Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Program Guide

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by Chinh Ngo
Published on September 15, 2020 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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Educators who earn master's degrees in curriculum and instruction prepare to advance their careers as classroom instructors and school administrators.

Busy adults can pursue an online master's degree in curriculum and instruction while keeping their jobs and taking care of personal responsibilities.

This guide helps you find the master's program in curriculum and instruction that fits your schedule and professional goals. Read on to learn about common admission requirements, required courses, available concentrations, and potential careers.

What Is Curriculum and Instruction?

Curriculum and instruction focuses on developing lesson plans, learning materials, and teaching strategies that meet the varying needs of diverse student groups, often with an emphasis on learners from underserved communities.

These specialists also possess the analytical skills needed to evaluate the effectiveness of curricula, so they can help educators implement better tools and strategies.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs of 2020?

#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
#3 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#4 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
#5 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
#6 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#7 Boston University Boston, MA
#8 Florida International University Miami, FL
#9 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
#10 Mississippi College Clinton, MS

Should I Get a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that education, training, and library occupations will grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also projects that instructional coordinator jobs will grow by 6%.

A master's degree in education or curriculum and instruction is required to work as an instructional coordinator. Depending on their employers, these professionals may also need to pursue licensure.

On-campus and online degrees in curriculum and instruction help students strengthen their ethical leadership and technical communication skills. Learners also develop the quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method analysis techniques needed to assess and improve educational programs.

What Will I Learn in a Curriculum and Instruction Master's Program?

Most master's degrees in curriculum and instruction require approximately 30 credits of coursework and fieldwork. Programs typically culminate in a research project and/or cumulative exam.

The following sections cover popular courses and concentrations available to students in this field. Keep in mind that not all curriculum and instruction programs offer these exact options.


Learning Theories

This course focuses on contemporary behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and personal learning theories. Students examine how these concepts can help educators navigate the complexities of current learning environments to create effective curricula.

Curriculum Design and Evaluation

In this course, students explore curriculum design theories and frameworks. They also develop the data analysis skills needed to assess the effectiveness of curricula in the contexts of state and federal educational standards.

Differentiated Instruction

This course teaches learners how to create and implement curricula that meet the needs of learners within specific learning environments. Participants reflect on their current teaching styles and how to use strategies to help students with varying interests and abilities.

Learning Technologies

Students in this course develop the skills needed to align technological tools with varying learning styles to achieve results across academic disciplines. Topics may include community building, student interaction, and content visualization.

Educational Research Methodologies

This course prepares learners to conduct independent research for their capstone project. In addition to developing data collection and analysis skills, students learn to conduct a literature review and write cogent research questions for their proposals.


Reading Intervention

This concentration focuses on research-based instructional strategies, enabling students to identify and evaluate reading issues in diverse student groups. Required courses often cover reading in a content area, correcting reading difficulties, and young adult literature in the classroom.

English as a Second Language

Through this concentration, students learn instructional techniques related to teaching the fundamentals of English linguistics, including syntax, phonology, and pragmatics. They also examine how cultural identity affects language learning and classroom behavior.

Special Education

Master's students can pursue a special education concentration for early intervention, preparing to assist preschool-aged children develop crucial communication and literacy skills. Additional options center on gifted and talented students and learners in K-12 classrooms.

Educational Technology

Degree-seekers who pursue this concentration learn to integrate technological tools like computer software and websites into daily classroom instruction. Topics include blended learning environments, human-computer interaction, and educational project management.

Integrated STEM Education

While pursuing this concentration, learners develop the ability to integrate problem-based and project-based content into STEM curricula in K-12 classrooms. They also explore how STEM education can help students access global career opportunities.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction?

By earning an on-campus or online master's degree in curriculum and instruction, you can improve your performance as a classroom instructor and advance into a leadership position at your school. You can also pursue an administrative career as a curriculum developer, instructional technology specialist, or educational consultant.


Instructional Coordinator

These professionals oversee a school's curriculum, assessing student progress and ensuring the school meets state and federal educational standards. They work with teachers and administrators to develop more effective learning materials and instructional strategies.

Median Annual Salary: $66,290*

Curriculum Developer

Workers in this role help develop programs of instruction, incorporating different tools into lesson plans to strengthen student engagement. Curriculum developers can work for a single school or consult with several institutions.

Average Annual Salary: $62,640*

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers instruct and assist students with emotional, learning, mental, and/or physical disabilities. After assessing a learner's needs, these educators implement an individualized education program and track that student's progress.

Median Annual Salary: $61,030*

High School Teacher

High school teachers provide topic-specific instruction, adapting their lessons and strategies based on class size and specific student needs. They often help students achieve postsecondary goals by providing ACT and SAT preparation.

Median Annual Salary: $61,660*

Assistant Principal

Working with board members and the head principal, assistant principals define and enforce school policies for students and staff. These educational leaders also coordinate student activities, manage community relations, and assess and update curricula.

Average Annual Salary: $72,820*

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale

How to Choose a Curriculum and Instruction Master's Program

A program's delivery method is an important consideration when deciding which school to attend. On-campus learning generally offers easier access to peers, professors, and university resources. Alternatively, online master's programs in curriculum and instruction often provide more affordable tuition rates and increased flexibility, which may appeal to working educators.

You should also research degree requirements when choosing between graduate schools. The best master's program for you offers coursework and a concentration that provides you with the skills you need to advance your career.

How to Get Into a Curriculum and Instruction Master's Program

Most master's programs in curriculum and instruction require a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0. Depending on the school, you may also need to submit GRE scores. Additionally, many graduate education programs require applicants to have at least two years of teaching experience.

In addition to a personal statement and recommendation letters, some master's programs require applicants to complete an interview with a faculty member.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction?

Students generally complete master's programs in curriculum and instruction in less than two years. However, students can graduate more quickly by pursuing accelerated online programs. By offering shorter terms that are available year-round, these intensive tracks can help students graduate within a year.

Public school teachers and administrators must earn state-specific licensure. Many curriculum and instruction roles fall under the title of school leader, which may require specialized credentials in some states. According to the Education Commission of the States, 37 states require school leaders to have a master's degree and at least three years of teaching experience to qualify for initial certification.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate students paid about $11,930 in average tuition and fees when enrolled at a public university during the 2017-2018 academic year. Learners attending private institutions paid about $25,440.

Tuition rates differ by individual schools, and online degrees in curriculum and instruction may offer lower tuition prices than on-campus programs. For example, some schools charge distance learners in-state tuition rates, no matter where they live.

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