Online Doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction

Why Pursue a Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction?

Specialists in curriculum and instruction work to design lesson plans, instruct students, and measure learning outcomes. They work at the K-12 level and in higher education, contributing their skills to improve learning. Professionals work as classroom educators and in high-level curriculum design for schools or districts. A curriculum and instruction degree also qualifies graduates for administrative positions overseeing the implementation of curriculum plans.

Teachers with a doctorate earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor's or master's degree, and the degree also qualifies educators for administrative positions as directors, principals, and superintendents.

At the top levels, many positions require a doctor of education in curriculum and instruction degree. Teachers with a doctorate earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor's or master's degree, and the degree also qualifies educators for administrative positions as directors, principals, and superintendents. Additionally, curriculum and instruction graduates can work as instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists. Finally, with a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, graduates can work as college professors and researchers as well as train future teachers.

Many educators benefit from the flexibility of an Ed.D. or Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online program. The degree requires several years of coursework and a dissertation, and doctoral students may continue working while completing the degree. The advanced coursework prepares educators for many career paths that require leadership and planning skills, and a Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online degree may appeal to professional educators seeking career advancement and higher salaries.

Types of Curriculum and Instruction Degrees

Curriculum and instruction doctoral students choose between a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) or a doctorate in education (Ed.D.). Both degrees take between three and five years and require approximately 60 credits in coursework in addition to a thesis or dissertation. However, the Ph.D. primarily trains scholars and researchers pursuing careers in higher education, while the Ed.D. is a practitioner degree aimed at principals, curriculum specialists, and superintendents.

In addition to a Ph.D. and Ed.D., students can also earn an education specialist degree (Ed.S.). Typically, an Ed.S. does not require a dissertation or thesis, and graduate students focus on areas such as special education. Ed.S. graduates take positions as principals and other administrative roles. Because Ed.S. students do not write a dissertation, the program is shorter than a Ph.D. or Ed.D., and it requires less research. Educators may also benefit from an online Ed.D. curriculum and instruction program or other online doctorates in education.

While there are several similarities between an Ed.D., a Ph.D., and an Ed.S., the degrees lead to different career paths. Because of that, prospective students need to carefully consider what degree best fits their career goals.

Choosing an Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Program

At the doctoral level, graduate students specialize in an area of curriculum and instruction and perform research while gaining valuable advanced-level skills. It's important to find the program that best fits the student's interests and career goals. When researching Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online programs, prospective students need to consider several key factors, such as the length of time to degree, the cost, the specializations, and graduation requirements.

When researching Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online programs, prospective students need to consider several key factors, such as the length of time to degree, the cost, the specializations, and graduation requirements.

Cost varies widely in doctoral programs. Students may benefit from in-state tuition discounts at public institutions. Many universities also provide tuition discounts for online students, which lowers the cost of a doctorate. Programs may also provide tuition incentives, grants, and scholarships. Additionally, students can pursue public and private financial aid. While most online Ed.D. curriculum and instruction programs require three to four years, some may offer accelerated or part-time options. Practicums and student teaching requirements may also add time to a degree.

A program's curriculum also helps students choose the best fit. Some programs offer specializations that prepare graduates for careers in higher education, administration, or program management. By finding a program that offers coursework in the appropriate concentration, students are better prepared for the job market. Prospective students also need to consider the program's accreditation status. Graduates from accredited programs qualify for teaching licenses and certifications, and only students at accredited institutions can receive federal financial aid.

Finally, many students benefit from a fully online program with no on-campus requirements. Others may prefer a hybrid program, where students take a mix of online and in-person courses. Some programs offer both online and hybrid options.

Entry Requirements

Each Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online program sets its own admission requirements. When researching potential programs, candidates need to look closely at the entry requirements to ensure they meet the program's standards. Students who do not have the required education, for example, cannot enroll in a doctorate program.

In general, most programs expect incoming students to have a master's degree in a closely related field, such as a master's in curriculum and instruction. Candidates submit transcripts showing their coursework and grades. Many programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous degrees, but some programs admit students with lower GPAs on a provisional basis.

In addition to educational requirements, many Ph.D. curriculum and instruction programs require standardized test scores, such as the GRE or MAT. Programs may also accept teacher examinations such as the Praxis or national boards. Additionally, the admission process may require teaching experience, letters of recommendation from academic and professional references, and a statement of purpose outlining the candidate's goals in earning a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction online. Some online Ed.D. curriculum and instruction programs set a minimum number of years of teaching experience, and they may require that applicants hold a valid teaching license.

Directory of Accredited Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

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Curriculum and Instruction Licensure and Certifications

Each state sets its own teacher licensure requirements and guidelines. In order to hold certain positions, especially K-12 teaching jobs, curriculum and instruction specialists may need a teaching license. In most states, teachers must hold a bachelor's degree in teaching from an accredited educator preparation program. After completing the bachelor's program, which includes student teaching experience, teachers apply for a license through the appropriate state board or agency. The licensure process requires passing scores on teacher skills and content area examinations. Most teachers must also pass a background check.

In order to hold certain positions, especially K-12 teaching jobs, curriculum and instruction specialists may need a teaching license

Teaching licenses do not automatically transfer across state lines, but many states provide limited reciprocity for states with similar requirements. For example, a licensed teacher may easily acquire a new license after relocating because they already fulfilled their new state's requirements. However, some teachers may need to meet additional training requirements or demonstrate teaching effectiveness.

Doctors of education in curriculum and instruction may meet the educational requirements for a teaching license, depending on the program. Prospective students considering a teaching career after completing a Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online degree need to check with their program. Graduates considering careers in higher education or administration may not need a teaching license. However, some superintendent and principal positions require a state administrative license. Students need to check the requirements of their state.

In addition to teaching licenses, many curriculum and instruction professionals benefit from certifications. Completing a certification, which may require an examination, demonstrates the professional's advanced skills in their field.

What Can You Do with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction?

Doctors of education in curriculum and instruction work in many rewarding and lucrative fields. At the doctoral level, students specialize their skills, emphasizing curriculum leadership and academic skills. Graduates pursuing careers in higher education qualify for academic dean positions and higher administration such as vice provost positions. Specialists in curriculum and instruction also work as consultants, helping schools and students make the most of their academic opportunities. Some positions may require a teaching license; doctoral students can research the teaching requirements by state.

What is a C&I Specialist?

A doctor of education in curriculum and instruction pursues career paths in K-12 education and higher education. They may focus on student services as a technology coordinator or educational consultant, or they may work in administration as an academic dean or a vice provost. A Ph.D. curriculum and instruction degree also qualifies high school teachers for higher salaries.

Academic Dean

Academic deans manage and develop faculty and staff at a college or university. They create and meet academic goals, coordinating with faculty and administrators. Academic deans also hire new faculty, oversee the academic department's budget, and establish academic standards. They play a role in the tenure process and in recruitment and retention.

Median Salary: $91,213

Educational Technology Coordinator

Educational technology coordinators help teachers integrate technology into the classroom. They use technology to improve student learning outcomes, training teachers and students in the technology. They also coordinate with vendors to find the best educational technologies for their school or district.

Median Salary: $50,630

Vice Provost

Vice provosts work at the highest level of academic administration, playing a central role in creating budgets and educational strategies for their institution. Vice provosts work under a provost, overseeing staff members. They design and implement academic services, work with committees and departments to set academic goals, and monitor the institution's educational outcomes.

Median Salary: $145,959

Educational Consultant

Educational consultants advise schools on matters related to curriculum and educational planning. They also work with parents and students to determine the best high school and college options. Some educational consultants provide student advising, including class enrollment. In addition to working in academic settings, educational consultants work for private organizations.

Median Salary: $63,258

High School Teacher

High school teachers instruct students in a specialized area of study, such as mathematics, chemistry, language arts, or social sciences. They design curricula and create assessment tools, and they present lesson material to students. High school teachers with a doctorate earn higher than average salaries.

Median Salary: $48,391

Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction

Before becoming a doctor of education in curriculum and instruction, prospective students must pay for their degree. Some students pay for tuition out-of-pocket each semester, but many use a combination of loans, scholarships, and fellowships to cover the cost of a Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online degree. In most cases, students must pay tuition upfront, before classes start, and the college or university financial aid office handles disbursements from loans, scholarships, or fellowships. By researching financial aid, students can focus on their doctorate without worrying about paying for it.

Financial Aid

Many students rely on financial aid to pay for a Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online degree. Financial aid comes in many forms, including federal loans, private loans, and funding offered through the college or university. For most students, the first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which qualifies students for loans, grants, and work-study programs.

Federal loans may be unsubsidized or subsidized. In general, students should opt for subsidized loans because the federal government covers the loan's interest payment until six months after the loan-holder graduates. With an unsubsidized loan, the doctoral student must pay interest from the date of the first dispersal, most commonly through the institution's financial aid office. In addition to federal loans, students may take out private loans.

Under the terms of most federal loans, recipients begin paying back the loan six months after graduation. This "grace period" lets graduates establish themselves in a new career before paying back the loan. The federal government also offers deferments and some loan repayment programs for teachers.

Work-Study Programs

Filling out the FAFSA qualifies doctoral students for federal work-study programs. These programs provide a job for students, typically through the college or university, to fund their education. States may also offer work-study opportunities. These programs carry income restrictions, so students must meet the eligibility guidelines in order to participate. With a work-study job, the institution determines the student's maximum number of work hours each week and disburses wages directly to the student. In many cases, work-study programs aim to find jobs related to the recipient's area of study.

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs to help employees earn degrees. In these programs, employees enroll in coursework, complete the class, and then receive a reimbursement for all or part of the tuition cost from their employer. Ph.D. curriculum and instruction students may qualify for such tuition reimbursement. For example, many colleges and universities offer free or discounted tuition for employees. In some programs, students must maintain a minimum GPA to receive tuition reimbursement. In addition to employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs, doctoral students planning careers in teaching benefit from teacher loan forgiveness programs.

Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships

Many students benefit from grants, fellowships, and scholarships, which are considered gifts because students do not have to repay them after graduation. Students typically must apply for grants and scholarships, which carry eligibility requirements. Fellowships often expect recipients to provide some form of service, either presenting research, running a program, or in some cases, teaching. Each fellowship carries its own requirements. Doctoral students earning a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction qualify for multiple scholarships, grants, and fellowships, some of which are listed below.

Scholarships for Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Degrees

Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program $27,500

Who Can Apply: Candidates working on dissertations that relate to improving the educational system. In order to qualify, applicants must have an approved dissertation proposal and passed all qualifying exams. View Scholarship

Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research $20,000

Who Can Apply: Minority doctoral students can apply with a CV, a dissertation prospectus, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. View Scholarship

Esther Katz Rosen Fund Grants Up to $50,000

Who Can Apply: Doctoral students researching the advancement of education for gifted children apply with a CV, two letters of recommendation, and a proposal. View Scholarship

Hollis L. Caswell Laureate Scholarship $3,500

Who Can Apply: Doctoral students in curriculum and instruction apply with a 750-word essay on their research, a CV, and a prospectus. View Scholarship

Barbara Day Laureate Scholarship $750

Who Can Apply: Doctoral students in curriculum and instruction apply by submitting a 750-word essay, a CV, and a prospectus. View Scholarship

Louise Berman Fellows Award $1,200 to $1,800

Who Can Apply: Candidates must be working to advance curriculum and should submit a CV and prospectus. View Scholarship

Resources for Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Students

  • National Education Association (NEA) The largest professional organization in the country for educators, NEA has over three million members. The organization provides professional development support, job resources, and networking opportunities.
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Founded in 1943, ASCD advocates for strong curricula and supports education professionals. Members receive publications and newsletters, webinars and professional development resources, and access to the annual conference.
  • American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Professionals in curriculum and instruction who are interested in administration can join AASA. Members receive certification, continuing education programs, and professional development support.
  • U.S. Department of Education State Contacts The U.S. Department of Education offers a list of local resources on its state contacts page, including state departments of education, local higher education agencies, and other resources for educators.
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) As an independent, nonprofit accrediting agency, CAEP assesses educator programs to improve academic standards. Before enrolling in a Ph.D. curriculum and instruction online program, students can check its accreditation status with CAEP.
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