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Graduate School > Academics > Graduate Degrees > Ed.S.

E D U C A T I O N A L   S P E C I A L I S T   D E G R E E

General Information

The educational specialist degree (Ed.S.) is offered in some departments of the College of Education that offer doctoral degrees. Students interested in the Ed.S. degree should contact the department involved regarding availability of the degree.

The Ed.S. degree normally is granted at the end of the sixth year of collegiate study and falls in time between the master's degree and the doctorate. However, it is not necessarily viewed as intermediate between the master's and doctoral degrees. In teaching fields, the purpose of the degree is to prepare undergraduate-college teachers, especially those who will be employed in junior colleges, small private and state colleges, and the group of colleges labeled as "developing" institutions. The primary goals of the Ed.S. degree are teaching and acquiring professional proficiency.

Because the purposes of the Ed.S. degree may differ from those of either the Ed.D. or Ph.D., credit earned in an Ed.S. program is not automatically transferable to a doctoral program. Instead, if a holder of an Ed.S. degree enters a doctoral program at a later date, the doctoral advisory committee will decide how much of the credit earned in the Ed.S. program will be counted toward the doctorate.

Course Requirements

The Ed.S. degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of study beyond the master's degree. (Students completing an Ed.S. program who also expect to receive an Alabama Class AA certificate for service in the public schools must complete a minimum of 33 semester hours and achieve a minimum 3.25 grade point average on all work attempted.) Generally, the following requirements will hold for the degree:

  1. If a student enters a program with a master's degree in the same field, a minimum of 12 additional semester hours in the field must be taken. (A minimum total of 36 graduate semester hours in the field is required for graduation.)
  2. If a student enters a program with a master's degree in a field different from the one in which he or she plans to study, sufficient work in the Ed.S. major field must be taken so that the total graduate semester hours in the field is at least 36. Some departments require more than this minimum.
  3. Since one of the goals of the Ed.S. degree is to prepare undergraduate-college teachers, certain courses in higher education may be necessary, if required by the major department. A faculty adviser in the program in higher education administration will advise students on the appropriate courses to complete this requirement.
  4. Candidates for the Ed.S. degree will be required to complete all coursework at the 500 and 600 levels.

Residency Requirement

A student's program at the Ed.S. level must provide sufficient association with the resident faculty to permit individual evaluation of the student's capabilities and achievements.

Transfer of Credit

A maximum of 9 hours or 25% of the degree program, whichever is greater, may be transferred to apply toward an Ed.S. degree.

Previous and appropriate post-master's-degree credit earned at The University of Alabama before a student applies for admission to the Ed.S. program can be applied toward the Ed.S. degree, provided it meets the program requirements of the particular department and the time limitation stated below. Some departments have more stringent requirements; students should check with departments to determine their policies.

A student in his or her last semester of work toward the master's degree who does not need a full load to complete the course requirements of his or her master's program may register for work toward the Ed.S. degree, in the amount needed to complete full registration loads.

In some cases, foreign educational credentials may not meet the Graduate School's criteria for transfer of credit. It may be necessary for students in this situation to secure an evaluation of their credentials from World Education Services Inc., an external foreign credential evaluation service. Additional information on their services can be found at their Web site

Time Limit

All requirements for the Ed.S. degree must be completed during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the degree is to be awarded.

Plan of Study

Each department or program participating in the Ed.S. degree has established a framework of requirements for the degree that indicates the general structure of its program. At or before initial registration, each student will develop a formal plan of study for the degree, designating all courses he or she plans to take in the program. In reaching decisions, the student should consult with the program director. The student will file a completed plan with the program director who, upon approving the plan, will distribute copies to the Graduate School and to the student, retaining one copy for departmental files.

A plan of study may be amended at any time using appropriate forms and following the procedure described above. Until formal approval of an amended plan of study is made, the original or current modification of the plan will be in effect.

Admission to Candidacy

Requirements for admission to candidacy for the Ed.S. degree are the same as those for the master's degree in the same area. A student should note any foreign language requirement. Application forms and instructions for applying for admission to candidacy may be obtained from the Graduate School office and on the Web. A plan of study must be filed in the Graduate School prior to admission to candidacy.


In addition to the regular course examinations, a final comprehensive examination will be required. The examination may be written or oral or both, at the discretion of the major department, and can be changed at any time. No candidate is eligible for the final examination until approved by the appropriate program director. A student may take the final oral or written examination only twice.

The examination will be prepared and conducted by a committee of at least three people, including the program director in the major area of study and a designee (or two or more people from the major area of study, designated by the program director) and the program director (or a designee) from the minor field of study, if one has been included in a program. No candidate will be judged to have completed the examination(s) satisfactorily who has not satisfied the major department. Committees will be appointed by the dean of the Graduate School on request of the major program director.

If a candidate receives failing marks in both the minor area of study and the professional education field, the candidate will be judged to have failed the examination. If a candidate fails either the minor examination or the professional education examination, the committee as a whole will reach a decision about the satisfactory or unsatisfactory nature of the candidate's performance on the examination. If a candidate does not have a minor field, the committee members will meet and will reach a decision in the event the student fails the professional education examination.

All written examinations will be kept on file by the program directors for one year following the date of the examination, and students will have the right to confer with their program directors regarding the strengths and weaknesses shown on the examinations.

Application for Graduation

Each candidate for an educational specialist degree must apply for the degree through the Office of the Graduate School no later than the registration period of the semester or the first term of the summer session in which requirements for the degree are to be completed. The form "Application for Degree" is required for this purpose and must be completed in duplicate.

Please contact Beth Yarbrough at, or by phone, 348-5921, with questions related to your degree requirements.

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