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The field of education has long been a compelling career choice for empathetic, kindhearted people who genuinely want to make a difference in the communities they serve. These inspiring figures hold the power to change countless lives. Along the way, they achieve undeniable professional satisfaction, granting them a strong sense of worth.

Teachers receive the bulk of the attention, but they are by no means the only passionate professionals in education who give it their all. Many other roles allow education professionals to build meaningful relationships with students, community members, and fellow educators. These professionals often require specialized training — and they can find exactly that with education specialist (EdS) certification.

The EdS degree is an important component of a far-reaching training system that aims to equip every education professional with the skills, knowledge, and drive needed to succeed in a notoriously demanding field. Upon graduating, students are well prepared to take on a variety of administrative or leadership roles.

Despite its influence, the education specialist degree remains poorly understood. Many aspiring education professionals are unaware of what this degree can help them accomplish.

In this guide, we answer several common questions about the EdS degree to help you understand what it is, how it's classified, and why it's so beneficial on both a personal and professional level.

What Is an Ed.S. Degree?

The EdS degree represents a specialized education program in a separate category from both a master's degree and a doctoral degree. This unique designation is more advanced than a typical master's program but involves an expedited timeline compared to doctoral options such as the EdD.

The goal of the education specialist degree is to prepare education professionals for success in vital niches such as counseling, special education, or educational administration. This postgraduate degree confers advanced candidate certification, leaving graduates eligible to take on important roles such as school principal, director of pupil personnel, or even superintendent.

Is an Ed.S. a Master’s Degree?

As mentioned previously, the EdS should not be confused with the Master of Arts in Education or the Master of Arts in Teaching. While many education professionals hold both a master's and an EdS degree, the EdS is meant to be pursued after a master's has been obtained (postgraduate degree). At that point, students can go on to pursue thirty additional graduate hours as part of the administrative EdS program.

Ed.S. vs Ed.D.

The EdS can most accurately be thought of as a middle ground between the master's and doctoral levels. While the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Arts in Education (MAED) represent a step below the EdS, the Doctor of Education (EdD) requires a far greater commitment. Often requiring up to 60 credit hours, this program can take two to three years to complete. The EdS only requires thirty credit hours, providing a swifter path to career advancement.

Another key difference between the EdS and the EdD degree is the scope of the degree. Online EdS programs tend to be far more concentrated than their EdD counterparts. EdS students dive deep into specific areas of the field of education with the intention of using their strong experience and newfound knowledge to achieve targeted results. While graduates can serve as principal or in other leadership positions, many prefer to focus on previously identified specialties. The EdD provides broader coverage, typically with the intention of working in administration or educational leadership roles.

Is an Ed.S. a Terminal Degree?

Some of the appeal of the aforementioned EdD lies in its status as a terminal degree. This means that the EdD represents the highest degree that an educational professional can attain. This confers the EdD an extra element of prestige as compared to a master's or other upper-level credentials.

The status of the EdS is a bit more complicated. As mentioned previously, this program requires credit hours above and beyond the master's but is not quite as extensive in nature as a doctoral degree. Despite this, the EdS is generally regarded as a terminal degree, as few professionals continue beyond this program to seek a doctoral degree. An education professional with either an EdD or an EdS can command an impressive level of respect.

What Can I Do with an Ed.S. Degree?

Now that you have a basic idea of what the education specialist degree is — and how it differs from other postgraduate options — it's time to determine how this academic credential might fit into your career path. This will help you decide not only whether you want to seek an education specialist degree, but also, which concentration might be the most appropriate based on your individual goals.

First, keep in mind the EdS degree is an excellent option for educational professionals who are already passionate about a particular niche looking for professional development of additional skills and knowledge in that area. Upon obtaining this academic distinction, EdS graduates may receive promotions that reflect their new credentials.

Common career pursuits among EdS graduates include:

  • School counselor. While multiple paths allow passionate professionals to become school counselors, the EdS is one of the most reliable options for teachers who want to move into a counseling role. Upon studying education administration, psychological assessment, and counseling techniques, professionals with their EdS can serve as counselors for students dealing with grief or mental health disorders.
  • Director of special education. Teachers who excel in special education can take a step up in their career with the Director of Special Education Administration certification. Upon achieving this credential, they should be qualified to work in leadership roles within special education departments.
  • Supervisor of special services. Similar in some respects to the director of special education, this role focuses on services available under the state's special education regulations. This position tends to be broader in scope than the director of special education, with the special services supervisor also providing opportunities for 504 students with unique learning needs or even those who have been identified as gifted.
  • Educational technology specialist. Advanced tech plays an increasingly vital role in the field of education, so specialists will increasingly be called upon to help teachers and administrators make the most of new devices, programs, and applications. Educational technology specialists identify promising tech solutions and play a key role in implementing them at the district, school, or classroom level. They must be thoroughly familiar with how these opportunities relate to the curriculum or unique student needs.
  • Director of pupil personnel. Sometimes referred to as a pupil personnel services director, this high-level professional is responsible for tracking and improving student attendance. This requires a thorough understanding of local regulations and school board policies, plus close interaction with students and parents. This role may encompass complications such as guardianship, truancy, homelessness, and driver's license monitoring.
  • Supervisor of instruction. Also known as the instructional supervisor, this administrative professional conducts district-wide curriculum reviews to determine where changes might be required. This role also involves the analysis and dissemination of educational initiatives. Many instructional supervisors assist with recruiting and screening candidates for a variety of school-based positions.
  • Principal. Overseeing all activities within a particular school, the principal holds an esteemed position that encompasses everything from staff supervision to curriculum planning. Principals may also be involved in budgeting, scheduling, and security procedures. This is a common aspiration among EdS students, with some hoping to move up yet another step to become district superintendent.

Ed.S. Degree Options and Specializations

Whether you desire a promotion, a lateral move, or more in-depth knowledge of your present specialty, you can count on the education specialist program to give your career a boost. Given the in-depth nature of online EdS programs, however, it's important to determine early on which specialization is preferred and how it will help you accomplish your targeted career goals.

As you'll see, top areas of concentration align closely with the job titles identified above:

  • School Counseling
  • Director of Pupil Personnel
  • Superintendent
  • Supervisor of Instruction
  • Principal (P-12)

Take the Next Step

University of the Cumberlands offers several upper-level degree programs that encourage aspiring leaders in the field of education to reach their full potential. If you are interested in learning more about the online EdS degree program offered at the University of the Cumberlands, contact an admissions counselor or request more information today.