Catholic schools are different by design and do more and teach more than other schools. The training of Catholic school leaders must be targeted to this difference and not simply defer to modern secular school leadership programs.Something more and something different is required.Ave Maria’s M.Ed program is fundamentally different. Our accredited degree is not beholden to the compromised benchmarks embraced by other programs. Our focus is both practical and spiritual — delivering the skills and inspiration for Catholic educational leadership.Ave Maria’s M.Ed. is designed to exert maximum influence in confident response to the challenges and opportunities facing Catholic schools as the common culture continues to fragment.

Skills You will Gain

1. Form the entire school community in fidelity to the distinctive mission of Catholic education.

2. Lead with the highest standards of professionalism and ethics, faithful to a Catholic worldview, and in service to the complete wellbeing of all students, families, and staff under their care.

3. Ensure the operational vitality of their schools including finances, facilities, scheduling, technology, school safety, communication, fundraising, marketing, enrollment, and legal and professional standards of all operations.

4. Promote a culture of learning and continuous improvement and academic success through planning and monitoring the curriculum.

5. Nurture a learning environment that forms students in mind, body, and spirit, supported by virtue-based discipline and counseling in a culture of high standards and loving support.

6. Develop and support all personnel, especially the professional and Catholic formation of teachers.

7. Create an authentic Catholic community of students, teachers, parents, and parish.

Summer Residency

A critical goal of the program is to produce a community of learners and friends and a network of lifelong colleagues. The relationships formed over the summers also enhance online conversations and learning throughout the academic year. Toward this end, candidates attend a two-week summer session each year. Each session lasts 2 weeks and covers 2 courses. Transportation and room and board at AMU are at the expense of the candidate. Families are welcome at their cost.

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Adjunct Professor of Education





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Adjunct Instructor of Education





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Adjunct Professor of Education





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Associate Professor of Education, Director of M.Ed. in Catholic Educational Leadership





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Vice President of Finance & Administration




(239) 304-7998


Canizaro Library, 328

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  • 30 credit hour, 2-year program
  • Cost per credit = $561
  • Online/Hybrid cohort model
  • Taught in a dual distance-learning (asynchronous) and in-person modality, leveraging the best of both formats and allowing for personal relationships/networking and convenience.
  • Two intensive two-week summer Residencies (with some additional distance assignments) cover 40% of all coursework.
  • Authentic assessment via portfolio in lieu of the traditional research component.
  • Optional Coursework in Classical Liberal Arts
  • Ave Maria University is accredited by SACSCOC.



Required Courses for the Major

EDUC 501 catholic education history, philosophy, vision, and mission

This course looks at: the history, mission, vision, and identity of Catholic schools; collaborating with others to ensure school mission is optimized and all policies and practices are appropriately aligned to serve the mission; promoting and establishing a shared vision with all community members; a study of Church documents related to education; principles of Catholic identity; and trends, threats and opportunities in Catholic education. (3 credits)

EDUC 502 formation, counseling, and communication

This course explores the school leader’s role in forming others. It considers: Catholic integral formation of mind/body/spirit; virtue-based formation; student and school-wide discipline, addressing chronic discipline or absentee challenges; developing a safe and respectful learning environment; Don Bosco’s Preventive Method; modeling respectful communication; active listening; using various technologies and communication channels and tools with effect and nuance; verbal and non-verbal communication; negotiation; conflict resolution, crisis management; de-escalation, organizing, and managing meetings; strengthening public speaking; basics of counseling, oversight of a counseling program, and keeping that program Catholic. (3 credits)

EDUC 503 curriculum leadership, development, and catholic integration

This course studies various aspects of leading and continuous improvement of the Catholic school curriculum toward Academic Excellence and includes: curriculum theory, design, structure and evaluation; promoting literacy and evidenced based pedagogy;  recognizing and adapting for possible barriers to learning and achievement gaps; responding to individual needs; lesson planning and curriculum mapping; the relationship of culture and education; textbook evaluation; data and technology in the curriculum, delivery and evaluation; evaluating the quality of cultural and literary texts for a Catholic school; an introduction to the liberal arts curriculum and related classical liberal arts education and great books curriculums; interpreting and evaluating curriculum light of school mission; threats from modern curricula; the role of standards; aligning standards to content delivery and evaluation; The Catholic Curriculum Standards and Standards for Christian Anthropology. (3 credits)

EDUC 504 law, governance, and ethics

This course is a study of the critical elements of professional, legal, and ethical norms in schools. This context also includes principles of Catholic morality and ethics. Among the elements this course will examine: ensuring all applicable legal rights of members of the school community are respected; contemporary moral and legal issues in schools seen through the light of Catholic teaching; the nature of religious liberty; proactive policies to enhance and protect a school’s Catholic identity; effectively and legally searching for, screening, and interviewing for the best Catholic candidates; termination of faculty or staff, especially in difficult situations; the legal process and interfacing with legal counsel. It also spotlights issues of governance and leadership through the study interactions with governing/advisory boards in private, independent, and diocesan schools; working strategically with advisory or governance boards; and Interfacing with Diocesan schools’ offices for private, independent, and diocesan schools. (3 credits)

EDUC 505 catholic spirituality and well-being for leaders

This class addresses the reality that Catholic schools are ecclesial in nature, and their leadership is a “munus” or type of Office within the Church. Candidates examine: The ways this ministry with its joys, stresses, and sorrows can be situated and integrated into a full Catholic life including the spiritual life; perspectives that consider physical and mental well-being to maximize effectiveness; and several classics of Catholic spirituality and discernment particularly suited to leaders. (3 credits)

EDUC 506 catholic culture, community, and catechetics

This course considers the central nature that community and culture play in fulfilling a Catholic school’s mission and Catholic identity.  Among the critical elements it analyzes: building relationships with parents, students, teachers, and the local community; understanding the local community and resources; maintaining a strong Catholic school culture; establishing a healthy learning environment; ensuring the dignity of all; enhancing the Catholic spirituality of the school community; assessing the school culture and its spiritual health; promoting liturgy in the school context; leading prayer and retreats; supporting campus ministry and Catholic-based social outreach; the Catholic formation of teachers; providing catechetics and apologetics related to students and families; involving parents and the community in the school; evangelizing parents. (3 credits)

EDUC 507 leadership and management of organizations

This course delves into a variety of leadership theories. It also explores: visionary and servant leadership; motivation, power, and influence; building trust and high expectations; the role of recognition in motivation; leadership style and impact across and organization; personal leadership profiles and professional development and trajectories; theories of organizational management; decision making; delegation; forming and building teams; implementation strategies; leading change; working with and networking with other leaders and schools, and the role of the Catholic leader in promoting effective governance, academic excellence, operational vitality and inspiring others toward fulfillment of a school’s Catholic mission and Catholic identity. (3 credits)

EDUC 508 staff, academic, and program evaluation

This course focuses on all aspects of supporting and evaluating the instructional process to ensure a culture of high expectations, academic excellence, and operational vitality. In particular it analyzes: continuous school improvement and the role of assessment in the instructional process; collecting, analyzing, and communicating data using technology; aligning assessment with learning objectives and standards; evaluating and interpreting standardized tests and making appropriate modifications to meet the needs of all students; scheduling; the supervision, observation and evaluation of teachers and other personnel; establishing and monitoring professional learning goals to increase collective and individual professional effectiveness; employee motivation; recruiting and maintaining top educators; initial accreditation and reaffirmation; creating and monitoring strategic plans; implementing systems to ensure mission vision and success across programs. (3 credits)

EDUC 509 business, finance, development and building operations

This course addresses all elements of operational vitality including: valuating and continuous planning for all aspects of school operations; human resources; risk management; managing building projects; day to day operations; planning and technology use and infrastructure; crisis response (incl. Red Cross training); crowd management and public safety; media relations in a crisis; supervision of students; non-teaching staff supervision; managing for turnover and succession; principles of finance; understanding and developing budgets; interfacing with state scholarship programs and state and federal grants and Title funding; tax credit programs; institutional advancement infrastructure, fundraising; annual funds; establishing a Catholic school’s value proposition and competitive advantage,  grant-writing; marketing and enrollment (including analysis and retention strategies). (3 credits)

EDUC 510 internship/capstone

The internship requires the practical application of leadership skills. Among the observed activities requiring reflection: conduct meetings at various levels; resolve conflicts; conduct disciplinary reviews and investigation of student conduct; observe and evaluate teachers; offer professional development; provide leadership in prayer and spiritual reflection to faculty; review and update all accreditation documents and review or create school plans in the areas of marketing, development, communication, facilities, technology, and enrollment; understand and identify main building systems and problems; conduct fire, safety and health inspections; coordinate a major fundraiser and deliver a fundraising speech; supervise students during lunches, dismissals, student dances, and athletic events; attend diocesan administrative meetings. Interns have a live online meeting each week as a group (or if needed individually) with the course instructor to discuss issues and ideas based on real-world experiences in leadership and respond to questions on a class discussion board. The capstone component summarizes, evaluates, and integrates the knowledge and experiences gained in the program. It promotes meaningful connections between academic work and current and future experiences in school leadership. It will include the presentation of a portfolio of graduate level work. (Synchronous) (3 credits)

EDUC 511 the history and philosophy classical liberal arts education

This course traces the history of education with a particular focus on the history of classical liberal arts education and how those comport with modern educational philosophies. Topics will include: education in the ancient world, medieval monastic school, the rise of universities, humanism and the enlightenment, the beginnings and history of American education, the progressive and modern area, and current educational challenges and the responses of great books pedagogy and resurgent Classical liberal arts education in the modern world.  The course culminates in an exploration of the trivium and quadrivium in the modern context and the exploration of the transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness as they pertain to the ends of education. (3 credits)

EDUC 512 classical liberal arts education methods and practice in the modern context

This course investigates pedagogies and curriculum appropriate to the classical liberal arts school and how they impact and create a strong school culture. Investigations include: the selection and adaptation of pedagogies and curricula at various grade levels to accomplish the goals of classical liberal arts education; the nature and workings of Socratic seminars; creating a culture of beauty in the building and curriculum; articulating to others the value of a classical liberal arts education; transforming a school into a classical liberal arts school; starting a new school; inspiring and evaluating classical liberal arts schools and classical liberal arts teachers; forming, evaluating, and inspiring the classical liberal arts student. (3 credits)




New typical plan of study

Recommended Rotation (18 months)

Online In Fall and Spring

Summer I (2 weeks at AMU)

  • EDUC 501 Catholic Education, History, Philosophy, and Mission (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 502 Formation, Counseling, and Communication (3 cr.)

Fall 1

  • EDUC 503 Curriculum Leadership, Development & Catholic Integration (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 508 Staff, Academic, and Program Evaluation (3 cr.)

Spring I

  • EDUC 504 Law, Governance, and Ethics (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 507 Catholic Leadership and Organizational Management (3 cr.)

Summer II (2 weeks at AMU)

  • EDUC 505 Catholic Spirituality and Well-Being for Leaders (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 506 Catholic Culture, Community, and Catechetics (3 cr.)

Fall II

  • EDUC 509 Business, Finance, Development and Building Operations (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 510 Apprenticeship II /Capstone (3 cr.)

Spring II (optional)  

  • EDUC 511 The History and Philosophy Classical Liberal Arts Education (3 cr.)
  • EDUC 512 Classical Liberal Arts Education Methods and Practice in the Modern Context (3 cr.)


1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution 

2. An indication of the capability to perform graduate course work based on either  

  • an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher; OR
  • a GRE score of 144 or higher; OR
  • a post-graduate degree in another discipline.

3. Completed online application. 

4. Current résumé, including teaching experience if applicable. 

5. Two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from the candidate’s current or former school administrator (if the candidate has teaching experience) 

6. Statement of Intent (500 words): brief intellectual and professional biography, which includes a statement about his/her motivation for pursuing the M.Ed. in Catholic Educational Leadership 

7. The candidate must also complete an interview with the program director or admissions counselor before acceptance into the program. 



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