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

Earning an online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction provides you with advanced training in creating engaging lessons and curriculum structure for students at all educational levels. Individuals who earn this master’s degree pursue careers as teachers, administrators and instructional coordinators.

Taking classes online is often more convenient for working professionals who have 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 choose to take them on a part-time or full-time basis depending on your schedule.

When researching online master’s degree programs in curriculum and instruction, it’s important to find the right program that matches your short- and long-term career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Instructional Technology Students 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. Instructional technology specialist
Reading Education Develop the skills you need to guide students on their reading comprehension journey. Topics usually include theories and foundations of reading instruction, designing a reading curriculum and strategies for engaging and helping struggling readers. Reading specialist, school librarian
Gifted Education Prepares you to work with students who are considered to be exceptionally bright and help them excel in the classroom. Topics usually include gifted instruction theories, how to identify students who are gifted and talented and designing curriculum for gifted students. Gifted and talented teacher, gifted intervention specialist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

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, and these are listed below:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Learning and Development Theories Provides you with 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, policy issues facing public education and how teachers can influence policy on local, state and federal government levels.
Reading Diagnosis Students 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 special interest to you if you want to become a reading education specialist.

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

If you’re enrolled in courses full-time, you can typically earn your online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in about a year. These programs usually require between 30 and 40 credits of classes.

If you’re enrolled part-time, trying to earn additional certificates or not taking classes during the summer, for instance, earning your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction may take longer than a year.

Another factor that influences pacing is the program structure. Online master’s programs that are run as cohorts typically have the same small group of students taking classes together and moving through the program in a synchronized way. Other master’s programs in curriculum and instruction may have you complete classes at your own pace, so you can take more or fewer credits during a semester than you would as a cohort.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
English as a Second Language (ESL) Endorsement Teachers who are interested in designing and implementing curriculum for non-native-English-speaking students can sometimes add an ESL endorsement or an add-on certification. Endorsement requirements are set by state education departments, so be sure to check with the state you plan to teach in to find out details.
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.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

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 it sets you up for success in the education field. Many schools, public and private, 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.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

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

Expected Salary

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.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Factors such as geographical location, workplace type and years of experience in the field influence salary. Instructional coordinators can make more money per year in certain states than others. Below is a chart of the top-paying states for instructional coordinators.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN 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 its implementation and assessment tools. $63,750 per year 11%
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals Principals and other administrators manage all school operations, including academics and daily school activities. They also manage faculty and staff and communicate with families on a regular basis. This career typically requires a master’s degree as it is a leadership role. Principals almost always have teaching experience as well. $94,390 per year 8%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations in the education field provide valuable resources for teachers and other professionals, such as principals and instructional coordinators. Most of them offer benefits for both current students and graduates, 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 public policy that’s pro-education. Benefits and discounted services are also offered to its members.

ASCD: ASCD acts a support system for educators so they can deliver the best possible instruction for their students. This organization was originally known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Members of ASCD are provided with access to webinars, publications, conferences, leadership training and other professional development opportunities.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

No matter what school or programs you’re considering, you have a variety of 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. Consult the resources listed below, and be sure to check with schools you’re applying to to find out what other financial aid options are available.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

TEACH Grant

Award: $4,000

Deadline: October

Eligibility: In exchange for a four-year teaching commitment at a low-income school upon graduation, the TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) grant provides up to $4000 annually.

New England McCullough Memorial Scholarship Fund

Award: Varies

Deadline: December

Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen and enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program in educational administration or a related area.

STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarship

Award: $2,500

Deadline: April

Eligibility: For graduate students who plan to teach in a STEM field at a U.S. school in grades K-12 upon graduation.