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

In an online master’s in curriculum and instruction, you can expect to find advanced training in ways to create engaging lessons and curriculum structures for students at all educational levels. Individuals who earn this master’s degree pursue careers as teachers, administrators, and instructional coordinators.

Many students find that online courses are more convenient for those with other work responsibilities and family commitments to balance with school. Online master’s programs typically allow you to complete classes at your own pace, and you can take them part-time or full-time, depending on your schedule.

When researching online master’s degree programs in curriculum and instruction, finding the right program that matches your short- and long-term career goals is essential.

Available concentrations

Curriculum and instruction degree programs may offer concentrations in specific areas of the field. Although available concentrations vary from school to school, here are a few of the more common options:

  • Instructional technology: You will learn how to enhance student learning and the classroom experience with technology. You may also learn how to design school-wide IT programs to meet school needs. This concentration qualifies graduates for jobs as instructional technology specialists.
  • Reading education: This concentration focuses on theories and foundations of reading instruction, designing a reading curriculum, and strategies for engaging and helping struggling readers. This specialization prepares graduates for jobs like reading specialist or school librarian.
  • Gifted education: A gifted education concentration prepares you to work with exceptionally bright students. Topics usually include gifted instruction theories, identifying gifted and talented students, and designing a curriculum for gifted students. Available jobs include gifted and talented teachers and gifted intervention specialists.

Common degree curriculum

The coursework you take during your master’s program in curriculum and instruction will vary by concentration type and the program you choose to enroll in. However, some courses are common to all curriculum and instruction master’s programs, including:

  • Learning and Development Theories: Provides a solid understanding of foundational educational and child development theories. It usually explores the relationship between learning and teaching and how you can use that to help influence student learning.
  • Teacher Leadership: Explores how teachers can be leaders inside and outside the classroom, public education policy issues, and how teachers can influence policy on local, state, and federal government levels.
  • Reading Diagnosis: You will learn to interpret diagnostic data and other reading assessments to determine a student’s reading comprehension level and how that can help you design curriculum and focus instruction. This course may be of particular interest to you if you want to become a reading education specialist.

Certification and license preparation

Certifications available to graduates of an online program in curriculum and assessment include an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement. Teachers interested in designing and implementing curricula for non-native-English-speaking students can sometimes add an ESL endorsement or an add-on certification. State education departments set endorsement requirements, so check with the state you plan to teach in for details.

Graduates may also be interested in National Board Certification. Becoming a board-certified teacher is one of the most prestigious credentials a K-12 instructor can have, and the application process is rather rigorous — it often involves submitting student work and passing an exam, among other requirements.

Program accreditation

While you’re researching online master’s programs in curriculum and instruction, it’s important to find programs that are accredited. Accreditation ensures that individual schools and programs have met minimum educational standards for quality and sets you up for success in the education field. Many public and private schools require job applicants to have graduated from accredited programs.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits programs aimed to serve PreK-12 educators by ensuring those programs meet high standards and provide evidence of student success.

You can also search for accredited master’s degree programs through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s database by institution name or program.

Program completion timeframe

Full-time students can earn their online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in about a year. These programs usually require 30-40 credits. For part-time students, completing this program can take two years or more.

Another factor that influences completion time is the program structure. In a cohort-based program, students take classes together and move through the program in a synchronized way. Other self-paced programs allow students to complete courses faster or slower, depending on their needs.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Graduates

While a bachelor’s degree is often suitable for entry-level positions, a master’s degree helps you expand available job opportunities. Many positions, such as instructional coordinator, require a master’s degree.

In addition to more job opportunities, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can also help boost your salary potential. Below are some median annual salaries for popular careers people pursue with this degree.

Factors such as geographical location, workplace type, and years of experience in the field influence salary. Instructional coordinators can make more money annually in certain states than in others.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate
Instructional Coordinators This professional role, which can be at a school or district-wide level, usually requires a master’s degree and often builds upon several years of teaching experience in the classroom. In general, instructional coordinators oversee the implementation and creation of school curricula and assist teachers and principals with implementation and assessment tools. $66,490 per year 2%
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals Principals and other administrators manage all school operations, including academics and daily activities. They also manage faculty and staff and communicate with families regularly. This career typically requires a master’s degree as it is a leadership role. Principals almost always have teaching experience as well. $101,320 per year 1%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations in education provide valuable resources for teachers and other professionals, such as principals and instructional coordinators. Most offer current students and graduates benefits, including scholarships, conferences, networking opportunities, job boards, and classroom resources. These are some relevant professional organizations for those interested in curriculum and instruction.

  • National Education Association: The NEA boasts 3 million members, many of whom are classroom teachers, education support professionals, faculty and staff in higher education, and substitute teachers. This association is committed to advancing the cause of public education and provides advocacy resources, lesson plan ideas, and classroom management tools.
  • American Federation of Teachers: Representing over 1.7 million members and possessing over 3000 local affiliates around the country, the AFT supports education professionals and advocates for pro-education public policy. It also offers benefits and discounted services.
  • ASCD: ASCD acts as a support system for educators so they can deliver the best possible instruction for their students. This organization was initially known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ASCD members receive access to webinars, publications, conferences, leadership training, and other professional development opportunities.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Degree

No matter what school or programs you’re considering, you have various options available to help you pay for your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Scholarships, loans, grants, work-study options, and other financial aid are often available from individual schools.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an excellent first step towards obtaining information about loans, scholarships, and grants available to you through the federal government.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

Have questions? Consult the resources listed below, and check with schools you’re applying to to find out what other financial aid options are available.

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Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.