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Independent School Leadership (M.Ed.)

Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Program Overview

Unlock your potential as an innovator and leader. Explore and master the skills needed to effectively lead an independent school community with a master’s degree in Independent School Leadership from Vanderbilt University.

Through an inventive blend of online and in-person learning experiences, you’ll partner with current and aspiring independent school leaders who bring an incredible depth of experience and expertise. Together, you’ll work to navigate the complex educational, socio-emotional, fiscal, and operational challenges that independent schools face today.

In the end, you’ll be prepared to reach higher levels of achievement for your career and the independent schools you seek to serve.

Throughout your time in the program, you will have the opportunity to connect with expert scholar-practitioners, engage with members of your cohort on complex issues of relevance to independent school leaders, and learn from world-class Vanderbilt faculty to develop the knowledge and network to lead improvements in the independent school landscape. 

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: January 15*

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships on a space-and-funds-available basis.

Program Curriculum

The 30-credit hour master's degree program includes job-embedded year-round online coursework and convenings on campus in Nashville in the summer and during the academic year. It’s an approach that blends the convenience and accessibility of learning online with the intimacy and community-building of in-person experiences.

The curriculum for the Independent School Leadership master's program aims to address the full breadth of topics essential for leading an independent school and is centered around themes such as leadership in learning, systematic inquiry, governance and organizations, institutional advancement, and innovations in learning. Action research projects provide students with the opportunity to synthesize and apply their analytic abilities, practitioner’s lens, and the theoretical knowledge and skills which they have cultivated throughout the program into a final deliverable.

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, women in leadership, learning across contexts, 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
Kimberly Bess
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
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
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
Xiu Cravens
  • Associate Dean for International Students and Affairs, Office of the Dean
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Corbette Doyle
  • Senior Lecturer in Organizational Leadership, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
William Doyle
  • Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Brent Evans
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Program Director, Higher Education Administration
Andrew Finch
  • Core Faculty, Human Development Counseling
  • Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Leigh Z. Gilchrist
  • Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Human and Organizational Development
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
Kristen W. Neal
  • Senior Lecturer; Director of Learning and Design M.Ed. Program, Department of Teaching and Learning
Christine Quinn Trank
  • Professor of the Practice of Organization Leadership, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Matthew Patrick Shaw
  • Assistant Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School.
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Joseph Wehby
  • Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Special Education