Education Specialist in Educational Leadership


The Education Specialist Degree (EdS) is a practitioner’s degree. Many states require this degree for Superintendent Licensure, however, Montana does not. This degree is particularly valuable for students who see themselves as school system leaders in medium sized to larger school systems. Admission into the Educational Leadership program is required.

Program Flow

The purpose of the EdS Degree is to provide skills and knowledge required for District Superintendent and central office leadership. In addition to improving skill and knowledge, it is the goal of the program to create strong networks among students to support effective practices.  To that end, classes are generally offered in a blended format which combines face-to-face delivery and distance delivery. An appropriate balance of theory and practice is a strong consideration in planning for the content of the classes. Typically the Superintendent Core (EDLD 620, EDLD 645, EDLD 650, EDLD 655) is offered every summer beginning online in mid-May and on campus for two weeks in June.

Program of Study

Specialist Core24
Leadership and Organizational Theory
The School Superintendent
Supervision & Instructional Leadership
Personnel and Collective Bargaining in MT
MT Finance & Facilities
MT Legal & Policy Studies
Education Policy & Politics
Leading Social Justice
Field Experience3
Field Experience in Educational Leadership (Field Experience may be waived based on experience and goals)
Professional Paper3
Professional Paper & Project
Total Credits30


Candidates will have a three member committee. Candidates should work closely with their committee chair to prepare and submit a program of study immediately upon admission to the program. The chair and one other member must be from the Educational Leadership faculty. The third committee member must have academic credentials in the area of the student's program of study and be approved by the Head of the Department of Education and Dean of The Graduate School.


The student should carefully select his/her chair after thorough conversations with the approved Educational Leadership faculty members. The chair will serve as the student's primary advisor. The committee, as a whole, is subject to the approval of the Head of the Department of Education. Chairs and members of a student's committee are subject to change. In addition, revision to the program of study can be made during the course of study with the chair's approval.

Comprehensive Examination/Professional Paper

The EdS student will develop a professional paper as his/her summative experience. The professional paper will address a specific issue and contextualized problem of practice using appropriate theory and research-based best practices. Specifically the professional paper will: 1) frame the problem; 2) review pertinent research literature; 3) identify appropriate methods used to demonstrate the extent of the problem and the efficacy of the solution employed; and 4) provide recommendations grounded in research to solve the problem.

Additional Education Specialist Requirements

The Education Specialist degree must meet the minimum requirements under the For Doctoral Students section on found in the departmental website with the following two exceptions: 1) no dissertation is required, and 2) courses over seven years old may not be included on the graduate program of study.

Additional requirements for the EdS degree are available through the Department of Education. All EdS degree candidates are expected to be familiar with both departmental and The Graduate School's requirements.

While many courses for the Education Specialist degree are the same as those for the Doctor of Education degree, it must be clearly understood that admission to one program does not imply admission to the other. Transfer from Doctoral to Education Specialist status will be possible only if the applicant: 1) is in good standing with The Graduate School, and 2) has not failed the doctoral comprehensive exam.

Contact Information

Dr. Tena Versland, Program Leader
406-994-6799 Email:

Dr. Bill Ruff
406-994-4182 Email:

Dr. David Henderson
406-994-6424 Email:

Application Materials for the EdS in Educational Leadership

*Prior to applying to the Educational Leadership program, applicants must hold a Montana Class III Admin License or equivalent, with experience as a principal.

Complete the online application through the Graduate School Online Application System

During the online application process you will be asked to submit the following materials. 

  1. GPA calculation form: The form is provided during the application process. NOTE: We require a GPA of 3.00 for the last two (2) years of undergraduate course work.
  2. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  3. Three (3) letters of recommendation: Candidates must meet the following criteria for one of the three letters of recommendation.
    1. At least one of the three letters must be from the candidate's PRESENT direct supervisor. That means a school district administrator who (a) is currently administratively certified by Montana Office of Public Instruction or other equivalent state agency; AND (b) currently acts as direct supervisor for the candidate, and has done so for a minimum period of one semester. If for any reason you cannot secure a letter from your present supervisor, then:
      1. At least one of the letters of recommendation must be from a PREVIOUS direct supervisor. That means a school district administrator who is (a) currently certified by the Montana Office of Public Instruction or other equivalent state agency; AND (b) has, at some point preceding the date of this application, acted as direct supervisor for the candidate for a minimum period of one semester. Any applicant who does not have a letter from a present direct supervisor must indicate in the self-nomination letter (see below) the specific reason(s) why they were unable to secure a letter of recommendation from their present supervisor.
  4. Self-Nomination Letter: The self-nomination letter should be 2 pages, double-spaced, and focus on the following:
    1. Your development and growth as an educator, including professional development;
    2. Your contributions to the school and district;
    3. Your development as a leader. Specific examples are needed that clarify how you have grown as a leader and your leadership activities; and
    4. Your specific goals, and why the EdS would be of benefit to you/your school.
  5. Academic Transcripts: Official transcripts verifying all Bachelor's Degree course work should be sent to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717. Electronic transcripts are also acceptable as long as they arrive directly from the applicants’ certifying university.  Please have electronic transcripts sent to Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit.
  6. For International Applicants ONLY:  
  • TOEFL ( or ACE level 7 - Applicants who are not U.S. citizens and not from countries where English is the official language are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language and score a minimum 213 (paper version- 550, 80 for the iBT). This requirement may be waived if the applicant has earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution in the U.S.
  • International Student Financial Certificate

Application Deadlines

Below is the deadline by which all of the application materials for the Education Specialist Programs in Education must be submitted via the online application system. By submitting materials by the deadline, accepted students may be eligible for early registration. In order for a graduate degree application to be reviewed for admission, all required application documents must be submitted prior to the department's posted deadline. Applications received after the deadline may  be reviewed for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.

  • Fall Semester:  April 1st
  • Summer Semester:  April 1st

*An early review deadline of February 1st has been set for those applicants wanting to be considered for Graduate Assistantships. Graduate Assistantships require students to work on campus 19 hours per week. Applications must be complete for an early review.

Contact Information

Micki MacGregor, Graduate Program Assistant
PO Box 172880, Reid Hall 215
Department of Education, Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2880 
Phone: 406-994-6786 Email: