Ed.S. programs lead to professional degrees in the application of advanced educational theory but do not typically place an emphasis on conducting original research such as in Ed.D. or Ph.D. programs. The Specialist degree is designed as a terminal degree, and is not designed to be a stepping-stone toward a doctorate, although specialist-level practitioners may pursue a doctorate.
School Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction are two of the most common areas where a specialist degree is found. In the field of school psychology, the degree is typically an Ed.S. or SSP. Despite being virtually identical in scope and function, the Ed.S. and SSP both exist within the field of school psychology because training programs can be offered within the departments of psychology or education. They simply designate the type of program from which the degree originated. As another alternative, some programs within psychology departments have begun offering a Psy.S. degree instead of an SSP.
In many fields outside of education, the postgraduate certificate fills the same need as a Specialist degree.
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