Education Specialist (EdS)
in Leadership in School
Safety, Security, and
Emergency Management

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Just as teachers are now in greater demand than ever before, educational leaders are needed to manage and assist schools, school districts, state educational boards, and institutes of higher learning as they work to improve their instructional capabilities. This specialization provides K-12 professionals, emergency management, and district management personnel with the skills and tools to keep schools safe and secure for students, teachers, and the learning process. The program provides a foundational understanding of communication, leadership, and research techniques, while the specialty studies focus on technologies to manage safety, security, and emergencies; threat assessments of people and facilities; restorative justice and other alternatives to student discipline; and how to implement and improve school safety plans.

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

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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

SEM-7100 Risk Analysis: Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

In this course, you’ll learn about risk analysis through the lens of threat and hazard identification and risk assessment. You’ll examine the relationships between assessment, planning, and training, as well as prepare risk-benefit analyses for K-12 safety, security, and emergency management. Further, you’ll evaluate physical risks and review the ways in which diverse settings can impact the realization of threats—all while exploring how diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice relate to evolving threats. Finally, you’ll critique all-hazards emergency plans that consider diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in K-12 schools across diverse settings.

SEM-7200 Communicating, Collaborating, and Planning for Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

This course explores how communicating, collaborating, and planning of school safety, security, and emergency management come together and operate. You’ll determine ways in which Incident Command Systems can be modified and communicated for use in K-12 schools during crisis incidents. You’ll also examine ways for administrators to collaborate and communicate with community partners and first responders to help prepare for, manage, and recover from crisis events. Critical to this course is explaining the ways in which diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice impact communication throughout a crisis incident. As a final exercise, you’ll construct an Incident Command System using everything you’ve learned and evaluated during the course.  

SEM-7300 Leadership Paradigms in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

This course takes a deep dive into the leadership paradigms in school safety, security, and emergency management for K-12 schools. As you develop leadership support strategies for staff and students and advocate for team approaches to crisis planning, you’ll also assess the current legal and political issues affecting school safety and security. You’ll also evaluate leadership responses to ethical issues and create risk assessment plans for evaluating physical risks within schools. Finally, you’ll determine emergency manager responsibilities in planning systems to prevent and mitigate crisis incidents in diverse K-12 settings.

SEM-7400 Violence Prevention and Response

A practitioner’s perspective on violence prevention and response in K-12 schools. This course examines violent acts, the impetus behind them, the responses to them, and behavioral assessment plans that can evaluate behavioral risks that may lead to them. Additionally, you’ll explore the roles of restorative justice systems, trauma-informed educational practices, and social-emotional learning in preventing school violence. As a final exercise, you’ll apply everything you’ve learned to create a violence response plan that considers diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice within a diverse school setting.

SEM-7500 All-Hazards Response and Recovery

This course focuses on the response to and recovery from school safety, security, or emergency management events at K-12 schools. You’ll assess the roles of administrators before, during, and after crisis incidents and evaluate school-family reunification plans. You’ll also learn to compose continuity-of-operations, and physical-recovery plans following a crisis incident, and recommend ways in which school administrators should consider diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice when creating such procedures. Finally, you’ll exercise your learning by designing and developing your own academic and psychological recovery plans.

SEM-7600 Capstone: Developing Strategies and Policies to Further Safety, Security, and Emergency Management Practices

This course is the certificate capstone to your school safety, security, and emergency management studies. You’ll use the foundational principles and approaches to create a capstone project that reviews crisis response and recovery policies for K-12 schools across diverse settings. You’ll justify the use of threat and hazard identification and risk assessment (THIRA) prior to developing school emergency plans, and you’ll demonstrate your ability to create crisis communication and collaboration strategies. Finally, you’ll advocate for safety and security prevention strategies that consider diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice when preparing emergency operations plans.

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

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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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Program Disclosure

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