A PhD in Curriculum and Instruction is a terminal degree for education professionals who want to grow their expertise in creating or improving effective learning environments.
PhDs are common requirements for research and postsecondary teaching roles. Graduates might go on to research, identify, and work toward solving problems in the educational field. A doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction can also be a beneficial degree path if you’re interested in education leadership or administration.
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Read on to learn more about potential topics and career paths associated with the field of curriculum and instruction.
Online PhD in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
A Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction program strives to teach you how to make the best possible impact in an education setting.
It covers educational theory and how to apply it in the classroom, and it explores how to research and interpret data and integrate new technologies into educational courses. Here are some of the topics typically included in the coursework for a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction:
- Educational theories
- Qualitative methods in curriculum and instruction
- Instructional leadership
- Instructional design
- Technology integration
- Racial and ethnic diversity
- Student learning assessment strategies
In your PhD program, you may spend a lot of time researching and evaluating curriculum and instruction. You can also learn about educational data management, education statistics, and tests and evaluations for continuous improvement.
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Professionals with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction can often qualify for a range of careers in the field of education. While some choose to teach, others enter leadership or administrative positions at K-12 or postsecondary institutions.
Many pursue work as instructional coordinators, evaluating and creating curriculum and instruction materials. Many educators with a doctoral-level education in curriculum and instruction go on to become:
- Curriculum specialists
- School administrators
- College or university professors
- Instructional supervisors
The degree concentration you choose can help tailor your studies as well as your professional qualifications.
Common Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Specializations
Online PhD in Curriculum and Instruction programs can offer a number of specializations to choose from, such as:
- Learning, Teaching, and Teacher Education. This concentration focuses on the study of learning, and it emphasizes how to teach across multiple disciplines in diverse areas.
- Higher Education Teaching. This concentration focuses on leadership in higher education, and it teaches you how to build a curriculum for a college setting.
- Language, Literacy, and Culture. This concentration studies communication, language, and literacy development across many different cultures, and you can explore how to use that understanding to help student learning.
- Social Equity and Social Studies. This concentration teaches about K-12 social studies as well as key issues in civic engagement and equity in education.
- Instructional Design and Technology. This concentration focuses on the implementation of new technologies into the classroom. You’ll learn how to research which technologies will likely have the best outcomes on learning, and you may even get to help create new technologies for the classroom.
There are additional concentrations in this field as well. Different schools may have different concentrations available to choose from.
Curriculum & Instruction Careers & Salaries
A PhD in Curriculum and Instruction can help you qualify for a number of promising careers in education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some education careers associated with advanced training in curriculum and instruction.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Training and Development Managers||$120,130|
|Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals||$98,420|
|General and Operations Managers||$97,970|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||$96,910|
|Postsecondary Education Teachers||$63,910|
|High School Teachers||$61,820|
|Special Education Teachers||$61,820|
|Middle School Teachers||$61,320|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that careers in the education, training, and library field are projected to see a 10% growth rate over the next ten years.
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Graduates tend to seek out jobs as teachers or administrators in a K-12 setting or a college setting. A PhD can also help professionals qualify for positions in research. Choosing a degree specialization can help you tailor your studies to your interests and career goals.
Curriculum and Instruction Doctorate Curriculum
Here are examples of courses that may be found in online PhD programs in curriculum and instruction:
- Education Policy and Law: This course teaches you how to understand laws and policy development in the modern education setting.
- Ethics and Equity in Education: This course teaches you how to promote respect for diversity, other cultures, and their values in an educational setting.
- Instruction Theories and Trends: This course explores the impact of legislative and socio-political forces on school curriculum and class structure.
- Assessment and Test Construction: You’ll learn about issues of educational assessments as well as basic techniques for test construction and statewide testing programs.
- Gender Issues in Education: This course covers issues related to gender and sexual diversity in education settings.
- Cultural Processes, Social, and Emotional Development: You’ll learn about emotional and social development across a life span.
- Clinical Experience in Improving Instructional Effectiveness: This course looks at behaviors that can influence student performance, and it also covers various classroom strategies.
- Learning and Cognition: You’ll learn about the theories of learning and cognition, including how biology and environment can have an impact.
- Discourse Analysis: This course can teach you about conversation analysis, critical discourse approaches, rhetorically informed discourse, and other types of discourse analysis.
- Controversies in Curriculum: This course teaches you about curriculum controversies in the United States and how they’re affected by a school’s purpose and by different ideas of learning and teaching.
The specific courses you take in a doctorate in curriculum and instruction program may depend on your school and concentration.
How to Choose an Online PhD in Curriculum and Instruction Program
Just as is the case when selecting online masters in curriculum and instruction, there are many things to consider when looking at online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction, such as:
- School size and type. There are advantages to both smaller schools and larger schools, even when it comes to online education degree programs. Larger public schools may offer more class sections than smaller schools, but some students may prefer the more personal small classes.
- Program cost. Programs can vary in cost, especially for out-of-state students.
- Transfer policies. You may want to check whether a school will allow you to transfer any previous credits from previous schools.
- Student support services. You can check to see what student services are available to help you succeed in a program.
- Course and concentration offerings. Different schools can offer different concentrations and courses. If you’re aiming for a specific career path, you may want to make sure a school covers all of the courses you’ll need.
If you’re considering a doctorate program in this field, it’s beneficial to look at multiple programs to see which one fits your needs best.
Admission requirements for a school can vary depending on the institution, but here are some general requirements for most schools:
- Masters degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- GRE or GMAT scores (if required)
- Professional teaching or training experience
- Statement of intent
Many schools also require a resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an application fee. Potential applicants may also be required to have an interview.
Curriculum and Instruction PhD Programs Accreditation
When choosing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction program, it’s beneficial to make sure your prospective school is regionally accredited.
If a school is regionally accredited, it has been reviewed by an organization that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regional accreditation ensures that a school meets certain quality standards.
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Whether a school is accredited or not can have an effect on whether you can transfer your credits to another school later. Most employers also tend to have greater trust in educational credentials that come from accredited institutions.
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
Doctorate programs for curriculum and instruction have the chance to earn programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
CAEP evaluates doctorate programs to ensure that their curricula is up to industry standards. The council has a mission to advance equity and excellence in educator preparation and support improvement in student learning. Employers and certification boards may require applicants to complete CAEP accredited programming.
Curriculum and Instruction Licensure and Certifications
Professionals who complete a doctorate in curriculum and instruction may wish to pursue licensure or industry certification to improve their employment options.
These licenses and certification requirements vary by state, but many states require a teaching or administrative certification for educational or administrative roles in schools. A standard teaching certification can help new graduates find work in higher education and other teaching opportunities.
The requirements for teaching certification vary by state. In general, it requires you to hold a bachelors degree or higher, pass skills and knowledge tests, complete a state-approved teaching program, and complete a student teaching experience.
Professionals in non-teaching roles may need an education administrator license. The general requirements for this credential include completing an education-related degree, completing a training program, and participating in a supervised practice teaching experience. Those who pursue a school administrator license typically need previous experience in the education field and may need to pass an exam.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re currently working, you may be able to qualify for various scholarships or tuition programs through your employer. You can also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you’re eligible for student loans or other forms of aid from the government.
Public or private organizations may also offer scholarship programs for specific career fields, such as education. You can also check with your school to see if they have any scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship opportunities available.
What Can You Do with a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction?
A PhD in Curriculum and Instruction can help educators advance their expertise and qualifications in the field. A doctoral degree can help you qualify for leadership positions as well as research and postsecondary teaching positions.
Many graduates pursue careers as instructional designers, assessing and developing curricula for students. They might also become curriculum directors, implementing effective frameworks for classrooms and helping with teacher training. Experienced educators with a PhD may also enter leadership positions as principals, K-12 administrators, or postsecondary education administrators.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Online?
A PhD in Curriculum and Instruction generally takes 3 to 5 years to complete. How long it takes can vary depending on how many credits your program requires and whether you’re completing the program full-time or part-time.
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The time it takes to complete your program may also vary based on whether or not you need to complete a dissertation. If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program may be completed in 3 years with full-time enrollment.
What’s the Difference Between a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction vs. Educational Leadership?
While both a PhD in Educational Leadership and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction are common doctorate programs for teachers, each has a different focus.
|PhD in Curriculum and Instruction||PhD in Educational Leadership|
A doctorate in curriculum and instruction may focus more on the classroom and teaching methods, while educational leadership will likely focus more on improving educational practices. Either could be a beneficial PhD for teachers.
What’s the Difference Between a PhD in Instructional Design vs. Curriculum and Instruction?
A PhD in Instructional Design and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction may sound similar, but they have some key differences.
|PhD in Curriculum and Instruction||PhD in Instructional Design|
The degree path that’s best for you will likely depend on your long-term career goals.
What’s the Difference Between an EdD vs. PhD in Curriculum and Instruction?
Students pursuing a doctorate may pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Curriculum and Instruction or a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Curriculum and Instruction. While the two degrees are similar, they have different focuses.
|PhD in Curriculum and Instruction||EdD in Curriculum and Instruction|
A PhD tends to look more at research, while an EdD in Curriculum and Instruction will likely focus more on real-life applications.
Is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction Worth It?
Yes, a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction is worth it for many students. Education is an essential field that often needs more people. Teachers, principals, instructional coordinators, and administrators are often a necessity.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for education and training jobs is expected to grow by 10% over the next ten years. In a curriculum and instruction doctoral program, you can learn about best teaching methods and practices, about effective learning environments and tools, and about education leadership. A PhD can also help you qualify for research and postsecondary teaching positions.
Universities Offering Online Doctorate 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.
Earning a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Andrews University requires the completion of at least 61 credit hours. Full-time students can typically finish in 6 years. Courses may be taken online or in the evenings to help meet the needs of working adults. Applications can be submitted for fall, spring, or summer terms.
Andrews University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students who choose Capella University for their online PhD in Education may start their dissertations early. The program’s faculty provides extensive support through virtual residencies and seminars, in addition to regular coursework. There are three specialization options available: Leadership for Higher Education, Nursing Education, and Leadership in Educational Administration.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Carson-Newman University offers a PhD in Administrative Leadership with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction that can be earned online. Students can typically complete the 57 credits required to graduate in 3 years. Courses are 8 weeks long and typically taken one at a time. Carson-Newman University is a Christian school.
Carson-Newman is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Columbus State University offers a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Leadership. The program uses a blend of face-to-face and online instruction. Coursework includes Qualitative Research Methods, Introduction to Statistical Methods in Education, Trends and Issues in Curriculum Studies, and more.
Columbus State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Evangel University offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Curriculum, and Instruction. The program uses a cohort model and is fully online. Classes are taught by faculty members with years of experience working in K-12 settings. Prospective students can apply to begin in fall, spring, or summer terms.
Evangel University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Georgia Southern University’s Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies uses a hybrid on-campus and online format. Most students in the program work in the field of education. The curriculum covers theoretical and pragmatic issues related to education. Courses include Educational Statistics I, Field-Based Educational Research, Globalization and Higher Education, and more.
Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Kansas State University offers a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. The program requires the completion of 90 credit hours of post-baccalaureate coursework. Course options include Historical Research in Education, Statistical Methods in Education, Comparative Philosophies of Education, and more. The program is mostly on campus, but some courses are available online. Accepted students can start in the fall, spring, or summer.
Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Liberty University offers an online program for a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. The program requires the completion of 60 credit hours and takes an average of 3 years to finish. It is research-oriented and includes courses such as Research in Curriculum Design and Development, Curriculum Theory, Issues and Trends in Curriculum and Instruction, and more.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Montana State University’s PhD in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction is intended for students who want to pursue careers conducting scientific research in the field of education. The program includes a combination of online and face-to-face coursework. New students may begin in the fall on a full-time or part-time basis.
Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Northeastern University offers an online program for a Doctor of Education. The program can be completed with part-time or full-time schedules. Most students take 3 or 4 years to finish. The program does include occasional residencies on campus that are 2 days long. Northeastern uses a quarterly academic calendar. Applicants are expected to have at least 3 years of relevant work experience.
Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Regent University offers a PhD in Education—Curriculum and Instruction that can be earned online. The program requires the completion of at least 67 credit hours. Students in the program are given opportunities to study the latest trends in the field and conduct their own research. Regent University teaches from a Christian worldview.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern Wesleyan University offers a Doctor of Education program that requires the completion of 60 credit hours. Each course is 7 weeks long. The program typically takes about 40 months to complete, and the dissertation process begins in the first year. It is completed mostly online, but students are required to come to campus for summer residencies.
Southern Wesleyan University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Texas A&M University offers an online program for a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Accepted students progress through the 64 required credit hours of online coursework with a cohort and can typically complete the program in 4 years. This program is intended for students who already have a master’s degree and at least five years of professional teaching experience.
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas Tech University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (Track in STEM). Students must complete 63 credit hours of courses, which are available both online and on campus. Prospective students can apply to begin in the fall and are expected to already have a master’s degree.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University at Albany offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction. The program has 7 specialization options, including Society, Equity, and Social Studies, TESOL and Second Language Acquisition, and Science and Mathematics Education. Other options are Literacy, Language, and Culture, Language and Technology, Learning Science and Technology, and Learning, Teaching, and Teacher Education.
UAlbany is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Florida offers a Doctor of Education. The program consists of online classes that have both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Each class is either 8 or 16 weeks long. Students in the program are required to come to campus for summer institutes, qualifying exams, and the dissertation defense. New cohorts begin every other year.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Louisiana—Monroe offers an online program for a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. The program requires the completion of 60 credit hours and can potentially be finished in just 2 years. Course options include Educational Research and Inquiry, Applied Statistical Analyses, Instructional Design and Technology Integration, and more.
The University of Louisiana Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of South Carolina offers a Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies that can be earned 100% online. Each course is 8 weeks long and options include Introduction to Diversity and the Curriculum, Applications of Learning Principles, Educational Policy Analysis, and more. GRE and GMAT scores are not required to apply.
The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Toledo offers a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. Students are required to complete 60 semester hours of coursework, which can be done on campus or in hybrid online and on-campus format. Four concentrations are available: Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education, Educational Technology, and Early Childhood. Prospective students are expected to already have a master’s degree.
The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of West Florida offers a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Administration and Leadership Studies or Curriculum and Assessment. Coursework includes Philosophical Foundations of Education, Mixed Methods Research Design, Quantitative Methods and Educational Statistics I, and more.
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction Online
A PhD in Curriculum and Instruction can be beneficial for educators who want to advance their qualifications or help create effective learning environments and instruction. Online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction can help graduates qualify for positions in school administration, traditional classroom settings, or research and academia.
Many professionals with a PhD in this field go on to become instructional coordinators and school leaders. If you’re interested in developing your expertise in this growing field, you can start comparing online PhD in Curriculum and Instruction programs from accredited schools today.
The sooner you find the doctoral program that’s right for you, the sooner you can begin this next step in your educational and professional journey.