Specialist with Certification: Program Information

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The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) College of Education's (COE) Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR) has as its mission to contribute to the personal and professional growth of current and potential leaders who serve educational agencies or individuals in a variety of settings. It seeks to develop and sustain a commitment to positive social change; excellence in both understanding the need for, and implementing, the highly developed decision making and people skills associated with leadership in education; a belief in the power of lifelong learning, inclusion and human dignity; and exemplary standards of ethical and professional behavior.

The purpose of the School Leaders Program is to prepare and support school leaders in public and private educational institutions. The Specialist of Education program prepares aspiring school leaders to meet the challenges of today's schools. In cooperation with Florida public school districts, the program of study includes leadership theory, research, professional knowledge, and school-based clinical experiences. Completion of this degree, and passing the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE), leads to Florida Educational Leadership Certification (Level I) which qualifies an individual to serve as a public school assistant principal, intern assistant principal, intern principal, or interim principal.

In addition to the leadership domains of knowledge and learning considered as world class by the profession, the Masters Program contains the learning of the Florida Leadership Standards, Competencies, and Skills which are measured through the FELE. It also complies with knowledge requirements specified by NCATE and ISLCC Standards. Students who complete this program are prepared to sit for the FELE examination, and those opting for certification must pass the exam in order to graduate. Students who are seeking a Specialist Degree without Certification should refer to the School Leaders Program's Specialist degree requirements found on the EDLR website.


Applicants must hold a Master's Degree from an accredited college or university, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in a master's program and complete the GRE (no minimum sub-score requirement). Additional program requirements can be found at this Graduate College site page.

As a part of the admissions process, prospective students must apply on-line to FAU through the Graduate Admissions Office and follow the admissions process described on the Graduate College website. Additionally, candidates for admissions must submit to the EDLR an essay that identifies the candidate's career goals and how the Specialist program will enable them to meet these goals, a professional resume, and two letters of reference. A Letter of Commitment from a school principal who is willing to sponsor the student for three semesters of internship must be submitted (Form).

Program Description

The School Leaders Specialist Program is built on the COEs Conceptual Framework and the four major domains that the EDL requires for leadership learning; Leadership Foundations, Research Foundations, Professional Knowledge, and Experiential Learning. It is centered on providing effective leadership in areas of research, service and teaching at the local, state, national and international levels. In agreement with the framework, EDL believes that learning in the four domains of Leadership Foundations, Research Foundations, Professional Knowledge, and Experiential Learning will develop informed, capable, ethical and reflective decision making professionals. Students successfully completing the Specialist Degree will have mastered the subject matter needed for the profession and understand the need to engage in lifelong learning to maintain effectiveness in a changing environment.

The first domain, Leadership Foundations, provides the student with learning specifically about leadership. Leadership is a relationship between leaders and followers who work together toward common goals to effect change in an ethical way. Leaders continually organize to ensure that goals are accomplished. They (a) set and seek to achieve goals, (b) find resources, (c) adapt to their environment, (d) maintain cohesiveness within the system, and (e) preserve a unique system of values and work flow. Leaders must develop their own minds in systems terms and see their organizations holistically, so they may transfer knowledge from one setting to another. They must develop skills and a capacity to envision the future and be able to find opportunities within and without their organizations. Informed reflective decision-makers need leadership foundational knowledge. The theory, learning, and application of leadership are provided through the three core courses that are required for all EDL programs.

The remaining three domains are Research Foundations, Professional Knowledge, and Experiential Learning. These domains have a core group of courses that provide the student with the opportunity to learn the most important elements contained within each.

Research Foundations. School leaders today must be adept at using current research methods and tools, as well as be able to interpret findings and analyze data thereby revealing answers to questions and problems encountered in practice. In the era of accountability, data-based decision making, and scientifically-based educational programs and practices, school leaders' learning and knowledge in this area is critical to professional success.

Professional Knowledge. Ethical reflective decision-makers understand why they are given discretion in their roles and use that ability only for the student's or client's benefit. Students learn about specialized fields of school leadership including school operations and management, governance, law, instructional leadership, and school community in the component courses of this domain.

Experiential Learning. This domain implies the concept that elements of a professional's education will be gained from a practical approach in a real-world situation. It is based on the belief that insights gained through a job, internship, volunteer work, or course field work will enhance academic studies and the professional's critical reflection skills in thinking and acting upon his/her talents, aspirations, and the needs of the work setting. This domain also helps the professional in setting academic, career and personal goals. In Experiential Learning, students take internship courses with curricula that are built practicing assistant principal-level activities. These internships are semester-specific and present different knowledge and skills applications. The curriculum of each internship is centered on the activities occurring during each of the Fall, Spring, and Summer school administrative calendar time frames. All Specialist students are required to complete, as a culminating experiential project, the capstone course Field Project 2.

Instructions for using the schedule

  1. Go to www.fau.edu. Under "CURRENT STUDENTS" click on "Course Schedule".
  2. On the "Current and Historical Schedules" page (which opens in a new window), click on "Departmental Schedule."
  3. On the "Departmental Course Schedule" page which now opens in a new window, select the term, Campus (you can select "All" if you want to see everything including on-line courses), "College" (select "Col of Education") and the Department you want to view (Educational Leadership and Research Methodology). You are now taken to the "Departmental Course Schedule" page. Scroll down to see the course offerings listed in alpha-numeric order. You will find all of the courses offered by ELRM during the semester. Notice the column headings at the top of the page, as once you scroll down you won’t see them. From this schedule you will find the courses you are interested in taking.
  4. Important: specific information about the course, including the professor’s email and the dates that the course will meet, are found by clicking on the CRN number. Take note of the CRN number – you will use this for on-line registration.

Course Requirements: Specialist with a Certification Degree

The following lists the coursework that you must take in order to meet the requirements for the School Leaders Specialist with Certification Program Degree. The Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE) must be taken and passed before graduation.

The Leadership Foundations must be completed prior to registration for any Experiential Learning courses.

Prefix No Title Credits
ADE 6381 Leadership 1: Adult Learning and Assessment 3
EDS 6100 Leadership 2: Theory and Assessment 3
EDA 6103 Leadership 3: Administrative Processes 3
EDA 7930 Seminar in Administration OR 3
EDA 7235 Seminar in Law
ADE 6265 Organization & Administration of Adult/Community Education OR 3
EEX 6515 Special Education Policy and Leadership Issues
RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS - 9 to 12 credits
Prefix No Title Credits
STA 6113 Educational Statistics 3
EDF 6481 Educational Research (pre- or co-requisite: Stat. Methods) 3
EDA 6415 Introduction to Qualitative Inquiry OR 3
EDF 6918 Action Research in Schools and Communities
EDF 6432 Measurement
Prefix No Title Credits
EDA 6207 Managing School Operations 3
EDF 6786 Educational Governance 3
EDS 6050 Instructional Leadership 1 3
EDS 6052 Instructional Leadership 2 (prerequisite: Instructional Leadership 1) 3
EDA 6232 Practical School Law (prerequisite: Educational Governance) 3
EDA 6300 Community Partnerships and Diversity 3
Prefix No Title Credits
EDA 6945 Fall Internship 2
EDA 6946 Spring Internship 2
EDA 6947 Summer Internship 2
EDA 7944 Field Project 2 (Capstone Specialist Experiential Course) 3

Total Credit Hours: 51 to 54 hours*

ESOL Requirement -- Candidates who have not met their ESOL/ELL requirement of sixty (60) hours of ESOL district inservice points or three (3) credit hours in a survey type ESOL course must take the following course prior to program completion: TSL 4324 ESOL Strategies for Content Area Teachers

All candidates must provide evidence to the Department of Educational Leadership that this requirement has been satisfied.

Additional Graduation Requirements

Students must complete the following in addition to the course work:

  • Florida Educational Leadership Exam – must present the official score report indicating all three subtests are passed.
  • ESOL – Candidates who have not met the requirement for sixty (60) hours of ESOL district inservice credit or three (3) credit hours in a survey type ESOL course must take TSL 4324 prior to program completion.