Educational Specialist Degree in Leadership

The educational specialist degree in leadership with a cognate selected from administration or curriculum and instruction builds on the master's degree and develops leadership practitioners for school and/or central office administrative positions. The program provides district leaders with meaningful clinical experiences, case methods of teaching, and pragmatic curriculum geared to the specific knowledge and skills required by district leaders and superintendents at different career stages. The program also integrates research designed to build a practical knowledge base for district leaders and policy makers.

The primary goal of this degree is to prepare competent and effective leaders for K-12 districts whose management and administrative understandings, skills, and dispositions foster quality educational experiences for children and youth.

The 30 hours of the educational specialist degree in leadership is divided into three components: 18 hours in the degree area, 9 hours in cognates, and a 3 hour culminating experience. The courses are listed in a logical sequence for developing greater depth and breadth of understanding. The ideal sequence puts the core courses before the cognate courses. The culminating experience is designed to apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions acquired throughout the program in an internship/practicum during which candidates do action research and prepare a portfolio.

Program Requirements Back to top

Admissions Requirements

Candidates into this program must already have a Masters Degree with at least a 3.0 GPA on transcript.

Step 1: The Educational Specialist admission council will interview candidates after all of the following items have been received. Materials from Stage 1 must be submitted together as a complete application packet.

  • A GVSU Graduate Application and fee (if applicable). The application along with instructions for submitting is available online.
  • A current resume must include the following:
    • Title of master’s project/thesis, degree received with dates, institutions with majors and minors
    • Listing of employment
    • Description of leadership experiences, dates and locations
    • Presentations, publications, memberships and professional development
  • Official GRE scores. Information and instruction for the “general” test may be accessed at
  • Transcripts from all higher education institutes attended.
  • A one-two page personal statement of career goals and background experiences, including an explanation as to how the Educational Specialist Program at GVSU will help you achieve your educational and professional objectives.
  • Three recommendation on university forms.
    • Two recommendations should be from professionals, addressing your leadership skill and success.
    • One should be from an individual who can address your academic/scholarly capabilities.
  • A required fingerprint record, completed through the College of Education designated service, must be submitted prior to enrolling in EDL 770. Please contact the Ed. Specialist Student Coordinator at (616)331-6676 or to obtain a “Livescan Fingerprint Request” form and agency ID number.

Step 2: Applicants successfully completing stage 1 will be invited to participate in the on-campus interview phase of admissions which will include:

  • An overview of the program.
  • Review of writing sample/personal statement (from stage 1).
  • Discuss mentor roles throughout the program.

Step 3: Applicants successfully completing stage 2 will be sent a letter of congratulations and acceptance into the program. All applicants accepted into the program will be asked to:

  • Return the Educational Specialist Acceptance Form
  • Identify a district level administrator to serve as a mentor
  • Contact an Educational Specialist Advisor in order to complete the required Planned Program. Courses for the program are listed here.

Step 4: If an applicant is not accepted into the program, they will personally be contacted to discuss the circumstances.

If you have additional questions regarding the application process, please contact one of the following Educational Specialist personnel.

Amy Dunn
Administrative and Student Coordinator
DeVos Center, Building C
401 W. Fulton St.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-6495
(616) 331-6676

Jay Cooper, Ph.D.
Department Chairperson
Grand Valley State University
College of Education - Leadership and Learning
DeVos Center, Building C
401 W. Fulton St.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-6495
(616) 331-6293

Course Requirements

The specific courses required for the Educational Specialist Degree in Leadership include the following:

Core Course Requirements-18 semester hours-Six 3-credit courses:

  • EDL 700 Educational Leadership and Change
  • EDL 705 Organizational Behavior and Ethics
  • EDI 710 Instructional Management and Supervision
  • EDL 715 Data-Based Decision Making and Technology
  • EDL 720 Organizational and Community Relations
  • EDL 725 Educational Law, Policy and Practice

Educational Administration Cognate-9 semester hours-Three 3-credit courses:

  • EDL 740 Superintendency
  • EDL 742 School Board Relations
  • EDL 744 Educational Finance and Economic Issues

Educational Specialist in Leadership Culminating Experience:

  • EDL 770 Leadership Theory into Practice



May be viewed on the College of Education’s Course List page.

Courses Back to top