • Online or On-Site
  • Year-Round Enrollment
  • Military Friendly

We’re proud to be a Veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, our mission has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. Today, we educate students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 230,000 alumni worldwide.

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“National University has impacted my career. You can immediately apply what you learn in class to your business.”

-Francisco R., Class of 2016

Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.