Education, M.A., Leadership in Learning

Education, M.A., Leadership in Learning


You don’t work in education because it’s easy – you do it because it matters. You want to be an educator who makes a difference in people’s lives. That’s what we want, too.

At PLNU, we are here for the same reasons you are: We truly believe in the power of education, and we care deeply about individuals — including you — who are living out their call to teach.

When you join PLNU’s Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in leadership in learning, you will challenge yourself to become a more effective teacher or workplace trainer. You will be prepared to advance your career and live out your calling to the fullest.

Everyone you encounter here will share that goal with you, from your admissions counselor to your professors. Rest assured, PLNU’s School of Education will take a personal interest in you and care about your concerns, experience, beliefs, and goals.

Relevant Topics to Meet Real Needs

District partnerships ensure PLNU’s curriculum addresses current needs and topics facing educators. In addition to offering accredited programs grounded in research, PLNU equips you to integrate your beliefs, values, and goals with your teaching practice.

Customizable, Deep, and Achievable

Whether you are a classroom teacher, or in a workplace or nonprofit teaching or training setting, this program can be tailored to meet your needs. Six certificate options allow you to specialize in an area of interest while developing transferable, employer-desired abilities and skills. Choose from multiple locations, full- or part-time schedules, and face-to-face, online, and hybrid course options.

Lifelong Network of Support

PLNU’s education alumni network, Education Associates, keeps you connected long after graduation. Faculty members have a reputation for staying in touch and continuing to mentor students. Career counseling and additional professional development opportunities are always available to you.

Jill Hamilton Bunch


Jill Hamilton-Bunch, Ph.D.

Dr. Jill Hamilton-Bunch graduated from PLNU in 1990 with the desire to be a teacher, and that’s exactly what she’s done for the past 22 years — plus much more.

Read More

The Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in leadership in learning is designed to equip you to significantly improve student learning in diverse settings. You will learn to apply best practices and benefit from the latest research on effective teaching.

This program substantially builds on the foundation of initial teacher preparation and the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). Outside the traditional education system, PLNU's program is also an ideal place to advance your teaching and learning practice with families, churches, businesses, or community entities.

PLNU's M.A. in Education with a concentration in leadership in learning is highly customizable to meet your specific interests and goals. You will choose one focus area as part of the program. Additional certificates and authorizations may be earned as stand-alone programs. Options for fulfilling the program elective requirements offer an in-depth emphasis/authorization to be chosen from a variety of areas, including:

When you and your classmates complete PLNU's M.A. in Education with a concentration in leadership in learning, you will be prepared to:


  • Engage in lifelong learning in an information-based, interactive society and explore the major classical and modern philosophies as they relate to contemporary educational theories and practices.
  • Develop and internalize the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions to conduct research that transforms teaching and significantly impacts learning in educational settings.
  • Communicate a cohesive personal educational philosophy, an educational mission, core values, and vision of teaching and learning as a servant leader.


  • Demonstrate evidence of an applied understanding of the five propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, including a commitment to students and learning and distinguishing cultural and familial differences from one another to inform their practice.
  • Reflect on learning throughout the program and develop a professional development and research plan to continually extend and refine a philosophical, technological, and research application and orientation to teaching and learning.


  • Work within a professional educational learning community reflecting and contributing to instructional improvement within diverse educational communities.
  • Extend and refine the understanding of current challenges and trends in education, developing a response plan aligned with personal philosophy in addressing these situations.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for Professional Licensure or Certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in teacher credentialing is available on this website

San Diego educator teaches students in a classroom

A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

Our School of Education is one of the top producers of education candidates not only within San Diego, but the state of California. Read more about the work being done at PLNU.

Application Information

Are you ready to take the next step and apply?

We're here to make the entire process a simple one. We'll walk you through the application process, answer your questions, and get you one step closer to earning your degree.

Program Start Date(s):

  • Summer 2021 Quad II – July 12, 2021

  • Fall 2021 Quad I – August 30, 2021

  • Fall 2021 Quad II – October 25, 2021

  • Spring 2022 Quad I - January 10, 2022
  • Spring 2022 Quad II - March 14, 2022
  • Summer 2022 Quad I - May 16th, 2022
  • Summer 2022 Quad II - July 11th, 2022
  • Fall 2022 Quad I - August 29, 2022
  • Fall 2022 Quad II - October 24, 2022

Application Deadline(s):

  • Summer 2021 Quad II – June 7, 2021
    All returning & exceptions students - May 24, 2021

  • Fall 2021 Quad I – August 2, 2021
    All returning & exceptions students - July 19, 2021

  • Fall 2021 Quad II – September 27, 2021
    All returning & exceptions students - September 13, 2021

Note: Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad. Check with your enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's Master of Arts in Education program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:
  3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double spaced, that addresses the following topics:
    • Describe your professional career goals for the next five years.
    • Describe the variety of experiences that helped you determine these goals.
    • Explain what motivates you to work in California’s diverse schools.
    • Explain why you are applying to PLNU, a private Christian university.
  4. Provide two professional recommendations. You will be asked to register your recommenders by providing their names, titles, and email addresses.
  5. For credential seekers only: Submit basic skills exam (CBEST or equivalent) scores. This can be demonstrated by taking the CBEST exam
    • OR Multiple Subject CSET plus writing skills examination
    • OR CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examination
    • OR providing proof of a valid California teaching credential

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Career Opportunities

The Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in leadership in learning is designed to help you advance your teaching career.

The program is ideal for:

  • Elementary School Teachers
  • Middle or High School Teachers
  • Corporate or Workplace Trainers
  • Nonprofit, Church, or Organizational Instructors, Teachers, or Trainers

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's Master of Arts in Education program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process. You will also need to take a basic skills test, such as the CBEST, if you are interested in earning a credential as part of your M.A. All applicants will also need to submit a writing sample and complete an interview.

See the application checklist to learn more about what's required to apply and be admitted into the program.

Can I work while completing the program?


What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Completion depends almost entirely upon the energy, confidence, motivation, and availability of the student. While the entire degree program can be achieved within a single year, it is more common for students to schedule classes over an 18-month period of time. A student’s financial aid package can, at times, dictate the academic load that must be maintained.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Face-to-face classes meet once a week from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Fifty percent of this program can be completed online. Online classes require a minimum of three logins per week.

When are courses offered?

Courses for the degree program are offered in eight-week quads throughout the calendar year. While many of the courses are offered in a traditional classroom, face-to-face environment, others are offered online. Some classes are offered in both formats and provide students with a choice of instructional delivery.

How large will the classes be?

Face to face classes have a 30-student maximum and online classes a 25-student maximum for online classes.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

How do district partnerships work?

PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the San Diego and Bakersfield areas. PLNU will place you at a district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (student teaching hours).

For whom is this degree appropriate?

This degree is appropriate for both K-12 teachers and workplace professionals who teach or lead the teaching efforts of the organization. The variety of concentrations within the degree offer corporate and nonprofit professionals, as well as public and private school teachers, expertise in areas such as online learning, instructional design and delivery and workplace diversity to become a leader in your profession.

What if I would like to earn a certificate or added authorization without completing a master’s degree?

This option is available.

I am not yet working in education. Is this the right program for me?

The M.A. in Education is geared toward seasoned education professionals or business professionals who instruct others as part of their work. For aspiring teachers like you, PLNU offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The MAT is most likely to meet your needs if you have just completed your undergraduate degree or are transitioning to education from another field, but please contact your enrollment counselor if you would like more personalized information.

How many units does this program require?

This degree program consists of 36 semester units. Eighteen of those units are core classes and include a master’s research design project. The remaining 18 units can be applied to a variety of elective courses within the School of Education and must be applied in such a way as to earn at least one specialized concentration or emphasis of study.

What certificates may I earn within this program?

Within the Master of Arts in Leadership in Learning, students can work toward the following certificates:
• Clear Teaching Credential (for students with preliminary teaching credentials)
• Reading and Literacy (an added authorization to your California Credential certified by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing)
• Diverse and Cross-Cultural Environments for Leaders
• Instructional Design with Technology
• Instructional Leadership
• Leading Instructional Design for Professionals
While each of these concentrations differ in terms of requirements, they generally require 6 to 13 units of study if achieved within the MALL degree program.

How can I clear my preliminary teaching credential?

Candidates holding a California preliminary teaching credential can earn a clear teaching credential by completing 12 specific units of study, including a two-year induction program as prescribed by the CTC. Candidates can earn their clear credential separately OR as a part of the MALL degree program.

Can I earn a certificate without attempting the entire degree?

Yes. Many students desiring only a certificate complete just the courses needed for that particular program without earning the entire Master of Arts degree.

How can I earn the Reading and Literacy Added Authorization?

Just like clearing a teaching credential, students can achieve this concentration separately or within the MALL degree program. Candidates wanting to earn this state certificate outside the MALL must take 12 specific units of study related to this powerful concentrated study. The coursework for this concentration includes the completion of a master’s research design project.

Is a master’s thesis required to earn the degree?

Yes. Within the MALL (and like every other master’s program within PLNU’s School of Education), students are required to complete a four-unit course called culminating research and design. This course is designed to prepare students for the research and the writing of a master research paper focused on a single research question. After successful completion of this course, students will receive a university Mentor to guide them in completing their research project.

How many units can I transfer in from other universities?

Students can transfer up to six graduate units from other schools (or from BTSA participation) towards the MALL — providing that coursework is less than seven years old and was not counted towards another credential or degree program.

Course List


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