What Can I Do With a CAGS in Educational Leadership?
Experienced educators often seek graduate certificates to gain licensure, update their skills and/or get a head start on a doctorate.
The decision to earn a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in educational leadership snuck up on Lindsay Ordway.
“I had a voucher for one graduate course at Merrimack College,” says Ordway, a special education teacher in the Haverhill Public Schools. “I signed up for a class in school improvement, which is part of Merrimack’s educational leadership program. It was a hard class, but I learned so much. And when I found out what you can do with a CAGS in educational leadership, both professionally and academically, I decided to go for it.”
Ordway’s chief reason for earning a CAGS was to qualify for initial licensure as an education administrator. But that’s only one of many things you can do with a CAGS in educational leadership.
More broadly, an educational leadership CAGS can equip any seasoned educator to take the next career step. It can prepare you for an administrative license, as in Ordway’s case. But you can also seek a non-licensure CAGS in educational leadership to support other career goals. Merrimack’s program serves professionals at all levels, from teachers to principals, curriculum directors and assistant superintendents. You can earn a CAGS to ascend from school-level to district-level leadership, move into policy work or simply to stay abreast of the innovation curve.
“It opens a lot of doors,” says Ordway. “I’ve been teaching for six years, and I work in a school with an incredibly supportive community. Whenever I’ve had opportunities to help younger teachers, I’ve found it rewarding. The CAGS in educational leadership lets me build on those skills and lay a foundation for the next phase of my career.”
Five Reasons to Earn a CAGS in Educational Leadership
Ordway chose to earn her CAGS at Merrimack College for several reasons. She knew Merrimack’s graduate education programs meet high standards because she earned her master’s degree in teacher education from the college in 2013. Moreover, the CAGS is offered in an online format, which enabled her to maintain a full-time work schedule while taking her courses.
Most important, Merrimack’s educational leadership CAGS supported Ordway’s career objectives.
“My classes were very closely aligned with the PAL tasks,” she explains, referring to the Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL) competencies that form the basis of an administrative license. “It’s a very practical approach. I’m getting relevant experience and developing the specific skills I need to become an administrator.”
That’s a very common reason for earning a CAGS, but hardly the only one. Here are a handful of ways a CAGS in educational leadership can advance your career:
Become a teaching coach or department head:
Front-line supervisory roles may or may not require an administrative license. A CAGS offers great preparation for these jobs, which enable teachers to embrace new challenges, mentor younger educators and magnify their professional impact.
Move into administration:
Merrimack’s educational leadership certificate program equips you not only to earn your administrative license but also to excel as an administrator. You can tailor the program to support the specific licensure category you’re seeking, qualifying for roles that range from assistant principal to curriculum director, principal, district supervisor or assistant superintendent.
Align skills with current standards:
The Massachusetts Department of Education amended its Educator Evaluation Framework in 2017. The CAGS provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to update their competencies.
Develop policy expertise:
For individuals who seek to develop a specialized area of expertise, the CAGS in educational leadership offers multiple avenues (including a capstone project) to engage in focused study or independent research.
Advance toward doctoral studies:
Credits earned in the educational leadership CAGS can often be applied toward an Ed.D. degree. For students who seek professional advancement but aren’t sure whether they want or need a doctorate, the CAGS often serves as in interim step.
“It’s a very practical approach. I’m getting relevant experience and developing the specific skills I need to become an administrator.”
― Lindsay Ordway, CAGS in Educational Leadership ’20
Ordway met people with all sorts of reasons for getting a graduate certificate in educational leadership at Merrimack.
“It’s extremely helpful for your career,” she says. “Some people enter the program simply because the credits move you up the pay scale. Some are looking to connect with other teachers and administrators. You’re increasing your salary, you’re learning new skills and you’re building your network. Those are all benefits for any educator.”