Education Specialist in Adult and Higher Education

Program Objectives

The Education Specialist Degree (EdS) in Adult and Higher Education is a scholarly practitioner’s degree for graduate students who have earned their Master's degree and intend to work within a postsecondary setting or other adult and community educational areas. The degree emphasizes doctoral level coursework to prepare students for specialized administrative positions where original research is not an expectation.

Program Flow

After acceptance, the student will be assigned a temporary advisor and should then meet with his/her assigned advisor. During the second semester of enrollment, the student will identify a graduate committee chair and committee members, establish and submit their program of study to the Graduate School.

Program of Study

Core Courses (12 credit hours)
Higher Education History and Philosophy
Organization and Administration of Higher Education
College Students
Institutional Research and Assessment
Planning Program Assessment
Other required core course (3 credit hours)
Doctoral Seminar
Electives (18 credit hours)
Issues and Trends in Higher Education
Finance and Administration in Higher Education
Resource and Program Management
Critical Race Theory
Am Indians/Minority in High Ed
Post Secondary Distance Delivered Education
College Teaching
Student Development Theory
Law and Policy in Higher Education
Student Services
*Approved electives may be selected from other Education programs or departments that strengthen the student's program of study. These courses need to be selected in consultation with the chair.
Required Research Courses (9 credits)
Educational Statistics II
Qualitative Educational Research
Quantitative Educational Research
*EDCI 506, EDCI 501 or equivalent are prerequisite courses and do not satisfy research component of the degree.
Professional Paper or Comprehensive Exams (3 credits)
Professional Paper & Project
Total CreditsTotal Credits 45


Candidates will have a three-member committee. The chair and one other member must be from the Adult and Higher Education 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.


The student should carefully select his/her chair after thorough conversations with the Adult and Higher Education 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 Examinations 

Near the end of completing course work, students will complete a written comprehensive exam or a professional paper. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the program of study. The substantive content of the written exam questions will be determined by the chair in consultation with the committee.


Professional Paper

The student choosing the professional paper option 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.

Mode of Course Delivery 

All education courses are offered in a variety of modalities including face-to-face in-person courses, synchronous and asynchronous online learning, and a combination of both.  

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 EdD and PhD degrees, it must be clearly understood that admission to one program does not imply admission to the other. EdS students must formally apply to the EdD or PhD program as well as be in good standing with The Graduate School, and not failed the doctoral comprehensive exam.

Contact Information

Dr. Bryce Hughes, Associate Professor and Program Leader

Dr. Carrie Myers, Professor

Dr. Sweeney Windchief, Associate Professor 

Application Process for the Education Specialist in Adult & Higher Education 

Applicants are required to complete the online application and submit the following documentation via the Graduate School Online Application SystemPrior to applying to the Adult and Higher Education EdS applicants must hold a Master's degree.

  1. Completed Graduate School Application
  2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants must provide official transcripts verifying all Bachelors degree and Masters degree coursework (as well as confirmation of bachelor’s and master's degree earned) from the applicant's certifying university. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded during the application process. Official electronic transcripts may be emailed directly from the Institution to  or mailed to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, 59717. Transcripts from a degree awarded through MSU do not need to be provided. NOTE: We require an undergraduate and graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit. 
  3. Personal essay: Suggested length is 2-3 pages, double-spaced. The applicant should briefly describe the following:
    1. Background;

    2. Prior professional and leadership experience;

    3. Why the interest in the EdS program; and

    4. How the applicant plans to use the degree

  4. Three (3) professional references: The letters should be from individuals qualified to assess the following:
    1. Applicant's ability and potential as a graduate student  
    2. Attest to the applicants work ethic and professionalism
    3. References from relatives are not acceptable
  5. Resume/Curriculum vitae
  6. For International Applicants ONLY: Please visit the Graduate School International Application Process website for application submission information. 

Application Deadline

Below is the deadline by which all application materials for the EdS in Adult & Higher Education must be submitted via the online application system. Students matriculate into the EdS program fall semester only. Applications to the EdS programs are reviewed once per year at the April 1st deadline. Applications received after the deadline may be reviewed for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.

  • Fall Semester:  April 1st

* An early review deadline of February 1st has been set for those applicants wanting to be considered for Graduate Assistantships. Applications must be complete for an early review. A student must be accepted to an education program before requesting a Department of Education Graduate Assistantship.  Graduate Assistantships require students to work on campus 19 hours per week.  For further information regarding teaching assistantships visit webpage:

Admission Process

Complete applications will be reviewed by members of the Graduate Admissions Committee who then convene to make final admission decisions. Once a decision has been made the application will be forwarded to The Graduate School for final administrative processing.  Please note that the application review process will begin at the close of the application deadline and not before.

Contact Information

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