Best Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

We've ranked the top online master's in curriculum and instruction programs so you can compare schools by cost and convenience and earn your curriculum and instruction master's degree.

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by Sharon Wilfong

Published on March 14, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Fecich

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An online master's in curriculum and instruction prepares graduates for careers as instructional coordinators, teachers, and educational administrators. Course information includes the latest educational trends, theories, research, and technology, plus teaching methods for different learners. Cost varies by program, previous education, and school type.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average annual tuition for a master's degree was $19,792 in 2019-2020. Although online programs can be more affordable, online students must typically pay extra technology and software fees.

Other factors determining program cost include whether a student attends a public or private school and enrolls full time, accelerated, or part time. Many students find graduate school a worthwhile investment because it enhances career advancement options and may lead to higher salary potentials.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects education, training, and library occupations will grow 10% between 2020-2030, slightly higher than the rate for all occupations. The degree can also lead to a lucrative career as a training and development manager, with many salaries exceeding $100,000 annually. Business schools and computer and management training industries hire the highest concentration of training and development managers.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

Students pursuing a master's in curriculum and instruction need a sense of purpose as an educator. They should also have excellent problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills and a solid plan to prepare for grad school. A master's in curriculum and instruction helps students strengthen leadership skills and develop techniques to assess and improve educational programs.

Studies typically focus on developing lesson plans and teaching strategies to meet diverse and underserved student needs. However, online master's in curriculum and instruction programs vary in how they present information and assignments. Some operate similar to in-person classes, requiring students to meet with their instructor at specific class times via video chat.

Other online courses use technology, allowing students to view pre-recorded presentations and complete assignments according to their schedule. Full-time students generally graduate in less than two years. However, accelerated online programs help some students graduate sooner, with intensive year-round, shorter terms.

Teachers and administrators also usually need additional state-specific licensure, according to the Education Commission of the States.

Curriculum and instruction leadership certifications include:

According to the commission's 50-state comparison, 37 states require a three-year minimum of teaching experience and a master's degree for leadership certification.

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Popular Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

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

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

Curriculum and Instruction

This course examines access, instruction, and curriculum development about past, present, and future strategies. Students focus on integrating theoretical and practical elements to develop curricula and improve learning methods.

Theories and Trends

Students explore curriculum models and implementation strategies. They learn how legislation and socio-political forces impact curricula and curricular activities, and how different learning styles shape curricula.

Educational Technology

Studies focus on assessing educational technology, practices, and processes to meet different learning styles' needs. Students explore current and emerging technologies and ways to use technology in education and corporate training.

Educational Research

Students examine research and various research approaches in education. They learn to locate, understand, evaluate, and interpret qualitative and quantitative educational research. Additionally, students learn to communicate researchable education issues.

Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

This course focuses on strategies for understanding and producing written material. Studies include reading, writing, discussing, demonstrating, and evaluating strategies. Additionally, students get familiar with alternative methods to meet the needs of a diverse student body.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students Scholarships for Education Majors The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

An online master's degree in curriculum and instruction features similar admission requirements to an on-campus program. Students need a bachelor's degree to pursue a graduate degree. However, on-campus programs often have limited space.

Consequently, some online programs can be easier to get into than their on-campus counterparts. Students may also find that some online master's in curriculum and instruction programs waive the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) if applicants have at least a 3.0 overall GPA in an undergraduate program.

Application

College application systems vary by institution. Unlike undergraduate schools, graduate schools do not use streamlined application platforms, like the Common App. Most master's program applications require students' transcripts, test scores, and a personal statement.

Test Scores

Many graduate school programs require the GRE. The test offers schools an indication of student readiness by testing verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. Achieving high GRE scores can significantly increase a student's chance of acceptance into a graduate program.

Letters of Recommendation

Schools usually require letters of recommendation to help them decide which applicants to admit. These official letters from teachers, counselors, and employers help document a student's abilities and readiness for college. Additionally, candidates with more substantial recommendation letters might have a better chance of acceptance into a graduate program.

Resume and Work Experience

Nearly all master's in curriculum and instruction programs require a resume. When writing a resume, applicants should use action words. They should also keep it to one page and include a professional email address. An academic resume typically includes the student's educational background and achievements, internships, volunteer work, and employment history.

Essays

Application essays allow administrators to get to know applicants on a more personal level. Graduate programs usually ask for a personal statement, a statement of purpose, or a letter of intent. These statements allow applicants to illustrate how their personalities, achievements, and experience will aid their studies.

Official Transcripts

While students commonly transfer credits, it's important to know that credits do not always transfer between schools. Transferring credits between public schools within the same state is the most straightforward. Students can use online tools to search for transfer agreements and policies about course equivalency.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree?

Career Outlook

Students who want to pursue a master's degree in curriculum and instruction may already have teaching experience. Work experience can make graduates more competitive in the job market. For example, instructional coordinators in education typically need a master's degree and related work experience in teaching or school administration.

Elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, the government, and private industries hire instructional coordinators. Therefore, professionals may hold experience in sectors other than education.

In addition, training and development managers in manufacturing can benefit from pursuing a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. According to the BLS, professionals with a master's degree can earn between $60,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending on their career path.

See where a master's in curriculum and instruction degree can take you. Learn more about higher education careers.

Career Paths

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curricula. They also develop educational material for other industries such as utilities, manufacturing, and public health. They typically need a master's degree and related work experience in teaching, school administration, or a specific industry. Within education, these professionals may work with particular grade levels, subjects, or areas such as special education.

Median Annual Salary: $66,970

Librarians and Library Media Specialists

Librarians and library media specialists assist patrons and conduct research. However, their duties may change depending on where they work. Most states require these professionals to hold a master's degree in library science or education. Additionally, they usually need a teacher's certification and may need to pass a standardized test.

Median Annual Salary: $60,820

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee academics, student services, or faculty research depending on the department where they work. These administrators typically hold a master's degree in education, social science, or business. Employers prefer candidates with education and experience working in a college administrative office, especially for registrars and academic deans.

Median Annual Salary: $97,500

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Elementary, middle, and high school principals coordinate curricula, manage staff, and oversee school operations. They also provide students with a safe learning environment. Most schools require principals to have a master's degree in education administration or leadership and teaching experience. Most states also require professionals to pass an exam, obtain licensure, and complete a background check.

Median Annual Salary: $98,490

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers oversee training programs. They also are responsible for creating or selecting course content, and they may also teach. These managers typically supervise instructional designers, program developers, and instructors. Although professionals come from various educational backgrounds, some employers require a master's degree in training and development or organizational development.

Median Annual Salary: $115,640

Curriculum and Instruction Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Education Careers Higher Education Careers Educational Leadership Careers

Continuing Education

Educators who want to advance to dean of their department go on to pursue a doctor of education (Ed.D.). Academic deans set goals for the faculty, develop plans of action, and evaluate the results.

Other professionals with a master's in curriculum and instruction can increase their salary potential by learning new skills. According to Payscale, an instructional designer with Microsoft Excel skills can potentially increase their salary by 64%. Data analytics and design can also make candidates more competitive.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

Cost

Data indicates that a master's degree in education costs around $55,200. However, when students compare the price of online versus on-campus programs, they may discover additional costs like out-of-state residency fees. Calculating a program's cost requires looking at tuition rates, technology costs, and virtual access fees.

Program Format

Schools may offer an online master's in curriculum and instruction full time or part time. Delivery formats may also vary. Standard online formats are synchronous, with scheduled class times. Asynchronous courses offer more flexibility, and hybrid formats combine virtual and in-person elements. All formats have pros and cons. For example, part-time formats provide flexibility but feature longer completion times. Accelerated formats allow students to graduate faster but may provide less flexibility.

Location

Location is an important factor even if a master's in curriculum and instruction program offers an online or on-campus option. Distance learners may need to pay higher tuition rates and out-of-state residency fees. Programs, especially synchronous or hybrid options, could also feature on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

Like all colleges, online college accreditation indicates that an institution meets certain standards of providing quality education. Proper accreditation can affect financial aid, credit transferability, and employment prospects. The best online master's in curriculum and instruction programs usually hold programmatic accreditation and are offered at institutionally accredited schools.

Student Support

Student support services benefit learners in many ways. Learners can access academic support, accommodations, counseling, career coaching, and networking. These same services are commonly available to online students through career and academic advisors and student success mentors. Additionally, institutions usually offer internship opportunities, such as semester-based programs for college credit.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

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Best Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    100% Online | Scheduled Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $517
    Out of State | $621

    Credits to Graduate
    36

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Students who chose the University of Florida's 36-credit online master's in curriculum and instruction typically graduate in two years. In addition to core coursework, learners can also decide to pursue an emphasis in educational technology. Covered topics include designing integrated media environments, internet in K-12 instruction, and games and simulations for teaching and learning.

    As of 2020, the school no longer requires GRE scores. All classes follow a traditional 16-week semester schedule.

  2. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $533
    Out of State | $1,532

    Credits to Graduate
    30-36

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    North Carolina State University offers two master's new literacies and global learning programs: a 30-credit M.Ed. and a 36-credit MS. Both online options offer concentrations in K-12 reading, English language arts (middle and high school), and social studies (middle and high school). The MS pathway supports learners who are interested in conducting research.

    Coursework is 50% hybrid, with students splitting their time between online learning and campus-based classes at the school's campus in Raleigh.

  3. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $13318

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $444
    Out of State | $1,076

    Credits to Graduate
    30

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    The online master's in curriculum and instruction at Florida State University provides concentrations in autism spectrum disorder, early childhood education, elementary education, English education, foreign and second language education, mathematics education, science education, social science education, and visual disabilities.

    Applicants must provide GRE scores, with minimum targets set at 146 and 140 for the verbal and quantitative sections of the test. To waive these GRE score requirements, applicants must have at least three years of educational experience or a 3.5 or higher GPA.

  4. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $17845

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $599
    Out of State | $599

    Credits to Graduate
    30

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Students who choose to complete their online master's in curriculum and instruction at the University of Virginia can choose from concentrations like instructional technology, reading education, or special education. Regardless of their choice, each program consists of 30 credits.

    To qualify for graduation, students must complete a comprehensive exam. Full-time students graduate in one year, while part-time learners usually need 2-3 years to complete requirements.

  5. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $19118

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $1,071
    Out of State | $1,600

    Credits to Graduate
    36

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Offered as a non-thesis program, the online master's in curriculum and instruction at Texas A&M features 36 credits of coursework. The curriculum covers trends in curriculum and instruction, the educator as researcher, analysis of teaching behavior, and reflective inquiry.

    Distance learners can choose from either a final examination or a capstone course to complete program requirements. Prospective students can choose from start dates in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.

  6. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $370
    Out of State | $1,194

    Credits to Graduate
    30-33

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    The online master's in curriculum and instruction program at the University of Central Florida awards an M.Ed. Participants can choose from concentrations like supporting high-needs populations, gifted education, educational technology, global international and comparative education, and curriculum leadership.

    Core classes include data-driven decision-making for instruction; action research and analysis of classroom practice; and curriculum theory, organization, and policy. The exact number of credits required depends on the specialization a student chooses.

  7. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $9180

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $508
    Out of State | $508

    Credits to Graduate
    36

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Students interested in earning their online MS in curriculum and instruction from Florida International University can select from concentrations in curriculum development or elementary education. Classes are taught in eight-week rotations, allowing learners to move through requirements quickly.

    Covered topics include issues and trends in curriculum and instruction, curriculum evaluation and improvement in urban school systems, politics of curriculum, and foundations of educational research. The program concludes with a colloquium.

  8. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $950
    Out of State | $950

    Credits to Graduate
    30

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    The online master's in curriculum and development at Penn State's World Campus offers concentrations like children's literature, STEM education, elementary education, and curriculum and supervision. The program also features an introductory colloquium course.

    The department offers three different start dates per year, and online courses mirror those taught at the school's main campus.

  9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $490
    Out of State | $490

    Credits to Graduate
    32

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Students who enroll in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's online master's in curriculum and instruction program can choose from concentrations in bilingual/bi-cultural education, bilingual and English as a second language, digital learning, and perspective and practices. Each option consists of 32 credits.

    Core requirements include classes like curriculum development for the 21st century, technology applications for teachers, culture in the classroom, and aesthetic education.

  10. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $16227

    100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

    Avg. Cost per Credit
    In State | $898
    Out of State | $898

    Credits to Graduate
    30

    Program Information
    Program Accreditation | N/A

    Students at Michigan State University can earn an online master of arts in teaching in curriculum. The curriculum of this asynchronous program features courses like curriculum in its social context, professional development and inquiry, and teachers as teacher educators. Participants can graduate in two years.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also need to submit a CV or resume, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Is a master's in curriculum and instruction worth it? true

An online degree can lead to increased pay and instructional coordinator or other training and management roles. Whether you're a teacher or work in another industry, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction is worth it. Teachers benefit by learning more about teaching theories, trends, and tactics for success in diverse classrooms.

Professionals in other industries can also benefit from a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. These programs are appropriate for professionals interested in evaluating, planning, and implementing instructional programs in school and non-school settings. For example, healthcare professionals can expand their marketability as training and development managers.

What can I do with a master's in curriculum and instruction? true

A master's degree in curriculum and instruction allows teachers to enhance their careers as elementary, middle, or high school principals. Graduates could also pursue a career in college administration or as a library media specialist. A master's in curriculum and instruction can help prepare students for becoming a dean or registrar.

The degree can also advance a career in other industries, including training and development managers in finance, science, and insurance. However, students need work experience and a master's degree to stand out in their industry.

Are curriculum and instruction graduates in demand true

The BLS projects jobs for postsecondary education administrators to grow 8% between 2020-2030. That amounts to an average of 14,500 openings each year over the decade. Similarly, the BLS projects jobs for librarians and library media specialists to grow 9% between 2020- 2030. This amounts to 15,200 openings on average each year over the decade.

The BLS also projects faster than average growth for training and development managers at 11% between 2020-2030. That translates to 4,300 openings on average each year over the decade.

How much money can I make with a master's in curriculum and instruction?

How much money you can make with this degree varies greatly depending on your work experience, previous education, and industry. Professionals with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction can earn between $60,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending on their career path.

For example, librarians and library media specialists earned a median annual salary of $60,820 in May 2020. Similarly, instructional coordinators earned a median salary of $66,970 in May 2020. Postsecondary administrators earned significantly more, at a median salary of $97,500 in May 2020. And elementary, middle, and high school principals made a median salary of $98,490 in May 2020.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in curriculum and instruction?

Graduates with a master's in curriculum and instruction can pursue high-paying careers in education. For example, according to the BLS, postsecondary administrators earned a median annual salary of $97,500 in May 2020. Elementary, middle, and high school principals earned a median yearly wage of $98,490 in May 2020.

Graduates can also pursue high-paying positions in other industries. BLS data on training and development managers show their median annual wage exceeding $100,000 across most sectors. These professionals who work in scientific and technical services made a median yearly wage of $135,780 in May 2020.

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