The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects instructional coordinator positions to grow 11% by 2026, creating 17,200 instructional coordinator jobs. This increase is due in part to schools’ increasing focus on student achievement and the integration of technology into the classroom. An online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction equips graduates with the expertise needed to succeed in this growing field. Current educators who earn a curriculum and instruction master’s improve their teaching methods and qualify for employment in a variety of academic environments.
Choosing a Program
An online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction prepares learners to use teaching objectives to reach specific learning outcomes. Comprising approximately 30 credits, online curriculum and instruction programs combine theoretical knowledge with practical training in areas such as curriculum design, assessment techniques, and educational research. Students explore the role of instructional leaders in contemporary society and engage in self-reflective practices that encourage cultural awareness.
In addition to developing schoolwide curricular activities, students learn how to conduct literature reviews and analyze data to guide teaching methods. Most online curriculum and instruction degrees include student teaching opportunities, allowing students to fulfill a requirement for teacher certification while practicing in diverse learning environments.
Students considering earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction online often have specific occupational interests, such as teaching social studies to middle school students or implementing literacy intervention strategies. Selecting a concentration allows students to develop expertise in an academic area. Examples of concentrations include environmental education, gifted education, and inclusive classroom instruction. Students can use elective coursework to further customize the degree to their professional goals. Most programs also offer training in special education and STEM education.
For career information, skip down:
- What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Program?
- Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Careers
- Accreditation for Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Degrees
- Professional Organizations for Curriculum Instruction
Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Are the Best Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Programs?
1. Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
The online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Pennsylvania State University features five focus areas: STEM education; curriculum and supervision; children’s literature; elementary education; and theory and practice in English, social studies, and world languages. In addition to these five concentrations, students can design a customized master of education in curriculum and instruction with the help of a faculty adviser.
Penn State’s online M.Ed. curriculum closely replicates its prestigious on-campus program, and includes instruction from the same faculty members. The program’s asynchronous delivery method allows distance students to log on and complete coursework whenever and wherever is most convenient. The program features a flat-rate tuition per credit, and online students qualify for a variety of financial aid resources.
Penn State’s 30-credit M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction features courses like teaching as inquiry, theories of childhood, and a three-credit colloquium that introduces learners to the program and their fellow students. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Located in University Park, Penn State boasts a long and renowned history of rigorously educating future teachers and other education professionals. The school’s online campus enrolls nearly 18,000 students and is the second largest in the state university system. Special services for online students include technical support, a nationally recognized research library, academic advising, career counseling resources, and a new student orientation.
Penn State is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
2. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Founded in 1907 in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University began as a teacher training school. Today, its online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction program encourages students to complete action research projects with the supervision of experienced faculty members. Many student research projects go on to appear in national publications or as presentations at local, state, and national conferences.
The 39-credit master of arts in education in curriculum and instruction offers concentrations in history/social studies education with eligibility for 9–12 social studies advanced licensure or English education with eligibility for 9–12 English education advanced licensure. Online students take courses like leadership and communication skills in education, understanding and engaging in educational research, and addressing differences in human learning in schools. The program includes four research courses and 27 credits in the chosen specialization area. The hybrid program combines online and in-person learning, and students can enroll part-time or full-time.
ECU’s college of education at requires M.A.Ed. applicants to hold or be eligible for an initial teaching license. Other requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a overall GPA of 2.7 or better, as well as satisfactory scores on the GRE or the Miller Analogies Test. Prospective learners can apply for the program year-round, and the school offers four start times each year. Transfer students must complete at least 80% of the credits required for the M.A.Ed. at ECU.
ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Texas Tech University
Located in Lubbock, Texas Tech University offers an online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction that focuses on issues like curriculum theory, design, delivery, evaluation, and assessment. All coursework for the M.Ed. program is delivered online asynchronously. Although the program does not require any on-campus courses, distance learners benefit from opportunities throughout the year for face-to-face interactions with faculty members.
The 36-credit master of education in curriculum and instruction allows students to choose whether or not they want to complete a thesis project. Students who undertake a thesis complete six credits of thesis research, while those who opt out of the thesis must enroll in an additional six credits of coursework. The program offers two specializations: bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) or language and literacy. Online learners take classes like emergent and early literacy development and pedagogy, action research, and a practicum.
Students can enroll in the program part time or full time depending on their preference, but most learners take two courses per semester. This non-cohort course of study particularly suits prospective students looking for flexibility and the chance to individualize their schedule. New students can begin the program at any one of the four university semester start times each year. TTU accepts a maximum of six transfer credits towards the degree. To be eligible for admission to the M.Ed. program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and submit a resume and two professional references.
TTU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
4. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers numerous prestigious graduate-level education programs for teachers. The school also hosts several world-class research centers and institutes in its school of education. UC’s online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is designed for working K–12 teachers who want to improve their students’ learning outcomes. The program gives teachers a comprehensive understanding of the American education system and equips them with the theoretical and practical tools necessary to create positive change in the classroom.
UC’s master of education in curriculum and instruction offers distance learners three concentrations: general studies, STEM, or gifted. The gifted specialization helps teachers understand how they can remove barriers to achievement in gifted, creative, and talented students. The STEM specialization focuses on how best to integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into the K–12 classroom.
The frequently updated M.Ed. program curriculum includes classes like attitude formation and change in the classroom, educational research for master’s students, and teaching and learning in diverse classrooms. Students also complete a three-credit clinical experience in improving instructional effectiveness, which can take place at the student’s current place of work or another approved placement site. Students must make their own arrangements for the clinical experience.
Admissions requirements for the M.Ed. include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Prospective students must also submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a written statement outlining personal and professional goals. The school does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.
UC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
One of the largest universities in the U.S., Michigan State University, located in East Lansing, is home to more than 50,000 students. Its master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, available through the college of education, is designed for both experienced and beginning teachers. The school offers coursework for the MA in teaching and curriculum online, with no in-person requirements.
The 30-credit program offers seven concentrations: English language learner (ELL) or ESL; educational technology; science and mathematics education; literacy and language instruction; K–12 educational administration; educational psychology; and socio-cultural perspectives in teaching and learning. Students take nine credits within their concentration.
Additionally, online learners can pursue two different program specializations, in either literacy/language or K–12 ESL. The K–12 ESL specialization is the first such program in Michigan offered entirely online. The literacy/language specialization focuses on education, research, and the theory of language and literacy development. The curriculum includes courses like inquiry into classroom teaching and learning, curriculum in its social context, and teachers as teacher educators.
The program does not require online learners to complete a thesis. However, students must complete a synthesis paper and a professional portfolio to fulfill the program’s final requirements. Students can apply for and enroll in the curriculum and instruction program three times each year, in the spring, summer, and fall.
Michigan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Florida International University
The online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Florida International University in Miami places special emphasis on helping teachers understand how to meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse learners.
FIU’s 36-credit (12 courses) master of science in curriculum and instruction takes just 12 months of full-time study to complete. Students complete six accelerated eight-week terms, enrolling in four courses each semester. Coursework covers topics like research, curriculum development, and curriculum and instruction. Courses offered include learning styles applications, developing a global perspective, and education of the child in urban society. The program culminates with the completion of an action research project, which identifies and finds solutions for a current problem in education related to curriculum and instruction.
To qualify for admission, students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last 60 hours of upper-division coursework. Applicants also need either a current teaching certificate or a letter of eligibility and passing scores on the teacher licensing exam to be considered for admission. Additionally, applicants must have access to a school with K–12 students or teachers in order to complete their action research project.
FIU’s MS in curriculum and instruction offers a flat-rate tuition that is the same for both Florida residents and non-residents, including international students. An FIU online academic merit scholarship is available for individuals who qualify.
FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. Ball State University
Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University offers a master’s in curriculum and instruction online. Ball State’s nationally recognized teachers college offers a master of arts in curriculum and education technology designed for professional educators who want to effectively use technology in K–12 academic settings. The 30-credit program is fully online, with no on-campus requirements.
Students can pursue one of two nine-credit specializations: curriculum or educational technology. Interested learners can also choose to add a computer education license or a certificate in computer education. If you plan your course sequence strategically, you do not need to take any additional courses to earn either of these two additional certifications.
Coursework in the curriculum and education technology program covers the evaluation of educational programs, research on the impact of student learning, and the alternative school curricula. Special support offered to online students at Ball State includes access to a writing center, library services, tutoring, and technology assistance.
Applicants to the curriculum and education technology MA program must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.75 or better or a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in the last half of their bachelor’s coursework. The school does not require students to submit GRE scores. Since some states have special regulations about licensing education programs, it’s important for out-of-state students to research state authorizations for students outside of Indiana before applying.
Ball State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. George Mason University
George Mason University, located in Fairfax, Virginia, is a public research university with a student body of more than 39,000. Its online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is designed for K–12 educators who want to learn to design and teach online classes or evaluate online educational options. George Mason’s program follows the International Association for K–12 Online Learning’s national standards for quality online teaching.
The school’s college of education and human development offers the 30-credit M.Ed. degree, which gives student the option of selecting a concentration in blended and online learning in schools. The cohort-style program design allows students to learn with and from the same group of learners throughout the entire program. Students can also receive one-on-one academic advising from faculty members, library resources, tech services, and tutoring assistance.
Applicants to George Mason’s master of education in curriculum and instruction program must hold a valid K–12 state teaching license. Other admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Students may be able to use some of the courses in this program as professional development credits, depending on their school district’s guidelines. Some Virginia state residents may qualify for a 15% pre-K–12 Virginia educators tuition discount. Out-of-state students accepted into the program qualify for an automatic 40% tuition discount, but still must pay a higher tuition rate than Virginia residents.
George Mason is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, evangelical Christian university affiliated with the Wesleyan Church and located in Marion. The school’s master of education degree with a major in curriculum and instruction is designed for working teachers looking for an advanced understanding of curriculum and instruction. The 33-credit degree emphasizes teacher leadership and teacher efficacy.
IWU’s master’s in curriculum and instruction online program does not require any in-person components, and teachers from every state can enroll. The degree takes about 24 months to complete. Students go through the program in a cohort of other learners who provide mutual support to each other and take all of the same classes at the same time. Because everyone takes the same classes together, students only need to register for courses once. After that, the school automatically registers them for the appropriate courses.
Online learners take classes sequentially and one at a time. Required courses include the teacher leader as change agent, leading instructional improvement, and personal attributes and leadership. All students must also complete the leading an inquiry-based and student-engaging classroom course, which includes a clinical experience in the teacher’s own classroom.
Students pay a flat-rate tuition that the school determines before they enroll in the program. Online learners pay the same tuition as residents of Indiana, regardless of where they live. IWU online students may qualify for a variety of financial aid opportunities, including grants, scholarships, loans, military/veteran benefits, tuition reimbursement, and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
IWU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The master of science in education with a specialization in curriculum, instruction, and technology from Nova Southeastern University helps educators incorporate new technologies into their teaching in order to improve learning outcomes. The program is designed for teachers, curriculum designers, administrators, and instructional leaders. The 36-credit curriculum includes courses like introduction to web authoring, web 2.0 tools, and internet for educators.
NSU’s online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction does not require any in-person components. Students can complete the MS in education in one to two years. Each class lasts eight weeks, and there are two eight-week terms each semester. The well-respected faculty members in the department of higher education leadership and instructional technology come from NSU as well as other major universities from around the country and world.
To graduate, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better and complete all coursework and a portfolio. NSU accepts a maximum of six graduate transfer credits for this program. To qualify as transfer credit, the student must earn a grade of “B“ or better for the course and it must come from a regionally accredited college or university. Online students at NSU benefit from a variety of support services, including career development, library resources, and academic advising. The Abraham S. Fischler College of Education at NSU is renowned for hosting the first doctoral distance education program in 1971 and offering online classes as early as 1982.
NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Columbia International University
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia International University is a Christian university based in Columbia, South Carolina. The school’s graduate programs primarily offer degrees in education and teaching. CIU’s master of education in instruction and learning prepares teachers for leadership roles in Christian schools in the U.S. and around the world. Graduates of the program find work developing and writing curricula, administrating Christian schools, leading instructional teams in Christian educational settings, or working as master teachers at all educational levels. The program explores issues like curriculum theory, instructional strategies, and supervision principles.
CIU’s 33-credit curriculum and instruction degree includes nine foundational credits, 12 core credits, and 12 generalist concentration credits. Students take courses in understanding the learner, biblical foundations for curriculum, and transformational education. Online learners can choose an individualized concentration like early childhood, learning disabilities, or teaching English as a foreign language, in lieu of the instruction and learning generalist concentration.
CIU’s admission requirements for the M.Ed. in instruction and learning program include a reference from a church leader who has known you for at least two years and a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Online tuition is offered at a flat rate regardless of students’ residency status, and distance learners may qualify for a variety of financial aid resources including grants, scholarships, tuition reimbursement programs, and loans. Additionally, South Carolina residents may qualify for the South Carolina Tuition Grant.
CIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
12. South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
The online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, helps professional educators learn to conduct classes more effectively and interact with students more productively. Designed for already certified teachers, the program does not lead to a South Dakota teaching certificate. Additionally, SDSU cannot confirm that the program meets licensure requirements in other states. All coursework for the degree is available online, and students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live.
Online learners in SDSU’s master of education in curriculum and instruction program watch lectures, complete internships and practicums, and engage in research with the help of experienced faculty members. Students can pursue either a coursework only 35-credit degree or a coursework plus research project 33-credit degree. Individuals completing the research project take fewer courses.
Students choose from four specialty areas: early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, or adult and higher education. Students can additionally choose to complete the program’s ESL coursework. Students who choose this option receive a K–12 English as a new language endorsement on their teaching certificates. Classes available in the program include advanced educational psychology, informational literacy, and effective teaching: theory into practice.
Online learners in SDSU’s curriculum and instruction program benefit from access to SDSU’s career development center. Students receive one-on-one career advising, including resume writing assistance and job interview preparation sessions.
SDSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Dallas Baptist University
Dallas Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts school in Dallas, Texas that offers a curriculum and instruction master’s degree for professional educators who want to work effectively with other educators. The degree prepares graduates to work in roles such as instructional leader, teacher leader, department chair, curriculum specialist, or content specialist.
The 36-credit, non-thesis degree includes 21 core credits and 15 hours within a specialized concentration. Students can choose from eight specializations within the master of education in curriculum and instruction program: Christian school administration, distance learning education, curriculum and instruction specialist, instructional technology, professional life coaching, supervision, special education, or ESL. Courses available through the M.Ed. program include supervision of instruction, research in education, and curriculum and instruction in reading.
All students in DBU’s college of education graduate programs must complete a defense of their degree at the end of the program. This capstone process allows for meaningful assessment of graduate candidates and allows students to demonstrate their skills, development, personal growth, and acquisition of knowledge. Students defend their degree in front of an Educator Preparation Board, which consists of successful and experienced educators from DBU, including practicing teachers, consultants, superintendents, and administrators. DBU also requires all education graduate students to create and submit an e-portfolio that demonstrates their skills, knowledge, and experience and can be used to apply for jobs in the future.
DBU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
14. Robert Morris University – RMU Online
Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Robert Morris University is a private, career-focused university in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Its master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is available fully online, with no in-person requirements and takes as little as one year to complete. Offered by the school of education and social science, the 30-credit MS in instructional leadership is designed for elementary and secondary school teachers, as well as individuals working in scholastic athletics or corporate development and training. Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a overall GPA of 3.0 or better, as well as two letters of recommendation and a resume.
The program explores issues like program evaluation, curricula management, resource allocation for instruction, and monitoring lesson plans. The 30-credit degree includes 12 credits in the instructional leadership core, 15 in education theory and practice, and three in computers and technology. Online courses include web development for educators, an educational research seminar, and decision making in instructional leadership. Students also complete a practicum that allows them to engage in a field-based research project. All faculty members who teach in the program hold experience as educator practitioners, teachers, researchers, principals, school administrators, or counselors.
Students in the program can additionally enroll in RMU’s certificate in online teaching, which provides graduates with a credential signaling that they have the skills to teach students in distance education programs. Individuals who hold an instructional I or instructional II teaching certificate from the state of Pennsylvania can receive an endorsement in online instruction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
RMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
The master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, is a 39-credit program offered fully online at a part-time rate. Students can complete the program in two years. Designed for professional educators, the degree helps develop students’ leadership abilities in the areas of curriculum development, staff development, and instruction. Graduates often pursue jobs as lead teachers, instructional coordinators, curriculum specialists, and educational specialists. Appalachian’s curriculum specialist degree aligns with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction requirements for licensure as a curriculum-instructional specialist.
Appalachian delivers its online curriculum specialist program primarily asynchronously, but students must also participate in a real-time virtual classroom for three hours, one evening a week. The curriculum includes courses such as supervision of instruction, teacher leadership and school improvement, and assessment to improve learning and inform teaching. The program does not require a thesis or comprehensive exam.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, provide official GRE or MAT exam scores, and hold a North Carolina “A“ teaching license or the equivalent from another state. Applicants also must hold a GPA of 3.0 or better from their last degree or a GPA of 2.5 or better and score in the 25th percentile on the GRE or MAT. Appalachian accepts up to nine hours of transfer credit earned from a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of “B“ or higher towards the program.
Appalachian is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. Georgia Southern University
The fully online master of curriculum and instruction from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, is designed for classroom teachers looking to increase their instructional and curricular skills. Students can complete the 12-course, 26-credit program in about 16 months (four consecutive semesters) of part-time enrollment.
GSU’s M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction includes an accomplished teaching specialization. The school offers the degree in collaboration with Valdosta State University and Columbus State University, with expert faculty from each school joining GSU to provide instruction. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as using assessment to improve teaching and learning, multicultural studies across the curriculum, and enhancing student performance. At the end of their studies, learners must complete an electronic portfolio that showcases their work throughout the program.
To be eligible for admission, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a valid, level four or higher renewable teaching certificate, service field certificate, life certificate, or leadership certificate. Applicants also must demonstrate a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better on all undergraduate and graduate coursework. Some applicants who do not meet these requirements may receive provisional admission. Provisional students must earn a grade of “B“ or higher in their first nine credits of coursework in the program, as well as meet other departmental requirements to receive regular graduate student status.
GSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
17. California State University, Fullerton
California State University-Fullerton is a public research university with a student enrollment of more than 40,000. CSUF’s college of education hosts numerous graduate programs, including a fully online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction designed for career classroom teachers. Topics explored in the program include using technology in the classroom, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and elementary classroom teaching. Admission to CSUF’s MS in education with a concentration in elementary curriculum and instruction program requires a four-year undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better.
Learners enroll in courses such as distance education issues and trends in schools; culture and education of Latino students; and social studies, science, and math in early childhood education. The 30-credit program requires nine units of core coursework, six units of curriculum-focused coursework, six units of instruction-focused coursework, and six elective units. Students in the program must also complete one of three culminating experiences worth three credits: a research seminar, project, or thesis.
To pursue the thesis option students must hold a GPA of 3.0 or better and gain approval from an adviser. Students may also add one of the following areas of emphasis to their master’s degree: early childhood education, education for social justice, math and science, professional inquiry and practice, staff development, or technology in education. Some learners in CSUF’s also add a 12-credit certificate of educational technology integration.
CSUF is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
18. Sam Houston State University
Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University is the third oldest public university in Texas. Students interested in online curriculum and instruction programs can enroll in SHSU’s master of education in curriculum and instruction. Designed for professional educators with an interest in developing and researching curriculum changes, the program explores issues like pedagogy, methodology, and theoretical applications related to curriculum design. The degree, offered by the department of curriculum and instruction, also prepares graduates to teach courses at the community college level.
The school offers the M.Ed. almost entirely online with a few required face-to-face research meetings. Students can enroll in the 30-credit program three times a year, in the fall, spring, or summer. SHSU online graduate students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. A variety of financial aid options, including scholarships, exist for online learners in the M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction program. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree and a GPA of 2.5 or better. Individuals with a 3.0 or above GPA from their undergraduate work do not need to take the GRE. Candidates with a 2.5–2.99 GPA must earn and submit satisfactory scores on the GRE in order to qualify for admission.
Each student works with a departmental adviser to create an individual plan of study based on their own academic and career interests, as well as scheduling needs. The curriculum includes courses like instructional coaching, integrating current technology in teaching, and the professional educator’s role.
SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
19. The University of West Florida
The University of West Florida is a mid-sized public university in Pensacola. Its college of education and professional studies offers a 30-credit master of education in curriculum and instruction designed for professional teachers who want to move into leadership or instructional roles.
Students choose a specialization in elementary education, middle-level education, or secondary education to add to their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Each of the specializations includes courses that cover instructional techniques for basic subjects like reading, mathematics, social studies, and science. None of the specializations lead to initial teacher licensure; students must already hold or be seeking a teaching license to qualify for admission to the program.
For each of the specializations, students must also add a cognate area, chosen with the help of an academic adviser. Available cognate areas include: reading endorsement, professional training option, instructional technology, career and technical education, elementary education, middle level education, and secondary education. Online students take seven core courses (21 credits), as well as a three-course sequence of cognate courses chosen with the help of an academic adviser.
Admission requirements stipulate that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Applicants must also submit sufficient GRE or MAT scores; some students may qualify for a GRE/MAT waiver. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirement may be conditionally admitted if they receive GRE/MAT scores at or above the 50th percentile.
The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online master of education in curriculum and instruction is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
20. The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s department of curriculum and instruction engages in a variety of research activities related to education. The school hosts numerous research institutes, including the Center for Bilingual and ESL Education, the Center for Social Science Education, and the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain, and Education. The school offers an entirely online master of education in curriculum and instruction, with no in-person requirements.
The M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction offers a variety of concentrations for online students, including science education, literacy studies, mathematics education, or an open option. The open option allows learners to explore current education research and best practices in instruction and curriculum studies. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate, with four core courses and six within the chosen specialty area. Required core courses include understanding and designing classroom research, advanced teaching models for diverse learners, and a capstone project. At the beginning of the program, learners meet with the program director to create an individualized program plan.
Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last 30 hours of undergraduate coursework. Prospective students also must receive scores of at least 153 (verbal) and 144 (quantitative) on the GRE. The program also requires applicants to submit three letters of recommendation.
The University of Texas at Arlington is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
21. Salisbury University
Salisbury University is a public institution in Salisbury, Maryland, a little over two hours away from both Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Its master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is designed for professional teachers working at the preschool to 12th grade level. The program delivers its coursework primarily online, with select hybrid and in-person courses available as well.
At the beginning of the 33-credit M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction program, students meet with an academic adviser to plan an individualized course of study relevant to their academic interests and professional goals. Each student takes four required core courses exploring important topics in contemporary educational practice, including technology, learning, diversity, and research. At the end of the program, learners complete a capstone experience that includes a research project exploring a critical problem in education. To graduate, students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA, with no grade lower than a “C.”
Students in Salisbury’s M.Ed. program may qualify for a variety of graduate scholarships, including the Learn Where You Work Grant, which reduces the cost of tuition for eligible classroom teachers in Maryland public schools who live outside of the state.
Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or better and either hold a teaching license or be eligible for licensure. Other admissions requirements include three letters of recommendation, a three- to four-page statement of purpose, and a professional resume.
Salisbury is regionally accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
22. University of Colorado Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder’s MA in curriculum and instruction stands out from other curriculum and instruction master’s programs because it includes a math and science education concentration. Priding itself as a national leader in STEM education, CU Boulder’s education school created this program for professional educators who want a greater understanding of how to effectively teach science and mathematics. Some students enroll in the program as a supplement to their participation in Partners in Education (PIE), CU Boulder’s professional development program offered collaboratively with local school districts for early career teachers.
Students can begin the program two times each year, in spring or fall. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and submit three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and unofficial transcripts. Admissions officers consider also consider special accomplishments and relevant past experience, and encourage members of historically underrepresented groups to apply. CU Boulder accepts a maximum of nine hours in transfer credit towards the degree.
The 30-credit program takes one year of full-time study to complete, but students must finish the degree within four years. To graduate, students must maintain a “B” average. In their first semester, learners meet with their faculty adviser to develop a degree plan. Courses available include assessment in mathematics and science education, teaching and learning chemistry, and spirituality and religion in education. At the end of the program, all students also take a capstone course, which includes a student-directed research project.
UC Boulder is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri is a public state university located in Warrensburg, Missouri. Its well-respected college of education offers more than 25 areas of teacher certification. UCM’s master of science in education, curriculum and instruction is designed for professional educators who want to advance their careers by becoming experts in curriculum and instruction. The program focuses on fostering leadership skills in teachers and explores teaching and assessment strategies for a variety of grade levels and subjects.
Students pursuing UCM’s 30-credit master’s degree in curriculum and instruction choose from three specializations: K–12 education, middle level education, or secondary education. Online courses offered include curriculum design and assessment in mathematics, childhood curriculum and assessment, and leadership and analysis of teaching.
UCM online students benefit from distance services, such as advising, technology help, career advice, access to library resources and the school bookstore, free tutoring from the Student Success Center, and help with writing projects through the UCM Writing Center. Distance learners pay a flat per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence, and qualify for many of the same financial aid opportunities available to traditional, on-campus students.
Applicants to UCM’s M.S.E. in curriculum and instruction program must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a GPA of 2.5 or better, and a teaching certificate or professional endorsement from an NCATE or regionally accredited institution. The school additionally requires a copy of the applicant’s last teaching evaluation or a letter from a principal or other school administrator attesting to the teacher’s instructional abilities.
The UCM is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
24. Kansas State University
Founded in 1863 as the state’s first land-grant university, Kansas State University is a public research institution located Manhattan, Kansas. Among its more than 60 master’s programs, K-State offers a fully online MS in curriculum and instruction through its education college and its global campus. Students in the program choose from six concentrations: teaching civics and government, reading specialist, mathematics education, learning skills/school improvement, ESL, and educational technology.
K-State’s 31-credit master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is designed for practicing teachers who want to earn additional teaching endorsements or simply further their knowledge of effective teaching practices. Required courses vary depending on the concentration chosen, but the curriculum covers issues such as online teaching and learning, instructional system design, action research, multiculturalism in teaching, and teacher leadership. Some concentrations require students to complete a practicum or research project to graduate.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last 60 semester credits of coursework. Students seeking admission to the program also must submit a statement of objectives, resume, and three professional or academic references. K-State accepts applications year-round, and students can begin the program in the spring, summer, or fall. K-State’s global campus offers numerous scholarships specifically intended for distance students through its K-State Global Campus Scholarships program. Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live.
Kansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
25. Brandman University
Based in Irvine, California, Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution with 25 campuses throughout the state, as well as a virtual campus online. The school’s large education department includes a master’s in curriculum and instruction online program. Designed for working educators or those in related fields, the degree helps educators become scholar practitioners with an expert understanding of curriculum and instruction. Topics explored include educational research paradigms, best practices of global educational systems, curriculum evaluation, and ethical decision making in educational contexts.
Brandman’s 30-credit master of arts in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction includes 18 core credits and 12 emphasis area credits. Courses offered include differentiated instruction in multicultural and multi-ability classrooms, seminar in learning theory, and democracy, education, and social change.
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better and two letters of recommendation. Students who do not meet the GPA requirements may still qualify for admission if they hold a 2.5–2.99 GPA and earn a satisfactory score on the GRE, GMAT, CSET, or MAT. Students who do not meet the GPA or test score requirements can also submit a portfolio of work demonstrating their preparation for graduate study including the following: writing samples, a detailed resume, letters of reference, and a letter of explanation. Additionally, all prospective students must hold a valid teaching license or take the prerequisite course “teaching the adult learner“ before beginning program coursework.
Brandman is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
26. Concordia University – Nebraska
Founded in 1894, Concordia University-Nebraska is a private institution affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Located in the town of Seward, the school offers an online M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction for teachers who want to learn how to improve student performance and become leaders in their field.
Concordia’s 36-credit, 12 course master’s in curriculum and instruction online degree is designed for working teachers and focuses on professional development. Students complete 12 credits of common core courses, 12 credits of professional development, nine credits of educational research, and a three-credit capstone project. Students seeking a curriculum supervisor endorsement must complete a three-credit practicum. Topics given particular attention include instructional strategies, educational leadership, lifelong learning, diverse learners, using standardized assessment data, and best practices regarding educational research.
Experienced educators teach classes for the online program, bringing a practical perspective to the classroom. Students take courses like differentiation of instruction to improve student achievement, empowering teachers as leaders, and processes in elementary and secondary school administration. All online learners also complete a capstone course at the end of the program, in which they design a project in their specific area of interest. Another course includes an in-depth examination of the teaching vocation using the framework of evangelical Lutheran Christianity. Each course lasts eight weeks. Online learners can choose to add an area of emphasis in ESL/ELL or instructional technology leadership.
Concordia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
27. Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio
The fully online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, follows the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Graduates of GCSU’s M.Ed. in curriculum and teaching program meet the highest standards in teaching in Ohio and nationally. The program, offered by the school’s education and human development college, helps working teachers incorporate technology into their teaching and expand existing teaching licenses. Teachers can enroll in the program part time, allowing them to continue working full time, and finish the M.Ed. in curriculum and teaching in two years.
The 34-credit degree requires students to complete 11 courses, including advanced pedagogy and best practices, classroom technology for teachers, and qualitative approaches to classroom inquiry. Students take 12 credits covering the curriculum and teaching core, six credits in the research core, and 12 credits of elective courses. Online learners must also complete a three-credit final learning experience, with the option of choosing either thesis research or a master’s project in curriculum and teaching.
For the required elective credits in the program, students can choose to earn an endorsement in four areas: early childhood generalist, middle childhood generalist, reading, or computer technology. Prerequisites apply and some endorsements require students to take additional credits beyond those needed for the M.Ed. program. Students can also choose to use the elective courses to earn a certificate in K–12 online teaching and learning.
BGSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
28. Mississippi College
Founded in 1826, making it the oldest college in the state, Mississippi College is a Christian institution affiliated with the Baptist Church. MC’s master’s in curriculum and instruction online program is designed for professional educators who want to improve their teaching techniques to foster greater student success. The school offers all coursework for the degree online, and students can complete the M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction program in as little as 10 months.
The program explores topics such as evidence-based instruction, brain-based learning, national and state standards, and best practices for creating effective instructional programs. Graduates often find jobs as educational specialists, instructional coordinators, curriculum directors, and program administrators. Many also continue working as classroom teachers at an expert level. After completing the program, teachers can upgrade their Class A Mississippi teaching license to a Class AA license.
Students must complete 30 credits to graduate with the M.Ed., including nine core credits and 21 content method/materials credits. MC offers its online courses at an accelerated pace, with each class lasting seven weeks. Courses available include current methodology in elementary education, project-based science curriculum, and the instructional dimension of leadership. To graduate from the program, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better. Online learners also must take a comprehensive exam upon completion of coursework; students with a 3.75 GPA or above can waive this requirement.
To be eligible for admission to the program, applicants must hold a standard teaching license in a K–12, secondary, or elementary subject area. Prospective students must also provide documentation of professional test scores relevant to their license/subject area.
MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
29. Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit university in Manchester, best known for its online programs. SNHU’s master’s in curriculum and instruction online program helps teachers become educational leaders in traditional and nontraditional learning environments. Students learn to design culturally-inclusive learning experiences while applying required local, state, and national academic standards.
SNHU’s fully online degree takes as little as 15 months to complete, with two courses for every 10-week term. Minimal admissions criteria do not require students to take the GRE or GMAT. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts and a professional resume. The school’s rolling admissions process allows prospective students to apply anytime and enroll at any of the five graduate terms each year.
Online learners can either pursue a generalized M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction or choose one of five specialization areas: reading, special education, education leadership, technology integration, or dyslexia studies and language-based learning disabilities. The 36-credit degree includes 12 courses, including curriculum design: emerging theory and design, leadership in teaching and learning, and evidence-based research for education.
All students also complete a capstone in their last term, which allows them to develop a complete curriculum in their area of interest. Students leave the program with a professional portfolio that demonstrates their abilities as an educational leader. Graduates work in a variety of educational settings, including charter schools, public and private schools at the elementary and secondary levels, and home schools.
SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
30. Florida Gulf Coast University
Fort Myers, Florida
Established in 1991, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, is part of the 12-campus State University System of Florida. Its College of Education offers a fully online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Topics explored include instructional technology, educational media, and instructional design.
The MA in curriculum and instruction includes a concentration in educational technology and is designed for individuals in K–12 education, as well as those working in business and industry settings. The degree does not lead to a professional teaching certificate. Instructors present courses in a way that is applicable to students with a background in education as well as those in business. Students then have the opportunity to individualize assignments to incorporate their own interests and goals. Students must complete 36 credits, including 21 credits of core courses, nine credits of electives, and a six-credit capstone. Online learners take courses such as digital narrative and cognition, program evaluation, virtual learning environments, and still and time based media.
FGCU evaluates prospective students in a holistic way for this program and does not require applicants to submit GRE or MAT scores. However, candidates who do not hold a GPA of 3.0 or better in their last 60 credits of undergraduate study may need to provide other evidence of their potential to succeed in graduate school, such as one of these test scores. All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, submit three letters of recommendation, and complete a virtual interview with admissions staff.
FGCU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Design Program?
Students earning online curriculum and instruction degrees cultivate knowledge and skills necessary for a variety of roles in educational settings. While online curriculum and instruction programs generally offer similar courses, structure and specific requirements vary by program. The following courses are common to most curriculum and instruction master’s programs.
The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Curriculum Instruction and Design
- Theories of Learning: Master’s of curriculum and instruction programs often begin with a course on learning theories. This course examines historical and contemporary theories of learning and corresponding instructional methods. Students explore topics in cognitive psychology to understand the processes of acquiring and assimilating knowledge. This course is foundational for employment as an educator.
- Teaching Diverse Learners: This course emphasizes the need for cultural awareness in the classroom. Students learn how to implement curricula and assessments that account for learners’ unique needs and backgrounds. Students examine issues related to diversity, including ethnic minority student experiences and barriers to education. This course is often a core requirement for online curriculum and instruction degrees, and multicultural awareness is necessary to work as an educator.
- Curriculum Design: Students gain an understanding of the political and social implications of curriculum development and obtain the practical skills needed to design age-appropriate curricula. Knowledge of curriculum design is key for instructional coordinators and teachers.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Design Prepares For
- State Educator License: An online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction that includes student teaching hours qualifies graduates to apply for state teacher licensure. While licensure requirements vary by state, most educator preparation programs include the training and examinations required for certification. Primary and secondary school teachers must hold state teaching licensure.
- National Board Certification: Graduates with a curriculum and instruction master’s degree who pursue teaching careers often obtain National Board certification. This distinguished certification requires teachers to pass a content knowledge exam and to develop a portfolio documenting classroom instruction and student engagement. As part of the portfolio, candidates must also provide evidence of their ability to select and implement learning assessments.
Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Design Careers
Earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction online prepares graduates for careers as educators, administrators, and supervisors. Professionals in the occupations below rely on culturally sensitive instructional methods to facilitate inclusive learning environments. Educators need patience, creativity, and the ability to effectively communicate with students, parents, and school staff.
- Instructional Coordinator: Approximately 40% of instructional coordinators work in elementary and secondary schools. The remaining professionals comprise employees of colleges, government agencies, and academic support services. Instructional coordinators design curricula and promote the achievement of learning and teaching standards. Graduates with an online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction possess the expertise needed to lead teacher training conferences and select educational materials.
- Median Annual Salary: $63,750
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Special Education Teacher: Special education teachers lead classrooms that are adapted to meet the needs of students with mental and physical disabilities. A curriculum and instruction degree with a concentration in special education prepares educators to teach students who face academic challenges. Special education teachers assess the needs of students, create individualized lesson plans, and document student progress.
- Median Annual Salary: $58,980
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher: Kindergarten teachers instruct five- and six-year-old students, while elementary school teachers are generally qualified to teach preschool through fifth or sixth grade. Teachers often instruct more than one grade level throughout their careers. These teachers provide supportive learning environments through effective classroom management, lesson planning, and student assessment.
- Median Annual Salary: $56,900
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Design Degrees
Accredited online curriculum and instruction degrees equip students with knowledge and skills aligning with national standards for education professionals. Regional and national accreditation bodies evaluate schools across the country and ensure institutions consistently meet set academic standards. Attending a regionally accredited school ensures that earned credits and degrees will transfer to other institutions. Regionally accredited programs only accept credits from schools with regional accreditation, and a degree from a nationally accredited school may not qualify the holder to pursue an advanced degree or apply for a teaching license.
In addition to regional accreditation, master’s in curriculum and instruction online programs may receive accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which accredits online programs and courses, and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which accredits programs that train pre-K–12 teachers.
Professional Organizations for Curriculum Instruction and Design
Professional organizations provide students and recent graduates of online curriculum and instruction programs with access to networking opportunities, job listings, and instructional resources. Additional benefits often include access to scholarly journals, updates on legislation impacting education, and training programs. Many professional organizations offer liability insurance, which some curriculum and instruction master’s programs require before learners can complete student teaching hours. The professional organizations below advocate for education professionals and students.
- American Federation of Teachers: This professional union organization promotes equal educational and community opportunities for students attending public schools. The AFT provides educators with online conference sessions and classroom resources that address topics such as bullying prevention and reading instruction.
- Association of American Educators: This non-union professional organization for educators promotes student success while disengaging from non-educational political action. AAE offers members professional liability insurance, classroom grants, and teacher scholarships.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Teachers, principals, superintendents, community advocates, and students benefit from joining ASCD. This organization offers valuable resources for students pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, including online training in areas such as positive classroom management, co-teaching, and school culture transformation.