Leadership in Higher Education

Education Specialist Degree
  • Overview
  • Course Information
  • Tuition
  • Benefits

Leaders in higher education require a broad knowledge-base of the ins and outs of higher education. The Leadership in Higher Education specialization digs deep into a variety of topics specific to higher education, and will familiarize you with how higher education is organized, how it is financed, legal issues, and the history of higher education. As a Leadership in Higher Education graduate, you will be prepared to share your knowledge and skill about higher education in colleges, universities and community colleges. This specialization can also prepare you to pursue doctoral studies in Leadership in Higher Education at NCU should you choose to further your education.

General Degree Requirements

The EdS Program may be completed in 33 credits. An Academic Advisor or Enrollment Specialist evaluates each student individually and works with the student to create an academically sound Learning Plan based on prior academics and their professional goals.

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 5 years to complete the EdS degree.

Certification and Licensing

The School of Education serves educational leaders by providing online graduate studies in education to reach worldwide populations. The EdS program is designed to reach national and international markets and does not purport to provide licensure or certification in any particular state or country.

Education Specialist (EdS) Degree Requirements

Individuals with a previously completed master’s degree will meet the basis of admission to the Education Specialist Program. The programs includes foundations, scholarly writing and specialization courses, as well as a final capstone. Students must pass all courses with a Grade Point Average of 3.00 (B) or higher.

Course Length

All courses are 8 weeks in length.

The EdS in Education requires two Foundations courses, two Research courses, six Specialization courses, and one Capstone course for a total of 33 credit hours.

Course Code


Course Description

Specialization Course 1


Research Methods

This course provides an introductory exploration of statistics for the graduate student. It includes instruction on the calculation, use, and interpretation of descriptive statistics, and introduces inferential statistical analysis. The emphasis of this course is on providing a working knowledge of basic statistical concepts to help the student understand statistical methodology as used in education, and also more generally, developing a working knowledge of statistical usage in everyday life.

Specialization Course 2

Specialization Course 3

Specialization Course 4


Action Research

This course is designed to prepare students who desire to use action research methods and as an opportunity for students to prepare to conduct research on topics/projects of interest to education scholars. The primary goal of action research is to solve a problem that will lead to improvement in individual or organizational practice. In addition to developing an action research proposal, students will gain knowledge about the theoretical, philosophical, epistemological, and political considerations surrounding action research, specifically in educational environments. Students will gain an understanding of the cyclical nature of action research. Student researchers in this course will be prepared to understand the unique role of the researcher in action research, the importance of stakeholders, to define appropriate action research questions, and to evaluate action research studies critically.

Specialization Course 5

Specialization Course 6

Required Foundation Courses - 6 credit hours

Course Code


Course Description


Foundations for Graduate Study in Education (This course will be taken as the first course)

This course is an orientation to Northcentral University and to the essential skills needed to pursue a doctoral degree in Education. Doctoral level skills, such as academic integrity, time management, effective use of the Northcentral Library, comprehending complex scholarly texts and research articles, and APA form and style in professional communication are also introduced. Students will complete the course with a better understanding of personal goals, strengths, and challenges, and a roadmap to navigate their way to completion of their educational aspirations.


Advanced Scholarly Writing

The purpose of this course is to build advanced skills identifying and obtaining high quality sources through online library searches. In addition, the course addresses advanced writing and APA formatting skills, and it prepares students to be critically reflective consumers of research reports.

Specialization Courses - 18 credit hours, Select 6 courses from the following:

Course Code


Course Description


Organization & Governance of Higher Education

In this course, doctoral students will analyze and evaluate theories, models, and readings on approaches and structures for governing higher education organizations. This course is intended to help students understand the competencies and training necessary to undertake various operational and leadership roles. Doctoral students will gain a sound understanding of complex college and university organizations and develop a working understanding of the elements of organizations which comprise contemporary social systems. Students will explore major forces, issues, and themes which influence American society and in turn affect colleges and universities.


Legal Issues in Higher Education

In this course, students will develop a fundamental understanding of the importance of legal issues in higher education and their impact on individual rights and responsibilities as well as those of institutions of higher education.


Student Affairs Leadership

Within this course, doctoral students study the evolution and current practices of student affairs in higher education. The philosophical, historical, conceptual, and research foundations of the profession and the cultural and organizational contexts of student affairs will be explored. Students will examine how various functional areas contribute to learning, personal development and other elements of the institutional mission. Students will also explore how current trends in campus demographics impact student affairs programming.


Strategic Enrollment Leadership

In this course, students will learn the best principles and practices for leading recruitment, enrollment management, and institutional advancement efforts. Students will focus on effective enrollment management and leadership, recruitment, retention, institutional advancement, student service, targeted communication, applying technology to enrollment management and developing an institution-wide strategic enrollment process. Students have the opportunity to customize this course to their particular professional setting and goals.


Higher Education Finance

This course will provide students with an overview of financial issues applicable to higher education in the United States. Students will engage a broad foundation of theory, practice, research, and policy of higher education economics. Topics will include societal investment in higher education, methods of finance, costs of higher education, and budgeting concepts.


Current Trends & Topics in Higher Education

In this course, students will explore areas of interest in higher education. Often these areas are new topics of special interest to higher education. At times, areas of higher education that are receiving attention nationally will be highlighted through this course. Students will work with instructors to create a self-directed study plan on a topic appropriate for doctoral level study.


Foundations of Higher Education Leadership

Higher education leadership occurs in an environment of ambiguity and constant change. Leaders must be able and willing to embrace uncertainty, continually learning, and develop a deep understanding of their core values. The course is designed to provide foundational grounding in the study of leadership theory and research, in higher education. Emphasis will be given to the practical application of higher education leadership theories and the academic and administrative roles of an institution of higher education. Students will explore best practices to uncover links that can be made to increase the value of higher education practices.


Strategic Planning & Institutional Effectiveness in Higher Education

In this course, students will explore institutional and programmatic planning in tandem with the concern for institutional effectiveness. A major goal of this course will be to ensure an understanding of and appreciation for the range of approaches that can be taken to strategic planning, explicitly linking all strategies with the principles and best practices that support the drive toward institutional effectiveness.


Community College Curriculum and Program Development

In this course, students will receive a general and introductory knowledge of curricular and leadership issues in a community college setting. Students will explore issues related to the community college curriculum relative to program development, student services, and leadership as well as assessment.


Introduction to the Community College

In this course, students will gain knowledge of the history, nature, and purpose of American community colleges with emphasis on college funding, leadership, staffing, service learning and the importance of the mission, vision, and values. Mastery is attained through developing a strategic plan addressing a current/recent college challenge.

Capstone Course - 3 credit hours

Course Code


Course Description


Education Specialist Capstone Project

ED7053 is the culmination of the EdS program. In this course students will have the opportunity to demonstrate the synthesis of knowledge in the Education Specialist program through the design of a real-world problem solving project. The project should be based on research and/ or fieldwork and must demonstrate an approach to addressing the problem through application of theory. Additionally, within this course students will complete a reflective self-assessment of their learning throughout the program.

At Northcentral University, we pride ourselves in being completely transparent when it comes to tuition and fees. If a cost is not included in our Cost Per Course Tuition Rate, we let you know up front. Currently, the only additional cost above your program rate* is books. Learn more about the EdS costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $849
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $2,547
  • Program cost: $28,367
  • Average book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Learning Management Fee (one-time per program): $350
  • Registration Fee: $0

Click here to learn more about payment and financing options.

*Program rates are subject to change and generally increase at the start of each calendar year.

Total program costs reflected are calculated based on standard degree program credits exclusive of the program’s potential evaluation track. The actual cost of a program is determined based upon the program and track the student enters, transfer credits if any, and other unique student factors. For more information: please contact Admissions or refer to the catalog.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our students, it’s that they are motivated and ambitious—but they are also busy! At Northcentral University, we’ve designed our education experience to work with you, not against you, so you can achieve your academic goals without sacrificing the quality, flexibility and support you need to be successful.

To learn more, request information or call 1-866-776-0331 to speak with an enrollment advisor today. We offer new courses every Monday of the year so you can get started when it’s best for you.