Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction?
Education continues to advance as curricula and teaching strategies evolve to improve the quality of learning. However, in order for this evolution to happen, people must create and implement new ideas. A master's degree in curriculum and instruction prepares learners to do this through advanced knowledge of technology, student learning, and curriculum design. Additionally, teachers can build classroom skills to better communicate new ideas to students. Within education, this degree can lead to career advancement by improving teaching abilities, or it can allow for an occupational change by qualifying graduates for positions like curriculum developers. Graduates with a degree in curriculum and instruction are prepared for careers in many fields.
Instructional coordinator positions are expected to increase by 11% by 2026.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that careers related to this master's program hold positive outlooks. Instructional coordinator positions are projected to increase by 11% by 2026. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a projected increase of seven percent by that same year.
Students may earn an online master's degree in curriculum and instruction through schools like Southern New Hampshire University or Penn State World Campus.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction?
A master’s in curriculum and instruction includes creating instructional material and successfully delivering that information to a particular audience. For this reason, graduates in the field may work in educational positions that deal with curriculum, although the application of this degree can extend to other fields as technology continues to change. As changes occur, companies may need qualified individuals to train others on new concepts, and curriculum and instruction specialists hold the right education for such tasks.
Instructional designers create resources, like training classes, that assist consumers in using technological products. This task requires surmising what consumers need assistance with and deciding what strategy best offers that assistance. Technical writing may also be an essential detail for the occupation. Employees should have a strong understanding of technology and useful knowledge for building curriculum.
Median Salary: $61,055
Curriculum directors use current research and analysis of student performance to guide schools in curriculum matters. This process may entail shaping courses, overseeing successful implementation of educational plans, and communicating the curriculum with school employees and the community. Workers in this field should also be willing to partake in new research concerning educational needs through questionnaires and attend educational conferences.
Median Salary: $77,949
Curriculum Development Specialist
Curriculum development specialists aid in curriculum creation and application based on research, logistics, and teaching policies. Additional responsibilities include training others who employ the curriculum, discovering various avenues to improve educational experiences, offering applicable resources, and ensuring uniformity and quality for classes and program structures.
Median Salary: $55,351
Educational consultants offer information about educational opportunities following high school. This assistance includes providing financial aid information, helping with college or university applications, and giving learners tests that concern career paths. Educational consultants may also assist children with special needs regarding programs that best suit their circumstances.
Median Salary: $63,392
An education director may oversee a higher-learning institution or department by reviewing employees' work, guiding teachers, and assisting in building curriculum. These directors must also manage appointments with accreditation personnel. Additional tasks include attending meetings, helping with budgets, and teaching. Educational directors may also work in early childhood education.
Median Salary: $63,725
Average Employment and Salaries for Instructional Coordinators
Choosing an Online Curriculum and Instruction Master's Program
With a master's in curriculum and instruction, cost represents a significant concern. One graduate course in curriculum and instruction costs over $1,000 at institutions like Northcentral University, Liberty University, the University of Kansas, and Penn State World Campus. These programs may require over 10 courses, making educational costs a substantial burden if not considered carefully with financial assistance options.
The length of the program is another important factor, particularly for students with schedule restraints. Degree candidates who need more schedule flexibility should not choose a cohort format since cohort students must complete specific classes during designated semesters. For more flexibility, learners should choose programs that allow either part-time or full-time status. With these options, degree seekers who need additional time can choose a more flexible part-time pace, while learners in a rush may enroll full time. Further educational flexibility is possible with a hybrid or online master's in curriculum and instruction since the formats limit necessary on-campus time.
To choose the best online master's in curriculum and instruction, learners should also consider the program's emphasis options. Liberty University offers specializations within the department, such as leadership and special education, as well as add-on endorsements like elementary childhood education and gifted education. Likewise, the University of Albany presents curriculum and instruction certificates in addition to a master's degree. Taking advantage of such details strengthens an education by providing in-depth explorations of field-related concepts.
All master's in teaching online programs should hold proper accreditation. For education, the main accrediting body is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Type of Curriculum and Instruction Degrees
Students may earn a master of education (M.Ed.), master of arts (MA), or master of science (MS) in curriculum and instruction. The M.Ed. offers a broad view of education rather than a targeted focus on one academic subject. Topics covered in this online master's in education include curriculum development and reflective inquiry through courses concerning leadership and assessment. Due to these varied ideas, students may qualify for positions as curriculum developers and technology instructors by earning this master's in education online.
An MA incudes building classroom dynamics and abilities. For example, the University of the Cumberlands allows MA students to choose a grade level for a focus and as many as two academic subjects for emphasis in that area. This format reflects the teaching priority of the MA, which makes this degree a great choice for teachers who want to improve or expand teaching expertise.
An MS may also deal with classroom functions, but with more focus on technical skills and research than the MA. West Governors University offers an MS that only includes research, technology, and a capstone project, beyond the general curriculum and instruction course. The University of Redlands offers an MA program where 12 credits must be emphasis classes. These guidelines are general and students should consult each program to determine which represents the best fit.
All of these master's programs require about two years of study and 30-40 credits. Additionally, the following chart indicates similar pay rates for each type of degree. Each person should base the degree choice on the intended occupational outcome.
Directory of Accredited Master's Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
Entry Requirements for Online Master's Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction
Admission requirements for a master's in curriculum and instruction are not identical from one university to the next. However, certain admission criteria are common among the programs. A typical requirement includes a bachelor's, although schools like Penn State World Campus and Liberty University do not specify a particular field for that degree. Institutions also typically insist on certain GPA standards that often range between 2.5 and 3.0. Teaching experience may be required as well, especially in any program that requires a teaching license for admission.
Common entry requirement assessments for a master's in curriculum and instruction include the graduate record examinations (GRE), the graduate management admission test (GMAT), and the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Candidates may also need to provide a resume, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and a writing sample. Several curriculum and instruction programs also require proof of English proficiency.
Paying for Your Online Curriculum and Instruction Master's Degree
Multiple avenues exist to pay for education, including paying out of pocket. Students may pay out of pocket through a lump sum or by a payment plan. These plans extend over a maximum of one year and call for monthly payments, though the payment date may differ by institution. For other students, the cost of education runs too high for out-of-pocket payments. In these situations, degree seekers can turn to financial assistance through various means.
Students interested in financial aid need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online or by mail. First-time applicants should submit a new FAFSA, but learners who filed an application the previous year may choose a FAFSA renewal and update the appropriate sections. Students may choose 10 schools to receive information regarding financial aid awards. Those institutions then provide learners with financial aid award letters. Students should note that financial aid packages differ among schools by educational costs. Private schools often charge higher tuition than public universities, leading to more financial aid.
The school that the student decides to attend receives the financial aid to deduct tuition and other expenses. If the awarded aid is larger than costs, the student obtains a refund for the excess amount. Since disbursement dates for refunds vary, learners should contact financial aid departments for specific timeframes. Degree candidates should spend all awarded money on educational expenses.
Some graduates qualify for unsubsidized loans that, unlike subsidized loans, require interest during the loan period. Interest that goes unpaid accumulates and increases the total amount owed. Borrowers are given six months after the final term before repayment must begin.
Students interested in work-study may partake in institutional or federal opportunities. Either way, learners earn money by working in approved positions that offer civic service and ideally relate to the degree-seeker's major. This form of financial assistance may come as part of the financial aid package for learners with financial need, although applicants must indicate interest in the work-study program on the FAFSA. The student's allowance for work-study money is connected to the maximum number of hours a candidate may work since learners cannot exceed the awarded funds over the course of the school year. An additional consideration for potential hours includes how much a student earns per hour. Universities pay work-study recipients a minimum of once per month. Students should spend all funds on educational needs.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Some companies offer employees tuition reimbursements to pay for education. To qualify, workers need to submit an application to the employer. For some students, this type of assistance could include the company paying educational costs upfront. Other learners, however, may need to make the original payment with a promise of employer reimbursement. The latter option could be impossible for candidates who do not possess the personal funds to pay upfront. Employers may also require employees to maintain certain grade standards to continue the agreement, and any reimbursement over $5,250 is considered taxable by the International Revenue Service (IRS).
Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships
Generally, students receive grants based on financial need and scholarships based on merit, though exceptions to these guidelines exist. Fellowships provide learners with money for educational purposes, but unlike grants and loans, organizations that provide fellowships often expect recipients to perform a task, like extensive research. Any of these forms of financial assistance can be revoked if students fail to maintain acceptable grade standards. Additionally, Pell Grants do not come with graduate financial aid packages. No money earned for grants, fellowships, or scholarships needs to be repaid, provided the recipient successfully completes the courses or tasks for which the money was offered. Students interested in earning scholarships should ask their school's financial aid office, search through scholarship websites, and check out the following options.
Scholarships for Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degrees
Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education $500-$1,000
STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarships $2,500-$5,000
Catching the Dream Amount varies
Jack Kinnaman Scholarship $2,500
Continuing Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Most states require teachers to earn continuing education hours to maintain teaching licenses. A master's in curriculum and instruction is a logical way to achieve these hours since the program goes hand-in-hand with teaching experience. By choosing this type of program, teachers can build skills in creating curriculum and presenting new information to classrooms. Earning this particular degree can also present career opportunities for positions such as curriculum directors, curriculum development specialists, and curriculum designers. After finishing a master's program, teachers may continue the curriculum and instruction track by pursuing a doctorate that can be obtained online and may also fulfill potential continuing education needs. A doctorate qualifies graduates to teach at a university level.
Curriculum and Instruction Licensure and Certifications
To use this degree in a teaching profession, candidates must hold a teaching license. The requirements for this license vary by state, so learners should consult state standards for set guidelines. However, some prerequisite details are common for licensure, regardless of state. All license seekers should expect to take some form of assessment. Many states require the Praxis exam, in which case candidates may need to pass a test for each subject they intend to teach.
Reciprocity for teaching licensure exists between states but at different levels. Only six states offer full reciprocity for transferring teachers without further education or examination. For other states, qualifications for the previous state's licensure may be compared to the new state's regulations to decide what additional experience or exams are necessary. In fact, 43 states mandate that certain transferring teachers take a supplementary exam, with 31 states insisting on new classwork or training. Transferring teachers should consult the new residential state for information on this process.
Candidates may choose to pursue National Board Certification. This credential may not act as a substitute for state licensure, but the national regulations involved may assist in easier reciprocity.
Certain schools offer master's degrees that end in licensure, but as licensure requirements are not the same among states, candidates should research to ensure that any master's program of this nature provides a valid path to a teaching license.
Resources for Online Curriculum and Instruction Master's Students
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Teachers, principals, and other school professionals make up this organization of over 100,000 members. The organization strives for quality in education by providing events such as the Conference on Teaching Excellence, the Conference on Educational Leadership, and the Global Leadership Summit. Member benefits include discounts on office supplies and travel expenses, as well as access to webinars that are strictly for members.
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation This organization focuses on helping low-income learners and racial minority students earn college degrees. The group offers pages of resources for learners and educators, like Common Core concepts and instructions on educational matters such as linear equations. The foundation also provides a newsletter that keeps followers updated on relevant topics.
- National Education Association (NEA) This group includes three million participants in various areas of education. The association provides information regarding current educational matters, such as funding, and hosts events and projects like Raise Your Hand, Read Across America, and the Conference on Racial and Social Injustice. Educators can also benefit from the classroom tips offered by the organization.
- American Council on Education (ACE) ACE represents approximately 1,800 higher education schools in policy matters and acts as a hub among these institutions regarding educational problems. The group hosts an annual meeting in addition to other events, workshops, and webinars, and also embraces several leadership subgroups within the organization that are directed toward specific positions and concerns, such as presidents and gender inequality.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) NAEYC focuses on the education of children who are eight years old or younger. The association presents an annual conference, a public policy forum, and a full week of events tailored to children called Week of the Young Child. Additionally, the group offers articles to assist with teaching this age group through topics like the usefulness of pattern block puzzles and the importance of bringing fun to learning.