I always get this puzzled look on peoples’ faces when I tell them I am getting an Ed.S. degree. I go further to tell what Ed.S. stands for–Education Specialist–and I get the same blank stare. Here is my best explanation in a quick and simple post.
An Education Specialist (EdS.) degree is a Master’s degree. Plain and simple; there is no real difference. My Ed.S. contains a thesis component, as many do. Not all Master’s programs require a thesis; some requiring a portfolio in place of a thesis. The major distinction between Ed.S. and Master’s is the field in which the degree covers. My Ed.S. is in School Psychology. Master’s degrees–such as M.S. (Master of Science), M.A. (Master of Arts), and M.Ed. (Master of Education)–focus on their respective fields, such as engineering, theater, or special education. A person can get an Ed.S. in something other than school psychology, such as special education or curriculum and instruction; however, the vast majority of people get M.S. or M.Ed. degrees in those fields.
Some argue that an Ed.S. is a step between a Master’s and a Doctorate; I disagree. If it were a step between, I contend that a Master’s or other type of qualification is needed to be accepted (as it stands, Bachelor’s and GRE are the only scores needed for admission, with many students entering an Ed.S. program immediately after graduating with a Bachelors).
In short, Ed.S. is a fancy way of saying Master’s. It can include more course work than some other Master’s level programs, but still involves a thesis rather than a dissertation. My Ed.S. is definitely more rigorous than my M.Ed., but both can be on equal footing depending on the university. Some may have a different take; however, that is the way I view the distinction. I hope this was helpful.