Education Specialist in
Instructional Leadership

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Just as teachers are now in greater demand than ever before, educational leaders are needed to manage and assist school districts and state educational boards as they work to improve the instructional capabilities of our schools. This specialization provides a strong background in supervision and the ability to assess and interpret data on curriculum, instructional practice, and innovation. The coursework provides a foundational understanding of communication, leadership, and research techniques, while the specialty studies focus on practicing leadership by creating organizations, cultures, decision-making processes, change strategies, and community advocacy that improve instruction and enhance student achievement.

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

IL-7000 The Culture of Learning

In this course, students explore ways of creating a culture of learning while engaging in instructional leadership. Through course activities, you’ll explore technology integration, philosophically sound curriculum decision-making, visionary leadership traits, curriculum management, and more.

IL-7001 Leader as Advocate and Decision-Maker

In this course, you’ll use various research-based leadership decision-making concepts and supervisory processes to advance teacher development and instructional practice.  The focus is on the educational leader as decision-maker, supervisor, and teacher advocate in support of student achievement. Additional topics include perceptions of leadership, instructional strategies and support, professional development, and collaboration.

IL-7002 Leader as Community Advocate

Instructional leaders must forge relationships with stakeholders in the community to build effective learning organizations. In this doctoral course, you’ll evaluate the skills necessary to engage stakeholders in partnerships that enhance educational operations at all levels. You’ll explore methods to develop professional learning communities and evaluate the theories and research related to those communities and instructional leadership.

ED-7014 Practices in School Organizations

This course examines the organizational structure of schools and school systems, and their relationship to and effects upon school programs, teaching strategies, testing, and measurement. You’ll consider the way schools are organized around time, space, and other resources. You’ll also examine and engage with organizational factors that influence school climate, including human resources, organizational outreach, and capacity. Finally, you’ll analyze the participation of various stakeholders in organizational practice.

ED-7016 Supervision and Leadership in Schools

In this course, you’ll explore real world experiences and common challenges encountered by school leaders. You’ll study the organizational behavior in schools and the practical relevance of educational leadership in this new era of accountability and high-stakes testing. Coursework includes theories and planning models that focus on distributed leadership, professional learning communities, parental involvement, and sustainable leadership to impact student growth.

ED-7035 Curriculum Supervision

An introduction to the theories, principles, practices, and issues of curriculum supervision. You’ll develop the skills and knowledge required to design and manage curricula resources to ensure congruence among written, taught, and tested subject matter. The course also explores issues of equitable instructional programs, materials, and products that support student achievement and institutional goals.

ED-7030 Development of Organizational Leadership

In this course, you’ll explore classic and contemporary approaches to organizational development from a leadership perspective. Major emphasis will be placed on theories, strategies, and leadership styles relative to implementing organizational growth. As you progress, you’ll address various organizational concepts leading to the development of your own organizational leadership plan.

ED-7036 Innovation for Change

Change involves knowledge, understanding, and commitment from administrators. It must not be construed as an event, but rather a process. In this course, you’ll negotiate the world of education innovation and change by employing creative skills and  imaginative techniques for flexible change strategies. You’ll learn to work with diverse groups and communities of people and motivate others to muscle through new challenges in order to implement desirable changes.

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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