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.
Published on March 14, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022
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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:
- Professional Leadership Certificate
- Administrative Certificate
- Professional Principal Certificate
- Certification in Educational Leadership
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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 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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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
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.
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.
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 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.
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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