Teacher Leadership

Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership

Steve Jones, Program Coordinator
Hill Hall, Room 125;
Phone 417-836-5982

Program description 

The Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership (SETL) degree is designed for teachers who desire to take on leading roles in making decisions in their schools and school district, in and out of the classroom - teachers who prove themselves to be excellent teachers, committed professionals, and supportive colleagues.  The degree is for students who possess a Master's degree in an education-related field - for example, a Master's degree in literacy or educational technology, or a Master's degree in a subject or grade-level field.  This degree helps individual teachers improve their teaching, resulting in better student learning outcomes, while aiding whole school communities with identifying and responding to the needs or problems in their schools and communities.  Please note:  This Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership (SETL) degree does not prepare (or certify) teachers to work as a building principal. 

The bulk of this degree (18 credit hours) is delivered on-site in a two-year cohort model.  Teachers enrolled in this degree will meet periodically, in the same cohort (though in different courses), with teacher colleagues enrolled in the same associated Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) degree and also with other teacher colleagues who want only the graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning.  Cohorts will identify common needs or concerns, deepen collaboration, and strengthen supportive collegial relationships.  Degrees feature an inquiry project-based approach via an action research framework.  Each student will choose an emphasis or elective area (12 credit hours- with a wide range of options) and will have direct sustained involvement with SMU Education faculty.

An Accelerated Pathway to the Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership degree is available for those students who do NOT have a Master's degree in an education-related field, but who enroll in, and complete, Missouri State's Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) degree.  Description of, and requirements for, this pathway are found below - under the heading "Accelerated Pathway."

Entrance requirements

Admission to the program requires the following minimum criteria:

  1. Students must possess a Bachelor's degree, teacher certification, as well as a Master's degree in an education-related field.  They must meet the requirements for admission to graduate school as stated under the Admission to Graduate Study section of the Graduate Catalog.
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.25 for courses taken in the candidates Master's program.  
  3. Applicants for whom English is a second language are required to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  A minimum score of 550 on the paper-based or a comparable score of 213 on the computer-based TOEFL are required for admission.
  4. A student who does not meet all the above criteria, but who demonstrates outstanding potential, may be fully admitted by the Program Coordinator on the basis of individual merit.

Any coursework completed prior to program admittance may be unacceptable for the program.

Program admission procedures

To be considered for admission to this program, a student must apply through the Graduate College (refer to the Graduate College, Admission to Graduate Study, Admission Requirements) and submit the following to the Program Coordinator of the SETL:

  1. A letter containing teaching and professional goals, future plans, background information, teaching experiences, and the emphasis/elective area of interest to the candidate.
  2. A copy of an appropriate teacher certification or eligibility for teacher certification by a state agency.  Application without certification or eligibility may be accepted with permission from the Program Coordinator.
  3. Submission of three letters or recommendation from professionals familiar with the candidate's academic abilities and teaching potential.

Degree requirements

Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 36 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00.

  1. Students must complete the four courses listed in the Professional Learning Community section of the degree with a minimum overall GPA of 3.50.  No transfer credits are accepted for these courses.
  2. No more than 17 hours of 600-level coursework may be applied to the degree program.
  3. Comprehensive Examination.  A comprehensive written or oral examination must be passed by all students who have not previously passed the comprehensive examination for the MATL degree.  In addition, students will be required to present an acceptable oral review of their field of study.
  4. Research.  Completion of SFR 890, Field Research and Evaluation.  Students will write a seminar paper or thesis that may build on an deepen previous research projects, or they will select a new area for research and writing.  Students will present their final research to a committee that will include selected MSU faculty members and school administrators.  In addition, they will either present at a conference (University, state, regional or national) or produce a paper MSU faculty would deem publishable.
  5. Transfer credit.  A maximum of 30% of the 36 hours of graduate credit may be accepted toward the master's degree.  All transfer credit must be "A" or "B" grade status from an accredited college or university and must be approved by the Program Coordinator.  Please note one exception to the transfer credit rule:  no transfer credits are accepted for the first four core courses.
  6. All 36 hours of coursework for the degree must be completed within a period of 8 years.

Course Requirements   36 hours

Required Professional Learning Community Courses - 18 hours (No transfer courses allowed)
First Year (On-Site, cohort based)
Course Code Course Title Credits
EDC 800 Teacher Leadership I:  Contemporary Educational Problems 5 hrs
EDC 801 Teacher Leadership II:  Diversity and Curriculum Design 5 hrs
Second Year (On-Site, cohort based)
Course Code Course Title Credits
EDC 802 Teacher Leadership III:  Building Classroom Climate & Effective Student Assessments 5 hrs
EDC 803 Teacher Leadership IV:  Curriculum Theory 3 hrs


Administrative Leadership Area Course - 3 hrs
Course Code Course Title Credits
EAD 751

Foundational Of Educational Leadership (OR other EAD course as approved by the Program Coordinator

3 hrs
Additional Required Course - 3 hrs
Course Code Course Title Credits
SFR 890 Field Research and Evaluation 3 hrs
Emphasis/Elective Area - 12 hours

Students will, in consultation with the Program Coordinator, choose an Emphasis Area or series of elective courses that are meant to broaden their leadership understanding.  The following Emphasis Areas are proposed:

Secondary Education:  Candidate's area of certification/teaching.
Educational Technology:  Choose from among EDT 630, 650, 662, 763, 764, 765.
Literacy:  Choose from among RDG 640, 660, 673, 680, 685, 700, 710, 740, 770.
Elementary Education:  to be determined.
Early Childhood and Family Education:  to be determined.
Educational Leadership:  to be determined.
Special Education:  to be determined.
Counseling:  to be determined.
Middle School Education:  to be determined.
Educational Research:  to be determined.
Educational Foundations:  Choose from among SEC 701, SFR 676, 682, 750, 753, 791. 796, 858. 

Other electives may be added at the discretion of the Program Coordinator.

Accelerated Pathway

Students may take an "Accelerated Pathway" to obtain the Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership (SETL) degree.  Students can acquire both a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) and the Specialist in Education, Teacher Leadership (SETL) degree in an accelerated program.  Students interested in this Accelerated Pathway should contact the Program Coordinator to make sure they qualify and take the right courses.  Students in the Accelerated Pathway can count up to nine (9) credit hours taken as part of the MATL degree from within the "Emphasis Area" toward the Specialist degree's "Elective Area" credit hour requirements.  Please note:  This Accelerated Pathway to the SETL degree does not prepare (or certify) teachers to work as a building principal.

To be considered for the Accelerated Pathway, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.50 in at least 16 credit hours of graduate level coursework in an education-related field.  Students will be officially admitted to the SETL degree only upon their completion of the MATL degree.  All other requirements for admission to the SETL degree, as described above, must also be met.

Total credit hours required for the Accelerated Pathway to the SETL degree is 60 hours. 

Students who have previously completed the MATL degree - and who later decide they want the SETL degree - must apply for the SETL degree.