2022 Best Online Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

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If you want to become the most effective educator you can be, then you might consider earning a masters in curriculum and instruction.

Best Online Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

This graduate degree is a common requirement for instructional coordinators, and it could help you advance your skill sets and professional qualifications in this growing sector.

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Whether you work in a traditional classroom or a different educational setting, getting your masters degree in curriculum and instruction online could be a strategic move for your career.

Online Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Woman taking her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction online

If you care deeply about education and want to be a leader in your field, a masters in instruction and curriculum development may help you work toward your professional goals.

Whether you want a traditional classroom job or the opportunity to move into a new educational role, taking advanced courses in curriculum and instruction could be a strategic choice. For many teachers, a master’s degree is the key to higher pay. Some school districts automatically increase the salaries of employees who have taken graduate classes.

Plus, curriculum and instruction is a practical degree program with a lot of relevance for teachers, future instructional coordinators, and the overall education field. You may study:

  • Curriculum planning
  • Data collection
  • Education research
  • Gifted and talented students
  • Leadership skills
  • Learning differences
  • Literacy education
  • STEM education
  • Student diversity
  • Technology and online classes

This program usually includes a few concentration options. For example, you may be able to focus your studies on online instruction or STEM education. There may also be concentration tracks for literacy, special education, leadership, or gifted and talented education.

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Many colleges don’t require a thesis component for this master’s degree program. Instead, there may be a capstone project during your final semester, or you may assemble a portfolio that synthesizes your learning. This type of graduate program can typically be completed online. There may be no in-person requirements, or you may have a mix of on-campus and online coursework.

Online education degree programs are especially useful for full-time workers who want to fit college classes around their other commitments. With an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, some graduates become more effective elementary or secondary teachers. Others qualify for new responsibilities, such as being a department head, curriculum director, or principal.

This degree can also be useful for people who want to be involved in education in other ways. For example, your focus may be on educational programming in community organizations or childcare facilities. Some professionals might transition to a career in curriculum publishing.

Typically, this type of program doesn’t lead to teacher licensure. A masters in curriculum and instruction is generally designed for people who are already qualified teachers or who teach in non-school settings.

Common Online Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction Concentrations

Training and Development Managers in a meeting

As you browse for online programs, you’ll notice that many include concentration options. These allow you to focus on a particular subfield of curriculum and instruction so you can tailor your studies toward the area that makes sense for your job and your goals.

Here are some common concentration options:

  • Gifted Education. In this track, you’ll learn how to identify gifted students, plan enriching educational experiences for them, and help with their social needs.
  • Leadership. While you’ll probably have a leadership-focused class no matter what concentration you choose, this track will dive deeper into the topic. You’ll explore ways that leaders can make a lasting difference in educational settings.
  • Learning Disabilities. With this concentration, you can grow in your ability to develop learning plans for students with special needs. Depending on your program, you may focus on special education in general or narrow in on language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.
  • School Technology. In this track, you might develop your skills as an online educator and explore various forms of classroom technology that can increase engagement and encourage learning.
  • STEM Instruction. The courses in a STEM concentration will focus on curriculum design for science, math, and related subject areas. The courses may cover project-based teaching, classroom technology, and student assessments.

You’ll typically have several classes—often at least three to five—that specifically address your concentration area.

Curriculum and Instruction Careers & Salaries

Curriculum and Instruction Careers & Salaries

Studying curriculum and instruction at the master’s degree level could enhance your skills in the classroom. Whether you teach young kids or teenagers, this degree program could be relevant to your current career track. It can also be beneficial for special education teachers.

With a master’s degree, you may qualify for higher pay or lead-teacher roles. You might also be able to move into non-classroom roles in a school system. Examples include becoming a curriculum director or a school administrator.

Not all curriculum and instruction professionals work directly with students. Some are responsible for developing the learning materials that classroom teachers use. Some graduates use this degree to become a curriculum writer or editor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for education, training, and library jobs is $57,220.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Training and Development Managers $120,130
Instructional Coordinators — Government $78,900
Instructional Coordinators — Elementary and Secondary Schools $75,840
Instructional Coordinators — Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $62,060
High School Teachers $61,820
Special Education Teachers $61,820
Instructional Coordinators — Educational Support Services $61,580
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
Middle School Teachers $61,320
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310

Some roles may require additional credentials, such as a teaching license or an administrative certificate. Some people with this degree are involved in educational efforts outside of traditional schools.

For instance, preschool or childcare center directors are often responsible for the academic development of the kids in their care. People who work in museums or other community organizations may lead classes, workshops, and other educational programs.

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Even adults need to learn new things. Depending on your focus area in school, you might be qualified to head up training programs for a company’s employees.

Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction Curriculum & Courses

Instructional Coordinators working in an office

Although your curriculum will vary depending on your concentration area, you may take courses like the ones listed below:

  • Active Learning: You may become more adept at using hands-on activities in your classroom, especially for STEM education.
  • Assessment Tools: This course focuses on collecting student data, analyzing your findings, and relying on it as you consider instructional choices.
  • Classroom Differentiation: You’ll discuss how to work with students of different academic levels and plan curricular approaches that help all of them meet the required standards.
  • Diversity in Education: Students come to the classroom from different backgrounds and life experiences, and this course will help prepare you to lead and respond appropriately.
  • Education Leadership: As you explore leadership principles, you’ll discuss ways that your strong leadership could benefit the students in your care.
  • Evidence-Based Practices in Education: This course will focus on research and education theories and teach you to incorporate research-backed practices into your teaching method.
  • Gifted Instruction: Learners who perform at a higher academic level than their peers may require a unique approach to education.
  • Literacy Education: You’ll explore how children develop literacy, and you’ll discover ways to support children who are struggling in this area.
  • STEM Instruction: This class will equip you with tools for teaching math, science, and related subjects in innovative ways, and you may also talk about assessment techniques for STEM education.
  • Technology for Education: You can discover new ideas for incorporating technology and online platforms into your teaching style.

Course offerings can also vary from school to school.

How to Choose a Curriculum and Instruction Masters Online Program

Man taking Curriculum and Instruction Masters Online

What school best meets your needs as a graduate student? It’s up to you to decide, but the following tips may help you narrow down your options:

  • Accreditation. In addition to regional accreditation for schools, you might also be interested in programmatic accreditation from the Council of the Accreditation of the Educator Preparation (CAEP).
  • Length. If speed is your goal, you may be interested in an accelerated program. You can look for a program that requires just 30 credit hours and no thesis. Year-round courses can be helpful for quicker completion, too.
  • On-campus requirements. It’s entirely possible to find programs that are 100% online, which is great for scheduling flexibility. Avoiding travel costs can also save you money. Even still, if you’d like to meet classmates and professors face-to-face, you can look into hybrid programs that have some on-campus offerings.
  • Prerequisites. If you’re an educator outside of the traditional classroom setting, you can opt for a program that doesn’t require a teaching license.
  • Schedule. Would you prefer ultimate flexibility or greater accountability? Some programs put you on a planned schedule, and others are self-paced. You may be required to watch live lectures at certain times, or an online learning portal might be available 24/7.
  • Specializations. Concentration options vary, so it’s strategic to look around for the ones that best match your needs. Some schools offer just a few tracks, while others have a long list of options to consider.

Most curriculum and instruction programs aren’t licensure tracks. If you happen to select one that is, it’s beneficial to ensure that it meets your state licensing board’s requirements.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Curriculum and Instruction Masters

When you apply to an online curriculum and instruction master’s degree program, you may be required to turn in:

  • GRE score (not required by all colleges)
  • Letters of recommendation from school or work leaders
  • Personal essay about your academic and professional goals
  • Resume that includes relevant professional experience
  • School transcripts from your bachelor program and any previous graduate work

Some admissions boards also prefer candidates who achieved a certain GPA during their bachelor’s studies. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is a common requirement.

Online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction Accreditation

University offering Curriculum and Instruction Masters Online

An online graduate program is considered credible if it’s offered by a regionally accredited college. Accreditation shows that a school has been independently evaluated by one of the seven regional accreditors in the US. A school is awarded regional accreditation if it has demonstrated that it meets or exceeds the set standards for a quality education.

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There are many benefits to attending an accredited college. If you switch schools, your credits are more likely to transfer. You’ll also have a better chance of getting into a doctoral program. Plus, your employer may have more confidence in the education you have earned. Depending on your district’s policies, accredited graduate work may be required for a pay raise.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Curriculum and Instruction Masters

Wanting to become a better educator is a noble goal, and financial aid may assist you on your journey. You can start by looking into government funding.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can help determine your eligibility for need-based aid. This assistance may come from the federal government and also your state. Many graduate students receive government student loans. Grants are less common for grad students but are sometimes available for those in the education field.

You can also explore scholarship opportunities from your school or from outside organizations. Some school districts contribute to employees’ education costs as well.

Curriculum & Instruction Professional Organizations

Educators know how to sharpen and encourage other educators. To build your network of supportive professionals, you might consider joining a professional education organization. Common curriculum and instruction professional organizations include:

Professional organizations often equip their members with many beneficial resources. You may have access to journals, email newsletters, books, webinars, and continuing education classes. There may be national conventions or local meetings you can attend. Plus, membership often includes professional discounts and other bonuses.

What Is a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction?

Instructional Coordinators in a meeting

A masters in curriculum and instruction is a graduate program that helps education professionals become more knowledgeable about planning lessons that meet students’ needs.

In this program, you can gain insights into education theories, learning standards, student engagement, and classroom technology. The classes you take may include topics on research in education, school leadership, teaching gifted students, and STEM education.

You may also be able to select a concentration to complement your career focus. For example, if you teach special education, you could specialize in learning disabilities. Science educators may want an MEd that focuses on project-based STEM learning.

What Can I Do with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction?

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can help you develop your expertise as an educator. Some graduates utilize their skill sets in the classroom as a teacher. You may be able to specialize your degree for your particular area of teaching, such as math, literacy, or special education.

A number of graduates go on to work as instructional coordinators for a school or a district. That job might involve curriculum selection and teacher training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of all instructional coordinators work for elementary or secondary schools. Some professionals even go on to write or edit teaching materials for a curriculum publisher.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction Online?

Woman taking her masters online

These programs usually require 30 to 36 credit hours and no thesis, so you may be able to earn your online master’s degree in 1 year to 2 years if you enroll full-time. Schools with thesis or internship requirements may take longer.

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A part-time course load will also take longer but provide greater flexibility. Depending on your needs and circumstance, it might be worth the trade-off. If you’ve done any previous graduate work, you may have credits to transfer in. Transfer credit could help shave time off the length of a program.

What’s the Difference Between an MS vs. MEd in Curriculum and Instruction Online?

If you want to study curriculum design, you could opt for an online MS in Curriculum and Instruction or an online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

MS in Curriculum and Instruction MEd in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Explores theories in education and learning
  • May require original research
  • May be more suitable for those who want jobs with curriculum companies
  • Provides practical tools for a career in education
  • Usually includes a class or two on research and evidence-based practices
  • May be more suitable for those who want to be leaders in their schools

Some schools offer different concentrations in their Master of Science (MS) track than in their Master of Education (MEd) track.

Is a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Worth It?

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Yes, a master’s in curriculum and instruction degree is worth it for many students. An education master’s degree helps many teachers reach a higher level of their districts’ compensation plans. It can also lead to new responsibilities, such as heading up a department or becoming an administrator.

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Trained, experienced teachers are always needed. In addition, a masters program in curriculum and instruction is common for those who want to become instructional coordinators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new positions for that job title are growing at a 10% rate over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University campus

Arkansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California State University – Bakersfield

California State University Bakersfield

California State University – Bakersfield is accredited by ​the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University campus

Eastern Washington University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Emporia State University

Emporia State University campus

Emporia State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Florida International University

Florida International University campus

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida State University

Florida State University campus

The Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University campus

Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University campus

Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Mississippi College

Mississippi College campus

Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Texas A&M University

Texas A & M University - Commerce campus

Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati campus

The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Amherst campus

The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Virginia

University of Virginia campus

The University of Virginia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University campus

Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Online

Man getting his Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction online

Are you ready to advance your career in education? If so, you can head back to the classroom for a master’s degree in curriculum and instructional design.

Just as with a degree program in online learning design and technology, this program could refresh your creativity and advance your professional qualifications. You can learn from the latest research how to effectively reach the kids in your care. As an educator, you likely already have a full schedule, so online college classes might offer a helpful solution. Accredited online programs, whether it’s online masters or online PhD programs in curriculum and instruction, will include the same material that you’d learn in a classroom, but you’ll have more flexibility in how you plan your day.

You can start exploring accredited schools today to find the online masters program in curriculum and instruction that’s right for you.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.