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Online Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs Resource

A person who earns a degree in curriculum and instruction is qualified to craft curricula that encompass various subjects and suit a wide range of learning styles. The ideal candidates for curriculum and instruction degrees possess a love of learning, a desire to help shape the curriculum, and the knowledge to make decisions about curriculum. Many schools offer curriculum and instruction programs that prepare graduates for a variety of teaching and specialist positions. Online degree programs in curriculum and instruction are also available to those looking to advance their education. Learn more about becoming a curriculum and instruction specialist on our career guide.

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Degrees and Certifications

Graduates with a degree in curriculum and instruction can improve their careers in many ways. Most districts have a different pay category for specialists, which increases a teacher’s base pay. Curriculum and instruction specialists can become mentor teachers for their district, providing guidance and counseling for new teachers. Teachers with this specialization may also be eligible to find jobs as grade level or department chairs, who give important advice to other teachers and influence the curriculum. Many educators in larger districts seek to become curriculum writers for their district, in which they will write curricula for different subjects aligned across grade levels. It is also common for teachers to earn this certification to increase their own teaching abilities and job skills. Many jobs are also available to those who complete online degree programs in curriculum and instruction.

A bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction prepares the graduate for jobs as a classroom teacher, educational administrative assistant, or educational testing specialist. The bachelor’s degree also prepares you to further your study by earning a master’s degree in the education field, if you so wish.

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is for experienced teachers wanting to expand their field of expertise. It is recommended that master’s candidates hold certification as a teacher and have several years of teaching experience.

Top-Ranked Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

The following schools were ranked by US News as having the best curriculum and instruction graduate programs in 2017.

1. University of Wisconsin—Madison
2. Michigan State University
3. Teachers College, Columbia University (tie)
3. Vanderbilt University (Peabody) (tie)
5. Stanford University
6. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
7. Ohio State University
8. University of Texas—Austin
9. University of Georgia (tie)
9. Indiana University—Bloomington (tie)
9. University of Washington (tie)

See our Best Colleges for Education Majors page for more information on top-ranked schools for teachers.

Profiles of Traditional Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

Teachers College, Columbia University

The Teachers College at Columbia University offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching that prepares graduates to become leaders in curriculum and pedagogy development and design. The course sequence takes a broad interpretation of leadership across the components of curriculum and teaching to prepare students for the next stages of their careers. Students also complete an integrative project during their studies that emphasizes student understanding in the knowledge and practice of leadership. The Teachers College is home to the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching, a research-driven organization devoted to developing an understanding of elementary, middle, and high school restructuring. The Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College was the first in the US established for the scholarly study of problems in curriculum and teaching in all subjects and schooling levels and today maintains its focus on the theory and practice of teaching and curriculum with its top-ranked graduate and undergraduate programs.

University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

The top-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign offers several competitive masters and doctoral degree programs in Curriculum, Aesthetics, and Teacher Education. These flexible and personalized programs allow students to choose a primary focus in curriculum, aesthetics, or teacher education paired with a specialty sub-field in early childhood, middle grades, secondary, or social studies education. Although students are given specialization opportunities, the school emphasizes shared inquiry and diversity in education with an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction. At all levels, students are given a firm foundation in educational psychology, philosophy, and policy. Students pursuing a graduate degree under a non-licensure track will complete and defend a master’s or doctoral thesis that makes an original contribution to curriculum and instruction scholarship. Professional clinical experiences can be arranged through the Department of School and Community Experiences. Competitive fellowships, graduate assistantships, and tuition waivers are available for qualified students.

Texas A&M University

The Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture at Texas A&M University offers two tracks towards earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, a master of science (MS) and a master of education (MEd). In either program, students may choose one of four concentration areas in Multicultural Education, Curriculum Theory, Social Studies Education, or Foundations of Education. Both programs include three core courses: Cultural Foundations of Education, Curriculum Development, and Analysis of Teaching Behavior. Students complete the remaining degree requirements through the careful selection of electives. The MS requires 32 credit hours to earn, while the MEd requires 36 credit hours. Admission is selective and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 is recommended. Texas A&M University also offers an online Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction that can be completed in as few as four years.

Profiles of Hybrid and Online Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia’s Department of Career and Information Studies offers a Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology that can be pursued on a research track in preparation for doctoral study or professional tracks for specialization in School Library Media, Instructional Technology, or Instructional Design and Development. All concentrations in the professional track are offered online in part-time formats, with courses designed to meet the needs of working professionals. Real-world projects are emphasized throughout the curriculum for hands-on learning, and all students complete a research thesis or its equivalent to integrate learning in research methodology and scholarly writing. The curriculum additionally includes field experience and clinical practice opportunities. Many graduates qualify for teacher certification or a certification upgrade and go on to work in a variety of educational settings. The College of Education at the University of Georgia is consistently ranked among the top research institutions in the US.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia Curry School of Education features an online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction that emphasizes research-based practice. This entirely online degree program takes students through a course of study that includes the history, theory, and philosophy of curriculum development and instruction while preparing students to work within modern frameworks for best practices in education. Four concentrations are offered: Gifted Education; English Language Learners; Reading Education; and Instructional Technology. The program requires at least 30 credit hours to complete and includes such courses as Principles of Curriculum Design, Classroom Assessment, and Education Across Cultures. The degree can be completed in as little as one year with full-time study; part-time study is also permitted. Currently licensed Virginia educators are eligible for a discounted tuition rate.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University offers a Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction that can be completed entirely online. The 36 credit hour program of study can be completed in as few as 20 months and includes core courses in Supervision and Evaluation of Teaching; School and Community Relations; and Introduction to Statistics and Research. A curriculum internship is also required to be completed in the final semester of study. The program leads to curriculum and instruction endorsements in Arkansas. By taking optional courses, students may also qualify for curriculum director or special education director positions. It is strongly recommended that prospective students seeking licensure in other states confirm licensure requirements for their desired certification areas.

Curriculum and Instruction Degree Requirements and Coursework

Demand for graduates of curriculum and instruction degree programs is increasing in light of curriculum restructuring nationwide. Those interested in greater participation in developing curricula and implementing new instructional methods are a good match for a curriculum and instruction degree. Since these degree programs are available both with and without teacher certification tracks, a curriculum and instruction degree program can further careers in teaching and in administration.

Some examples of common classes that can be found in a curriculum and instruction degree program include:

  • Introduction to Curriculum Theory
  • Instructional Theory
  • Educational Psychology
  • Leadership & Management of Change
  • Educational Assessment for Instructional Improvement
  • Curriculum Design
  • Curriculum Evaluation
  • Advanced Theories of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Research

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How long does it take to complete a degree in curriculum and instruction?

Answer: The time to completion varies based on whether a student is full- or part-time, but most undergraduate degrees can be completed in four to six years. Many master’s degree programs can be completed in as little as two years.

Question: Do I need to be a certified teacher to earn a degree in curriculum and instruction?

Answer: At the undergraduate level, curriculum and instruction programs typically do not require certification but may offer courses towards certification as part of the program. Most graduate level programs in curriculum and instruction recommend that applicants have two years of teaching experience.

Question: Can I earn a degree in curriculum and instruction online?

Answer: Yes, many schools offer curriculum and instruction degree programs online in full and part-time formats.

Question: How do I know if a program is accredited?

Answer: The board of education for each state typically provides a listing of approved programs for certification or administrative specialist training. You can also check for program accreditation through the new Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).