GWU education class

The Educational Specialist Degree (EdS) in Executive Leadership is designed for potential and practicing educational leaders who aspire to develop and refine their leadership skills in complex organizations especially at the district office level.

Graduate Admissions

The Educational Specialist Degree program aims to equip candidates with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs that will enable them to function effectively as leaders in fluctuating, complex, and dynamic educational environments. The Gardner-Webb University Executive Leadership Program utilizes a non-traditional approach to curriculum design and implementation with the incorporation of integrated modules as opposed to individual courses. The program’s vision is to provide a response to the ever changing economic, political, social, and technological environments present in today’s schools that are not isolated entities.

The Education Specialist in Executive Leadership degree program goals are:


  1. To engage candidates to critical analysis of educational theory and practice;
  2. To engage candidates in disciplined inquiry in the field of education;
  3. To prepare candidates for making contributions to educational theory and practice;
  4. To prepare candidates to become leaders in educational institutions; and
  5. To meet proficiency levels in licensure requirements.


Gardner-Webb University’s School of Education offers a learning environment that supports Christian values in the classroom. You will gain valuable professional preparation to succeed in your career and help your future students succeed in school. You will also benefit from spiritual support that prepares you for ethical, inspired leadership.

Upon completion of this program, students will have earned an Ed. Specialist in Executive Leadership Studies and will be subject to state licensure requirements in order to receive North Carolina state licensure as a Superintendent. The licensure requirement is the satisfactory completion of an electronic portfolio.

Students in the EdS in Executive Leadership Studies program must hold at least a master's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 grade point average on all graduate-level work. A minimum of three years of experience, administration is preferred. A North Carolina principal-level license is required.

The 42-credit-hour Educational Specialist Degree program with an integrated curriculum will be offered over the course of six semesters in a fully online format. Each semester students will take one module, consisting of six integrated semester hours as well as a one-semester hour internship.

You will log into Blackboard to complete assignments, participate in online discussions, and complete group activities. While there are no face-to-face meetings, some of the activities may include chats, discussion boards, recorded and/or live webinars, and various web links for viewing. While your classes will operate in Blackboard, your final project will be stored as an electronic portfolio using TaskStream. The electronic portfolio is required for North Carolina licensure. Upon full acceptance to the online program you will be required to complete online certification to verify your proficiency in an online environment.

Additional information, including descriptions of specific courses and their corresponding credit hours, is available in the Academic Catalog.

Successful completion of this program and its electronic portfolio qualifies a candidate for licensure in the state of North Carolina. Before beginning the program, a student who intends to work in a state other than North Carolina should contact the appropriate state licensure authority in order to determine whether North Carolina licensure requirements meet that state’s requirements or whether additional requirements apply. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm and comply with the licensure requirements in any state other than North Carolina.

Educators who work in South Carolina should consult the SC Department of Education webpage on Online and Out of State Educator Preparation Programs which includes the following instructions.

Prior to beginning an online program, an individual must request a formal program approval using the online Request for Change/Action form. Along with the form, educators will need to include, college or university name and address, program name, program description and the purpose of the program. Also what the educator wants to obtain with degree program (ex: Initial certification in Elementary Education). Approval for online programs cannot be given via phone or email.

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Graduate Admissions