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Independent School Leadership (M.Ed.)

Sign up today for a virtual information session to learn more about the ISL program. 
Peabody Fall Preview and ISL Program Overview: Thursday, October 20 from 4:30- 6 pm CST: Register: https://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/events/peabody_fall_preview/
ISL Information Session 10/27, 6:30-7:30 pm CST, Register: https://apply.vanderbilt.edu/register/ISL1027
ISL Information Session 11/15, 6:30-7:30 pm CST, Register : https://apply.vanderbilt.edu/register/ISL1115
ISL Information Session 12/6, 6:30-7:30 pm CST, Register: https://apply.vanderbilt.edu/register/ISL126

Program Overview

Vanderbilt’s Peabody College has launched a new blended (online and in-person) Master's of Education in Independent School Leadership, building on the strong foundation of our previous summer-intensive Independent School Leadership program. This new chapter of our M.Ed. program is specifically designed for working professionals who bring at least two years of relevant independent school work experience. The ISL graduate degree program will strengthen the invaluable skills you’ve already developed and give you the tools to propel yourself to new leadership opportunities and to even greater impact.

Our 15 month, part-time program consists of a diverse cohort of independent school professionals like you — leaders who are advancing in their careers, and who bring important perspectives grounded in real-world challenges. Our program is a blended learning model conducted online throughout the school year, and in-person through two 8-day on-campus summer experiences, where you'll meet your cohort in person, work with world-class Vanderbilt faculty, and build community on our beautiful Nashville campus. Our online learning experience combines self-directed asynchronous curricula with weekly synchronous sessions, where cohort members build community and actively engage in discourse related to relevant theory and practice within independent school systems. ISL cohorts are small by design, and allow for the purposeful cultivation of a strong professional learning community, which provides ISL alumni with a valuable lifelong network.

This blended Master's of Education in Independent School Leadership offers a distinctive Peabody experience — including deep engagement and interaction with Vanderbilt’s faculty and independent school scholar practitioners, as well as a lifelong professional network — within an intentionally designed curriculum and robust opportunities for mentorship and action research design. The program is career-embedded — so you can immediately apply what you are learning, in real time, to the work you are doing on the ground in your independent school.

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Independent School Leadership

Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Program Director:  Dr. Carrie Grimes
Admissions Coordinator: Rosie Moody
Admission Term: Summer
Credit Hours: 30

Priority Application Deadline for Summer 2023 Cohort: December 31*

*Please do note that applications received by the priority deadline receive first consideration for admission and scholarships.

Program Curriculum

Our prescribed curriculum is intentionally designed to meet your professional needs. It is anchored in both foundational knowledge and core competencies of independent school leadership. You will also complete an action research project to advance your leadership and scholarship.  30 credits are required to graduate with Vanderbilt’s M.Ed. degree in Independent School Leadership.

The ISL Curriculum is Centered around ten themes:

  • Leadership and Learning in Independent Schools
  • Institutional Advancement in Independent Schools
  • Systematic Inquiry for School Leaders
  • Innovations in Leading & Learning
  • Organizational and Human Capital Development for Independent Schools
  • Independent School Finance & Governance
  • Strategic Enrollment Management
  • Leadership and the Learning Spectrum
  • Educating the Whole Child
  • Historic and Legal Dimensions of Independent Schools 

Students will engage will all themes through a series of online three-credit courses, in-person modules on campus, and a site-based action research project.  To help you manage, lead, and implement change in independent school systems, the ISL curriculum explores the core leadership competencies that you'll need to elevate your skills, knowledge, and expertise, wherever you are in your career. Throughout your coursework, you will strengthen your ability to:

  • Lead change and think strategically
  • Foster productive organizational conditions for all stakeholders
  • Navigate the intersection of theory and practice
  • Communicate effectively across school domains

On-campus experiences: Students will convene for two on-campus convenings each summer, where you will be immersed in the Peabody community and connect with your cohort, faculty, and advisers. Summer convenings integrate four credit hours and eight days of coursework. 

Elective in-person convenings: In the fall and spring semester, students will have the option to convene for a weekend in Nashville for their action research coursework. Students will also have the option to participate remotely in these experiences.

The ISL Program Time Commitment

Courses combine synchronous meetings and asynchronous work and assignments. Live or synchronous aspects of required courses will occur on weekdays for 90 minutes (Monday–Friday) between 6 and 9 p.m. ET, or on Saturday mornings. On average, this degree requires 12 to 14 hours of work per week, though the weekly commitment will vary by term, courses taken, and students' own work styles. Students can expect to spend approximately three hours per week in synchronous online class sessions with faculty members and classmates. The remaining hours will be spent working independently on asynchronous course materials, in self-scheduled small-group work with other students, or working on assignments and action research projects.

Weekly Time Commitment

To complete the blended M.Ed. in Independent School Leadership, students must complete 30 total credit hours of coursework over the fifteen-month program. Although the weekly time commitment varies by term, course, and student work style, the table below provides a snapshot of the estimated weekly time commitment students may experience during the fall and spring semesters, when they will typically take 7 credits, the equivalent of two courses and action research requirements.

 

SYNCHRONOUS COURSEWORK:

Includes live, scheduled sessions with faculty and cohort members.

3 HOURS

ASYNCHRONOUS COURSEWORK:

Self-paced asynchronous lessons, discussion posts, and other course-related work.

3 HOURS

ASSIGNMENTS:

Readings, projects, papers, action research, etc.

6-8 HOURS

TOTAL WEEKLY ESTIMATED HOURS DURING FALL AND SPRING SEMESTER

Hours reflect estimates, and vary by term, course, and student work style.

= 12-14 HOURS

FLEX - BLENDED LEARNING DEGREE

M.Ed. in INDEPENDENT SCHOOL LEADERSHIP

Students
Admitted to
Program

Summer 1

Online Course: Leadership & Learning in Independent Schools [3 credits]

Summer 1

In-person 8-day campus convening [4 credits]

Fall 1

Online Courses: Systematic Inquiry; Institutional Advancement [6 credits]

Fall 1

Weekend convening on campus (remote optional); Action Research [1 credit]

Spring 1

Online Courses: Innovations in Leading and Learning [6 credits]

Spring 1

Weekend convening on campus (remote) optional); Action Research [1 credit]

Summer 2

Online Courses: Independent School History and Governance [3 credits] Action Research [2 credits]

Summer 2

In-person 8 day campus convening [4 credits]

Students
Graduate

 

Program Curriculum

The Peabody Difference

The Peabody Difference

  • ISL graduate students are able to maintain their current employment while pursuing this degree. Our cohort model and the flexibility of a robust online curricular component invite a geographically diverse group of students. 
  • The ISL program purposefully addresses issues of access, equity, diversity and inclusivity within independent schools. We accomplish this within the curriculum by incorporating coursework that focuses on topics such as intercultural competence, socio-emotional learning, innovations in pedagogy and andragogy, and community-based learning.
  • Students have the important opportunity to build relationships in person during convening experiences on our beautiful Nashville campus over the course of the program.
  • Students expand their professional network and develop lasting relationships through our cohort model, which affords access to a robust global independent school alumni network. 

Faculty

World-class specialists from across the university and renowned expert-practitioners from the independent school community have collaborated to create this leading-edge program. It draws on decades of leadership development, research, and practice to present professional education at its best.

Carrie Grimes
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Director, Independent School Leadership
Joe Bandy
  • Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and affiliated faculty, Vanderbilt Department of Sociology.
Mark Cannon
  • Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Andrea Capizzi
  • Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Special Education
Doug Christiansen
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education (Secondary Appointment), Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.
  • Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs.
Nicole A. Cobb
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Non-Core Faculty, Human Development Studies
  • Non-core Faculty, Independent School Leadership
  • Non-core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
Xiu Cravens
  • Associate Dean for International Students and Affairs, Office of the Dean
  • Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Stacey Floyd-Thomas
  • E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Ethics and Society, Associate Professor of Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Leigh Z. Gilchrist
  • Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Erin C. Henrick
  • Lecturer, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Heather Johnson
  • Associate Professor of the Practice of Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
  • Director of Secondary Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Catherine Gavin Loss
  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professional Education, Office of the Dean
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Brenda McKenzie
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Practicum Coordinator, Higher Education Administration
Kristen W. Neal
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Teaching and Learning
Michael A. Neel
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Matthew Patrick Shaw
  • Assistant Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School.
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Secondary Appointment, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations