Online Educational Specialist Degree in K-12 Leadership (EdS)

Education Specialist in K-12 Leadership

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

Learn Advanced Education Concepts With an EdS in Educational K-12 Leadership

If you are an active teacher who holds a master’s degree, you can enhance your skill set and broaden your applicable knowledge by earning your EdS in educational K-12 leadership degree.

The Education Specialist in K-12 Leadership program at Grand Canyon University (GCU) focuses on the improvement of instructional skills, allowing teachers to potentially advance their career qualifications without having to complete a dissertation or residency. As a graduate of the online Education Specialist program, you will be taught the skills needed to position yourself for potential leadership roles within the diverse education field.

Offered by the College of Doctoral Studies, the EdS degree builds knowledge in ethics, research and theory with a focus on educational policy development, staffing, organizational leadership and instructional supervision. The EdS coursework guides learners in acquiring core competencies that are immediately applicable in the field. Using an analysis-driven approach, learners examine best practices in leadership that support teaming at all levels and the maintenance of a diverse learning infrastructure.

Benefits of Earning an Online Educational Specialist Degree at GCU

The EdS program’s coursework guides learners in developing a firm grasp on organizational leadership, staffing and supervision at the building and district levels. GCU strives to transform you into a confident communicator, able to convey complex information to a variety of educational stakeholders. 

As a Christian university, GCU’s curriculum emphasizes professional ethics and the Christian worldview. As an aspiring education leader, you will have the opportunity to emerge from the educational specialist degree in K-12 leadership prepared to address the challenges of the modern school by exploring key concepts in:

  • Educational policy development
  • Servant leadership thought
  • K-12 community building
  • Ethical decision-making and stewardship

Earn your EdS degree at GCU with specialized coursework. The entire degree can be completed online via our intuitive learning platform, enabling you to connect with your instructors and benefit from diverse views of your peers. A total of 30 credits are required to complete the online educational specialist degree in K-12 leadership. Online classes are eight weeks in length.

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Learn Crucial Education Skills and Concepts in the EdS K-12 Leadership Program

In this online EdS degree program, learners will study the following topic areas:

  • Seminal leadership theories and models, with a look at the evolution of leadership theories and the range of leadership research
  • Long-range strategic planning in K-12 education based on the establishment of a shared mission, vision and goals among internal and external stakeholders, including a survey of professional and facilities development
  • Horizontal and vertical collaboration to ensure consistency in instructional practice
  • Current and emerging leadership strategies and classroom practices in K-12 education

Career Paths for Graduates of This EdS Program

As a K-12 teacher with an online EdS degree, you will be taught to thoughtfully lead and inspire others within the educational community. This degree program empowers educators to become more effective K-12 instructors for the betterment of their students. You may wish to pursue opportunities in school administration or consulting, such as:

  • Principal
  • Curriculum director
  • Department head
  • Superintendent

For higher level positions such as principal and superintendent, please be sure to check your state’s requirements before pursuing those career paths. 

Online Education Specialist in K-12 Leadership Degree FAQs

To learn more about what you can do with an educational K-12 leadership specialist degree, read our answers to these frequently asked questions:

When you earn an EdS in educational K-12 leadership, you will be taught how to effectively teach students in grades K-12. You may also be qualified to teach certain general education courses at the college level, depending on your experience. Be sure to confirm licensure requirements in your state before pursuing any teaching position.

The Doctor of Education (EdD) and Educational Specialist (EdS) programs are both post-master’s degrees that cover similar topics and are designed for educators looking to advance their careers. However, the program requirements and intent are different. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in K-12 Leadership is a terminal degree that involves significant research and a dissertation for those who want to have the opportunity to pursue advanced leadership roles in education. The EdS is not a doctorate and doesn’t require a dissertation. The EdS is geared to provide skills for certain educational leadership roles, including principal, curriculum director or superintendent. Check your state’s requirements for these specific roles.

An education specialist can be a teacher or someone in an educational leadership role. The online education specialist program at GCU is designed for K-12 educators who want to pursue a role in leadership, administration, curriculum and instruction or other specializations, such as education technology or special education. This program is designed for currently licensed educators and does not lead to licensure.

The online Educational Specialist degree in K-12 leadership at GCU requires 30 credits to completion. The courses are all available online and can be completed on a more flexible schedule to accommodate working professionals. Each online course is generally eight weeks. GCU’s EdS in K-12 Leadership degree does not require a dissertation, but does have a written capstone project at the end of the program.

Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§

Total Credits: 30
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 9 doctoral credits
Online: $740 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance


§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-Jun2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in June 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

30 credits
Degree Requirements:
30 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces doctoral learners to the principle elements of research, scholarly writing, and effective argumentation. Learners are made aware of the dispositions and expectations of doctoral researchers as well as the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility of scholars to contribute new knowledge to their respective fields of study. Learners begin the process of identifying a researchable dissertation topic and are acquainted with appropriate scholarly resources that support the development of the dissertation.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to the critical reading of scholarly qualitative and quantitative literature at the doctoral level. Learners also explore the concept of synthesizing the scholarly literature to identify problems and problem spaces that emerge to form a researchable topic of study. The application of scholarly argumentation from the extant literature to defend the need for a research study is discussed.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of seminal leadership theories and models. Learners focus on understanding the development and evolution of leadership theories and the range and emphasis of leadership research.

Course Description

This course examines multiple ethical frameworks, principles, and theories as they apply to the study and practice of leadership. Corporate social responsibility will be addressed from the perspective of ethical decision making. Prerequisite: RES-815.

Course Description

This course provides a broad, global overview of the history and politics of K-12 education and examines the political landscape and ethics surrounding K-12 education. A brief overview of governmental interventions is also presented.

Course Description

This course examines internal and external governance and structures in K-12 education. The course emphasizes analysis of the leadership practices necessary to guide construction of appropriate internal and external frameworks.

Course Description

This course examines relations with K-12 education stakeholders, including boards, learners, parents, faculty, staff, and the community at large. Attention is given to creating and sustaining a diverse learning infrastructure through faculty and staff professional development, alumni relations, and the building of a learning community.

Course Description

This course examines the current and emerging leadership strategies and classroom practices in K-12 education. Topics are placed in the context of improved student outcomes.

Course Description

This course addresses the establishment of a shared mission, vision, and goals among both internal and external stakeholders as the foundation for long-range strategic planning in K-12 education. Professional and facilities development is addressed in the context of K-12 education master planning.

Course Description

This capstone course provides learners the opportunity to apply skills related to their leadership and professional interests and goals. Learners demonstrate competency through the development of a written project suitable for inclusion in a professional portfolio.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.