Best Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleDoctoratein Curriculum and Instruction2017
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An online doctorate in curriculum and instruction will prepare you to work in early education, middle/high schools, and at universities. No matter the grade level, you will learn how to design and implement curricula catered to the needs of both students and teachers. The best online doctorate in curriculum and instruction programs combine coursework and field education. A typical program will cover the fundamentals of curricula design, ethics, law, and psychology to produce well-rounded graduates who use education to guide the future leaders of tomorrow. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports a projected 7% increase in demand for instructional coordinators from 2014-2024.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Typically, schools require candidates to have an undergraduate and graduate degree for admission to an online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program. Candidates may also need to hold a valid teaching or administrative license that could have its own separate work requirements. An academic advisor or enrollment counselor can confirm if your online program has a work experience prerequisite.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?

The best way to find an online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program is through research. Explore schools’ websites to learn more about their doctorate programs and course offerings. Call the schools’ admissions offices and ask to speak with an enrollment counselor or academic advisor. They will tell you specific details about the program and help you contact department staff if necessary.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE DOCTORATE IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION?

A doctoral degree in instruction online will typically cater to students who need a flexible schedule while still maintaining academic rigor in its courses. These programs generally require fieldwork, so it’s likely you will be expected to work at some point as you earn your degree. You will typically coordinate this residency with your instructor. Programs generally encourage working students to apply — speak with an enrollment counselor to learn more.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY DOCTORATE IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION ONLINE?

Students often choose online learning for the schedule flexibility it typically offers. By accessing their coursework online, distance learners can incorporate their education into their everyday lives without spending the time or money it takes to physically attend class. Additionally, the best online doctorate in curriculum and instruction programs are less expensive than on-campus formats — ideal for students looking to save money. Program websites list tuition and fee rates to help you with comparison shopping.

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Rank School Name Relative Cost Location Description
1 Andrews University N/A Berrien Springs, MI

Located 30 miles north of South Bend, Indiana, Michigan’s Andrews University offers a range of in-person and online graduate programs, including a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online. Students learn how to improve learning environments in businesses and educational institutions. Prospective students can earn a master’s, specialist, or doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction online. The 91-92 credit doctorate program can be completed in six years after earning a master’s degree. Graduates of the program work in many different areas of education, including teaching, research, and administration.

Prospective students must have nine semester credits of education courses. This includes an undergraduate course (or a graduate equivalent) in educational psychology. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.6 or 2.75 during the last half of their undergraduate careers. They must also submit a GRE score from the past five years, a 500-word essay explaining their future goals, a resume, and two letters of recommendation from previous employers, professors, or academic advisors.

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2 Carson-Newman University N/A Jefferson City, TN

A historically Baptist liberal arts institution based in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Carson-Newman offers an online doctorate of education degree with a curriculum & instruction concentration. Its program is catered to those who want to work in educational leadership.

The program requires prospective students to have a completed master’s or education specialist degree prior to admission. Students complete one three-credit course every eight weeks during the fall and spring semesters. During the summer, some students complete up to four courses. A student’s coursework helps him or her prepare a research proposal and dissertation. Those who take courses on a similar schedule can expect to complete the program in about three years. Students must complete coursework within seven years of being fully admitted into the program.

Potential students interested in the school’s online EdD programs may call the school to check the program’s availability.

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3 Columbus State University N/A Columbus, GA

Located about 100 miles south of Atlanta, Columbus State offers a doctorate in education curriculum and leadership. Out of the three offered tracks, one is offered online: higher education. Students are assigned to cohorts throughout the program and are prepared for curriculum and instruction jobs in leadership capacities. Students taking the higher education specialization take courses on academic affairs, higher education student services, finance, and more. Once students are admitted to the program, they must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Prospective students must have a master’s degree from an accredited university. They are also required to have a GPA of at least 3.5 on all graduate coursework. Students may not have a criminal record or a dishonorable discharge from the military that could interfere with teaching certifications. Four years of teaching experience or a leadership role in the private sector are also required.

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4 Concordia University-Chicago N/A River Forest, IL

Concordia University-Chicago’s doctoral program in leadership has a concentration in curriculum and instruction. The 61-67 credit program is designed for teachers who want to prepare themselves for curriculum and instruction jobs in education administration. The leadership aspect of the program focuses on developing the next generation of leaders, providing them instruction on communication, decision-making, knowledge management, and more.

As a part of the curriculum and instruction specialization, students take a variety of courses to improve the education field. Learning objectives include a strengthened background in the profession and increased understanding of learning. These courses, which cover topics such as curriculum design, research-based decision making, and the design of learning environments, prepare students for their dissertation. Graduates of this program are prepared to design, implement, and manage curriculum and instruction programs in both public and private K-12 schools.

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5 Johns Hopkins University N/A Baltimore, MD

John Hopkinsdoctorate in curriculum and instruction online is designed for the working professional. Students are able to complete the program in just five years, although they must complete their dissertations within seven years. Classes are taught asynchronously and synchronously, depending on the course. The program does have an in-person residency requirement.

The Baltimore-based university’s online program requires 90 graduate credits to complete. Students must have a master’s degree and a minimum of 36 graduate-level credits that will transfer into the program. However, the program allows exceptions to this rule, and students may take the missing graduate credits at the university. Students who wish to apply need to have a minimum undergraduate degree of 3.0, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement.

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6 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale N/A Fort Lauderdale, FL

Keiser’s online doctorate program in educational leadership prepares educators to improve their field through theory and research. The program provides students the ability to understand the evolving sociological environment of their schools and to develop strong leadership skills through communication. Students take courses on a variety of topics, including ethical issues in education, community relations, and classroom management. Sixty credits are required to complete the program. Fifty-four of the 60 post-master’s degree credits must be completed at Keiser.

Prospective students are required to submit a GRE/MAT score, along with a master’s degree from an accredited institution. Students may not have to submit test scores if they have a doctoral degree or a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Two letters of recommendation and a formal resume are also required to apply.

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7 Kennesaw State University N/A Kennesaw, GA

While Kennesaw State offers a specialist curriculum and instruction degree, it also has a EdD in teacher leadership. A performance-based program, its graduates are prepared to mentor other teachers, use data to improve teaching methods, and lead faculty development throughout an academic institution. The program is split up into four areas of study: research, advanced teacher leadership, certification in teacher leadership, and dissertation. A six-month residency is also required of students.

Proof of teaching licensure in the state of Georgia is required to be admitted into the program. A GRE score from the past five years, a personal reflections statement, a resume, and two letters of recommendation are also required. Students must have three years of professional teaching experience to be considered for the program. Potential students may also be asked to interview with the program prior to admission.

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8 Liberty University N/A Lynchburg, VA

A private Baptist university based in Virginia, Liberty is one of the largest online universities in the United States. The institution’s doctorate in curriculum and instruction online program has four specializations: elementary education, middle-grades education, secondary education, and special education. Students develop the skills necessary to become a principal, superintendent, or professor.

The 60-credit program has requirements broken up into the three areas of leadership core, research, and a curriculum and instruction concentration. The program has a suggested sequence of nine semesters. Liberty requires a master’s degree in education or a related field with a 3.0 GPA for admission. That degree must come from an institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Students may also obtain advanced licenses in administration and school counseling. Students from across the globe may enroll in the program without meeting specific residency requirements.

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9 New Mexico State University N/A Las Cruces, NM

Students at NMSU may earn an online doctorate in curriculum and instruction through two separate degree programs. The school offers both EdD and online PhD curriculum and instruction programs.

All students take the same sequence of courses, but the program offers three independent study courses that help students develop their area of emphasis. While the program is primarily administered online, students are required to attend two weeks of face-to-face classes at the school in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for three years. Classes are taught using synchronous and asynchronous methods, including Skype and Google Docs. Those who wish to apply will need to complete a master’s degree in education and have three years of prior teaching experience before starting the program. Students seeking a PhD degree have an additional requirement that could result in additional coursework.

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10 Sam Houston State University N/A Huntsville, TX

The SHSU doctoral program in educational leadership prepares the school leaders of tomorrow for all types of challenges in the education field. An executive-style program, students may take most of their classes online, although they must attend class once per week at the university's Woodlands Center, located just outside Houston. The entire program includes 60 credit hours, and students typically can complete their degrees within three to four years.

This EdD program trains students to become inquiry-driven and scholarly leaders as they embark on their careers, with many graduates going on to serving in high-level roles in schools, school districts, colleges, universities, and the business world. This program features a face-to-face cohort model with nationally respected professors who are at the top of their field. There are also convenient class schedules, providing an added benefit for mid-career professionals.

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11 Southeastern University N/A Lakeland, FL

The largest educational institution in the United States associated with the Assemblies of God, Southeastern’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction allows students to learn from a Christian perspective. Students complete their work through the university’s MyFire learning system and receive face-to-face instruction during one-week classes at Lakeland, Florida. These classes are held during the summer or winter, depending on when the student started the program. No cohort is larger than 30 students.

The school offers many types of financial aid and some payment plans for its students. The 54-credit program provides students with extensive education on topics such as public policy, curriculum theory, and leadership principles. Students may transfer a maximum of 18 credit hours into the doctorate program. Full-time students can expect to complete the coursework in just over two years, and the program usually takes three to four years, depending on the dissertation. A GRE score is not required with an application.

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12 Texas A&M University-College Station N/A College Station, TX

Students can anticipate to complete Texas A&M’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction in about four years. The rigorous program has three overarching goals: leadership, discovery, and the application of knowledge. Aimed at mid-career professionals, this 64-credit program prepares the next generation of education leaders to lead their educational institutions forward.

The school requires five years of teaching experience and a master’s degree prior to beginning the program. Writing samples discussing educational issues are also required. Students admitted into the program are assigned a cohort and must complete two internships throughout the program. They also receive access to an online student portal that helps maintain communication between the student and program faculty. The internships allow the student to use the theory and knowledge learned in class while gaining experience and knowledge regarding educational leadership roles. Students must maintain a 3.3 cumulative GPA throughout the program.

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13 The University of West Florida N/A Pensacola, FL

Four specializations are available with UWF’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Two of these (curriculum and assessment studies and instructional design and technology) are available through the school’s online program. The curriculum and assessment studies track is recommended for those who are interested in the theory and development of curriculum plans. The instructional design and technology track has two additional concentrations: performance technology and distance learning. These programs focus on the impact of technology in the ever-evolving education arena.

Prospective students must submit a GRE, MAT, or GMAT test score with their application, along with transcripts outlining their master’s degree coursework. Those who obtained a 3.5 GPA or greater in their master-level studies do not need to submit test scores. Students must complete a total of 66 credits throughout the program to qualify the EdD in curriculum and instruction.

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14 University of Arkansas N/A Fayetteville, AR

The University of Arkansas’s online doctorate in educational leadership prepares teachers to become the next generation of principals, superintendents, and government officials. Students are split into cohorts and will meet with each other in person during every semester of the program. These weekend seminars allow students to connect what they’ve learned with practice, while continuing their education with lectures from distinguished speakers. The program may be completed in as few as three years, and students may only start during the summer.

Interested students must apply to the program through a two-step process. The first step involves an application to the University of Arkansas Graduate School with official transcripts. Once admitted, students may apply to be admitted into the educational leadership program. A writing sample, three letters of recommendation, and a copy of the student’s teaching license get submitted at that point of the process.

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15 University of Florida N/A Gainesville, FL

Every other year, the University of Florida admits a cohort of 20 educators to its online doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. Students follow a set schedule of courses, and most of the instruction takes place online. However, students must commit to a week-long on-campus experience with instructors at the school’s campus in Gainesville for the first three summers of the program. The program is aimed at current professionals who wish to address issues that the field of education is facing today. The cohort-based, four-year program allows students to work together to address various issues in education.

Prospective students must have a GPA of 3.0 for previous graduate and upper-division undergraduate coursework. A master’s or specialist degree is required, along with three years of classroom experience. A GRE score is also required, but the writing portion of the test is optional. This online doctorate in curriculum and instruction offers a specialization in curriculum, teaching, and teacher education.

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16 University of Louisiana at Monroe N/A Monroe, LA

Unlike many other programs, the University of Louisiana at Monroe allows students to pursue a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degree. However, they must complete a graduate degree in education or a related field before they begin doctoral coursework. Graduates of the program can expect to find curriculum and instruction jobs at academic institutions at the K-12 or college level.

The program also aims to prepare instructors who want to have an impact on educational policy through various agencies. Combining academic coursework and research, students can expect to leave this program being able to analyze education problems and situations from a wide lens. Interested applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 and a cumulative GPA of 3.25 to be admitted to the program. Applications are accepted for both fall and spring admission.

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17 University of South Carolina-Columbia N/A Columbia, SC

USC-Columbia allows students to complete a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online within three years. Students learn about the history of issues surrounding curriculum while being prepared for educational leadership positions. The school also offers two specializations focusing on curriculum studies and education technology. Courses that focus on these areas allow students to become more informed on many topics, including school leadership and applying technology to diverse populations.

Both specializations require a master’s degree from an accredited university prior to beginning the program. A student’s GPA must remain above a 3.0 to meet program requirements. Students must also submit a letter of intent detailing how the program is aligned with their future goals, along with GRE test score, transcripts, and a writing sample complete with APA citations. Those who live in South Carolina received a reduced tuition rate.

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18 University of West Georgia N/A Carrollton, GA

At the University of West Georgia, students have the opportunity to work on their dissertations alongside their coursework, potentially finishing both at the same time. The school’s EdD program in school improvement prepares educators for challenging careers in education. The three-year, 60-credit program has cohorts, and students are exclusively admitted during the summer semester. Students should be able to complete the program within three years. The program has many areas of concentration, including school counseling, media specialist, special education, and educational leadership. These areas of concentration are made up of 12 credit hours of classes on these topics and the student’s dissertation.

All of the coursework is completed in a synchronous environment online, but students must complete an orientation and dissertation defense on campus in Carrollton, Georgia. Interested students must submit GRE schools, three letters of recommendation, a resume, transcripts, and an essay outlining future goals. A maximum of 12 graduate credits may be transferred from another accredited institution.

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Online doctorate in curriculum and instruction programs consist of coursework, residencies, and dissertations. However, credit hour requirements and course offerings vary depending on the institution. Students should have knowledge of the educational system and some administrative experience prior to entering a program.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION

Course offerings vary by program. Check out this overview of common core courses for an online curriculum and instruction program.

  • Introduction to diversity and curriculum: This course instructs students in curriculum and instruction to tackle issues that learners in different age groups often face. To that end, students learn how to recognize and understand developmental differences among child, teenage, and adult learners. They then explore how curricula can help impact these differences and affect students’ lives.
  • Gender diversity in schools and communities: This course explores the historical, psychological, and sociological context of gender relations. Students analyze different cultures and the politics surrounding gender as it relates to school systems. They will also explore feminist theory and its impact on education.
  • Curriculum leadership: In this course focusing on transformational leadership and its role in education, online doctorate in curriculum and instruction degree candidates will learn the tools they need to develop appropriate curricula to meet students’ needs. Additionally, students learn how to foster diversity and support social justice as important aspects of the educational system.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION?

Credit requirements and fieldwork can often affect the length of an online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program. Each school provides its own program requirements, including the number of credit hours necessary to earn the degree. Some programs may also require students to complete specialty courses unique to the institution. On average, doctoral programs can require anywhere from 60-90 credit hours. Programs can take 36 months (three years) to 60 months (five years) to complete.

Schools deliver online programs in asynchronous and synchronous formats. With asynchronous courses, distance learners study and complete coursework at their own pace and typically have to meet only weekly deadlines. Synchronous programs can be hybrid — a mixture of online and in-class coursework — or cohort programs. In cohorts, students progress through curricula in groups. They may choose to meet in person and work on assignments together, but some courses allow students to complete group work entirely online.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) collaborates with over 3,000 colleges and universities to develop the academic standards that schools must meet to receive accreditation. Periodically, CHEA works with the U.S. Department of Education to review institutions and verify their accreditation.

The most popular form of accreditation, regional accreditation primarily serves traditional colleges and universities, both public and private. However, online programs can receive this type of accreditation as well. There are six regional accreditation agencies in the U.S. that generally represent the West, Northwest, South, Northeast, Midwest, and New England.

National accreditation is reserved for technical, vocational, and specialty programs. Every five years, institutions that offer these programs undergo review by national accreditation agencies and CHEA.

Specialized accreditation is another form of accreditation for specific programs and departments within a school. Specialized accrediting agencies, such as the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, focus on particular disciplines. They extend accreditation to programs that adequately prepare students for work in their field of study.

Accreditation for online programs in Curriculum and Instruction typically comes from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). With goals of continuous improvement, quality assurance, credibility, equity, and strong foundations, CAEP uses evidence-based practices to ensure that programs for educators meet various academic standards. The agency also hosts CAEPCon, an annual conference where attendees learn about things like changes in agency policy, revisions to standards, and quality rubrics.

Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Careers

Online doctorate in instruction and curriculum programs prepare students for careers in P-12 teaching, administration, and higher education. Graduates can find professional success as curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators, directors, and superintendents. Those interested in working directly with students should consider working as P-12 educators, while graduates who want to work with administrations to develop curricula may enjoy a superintendent or administrative position. Overall, students who enjoy working with others and taking on leadership responsibilities typically perform well in online doctorate in instruction and curriculum programs.

  • Instructional coordinator: Instructional coordinators develop curricula for schools and create teaching standards for educators. They work directly with teachers and administrators to develop course materials (for both P-12 students and adult learners) and analyze their effectiveness.
  • Postsecondary teacher: These educators work in colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning. They provide students with the necessary tools to understand their discipline and join the workforce. These educators also work in academia to publish scholarly papers and journals.
  • High school principal: This administrative position involves overseeing the everyday operations of a secondary school. These leaders participate in the day-to day activities of the school by coordinating curricula, working with teachers, and mentoring students. In short, they manage the entire school’s staff to ensure everything is running effectively.

Salary and Growth Rate by Career

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Instructional coordinator $62,460 7%
Postsecondary teacher $75,430 13%
High school principal $92,510 6%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Salary

The best online doctorate in curriculum and instruction programs help students find positions as specialists and directors. These positions offer attractive salaries and their demand continues to grow. Because salary is usually based on experience, these workers tend to stay in positions for extended periods of time. Check out this table of career and salary information:

Job Title Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Salary for Late Career Employees (20+ years)
Curriculum specialist $59,132 $54,977 $61,189 $80,000
Superintendent $117,899 N/A N/A $126,930
Education administrator $72,066 $50,696 N/A $79,846
Director of assessment $71,739 $62,182 $70,826 $97,591
Director of instruction $62,029 $55,338 $64,510 $83,718

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

A professional organization for curriculum and instruction educators and administrators functions as a great way for graduates to connect with like-minded individuals in their field. Additionally, these organizations provide networking opportunities for students that can help them land jobs after graduation. Many have branches all over the country and feature alumni members from various universities. Graduates interested in developing their career in the field of curriculum and instruction should explore these organizations:

Students can utilize a number of resources to pay for their degree. They can apply for scholarships by researching local and national organizations. Some employers provide financial assistance to students going back to school. Prospective students can contact their company’s human resource department to find out if such a program is available. They can also take out loans from public and private institutions. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education provides grants, scholarships, and loans to students that qualify for Federal Aid. Students must complete the FAFSA (Federal Application For Student Aid) to find out if they qualify for federal assistance.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.