The education specialist degree program gives educators the opportunity to specialize and may fulfill professional certification requirements. Three common specializations include education administration, school psychology and special education.
Students in an education specialist degree program must have a master's degree and meet a specific grade point average, generally in a related field for all programs. Relevant work experience may be required for special education programs.
There are program specializations in education administration, school psychology and special education. These programs require 30 credit hours of study and often call for a research project, practicum, internship or field experience for some administration, psychology and special education programs. Education positions in these fields all require licensing, but requirements vary among the states
Education Specialist Degree Programs in Administration
Ed. S. programs in administration prepare students to become school supervisors or fill other leadership roles within schools and school districts. These programs may meet state school administrator licensing requirements.
Generally, around 30 credit hours of coursework are required to complete this educational specialist degree program. Some programs require the completion of a research project, internship or field experience. Course topics include the following:
- School finance
- Educational leadership
- Human resource management
- Strategic planning
- Current topics in education
Education Specialist Degree Programs in School Psychology
The Ed.S. in School Psychology program prepares students to practice psychology in academic settings, usually working with children and adolescents. Many programs are designed to meet state licensing requirements for this profession. Students study both psychological and educational concepts and theories and learn early intervention techniques relevant to school-aged children with academic, social and emotional problems.
The curriculum for a school psychology program usually includes a practicum or internship in addition to classroom study. Students may also be required to complete research projects. Course topics include the following:
- Psychological assessment and intervention
- Advanced child development
- Foundations of school psychology
- Social and cultural issues in schools
Education Specialists Degree Programs in Special Education
Ed. S. programs in special education prepare students to become leaders and specialists in teaching children with special needs. Students may often select areas of interest related to the disability, such as severe disabilities and behavioral disorders, or they may choose to focus on age-level, such as early childhood or secondary school.
In addition to coursework, completion of a practicum and a research paper is usually required of each candidate. Topics explored include the following:
- Assessment techniques
- Reading disabilities
- Language and learning disorders
- Child psychology
- Instruction techniques for special needs children
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 7% job growth for preschool and childcare center directors (about as fast as average); 6% growth for elementary, middle and high school principals (about as fast as average); and 9% job growth for post-secondary administrators (faster than average) over the 2014-2024 period (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, pre-school and childhood center administrators earned a median salary of $45,670 annually as of May 2015. School administrators in elementary schools earned an annual median salary of $90,410. At post-secondary schools, the median salary for administrators was $88,580 the BLS reported.
Because of an increased awareness of mental health issues in schools as well as the acceptance of counseling in primary and secondary school settings, demand for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was predicted to grow by 20% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. As of May 2015, psychologists in elementary and secondary schools earned a mean annual salary of $70,580 reported the BLS.
Employment of special education teachers is projected to increase 6% from 2014-2024; this is slower than average for all occupations, according to the BLS. Special education teachers at the preschool, kindergarten or elementary levels earned a median annual salary of $53,440 as of May 2015, reports the BLS. Middle school special education teachers made a median annual wage of $57,280 during the same time.
Licensing and Continuing Education
Most states require licensing for school administrators. In addition to master's degrees, applicants must usually past proficiency exams. Continuing education is required in some states to maintain the license.
State licensing requirements for school psychologists vary. About 30 states follow the same requirements that the National Association of School Psychologists uses for its certified school psychologist designation. While an education specialist degree is typically the minimum education requirement, some school psychologists hold doctorate degrees.
Licensing in special education is required in most states. Some states require licensing in a specific disability. An Ed. S. in Special Education is generally sufficient to meet licensing requirements. Continuing education is required to maintain licensing.
Overall, the education specialist (Ed.S.) degree program can help students master specific areas of education or administration. Students will become more proficient in specializations, such as education administration, school psychology and special education.