Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Program Guide

Explore the ins and outs of a doctorate in curriculum and instruction to learn how you can expand your education career.
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Updated on July 1, 2024
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Dr. Krystin McCauley Watkins — an esteemed educator, instructional designer, and educational leader — holds a doctor of education in curriculum & instruction: educational technology from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Watkins is renowned for h...
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If you're an experienced teacher who wants to enhance the quality of teaching while meeting students' evolving needs, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction is likely a solid fit.

Whether in person or as an online degree, this specialized degree prioritizes the advancement of teaching through cutting-edge research, curriculum design, and education strategies.

Read on to learn more about what a doctorate in curriculum and instruction can do for you.

Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Program Overview

Focus

A doctorate in curriculum and instruction focuses on enhancing education practices through cutting-edge research while developing and testing new teaching methods and classroom content. Additionally, this doctoral degree can provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to improve student performance and foster meaningful change in the education field.

Curriculum

While specific courses vary between programs, you can anticipate core classes such as curriculum theory, instructional design, and research methods in education. In addition to core classes, doctoral students typically choose from specializations, including special education, psychology, gifted education, and educational technology.

Program Length

For many students, a curriculum and instruction doctorate takes three to five years to complete. Still, the time it takes to graduate can vary dramatically depending on factors such as the pace of your dissertation research, specific program requirements, and your status as a full-time or part-time student.

Admission Requirements Checklist

Admissions requirements can vary between schools, but there are some common factors that you can expect when preparing your applications. Below, we highlight some standard admissions requirements for a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

Featured Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

There are two types of doctorate in curriculum and instruction programs: a doctor of education (Ed.D.) and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in education.

While these two degrees share many similarities, they prepare you for different careers in education. Graduates of Ed.D. programs typically go on to work as principals, superintendents, and curriculum designers. Ph.D. graduates often work in academia, teaching courses and conducting research.

Both programs cover educational theory, student learning assessment strategies, cultural competency, advanced research methods, and instructional technology. Coursework allows you to build expertise in student evaluation, educational statistics, and learning measurement. Programs may also allow you to specialize in a particular field by choosing a concentration.

Higher Education Teaching

This concentration focuses on leadership in higher education and the design and implementation of online instruction. You learn to develop curricula for in-person and online programs at the college level, build advanced problem-solving skills, and conduct research in your field.

Instructional Design and Technology

This concentration prepares you to lead the way in technology-based education and learning. You'll explore how to implement the newest technologies in classrooms, research which technologies have the greatest learning outcomes, and help develop new educational technologies.

Learning and Development

In this concentration, you'll study the latest educational theories and research to maximize student learning outcomes. You can pursue careers in academia, research, and leadership roles at educational institutions.

Urban and Multicultural Education

Designed to help graduates become leaders in social equality and diversity in education, this concentration prepares you to develop culturally competent curricula and advocate for social justice within schools. You'll study organizational leadership, education administration, and diversity advocacy.

Why Get a Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction?

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    Enhanced Expertise: Earning your doctorate in curriculum and instruction inevitably gives you a deep understanding of teaching theories and methods, allowing you to craft effective curricula and enhance instructional methods.
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    Career Advancement: Completing this education doctorate can open numerous high-level career opportunities. Graduates with a doctorate in curriculum and instruction often secure jobs as school superintendents, instructional coordinators, and college-level instructors.
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    Research Opportunities: Research plays a significant role in this doctoral degree, and standout curriculum and instruction programs offer extensive opportunities for you to contribute to the field through cutting-edge research while developing innovative solutions to pressing challenges in K-12 education, high education, government, and the private sector.
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    Leadership Skills: Graduates from a curriculum and instruction program often go on to tackle leadership roles. As a result, the best programs help you hone various leadership and administrative skills, preparing you to lead while driving improvements in education.
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    Networking Opportunities: Whether through your instructors or peers in your cohort, a curriculum and instruction program can facilitate countless networking opportunities. These valuable relationships and professional collaborations can significantly impact your career trajectory.

What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction?

Whether you secure a role as a college professor or school superintendent, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction can significantly enhance your career options and earning potential. We highlight several common career options below.

Popular Jobs With a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2023)
Instructional Coordinator $74,620
K-12 Principal $103,460
Special Education Teacher $65,910
Postsecondary Teacher $84,380
Postsecondary Education Administrator $102,610
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions About a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction

How much does it cost to get a doctorate in curriculum and instruction?

The cost of your doctorate in curriculum and instruction can vary significantly depending on the institution and your residency status. Private schools typically cost the most, while public institutions with in-state tuition tend to cost less. Still, students can access various financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, and teaching assistantships.

The time it takes to earn your doctorate in curriculum and instruction can vary, but most students graduate in three to five years. Your graduation timeline depends on specific program requirements, dissertation research, and part-time or full-time student status.

Your earning potential after earning a doctorate in curriculum and instruction can vary depending on the specific role and institution. Graduates working in K-12 public school roles tend to earn more modest salaries, while academic deans, university professors, and researchers tend to make more.

A doctorate in curriculum and instruction is worth it if you're seeking advanced skills and knowledge, enhancing earning potential, and securing leadership roles in education. This graduate degree can lead to career advancement while offering the chance to influence education policy and best practices.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed June 3, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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