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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.

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, political, social, fiscal, and moral dimensions 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.

Most of the coursework in this 15-month program is completed over the course of two summers in Nashville, allowing you to maintain your current employment. Online coursework over the traditional academic year bridges the two consecutive summer sessions.

Throughout the 15 months, you’ll have access to experts in the field and will be advised by a board of outstanding independent school leaders who assist faculty in approving, evaluating, and providing feedback on research and fieldwork products.

Program at a Glance

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

Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Program Director: Patrick Schuermann, Ed.D.
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 two intensive summer sessions in Nashville that bookend a fall and spring semester of online work. It’s an approach that blends school-based research and practice throughout.

During your summers in Nashville, you’ll collaborate with independent school leaders from around the country as you complete coursework and gain hands-on experience with area independent schools. During the school year, you’ll continue to build your proficiency by completing exercises aligned with the content covered over the summer sessions.

The curriculum for the Independent School Leadership master’s program aims to address the full breadth of topics essential for leading an independent school. You must pass a comprehensive exam at the end of the second semester.

The specific schedule of coursework follows:

Summer: Year 1

Required Courses: 12 credit hours

  • ISL 6110 Leadership and Learning in Independent Schools
  • ISL 6120 Admissions and Financial Aid in Independent Schools
  • ISL 6130 Finance, Governance, and Organization
  • ISL 6140 Institutional Advancement in Independent Schools
  • ISL 6150 Systematic Inquiry in Independent Schools

Fall and Spring: Year 1

Required Courses: 6 credit hours

  • ISL 6940 Site-based Action Research in Independent Schools

Summer: Year 2

Required Courses: 12 credit hours

  • ISL 7210 Historical, Fiscal, and Legal Dimensions of Independent Schools
  • ISL 7220 Organizational and Human Capital Development
  • ISL 7230 Educating the Whole Child
  • ISL 7240 Innovations and Learning
  • ISL 7250 Leadership and Learning Spectrum
Program Curriculum

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.

Session 1

Patrick Schuermann
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Program Director, Independent School Leadership
Kimberly Bess
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Doug Christiansen
  • Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education (courtesy appointment), Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs
Xiu Cravens
  • Associate Dean for International Affairs, Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
William Doyle
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Heather Johnson
  • Associate Professor of the Practice of Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
David Laird
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Catherine Gavin Loss
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Associate Dept. Chair; Coordinator of the Ed.D. Program, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Joseph Murphy
  • Associate Dean, Special Projects, Office of the Dean
  • Professor of Education; Endowed Mayborn Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Kristen W. Neal
  • Lecturer; Director of Learning and Design M.Ed. Program, Department of Teaching and Learning
Tim Caboni
  • President, Western Kentucky University
Eric Houck
  • Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, School of Education at the University of North Carolina
Melanie Moran
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations, Vanderbilt University
Bill Mott, Ph.D.
  • Consultant, Author, Speaker
Quinton Walker, Ed.D.
  • Head of High School, University School of Nashville
Gail Williams
  • Associate Director, Community Engagement, Community, Neighborhood, and Government Relations, Vanderbilt University

Session 2

Patrick Schuermann
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Program Director, Independent School Leadership
Mark Cannon
  • Associate Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Associate Professor of Education Leadership and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Nicole A. Cobb
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Andrew Finch
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Leigh Z. Gilchrist
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Human and Organizational Development
David Laird
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Kevin Leander
  • Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Joseph Murphy
  • Associate Dean, Special Projects, Office of the Dean
  • Professor of Education; Endowed Mayborn Chair, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Matthew Patrick Shaw
  • Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
  • Assistant Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School
Tamra Stambaugh
  • Director; Research Professor, SPED, Programs for Talented Youth
  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Joseph Wehby
  • Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Special Education