The Best Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

by TBS Staff
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Online Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction

Online master's in curriculum and instruction programs appeal to teachers with classroom experience who want to advance their careers. Students gain the skills needed to develop teaching standards and create educational materials and programs, preparing for in-demand jobs, such as instructional coordinator.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for instructional coordinators to grow 10% between 2020 and 2030. These professionals earned median annual salaries of $66,970 in 2020, with the top 10% of earners making $105,650 that year.

This guide ranks the best online master's in curriculum and instruction programs to help students find the right online college for their needs. It also covers important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

What Is Curriculum and Instruction?

Curriculum and instruction professionals often work in public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, developing and implementing new teaching standards, educational programs, and instructional materials. They may also work in social service agencies focused on adult education or oversee training programs for businesses or nonprofit organizations.

Students pursuing an online master's degree in curriculum and instruction can often specialize the degree through concentrations in areas such as adult education, gifted education, inclusive classroom instruction, and special education. Many master's in curriculum and instruction programs require applicants to have some relevant experience. They also typically need a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Featured Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

What Is a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree?

A master's degree in curriculum and instruction gives learners the skills and knowledge they need to oversee curricular decision-making. Students learn how to create protocols for differentiated learning; evaluate new textbooks and teaching materials; create plans and programs aligned to testing standards; and meet local, state, and federal regulations. They also learn how to train teachers in new methodologies.

Most degree-seekers have at least two years of classroom experience when they apply. Earning a master's in curriculum and instruction online gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Graduates can make informed decisions, implement large-scale plans, and provide leadership through times of transition.

The Best Online Master’s in Curriculum Instruction Degree Programs

  1. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $15539

    The UGA master of education in learning, design and technology, instructional design and development prepares education, military, healthcare, business, and industry professionals to become skilled instructional designers. The UGA faculty teaches skills necessary for both face-to-face and online learning environments.

    The 36-credit degree offers coursework in designing interactive learning environments, video production for teaching and learning, and design thinking and development tools.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Submission requirements consist of transcripts, test scores, a resume, goal statement, and three recommendation letters. The program allows a maximum of 6 transferable credits.

  2. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $13318

    FSU's online masters in curriculum and instruction trains educators in research-based instructional effectiveness, leadership skills, and the dynamic policy environments influenced by changing local and state standards.

    The asynchronous format features classes including Making Sense of Data to Inform Instruction, Analyzing and Refining Teaching, and Teaching and Technology. Students may add additional concentrations or coursework in nine other areas, including autism spectrum disorder, social science, or English education.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution (minimum 3.0 GPA). Required GRE test scores should target a minimum of 146 Verbal and a minimum of 140 Quantitative. GRE minimums might be waived for graduates with a 3.5 GPA or higher, or professional experience equivalent. Applicants must also submit a writing sample, two recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

  3. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $19118

    The online master of education in curriculum and instruction at Texas A&M helps educators develop transformative curriculum to impact a wide spectrum of local and global contexts.

    The 36-credit non-thesis program covers four categories: academic learning, social climate and emotional well-being, school improvement, family and community partnerships.

    Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. Submission requirements include GRE scores, transcripts, recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose essay.

  4. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Penn State World Campus's master of education in curriculum and instruction helps candidates increase curriculum knowledge and expand their supervisory skills. The same on-campus teachers lead the 30-credit program.

    Core courses consist of curriculum design, learning processes related to educational practices, and teaching as inquiry. Students then choose one of six specialized paths: children's literature, STEM education, elementary education, curriculum and supervision, curriculum and instruction customized path, or a final specialized path focusing on English language arts, world languages/ESL, or social studies.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited or equivalent institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Submission requirements include official transcripts, two references, a resume, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. GRE scores are not required.

  5. The University of West Florida
    Location

    Pensacola, FL

    Tuition

    $9091

    The UWF online master of education in instructional design and technology provides candidates with skills to lead technology integration efforts and performance improvement initiatives in various educational settings.

    Classes focus on the implementation of instructional technology, and instructional design theoretical foundations. A capstone provides field experience. Students may select specializations in technology or human performance, or a distance-learning concentration.

    Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Other requirements include official transcripts, GRE or MAT scores, and a letter of intent. GPA scores of 3.25 or higher might earn a testing waiver.

  6. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    NC State offers a 30-credit online master of education in new literacies and global learning. The program focuses on improving the contemporary teaching of reading, social studies, and English.

    Participants learn to design educational programs and improve classroom leadership through core courses in new literacies and media, and teacher as researcher. Students then select concentrations in K-12 reading, middle grades English language arts, or secondary English.

    Applicants must be licensed teachers and submit three recommendation letters and a brief goals statement.

  7. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $15435

    Georgia Southern offers a fully online master of education in curriculum and instruction — accomplished teaching. It prepares already certified teachers to further recognize and address the diverse academic and emotional needs of all students in grades PK-12.

    The 36-credit program includes multicultural studies, curriculum design, assessment to improve teaching and learning, and enhancing student performance. Graduates receive a certificate upgrade.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, have a cumulative 2.75 minimum GPA (undergraduate and graduate), and possess a level-four or higher teaching certificate (or equivalent).

  8. California State University-Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $8274

    Cal State Fullerton's online master of science in instructional design and technology certifies professionals, from trainers to web developers, who want to apply technology in teaching, training, e-learning, and curriculum development.

    Part-time studies focus on the design process, digital trends, and instructional strategies. Students must also attend an on-campus/video boot-up orientation, a midpoint research symposium, and complete a practicum and an independent project.

    Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a 2.5 minimum GPA. Other requirements include an essay, resume, official transcripts, and a personal statement. GRE scores are not required.

  9. University of West Georgia
    Location

    Carrollton, GA

    Tuition

    $15392

    UWG's master of education with a major in instructional technology, media, and design offers two tracks. The school library media concentration prepares school librarians in PK-12 schools. The instructional technology concentration prepares students for careers as technical trainers.

    Core courses for both 36-credit tracks include curriculum trends and issues and the psychology of classroom learning. Both concentrations focus on real-world scenarios, offering full-time faculty with extensive experience.

    Both concentrations require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.7 GPA. Teaching certificates are not required unless the student seeks a certificate upgrade.

  10. Georgia State University
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $14501

    Georgia State offers a 36-credit online master of science degree in instructional design and technology. The program combines learning processes and media forms to create effective learning experiences.

    Coursework includes the psychology of learning and learners, design of performance and instructional systems, and leadership in instructional technology. The program also requires an internship.

    Applicants must hold an undergraduate or master's degree and submit transcripts, a goals statement, a resume, and two recommendation letters. Applicants must also hold or aspire to a position related to instructional design and technology.

Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing an Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program

When researching online master's in curriculum and instruction programs, students should consider factors such as program cost, transfer policies, and on-campus requirements. The following list outlines several important considerations for prospective students.

Program Cost

Public schools typically cost less than private schools, and in-state students often pay less than out-of-state students. However, many schools allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency, so be sure to do your research.

Transfer Policies

Many schools offer transfer credits for prior academic, professional, volunteer, or military experience. Generous transfer policies can help students save time and money on a degree.

School Size and Type

A school's size and type can affect factors like cost, class sizes, and student engagement. For example, a small private school may cost more but also offer more individualized attention from faculty than a larger public school.

Program Length

While most programs require two years of full-time study, some programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate in just one year.

On-Campus Requirement

Some online master's in curriculum and instruction programs have on-campus requirements. Students should ensure they can meet these requirements before committing to a program.

Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements

Some programs require learners to write a thesis, while others require an in-person practicum. Students should choose a program with requirements that align with their interests and goals.

Featured Education Programs

What To Expect From a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program

Master's in curriculum and instruction programs commonly examine topics such as student learning assessments, differentiated instruction, and curriculum design and evaluation. In addition to coursework, these programs may have thesis or practicum requirements.

Students can further specialize their skills through related certificates in areas like instructional assessments; elementary, middle, or high school curriculum and instruction; and special education curriculum development.

Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Program Courses

  • Theories of Learning: This survey class provides an overview of various learning theories and how they inform personal learning, cognition, behavior, and growth mindsets. Students examine both historic and contemporary learning theories.
  • Teaching Diverse Learners: This course focuses on creating differentiated learning approaches for learners with various learning abilities and exceptionalities. Students learn how to provide culturally sensitive teaching materials to support learners from myriad backgrounds. They also learn teaching approaches for gifted and special education programs.
  • Educational Psychology: Educational psychology examines psychological theories and principles used in developing and implementing instructional materials. Students explore topics like social development, cognitive development, and cultural awareness.
  • Curriculum Design: This course covers curriculum design theories and how they relate to educational standards set by schools and governments. Students gain skills in curriculum development, design, and modification.
  • Pedagogy: This course examines teaching methods and instructional strategies. Learners study topics like activity design, memory and metacognition, learning theories, and mental models and conceptual change.

Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Certifications and Licenses

Many curriculum and instruction professionals need a state license to work in public schools. Professionals may need a teaching license or an educational administrator license if working as instructional coordinators. Educational administrator licensure requirements vary by state, but they typically include a master's degree from an accredited institution, previous teaching experience, and completion of a practicum.

Licensure candidates may also need to take edTPA or Praxis exams or a subject area test. Additionally, some states may require national board certification. Because every state sets unique requirements, newly located instructional coordinators may need to meet additional requirements to earn licensure in a new state.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree Programs

When researching prospective online master's in curriculum and instruction programs, students should consider a school's accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty quality, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and credits from accredited institutions. Many employers also prefer candidates with an accredited degree.

Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Programs within a school may also receive accreditation, such as social work, business, and education programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation accredits education programs.

Curriculum and Instruction Careers

Graduates with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction can pursue roles in classroom teaching, administration, curriculum design and implementation, and teacher coaching. Below, we cover several common careers and potential salaries for graduates.

true Instructional Coordinators

Median Salary 2020

$66,970

Projected Job Growth 2020-2030

10%

Instructional coordinators work with school administrators, teachers, and local boards of education to design and implement new teaching standards and instructional materials. They also train educators on how to implement new materials and standards.

Instructional coordinators need relevant work experience and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field. Some states also require these professionals to hold a teaching or education administrator license.

true Special Education Teachers

Median Salary 2020

$61,500

Projected Job Growth 2020-2030

8%

Special education teachers work in K-12 settings at public and private schools, instructing students with learning exceptionalities. They conduct individual assessments to provide appropriate instruction and work with other teachers to ensure activities engage learners at their ability levels.

Special education teachers need at least a bachelor's degree in education or a related field. Some states require a degree in special education, while others accept general degrees in education or particular content areas. All public schools also require state licensure.

true Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Median Salary 2020

$60,660

Projected Job Growth 2020-2030

7%

These professionals help K-6 students develop the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to advance to middle school. They develop and teach lesson plans, create assessments, and grade assignments.

K-6 teachers need at least a bachelor's degree in education. Some states require teachers to hold a degree in one or more subject areas, such as math, reading, or music, and to have student-teaching experience. Teachers in public schools also need state licensure.

High School Teachers

Median Salary 2020

$62,870

Projected Job Growth 2020-2030

8%

High school teachers instruct students in grades 9-12. They teach individual subjects and AP courses, help learners prepare for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, and write letters of recommendation for students applying to college.

High school teachers need at least a bachelor's degree. They also need state licensure if they want to work in a public school.

School Principals

Median Salary 2020

$98,490

Projected Job Growth 2020-2030

8%

School principals oversee K-12 learning institutions. They manage staff, develop class schedules, set and maintain curricular standards, and provide student discipline when needed. They also communicate with parents about student progress.

School principals need a master's degree in education administration or a related subject. They also need teaching experience and a school administrator license when working in a public school.

Questions About a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree

What Can You Do With a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction?

Graduates with a master's in curriculum and instruction can work as administrators and instructional coordinators in public and private K-12 settings, developing and implementing new curricula and standards.

What Is Curriculum and Instruction?

Curriculum and instruction involves ensuring that teaching materials follow best practices, meet state testing standards, and promote strong student learning outcomes.

What Does a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Do?

These professionals review and implement new teaching materials, set education standards, and help teachers adjust to new curricula.

How Long Is a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degree?

An online master's in curriculum and instruction typically takes two years of full-time study to complete, though some programs offer accelerated timelines.

Featured Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Programs

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