Online Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs Resource

A person who earns a degree in curriculum and instruction is qualified to craft curricula that encompass various subjects and suit a wide range of learning styles. The ideal candidates for curriculum and instruction degrees possess a love of learning, a desire to help shape the curriculum, and the knowledge to make decisions about curriculum. Many schools offer curriculum and instruction programs that prepare graduates for a variety of teaching and specialist positions. Online degree programs in curriculum and instruction are also available to those looking to advance their education.

Curriculum & Instruction Degrees and Certifications

Graduates with a degree in curriculum and instruction can improve their careers in many ways. Most districts have a different pay category for specialists, which increases a teacher’s base pay. Curriculum and instruction specialists can become mentor teachers for their district, providing guidance and counseling for new teachers. Teachers with this specialization may also be eligible to find jobs as grade level or department chairs, who give important advice to other teachers and influence the curriculum. Many educators in larger districts seek to become curriculum writers for their district, in which they will write curricula for different subjects aligned across grade levels. It is also common for teachers to earn this certification to increase their own teaching abilities and job skills. Many jobs are also available to those who complete online degree programs in curriculum and instruction.

A bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction prepares the graduate for the jobs of classroom teacher, educational administrative assistant, or educational testing specialist. The bachelor’s degree also prepares you to further your study by earning a master’s degree in the education field, if you so wish.

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is for experienced teachers wanting to expand their field of expertise. It is recommended that master’s candidates hold certification as a teacher and have several years of teaching experience.

Top-Ranked Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

The following schools were ranked by US News as having the best curriculum and instruction graduate programs in 2017.

1. University of Wisconsin—Madison
2. Stanford University
2. Teachers College, Columbia University
4. Michigan State University
5. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
6. Vanderbilt University (Peabody)
7. University of Texas—Austin
8. University of Georgia
9. Ohio State University
10. Indiana University—Bloomington
10. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

See our Best Colleges for Education Majors page for more information on top-ranked schools for teachers.

Profiles of Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

Teachers College, Columbia University
The Teachers College at Columbia University offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching that prepares graduates to become leaders in curriculum and pedagogy development and design. The course sequence takes a broad interpretation of leadership across the components of curriculum and teaching to prepare students for the next stages of their careers. Students also complete an integrative project during their studies that emphasizes student understanding in the knowledge and practice of leadership. The Teachers College is home to the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching, a research-driven organization devoted to developing an understanding of elementary, middle, and high school restructuring. The Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College was the first in the US established for the scholarly study of problems in curriculum and teaching in all subjects and schooling levels and today maintains its focus on the theory and practice of teaching and curriculum with its top-ranked graduate and undergraduate programs.

University of Illinois—​Urbana-​Champaign
The top-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign offers several competitive masters and doctoral degree programs in Curriculum, Aesthetics, and Teacher Education. These flexible and personalized programs allow students to choose a primary focus in curriculum, aesthetics, or teacher education paired with a specialty sub-field in early childhood, middle grades, secondary, or social studies education. Although students are given specialization opportunities, the school emphasizes shared inquiry and diversity in education with an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction. At all levels, students are given a firm foundation in educational psychology, philosophy, and policy. Students pursuing a graduate degree under a non-licensure track will complete and defend a master’s or doctoral thesis that makes an original contribution to curriculum and instruction scholarship. Professional clinical experiences can be arranged through the Department of School and Community Experiences. Competitive fellowships, graduate assistantships, and tuition waivers are available for qualified students.

University of Georgia
The University of Georgia’s Department of Career and Information Studies offers a Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology that can be pursued on a research track in preparation for doctoral study or professional tracks for specialization in School Library Media, Instructional Technology, or Instructional Design and Development. All concentrations in the professional track are offered online in part-time formats, with courses designed to meet the needs of working professionals. Real-world projects are emphasized throughout the curriculum for hands-on learning, and all students complete a research thesis or its equivalent to integrate learning in research methodology and scholarly writing. The curriculum additionally includes field experience and clinical practice opportunities. Many graduates qualify for teacher certification or a certification upgrade and go on to work in a variety of educational settings. The College of Education at the University of Georgia is consistently ranked among the top research institutions in the US.

Curriculum and Instruction Degree Requirements and Coursework

Demand for graduates of curriculum and instruction degree programs is increasing in light of curriculum restructuring nationwide. Those interested in greater participation in developing curricula and implementing new instructional methods are a good match for a curriculum and instruction degree. Since these degree programs are available both with and without teacher certification tracks, a curriculum and instruction degree program can further careers in teaching and in administration.

Some examples of common classes that can be found in a curriculum and instruction degree program include:

  • Introduction to Curriculum Theory
  • Instructional Theory
  • Educational Psychology
  • Leadership & Management of Change
  • Educational Assessment for Instructional Improvement
  • Curriculum Design
  • Curriculum Evaluation
  • Advanced Theories of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Research

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How long does it take to complete a degree in curriculum and instruction?

Answer: The time to completion varies based on whether a student is full- or part-time, but most undergraduate degrees can be completed in four to six years. Many master’s degree programs can be completed in as little as two years.

Question: Do I need to be a certified teacher to earn a degree in curriculum and instruction?

Answer: At the undergraduate level, curriculum and instruction programs typically do not require certification but may offer courses towards certification as part of the program. Most graduate level programs in curriculum and instruction recommend that applicants have two years of teaching experience.

Question: Can I earn a degree in curriculum and instruction online?

Answer: Yes, many schools offer curriculum and instruction degree programs online in full and part-time formats.

Question: How do I know if a program is accredited?

Answer: The State Board of Education for each state typically provides a listing of approved programs for certification or administrative specialist training. You can also check for program accreditation through the new Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).