Education Specialist (EdS) Degree Program

Interested in post-graduate studies but worried about the dissertation? Looking to elevate your career, strengthen your skills, and set yourself apart? Hoping to emerge as an educational leader and have a greater impact in your field? If so, Concordia’s Education Specialist (EdS) degree program may be ideal for you.

Designed for professionals who are balancing work, family, and community obligations, our EdS program offers a specialized, post-master’s learning experience with no dissertation requirement. Offered in the same five leadership-focused concentrations as our EdD degree, the program will increase your knowledge base while providing practical skills to support your professional advancement and help open the door to new opportunities.

Accredited, nonprofit, and private, Concordia has been developing education leaders since 1905. Through intensive curricula, scholarly discussions, and experienced faculty, our EdS program produces effective, ethical leaders who foster growth, development, and excellence in others.

The EdS program does not provide professional certifications, licenses, or endorsements, and is not an administrative licensure preparation program.

Earn your EdS online, on-campus in Portland, Oregon, or a hybrid of both

Through EdS coursework, you will develop an appreciation for inquiry-based educational leadership that sees ethical formation and democratic participation as necessary for the transformation of individuals and organizations.

Whether you’re an online or on-campus EdS student, your program is steeped in innovation, up-to-the-minute research, and people who truly care about changing the educational system. It stems from our first-of-its-kind College of Education campus in Portland, Oregon, which is co-located with a public preK-8 school, food pantry, medical and dental facilities, and more. This is Concordia’s innovative 3toPhD® educational model in action, underscoring our belief that the health and safety of a school community matter just as much as education.

After beginning the EdS program, you can apply to transfer into the EdD program if you decide that it’s the better path for you.

The administrative leadership concentration is designed for those who want to advance in public or private sector professional and institutional management.


This program includes an emphasis on both higher education administration and higher education teaching to prepare servant-leaders for leadership, teaching, and service positions.


The Instructional Leadership concentration helps you develop the knowledge, ability, and capacity to positively impact practice, programs, and policy.


The Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation concentration offers candidates the ability to design a customized program of study from an array of coursework.


Transformational Leadership is an administrative and leadership concentration for individuals who want to advance in business, organization, and church leadership and management.



Hone your vocational and leadership skills with a Concordia EdS

EdS Program Goals & Objectives

The Concordia University-Portland education specialist program focuses on developing reflective practitioners and transformative leaders who:

  • Understand the theoretical bases of practice, are able to turn theory into action, and can utilize skills and strategies to improve practice.
  • Are critically aware of their own assumptions, seek new, innovative, and productive paradigms that move problem-solving beyond current perceived solutions.
  • Apply organizational skills and strategies, apply capacity-building program analyses, and have a willingness to recognize need and confront it with reason and grace.
  • Are well-grounded with a solid ethical, moral, and faith-based perspectives on truth-telling, service to others, and living with integrity.
  • Employ professional organizational structures and personal skills to facilitate effective and comprehensive change, communication, decision-making, and problem surfacing, defining, and solving.
  • Understand purposeful collaboration, democratic participation, and choice as a guiding style that produces strong and powerful results.
  • Have the capacity to meld reason and imagination, analysis and hunch, and accept a tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Have a willingness to think and act critically, unravel dense meaning, and probe complicated projects with sense and clarity.
  • View themselves as scholars who are committed to study as intentional, intriguing, and inspiring.
They want you to succeed. It is an investment that they are making in you as well. And they will do their best to see you through to the end.
LISA FEE, EdD Graduate '17


Earn your EdS in less than two years


Year 1
21 credits


EdS Year 2
15 credits


Common FAQs About Our EdS Program

  • Shorter time to completion

An EdS degree may be earned in less than two years while earning an EdD takes at least three years

  • No dissertation requirement

Advance your knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities without the degree requirement of publishing a dissertation

  • Fewer required courses

Though much of the coursework is the same, the following courses are not required for an EdS degree:

  • EDDR 706 Research Writing – Literature Search
  • EDDR 707 Research Writing – Literature Review
  • EDDR 708 Prospectus Writing – Quantitative
  • EDDR 709 Prospectus Writing – Qualitative
  • EDDR 798 Dissertation

(EdS candidates will take EDDR 797 Education Specialist Capstone in place of EDDR 798)

Administrators in schools, churches, and organizations; teacher leaders; community leaders in organizations that offer educational services, and other specialists may be interested in earning an EdS.

People who enroll in Concordia’s Education Specialist program do so for a variety of reasons. These include (a) gaining additional skills and knowledge to become stronger and more creative leaders in their organization (department chairs, directors of curriculum or policy, district-level leadership positions), (b) fulfilling a personal goal of earning a terminal degree in their field, (c) completing an education requirement for a position in their district or organization that requires a terminal degree, and (d) increasing their salary potential in their district or organization’s compensation scale.

Some examples of possible roles include:

  • Department Head
  • Instructional Coach
  • Public Sector Program Management
  • NGO Leadership/Ownership
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Administration
  • Admissions Leadership and Management
  • Professional Development and Consulting
  • Religious Institution Leadership and Management

Regardless of the exact position one may seek or acquire as a result of earning an EdS, those who pursue the degree are passionate about the future of education and how they will fit into that future.

Four words: Nonprofit. Accredited. History. Results. Affiliated with the Concordia University System, including 9 campuses located throughout the United States, Concordia University-Portland was founded more than 100 years ago and is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Delivering a quality education through our College of Education programs is our top priority, which is why our faculty is composed of practitioners with extensive industry experience and we are constantly refreshing our curricula. Plus we offer numerous academic resources that our students can use for research purposes.

The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll be able to apply your new skills and knowledge to begin your career, advance in your current role or take on a new position. We understand the temptation of waiting for life to slow down, but does it ever? Investing in yourself and your career provides a great return on your investment! We can help you get started by streamlining the admissions process. And throughout your experience, our Student Services team will be available to support you every step of the way.

Many of the same proven instructional strategies that provide a rich context for learning in a traditional classroom have online counterparts. While the form of interaction and engagement may be different, the same principles apply. In addition, many would argue that a technology mediated learning environment can provide a very rich level of learner-to-learner interaction and learner-to-instructor interaction. If you are a student in one of our online courses, you have the convenience of being able to study when your schedule permits, and you are one of a group of students who are constantly in contact with each another (and with your instructor) via the online classroom.

Many first-time online students have the same concern. There will be some adjustments needed compared to traditional in-class learning; however, we’ve found that after the first two weeks, students are often comfortable with online learning and enjoy its benefits and flexibility. You should have a basic comfort level with computers and will need to be familiar with the most commonly used web browsers (including Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) and be able to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint to complete written assignments. In addition, you should be open to learning how to use any new technologies that your instructor chooses to incorporate into his/her course. And naturally, you’ll need a reliable computer and internet access to complete your coursework. We have resources we can show you before you even log in, and we offer outstanding student-focused support: you will have access to technical support and our Student Services team throughout your experience.

Our EdS program is designed to be completed in less than two years.

Concordia offers and accepts numerous funding options, such as school-based scholarships, grants, federal financial aid, monthly payments, military benefits, and additional promotions to those candidates who qualify. We will provide you with an enrollment specialist or admission counselor who will discuss all your funding options, and we have a dedicated financial aid team that can answer your questions regarding federally funded programs. If you are employed, we also encourage you to check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement.

There is no GRE score or other testing requirements necessary to enroll in our MEd, EdS, EdD or certificate programs.

Depending on the program to which you are applying, conditional admission may be provided to students who do not meet the GPA requirements; however, additional material and documentation will be required. GPA requirements vary by program. Please contact an enrollment specialist or admission counselor to discuss admission into your program of interest.

Up to 6 graduate credits may be transferred into the EdS program from other regionally accredited universities. Credit requests will be determined by appropriateness to the concentration and may be reviewed case-by-case. Please see the EdS transfer policy for more information, or contact your admission counselor or enrollment specialist.

Credit requests will be determined by appropriateness to the concentration and may be reviewed case-by-case. Please see the EdS transfer policy for more information, or contact your admission counselor or enrollment specialist.

The research library is a valuable resource for EdS candidates. Several databases are available to help candidates locate scholarly articles and studies throughout their tenure in the program. Here’s a link to our  Research Library.

Yes! Concordia University is proud to partner with Dr. Becky Bailey, an international expert, publisher in early childhood education and development and the creator of Conscious Discipline, to provide graduate seminar credit for her workshops. Learn more on our Professional Development Conferences page.

Kappa Delta Pi is an international honor society organized to recognize scholarship and excellence in education. Each spring new students may be inducted into Concordia’s College of Education chapter if they obtain an overall GPA of 3.3 for undergraduates and 3.7 for graduates and meet all other chapter requirements. Visit the Kappa Delta Pi webpage for more information.


Is Concordia’s EdS program right for you?

Should you earn an EdS degree from Concordia?

Simply put, it depends on the kind of professional you are and the goals you have set for yourself. Prospective candidates exhibit a love of teaching and share many of the same objectives:

  • Lead organizational change using empirically developed and proven strategies
  • Learn how to use systematic inquiry to improve educational practice
  • Work together in small research communities to share resources and ideas

EdS courses are practical and research-based and will help you gain valuable leadership and decision-making skills through rigorous, intensive project-based learning and purposeful collaboration.