New Degree for School Leaders

November 4, 2020

Everyone remembers their first-grade teacher, but it might have been the school principal who made the real difference in their educational experience. Research shows that principals are the school leaders who most often influence a student’s education — by fostering strong learning climates where expectations for students are high, clear and consistent. Recognizing this impact, Baylor School of Education is launching the MA in School Leadership, offered through the Department of Educational Leadership. Cohorts will launch each June, beginning in 2021.

The MA in School Leadership offers an academic experience enhanced by Baylor's Christian environment and designed so that educators can manage the course schedule along with their career. Students complete the 30-hour coursework within a year through a convenient hybrid format combining face-to-face campus intensives and virtual learning.

Each cohort will launch with 10 days on campus, building trust and community with faculty and the cohort. After a year of virtual coursework, students return to campus for four days the following summer. Finally, the program concludes when students complete a Capstone research project based on a problem of practice at their school.

For some courses, students will be on two different tracks — for leaders seeking Texas principal certification or for independent school leaders.

Dr. Jon Eckert, Copple Professor in Christian School Leadership, is program director, along with his academic role in the Baylor Center for Christian Education (CCE). Arriving at Baylor in 2019, Eckert said he came because of his belief that Baylor can be the top destination for Christians who are called to serve as education leaders. Eckert’s research focuses on bring collective leadership practices into education settings.

“We launched this dual-track MA to serve emerging leaders, and we are developing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership to take the work deeper,” said Eckert. “We believe we can build cohorts of the strongest Christian leaders in the country, who will be a collective force for the common good,” Eckert said. McKenna Fitzharris, a first-grade teacher who has applied to the program, was drawn by the program’s flexibility, culture of collective leadership, and cohort model.

“Leadership in any field is difficult and is not meant to be a journey taken alone, which is why I appreciate Baylor’s cohort model,” Fitzharris said. “This program will allow me to interact with school leaders from all over the country through my cohort, the CCE’s Academy, and many other opportunities.”

Eckert and Dr. Matt Thomas, Director of Baylor Center for Christian Education, have recently been working with educators across the country and see a growing interest in Baylor among school leaders. Along with Dr. Angela Urick and Dr. Bradley Carpenter, who are new additions to the Educational Leadership faculty, they will form the program’s core faculty.

March 1, 2021, is the application deadline. For more information, visit MA in School Leadership.

—By Isabelle Perello