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Education Specialist (EdS) in Educational Leadership

Prepare for district-level leadership

To operate as a leader at the school district level, you must be adept at educational policies, management, finance, facilities, human resources, assessment, law and other advanced skills. The William Woods University Education Specialist in Educational Leadership degree is designed to develop these skills and prepare you to be recommended for certification for superintendency, provided all other DESE requirements are met. Through an extensive field experience, you will broaden your understanding of how a school district operates and be prepared to take your place in its leadership.

At William Woods, you’ll be participating in an Education graduate program known for its excellence and for providing a significant number of the leaders in Missouri’s state school system. Our Education graduate students are well-prepared and continue to score well on state administrative certification tests. As one of these students, you will have the opportunity to learn from active practitioners in the field and make the connections you need for leadership and career growth.

This Education specialist degree is designed to fit the schedules of working pk-12 teachers and administrators and can be completed in two years or less through evening courses taught in convenient locations around the state. You can expect rigorous coursework with real-world relevance, designed and taught by professionals who have proven their expertise. We structure the schedule so as to keep students together, allowing you to develop lasting relationships with peers focused on similar career goals. And, to make this an investment you can count on, your tuition will not go up as long as you stay continuously enrolled.

Your education specialist degree at work

This advanced degree not only opens doors at the leadership level in school buildings; but, it also creates opportunities to expand your marketability to school district level leadership positions. Successful completion of the program along with a qualifying score on the DESE assessments enable you to apply for a superintendent’s certificate within the state of Missouri.

William Woods is the largest certifier of school leaders in Missouri

606 # of our graduates who are now principals and assistant principals
157 # of our graduates who are now school district administrators
90 # of our graduates who are now school superintendents


You will earn the degree by completing 10 courses plus one three-credit Capstone Course and 300 hours of field experience. You will also create a portfolio demonstrating your proficiency on each of the Missouri Superintendent Standards/ISLLC Standards, among other requirements.

Courses you may take

EDU 600 - Issues in School Superintendency - 3.00

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the major technical and educational leadership functions of the superintendency. This course introduces foundational theory and practice of leadership skills, tasks, responsibilities and challenges as they are applied to school superintendents and central office administrators. Historical perspectives, issues and problems facing the superintendent will also be examined. Organizational culture, the dynamics and politics of the superintendency and Board of Education relationships, plus other impacting elements (legal issues, fiscal responsibilities, and governance) will be studied. Leadership in today’s schools is not learned in isolation. This course assumes that learning is a social process and will attempt to use this social process as the students learn about the superintendency.

EDU 610 - Utilizing Statistical Procedures in Educational Research & Evaluation - 3.00

This course will focus on the knowledge, skills, and techniques necessary to effectively collect and interpret data related to school improvement issues. The course will include a discussion of basic statistical concepts that form the foundation for interpreting and analyzing the results of standardized tests and in using the results of this analysis for school improvement purposes. The course will also include procedures and skills necessary for critical review of educational research. Finally, the course will address specific assessment and research data relevant to the state of Missouri and provide the student the opportunity to implement knowledge and skills through case-based practice.

EDU 620 - Effective School- Community Relation - 3.00

This course is designed to provide a practical, evidence-based approach to developing an effective school-community relations program. Content focuses on communicating with internal and external audiences, working with the news media, communication trends, preparing for campaigns, and communicating about school finances. The course also speaks to processes for communication assessment and accountability. Emphasis on the benefit of taking proactive responsibilities that are needed to build and maintain effective relationships within an organization and community will also be examined. Efficient and effective crisis management and communicating through the media will also be studied.

EDU 640 - Human Resources in Education - 3.00

This course focuses on the various statutory and procedural issues involved with human resources administration. Human resources planning, recruitment, selection, professional development, mentoring, technology, policies and procedures, and evaluation will be addressed. Motivational issues related to human resources administration is also included, as are issues related to both formal and informal negotiations. Legal, ethical, and other issues related to human resources administration are also explored.

EDU 650 - School District Finance - 3.00

This course is designed to provide school leaders with a broad understanding of school finance at the local, state, and national levels. The course will investigate various finance topics, detailing how they relate to local practice. Specific finance practices such as fund accounting, funds management, program management, taxes and tax rates, revenues and expenditures, and financial legal requirements will be examined. Budgeting and budget management including revenue and expenditure projections will be a primary focus. Additional topics will include operational management, food services, bus transportation, economic impacts, and influence of legislative mandates. Upon completion of this course, the student will understand the major finance concepts that influence responsible public school, as well as charter school, fiscal management.

EDU 653 - School Plant & Facilities Development/Safety & Security - 3.00

The role of a district level school leader requires knowledge and skills in a variety of areas. This course will incorporate planning, design, construction, management, safety, and maintenance involved in the innovative delivery of instruction. In addition, the course will focus on ongoing daily operations of district facilities and grounds and the relationship to the long-term planning process. The course will incorporate activities related to long-term facility planning, selecting architects, designing buildings for innovative instruction, enhancement of learning, construction and performance contracting, monitoring and tracking of maintenance, furnishing and equipping facilities, cleaning operations, and developing safe and securing school facilities and school grounds.

EDU 673 - Educational Reform and Urban Educational Issues - 3.00

This course will help school leaders create change in a world dominated by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Students will examine structural barriers to equity, study how the achievement gap, poverty and other urban educational issues impact student achievement, community perceptions and school reform. This course utilizes a critical lens to examine how social dynamics, cultural differences, pedagogy, physical/social environments, and student resiliency play a part in making achievement gaps a lingering issue for educators.

EDU 680 - Advanced School Law and Policy Development - 3.00

The course is designed to provide advanced and complex information, perspective, and knowledge to educational administrators (including experienced principals and aspiring superintendents of schools) with necessary legal and administrative knowledge that will enable them to effectively conduct school business within legal frames. In addition, they will be able to operate school organizations and related environments within the constraints of state and federal law, including constitutional, statutory, administrative, civil, criminal, juvenile, and interpretive case law. Also, an understanding the policy and political frameworks of their district, state, and federal environment will be developed.

EDU 690 - Differentiated & Supplemental Program - 3.00

This course is designed to expose the student to the many specialized state and federal programs currently in place to assist public schools. The history and purpose of each program will be examined. Specific program requirements will be detailed for each of the major differentiated programs. Programs reviewed will include the Federal Title programs, special education/at-risk; professional development; technology integration and grant-based initiatives. Upon completion of this course, students should possess the knowledge to effectively evaluate, select, and administer differentiated and supplemental programs common to school districts.

EDU 697 - Superintendent Field Experience and Capstone - 3.00

This culminating 8-week course is designed to provide the student with the opportunity to practice those attitudes, skills, and behaviors necessary to provide positive and effective leadership at the school district and central office level. The student will have opportunities to present and demonstrate their understanding of the superintendent leadership standards. They will select, perform, and complete activities involving concepts of educational administration, management of school operations and services, personnel management, instructional programs, professional development, and assessment, pupil personnel administration, and school community relations as they align with the Missouri Superintendent Standards. Final Defense Papers will be submitted that demonstrate their knowledge of these standards and competencies throughout the entire EdS Leadership Program. The course will also assist the student in preparing for the Superintendent’s Assessment, required in Missouri to be a certified Superintendent. Those students, who need their building level certification, will also receive support in the initial development of the Performance Assessment required or principal certification.


Students enrolled in the Education Specialist (EdS) in Educational Leadership or Master of Education (MEd) in Educational Leadership programs may be recommended by William Woods University for Missouri state-level K-12 School Leader (Principal) Certification beginning Fall, 2020!

View the K-12 School Leader Certification Requirements for more information!


  • Completed application
  • Complete the student achievement (pdf) document outlining your accomplishments as they relate to student achievement and signed by you and your direct supervisor.
  • Copy of teaching certificate
  • All official transcripts (3.0 GPA or higher) mailed from the college/university you graduated from

Cohorts available across Missouri

Cohorts available across Missouri William Woods advanced education programs bring evening classrooms to educators in districts where there is interest. Historically, cohorts were available in districts in Fulton, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Cape Girardeau and many more locations.

Our graduate education programs are available online and are ranked among the best online programs in Missouri by US News and World Report.

William Woods in the real world

Many of our graduates hold leadership positions in Missouri’s schools. All of them are great teachers.


What separates William Woods University is the quality of our instructors. They're successful school leaders from around the state, actually out there doing what we're teaching others to do.

— James C. Head, Director of Administrative Field Experience

One more thing

A high percentage of our students have impressive day jobs. They’re building level administrators, central office administrators, superintendents, special education directors, curriculum directors, instructional coaches, and professional development coordinators. As a student in our program, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from practitioners like these and form connections that later may lead to job opportunities.

Admissions Information

Learn more about graduate admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.

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