What Are Specialist Degree Programs?

Jul 25, 2018

Specialist degrees are a type of post-master's degree program that is most common within the education field. The Education Specialist (Ed.S.) and Psychology Specialist (Psy.S.) degree programs let professionals focus their studies on a specific area of interest. View article »

View Popular Schools

Find the perfect school

Video Transcript

Specialist Degree Programs

When considering enrolling in a specialist degree, like an education specialist or a psychology specialist program, it can be helpful to consider basic information about this degree level, admissions requirements, and various specialization options.

Specialist degrees go beyond the skill set gained as a master's degree student but stop short of the requirements of a doctoral program. Classroom work is at the graduate level, with a course load similar to a master's degree. However, specialist degree programs rarely require a thesis. The most common specialist degree programs lead to an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) credential or a Psychology Specialist (Psy.S.) credential, and are often available, as the degree program type suggests, as a specialization within education or psychology. To enroll in an Ed.S. or Psy.S. program, it is necessary to hold a bachelor's or master's degree, usually in a field related to the program of interest. Application requirements for these programs are typically similar to those of other graduate degree programs. In order to apply, applicants are generally required to submit the following materials:

  • Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate schools
  • GRE scores
  • Letter of intent or personal statement
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Application fee
  • Evidence of teaching licensure

Each of the following specialization options in Ed.S. and/or Psy.S. programs is focused on a different type of position in education.

Educational Leadership

An educational leadership specialist degree is designed to help school administrators hone skills for career advancement in school administration. Courses may include:

  • Educational leadership and administration
  • Budgeting
  • Policy and law
  • Curriculum design and analysis
  • Data analysis

Professional Counseling

The Ed.S. in Professional Counseling may be earned by those already working as school counselors at the elementary or high school levels. The curriculum covers the history of professional educational counseling and its overall purpose within the school. Coursework may include both classroom and clinical work. Professional counseling specialist classes may include:

  • Lifespan development
  • Ethics for rehabilitation counselors
  • Advocacy for clients
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Group counseling

School Psychology

Specialist degrees in school psychology deal with the interaction of the school's social institution and the child student. This degree is sometimes conferred as a Specialist in School Psychology (Psy.S.), rather than an Education Specialist degree, but both degrees are possible in this specialization area. This degree program offers a grounding in the methods and philosophy of education, personality, learning, and social competence. Courses in a psychology specialist program may include:

  • Psychoeducational assessment
  • Social and cultural issues in counseling
  • Diagnostic teaching techniques
  • Child and adolescent psychopathology
  • Internship

Teaching and Learning

The Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning option is broken down based on which academic subject the professional already teaches. Many professionals enroll in this degree program as a refresher, or to help develop themselves into program leaders or instructional specialists. Subject-area specializations may include the following:

  • Curriculum
  • Research theories
  • Data-driven instruction
  • Program evaluation

Through specialist degree programs, educators and psychology professionals can take advanced courses so that they can become experts in particular specialization areas.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?