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If you’re a teacher who wants to shape the bigger picture, analyzing educational theories and trends, an online master’s in curriculum and instruction can further your career plus prepare you to work as an academic administrator or instructional coordinator.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for instruction coordinators, who earn a median annual salary of $63,740, is expected to grow by 7% through 2031. In addition, the BLS predicts the job growth for elementary, middle, and high school principals at about 5%, with a median annual salary in 2021 of $98,420.

Most schools estimate this degree takes about one to two years to complete, requiring 30 to 45 credits. Tuition costs per credit can range from about $270 to $1,700. Overall, average tuition for graduate programs during the 2020-21 academic year was $12,394 at public universities and $26,621 at private institutions.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Program

Choose your area of study

The first step in choosing an online master’s in curriculum and instruction program is deciding on your career goals. Some students pursue these degrees to earn a doctorate or advance to an administrative role. Others want to specialize in areas such as gifted and talented studies, integrated STEM education, special education, educational technology, early childhood education, mathematics education, or English as a second language. You’ll want to select a school that aligns with your intended path.

Research schools and programs

If you’re pursuing an online master’s in curriculum and instruction to teach, you’ll need a degree from an accredited school to obtain your teaching license. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality educational standards and impacts whether students can receive financial aid and qualify for future job opportunities. As you research schools and programs, check whether they’re accredited through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Aside from checking the school’s accreditation, you’ll also want to learn more about what your student experience will be like, including answers to the following questions:

  • Are classes delivered synchronously, asynchronously, or in a hybrid format?
  • Are there any in-person requirements, such as internships or student teaching?
  • What support services does the school offer for online students?
  • What networking opportunities are available?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their credentials?

The school’s website, marketing materials, and social media profiles often have this information. Speaking with program representatives can give you answers to your questions as well.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each program’s application requirements and processes vary, so it’s a good idea to confirm with schools before starting your applications. Also, determine if the program has eligibility criteria, such as a minimum undergraduate GPA or a specific bachelor’s degree.

In general, students applying to an online master’s in curriculum and instruction program will have to submit the following:

  • Completed application and fees
  • Official transcripts from previous colleges
  • An updated resume or record of employment history
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from academic and professional references
  • A personal statement or statement of purpose outlining your achievements and plans

Some schools require GRE scores, so if you need to take this standardized test, prepare and sit for the exam while researching schools.

Select your program

There are varying approaches to choosing which programs to apply to. Some students submit multiple applications to boost their odds of acceptance, while others target a single program based on their interests and needs. Whatever path you choose, most schools charge an application fee. That money can add up if you’re applying to several programs. Contact the school to ask about a fee waiver if you need financial assistance with these fees.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

When researching, find out how much programs cost (including tuition and fees) and what types of financial aid are available to students, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, and assistantships.

Students should also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is what schools will use to determine eligibility for federal student loans, need-based institutional aid, work-study jobs, and special programs for educators, like the TEACH Grant Program.

Be sure to research scholarships and grants from other entities like nonprofits, local and state organizations, religious groups, and more. If you’re already working, ask your employer about employer tuition assistance benefits, and if you’re a veteran, find out if the school accepts GI Bill benefits or offers military tuition discounts.

Talk with your school’s financial aid office if you have detailed questions about how to pay for your degree.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Best Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs
01

FSU College of Education
01

Penn State World Campus
01

UF College of Education
01

Arizona State University
01

Ball State University
01

Michigan State University
01

TAMU School of Education and Human Development
01

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Education
01

University of Georgia
01

Clemson University
01

Appalachian State University
01

University of Kansas
01

Indiana University Bloomington
01

Purdue University
01

University of Houston
01

Kansas State University
01

NC State University
01

Auburn University
01

East Carolina University
01

Arkansas State University
01

Florida International University
01

University at Albany
01

Kennesaw State University
01

Emporia State University
01

George Mason University
01

Florida Atlantic University
01

Central Michigan University
01

California State University at Fullerton
01

University of Cincinnati
01

Bowling Green State University
01

South Dakota State University
01

Ohio University
01

University of North Texas
01

Minnesota State University Moorhead
01

Liberty University
01

Georgia Southern University
01

Angelo State University
01

University of Nebraska
01

Western Governors University
01

Regent University
01

Virginia Tech
01

University of West Florida
01

Chadron State College
01

Fitchburg State University
01

Texas Tech University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we focused our research on master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction. The most common types of degrees available in this field are Master of Education (M.Ed), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Arts (MA).

All programs are offered by schools that have regional accreditation. Many programs also have specialized accreditations for educational programs through the Council for the Accreditation of Educational Programs (CAEP). These accreditations ensure that programs meet the high-quality standards for postsecondary education.

We specifically sought programs that can be completed entirely or primarily through online coursework. These programs are accessible to most students regardless of geographic location or schedule.

Our researchers evaluated the programs based on their reputation, outcomes, cost, flexibility, and faculty. Using this information, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

Online master’s in curriculum and instruction programs vary based on the school. Still, students can expect a core curriculum that helps foster a critical understanding of changing demographics, transdisciplinary knowledge, educational trends and policies, and serving a diverse and inclusive community.

Depending on your specialty, you’ll also have coursework that might involve assessing students’ English language development, designing programs for gifted students, or learning to integrate instructional materials with technology and techniques.

Because this program covers teaching methods, theories, research, and technology, it doesn’t typically have the in-person fieldwork that other teaching-based degrees require. It might offer more flexibility for students already employed or those who need to work on their degrees part-time. If you want hands-on experience, seek out programs with an internship or practicum component.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in curriculum and instruction degree program

  • Educational Theories and Trends: Because this program focuses on assessing and developing curriculum, expect to explore different curriculum models and strategies for implementing them. Such classes also discuss what impacts curriculum development, from students’ learning styles to legislation and socio-political issues.
  • Educational Research: Here, students analyze and explore a variety of scholarly methodologies and research approaches. They develop the skills to find qualitative and quantitative studies and learn how to express educational topics that need further research.
  • Educational Technology: Education integrates technology in the classroom and professional training settings. A course like this would allow students to evaluate various educational technologies and methods and explore how to fold these advancements into a curriculum.
  • Writing and Reading Across Curricula: To connect with a diverse group of learners, instructors need to know traditional and alternative ways of study. A course like this focuses on developing skills through reading, comprehending, and creating written content.
  • Teachers as Leaders: Relationships developed through leadership and coaching models can improve teaching practices. A course like this examines the critical role that teachers and their relationships play in creating conditions for improvement.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Degree?

Career outlook

In the dynamic field of education, the demand for skilled curriculum and instruction professionals is on the rise. An online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction equips educators with the knowledge and expertise to design, implement, and assess effective educational programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, instructional coordinators, who oversee school curriculums and teaching standards, make a median salary of $66,490 annually. Individuals with extensive experience may make considerably more.

The need for educators with training in curriculum creation is expected to increase by roughly two percent over the next decade, with about 5,300 new professionals needed to enter the field to meet demand.

Career paths

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction opens the door to a wide range of career paths in the field of education. Graduates with this degree are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to design and improve educational programs. Here are some common career paths for individuals with a master’s in curriculum and instruction:

  • Instructional coach — provides expert guidance to schools, districts, and education agencies on curriculum development, instructional practices, and assessment strategies.
  • Online course developer — creates e-learning courses for various educational settings, including K-12, higher education, and corporate training.
  • Education researcher — works in academic institutions, think tanks, or research organizations, conducting studies, collecting data, and analyzing educational practices.
  • Educational materials developer — designs and creates educational materials, textbooks, and digital resources.
  • Professional development specialist — designs and delivers training and workshops for educators.

Curriculum Developer

Earning Potential: $51,993-$82,216+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field

A curriculum developer is responsible for designing and shaping educational programs and materials. They collaborate with educators, administrators, and experts to create curricula that align with academic standards and enhance student learning. Curriculum developers assess the needs of learners, design instructional materials, and incorporate effective teaching strategies. They continually evaluate and update curricula to ensure they remain relevant and engaging. These professionals play a critical role in shaping the educational experiences of students, focusing on curriculum content, sequencing, and the incorporation of innovative and effective instructional methods.

Instructional Coordinator

Earning Potential: $59,886-$78,487+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field

An instructional coordinator plays a vital role in the education sector by improving teaching and learning practices. These professionals assess and enhance curricula, ensuring alignment with educational standards. They provide guidance and support to teachers, offering professional development and mentoring to improve instructional methods. Instructional coordinators also analyze student performance data, identify areas of improvement, and implement strategies to boost learning outcomes. They liaise with administrators, design assessments, and ensure that schools meet educational standards. Instructional coordinators are instrumental in enhancing the quality of education by fostering effective teaching practices and promoting student success.

Education Consultant

Earning Potential: $85,176-$131,217+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in education, curriculum and instruction or a related field

An educational consultant provides guidance and expertise to schools, institutions, and educational organizations. They offer insights and solutions to improve teaching, learning, and overall educational effectiveness. Educational consultants assess curriculum development, instructional strategies, and assessment methods. They help schools and educational agencies make informed decisions about policy and teacher training. These professionals are instrumental in shaping educational practice and enhancing student outcomes. Educational consultants play a critical role in advancing the quality and effectiveness of education systems.

Online Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in curriculum and instruction degree program?

The first step is to confirm the requirements and application processes for any program you’re applying to by talking to the school’s admissions office. If you’re applying to multiple schools, create a spreadsheet or checklist to keep track of deadlines.

Most schools use an online application portal where students can submit their application and supporting documents. Ensuring you have digital versions of all the required information, such as college transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and work experience, will help streamline the application process. Some specializations, such as a STEM concentration, require a certain amount of previous coursework in mathematics or science.

Talk with a school admissions counselor to verify you have everything the school needs successfully submitted or mailed in by the submission deadlines.

How much does an online master’s in curriculum and instruction cost?

The cost of an online master’s in curriculum and instruction is based on factors unique to each student and school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition for graduate programs was $12,394 at public universities and $26,621 at private schools during the 2020-21 academic year. Public universities may charge different tuition for in-state and out-of-state students or a flat-rate tuition for distance learners.

Online students can expect to pay fees for technical support, online library resources, and technology purchases like an updated computer. However, they can save money by not paying for transportation, on-campus housing, and activity fees.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction degree?

While this depends on the curriculum, most schools estimate their online master’s programs in curriculum and instruction take about one to two years to complete. Attending part-time instead of full-time will lengthen that time frame, and the total number of credits in the program also impacts the program’s length. Look into whether any schools offer accelerated learning options or asynchronous learning, where you can complete the required coursework at your own pace.

Is an online curriculum and instruction degree worth it?

An online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can open doors to career advancement, higher earning potential, and eligibility for positions that require advanced qualifications. It enhances your teaching skills but also expands your career opportunities and enables you to make a significant impact on education, from designing effective curricula to improving student outcomes.

This degree program focuses on improving instructional techniques and strategies. You’ll gain insights into effective teaching methods, assessment practices, and ways to differentiate instruction for various student populations. With a master’s degree, you become a more competitive candidate for educational leadership roles that can lead to salary increases and promotions. The salary range for a learning and development consultant is $72,514-$89,390, based on data from Salary.com.

Online programs provide the flexibility to study from anywhere, allowing working professionals and those with busy schedules to pursue advanced education without disrupting their current commitments. The convenience of online learning eliminates the need for commuting to a physical campus, saving time and expenses associated with travel. Online education also offers access to a wide range of programs from various institutions, including prestigious universities, expanding educational options for students.


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