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Education Specialist (EdS)
in Leadership in
Social-Emotional Learning

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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. The Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) specialization provides mid-career or advanced classroom teachers, school counselors or psychologists, and administrators with an intensive examination of the five core competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness. The program gives a foundational understanding of communication, leadership, and research techniques, while the specialty studies examine CASEL competencies and their application across classrooms, schools, homes, and communities.

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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

SEL-7100 Foundations of Social-Emotional Learning

Your examination of the fundamentals of social-emotional learning (SEL) will begin with theoretical support for the foundational concepts and how existing models and curricula reflect those theories, including the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. You’ll also explore essential questions around the relevance of SEL to all stages of human growth and development, and the role of SEL within or external to core curriculum.

SEL-7200 Implementing SEL in the Modern Classroom

This course examines what social-emotional learning (SEL) looks like in the modern classroom. You’ll look at ways to collaborate within professional learning communities around specific models, curricula, discipline, classroom management, and technology that support SEL in and out of the classroom. Throughout the course, you’ll consider the data needed for implementation and student assessment, and how that data can be collected, analyzed, and applied at multiple levels of aggregation.

SEL-7300 Integrating SEL in School Culture and Climate

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is for everyone, and should be more than an isolated activity that happens in classrooms. A true SEL learning environment permeates the entire school, including its culture and climate, and reflects the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. In this course, you’ll explore the distinctions between culture and climate and the role SEL plays in each. You’ll also investigate your potential roles and the data you’ll need to integrate and assess SEL in school culture and climate.

SEL-7400 Incorporating SEL with Policy Development and Implementation

In this course, you’ll examine strategies to integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) in the processes of policy development and implementation. Such policies and processes can exist in multiple areas, including school, local education agency, or regional, state, and national levels. As you examine alignment with established models for SEL, you’ll also investigate how policy development and implementation can benefit from the application of data analyses and the inclusion of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles.

SEL-7500 Involving Caregivers and Communities

Opportunities for social-emotional learning (SEL) exist throughout the human lifespan. While other courses have considered the roles of caregivers and communities, this one focuses on these roles and how SEL initiatives should reflect the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion across environments. You’ll examine models and strategies for extending SEL beyond the classroom, explore community benefits from SEL, and consider partnerships that could support SEL efforts. You’ll also investigate the types of data you would need to assess SEL initiatives beyond the classroom.

SEL-7600 Comprehensive Planning for SEL Initiatives 

This course supports your efforts to propose or support social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives. You’ll synthesize your work in the previous courses in order to plan, implement, and assess social emotional learning at the school level or beyond. You’ll also develop comprehensive proposals and plans for implementing and assessing SEL initiatives based on needs analyses, organizational culture, and other relevant factors. By the conclusion of the course, you’ll be prepared to propose new SEL initiatives or revise and improve existing ones.

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
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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

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.

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