Masters Program Description

The IDEAL School Leaders Masters Program is built on the four major domains that the ELRM 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.

The IDEAL curriculum combines rigorous coursework with job-embedded clinical practice conducted at the student’s school throughout the program. Course content includes topics such as adult learning, systems thinking, instructional leadership, leadership for social justice, family and community engagement, school operations management, educational governance, law and policy, research methods, and many more. To ensure the effective completion of the school-based tasks included in the program’s three-semester internship, students are required to establish a strong working relationship with their Principal or other school administrator, who must agree to act as their mentor for the duration of the program*. Students in Florida graduate after completing state licensure requirements by taking the Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE). Students elsewhere should become informed as to the licensure requirements in their state.

* Administrator mentors are required to complete mentor training provided by the Department.

Students successfully completing the Masters 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 to practice assistant principal-level activities. These internships are semester-specific (Fall, Spring, and Summer). Each internship course presents 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.