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Best Online Master's Degree in Curriculum & Instruction

Learn about online curriculum and instruction master's degree programs, including possible concentration areas and common coursework. Then, get tips on how to choose the right program for you and how to afford your curriculum and instruction degree.

Best Online Curriculum & Instruction Master's Degree Programs

There are many online master's degree programs in curriculum and instruction throughout the country to choose from. The top programs, which you can explore in-depth below, are flexible, affordable, and fully prepare students for an educational career.

1. Concordia University-Saint Paul

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Saint Paul, MN $8,550

Concordia University-Saint Paul offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Education Literacy degree program that focuses on curriculum design, assessment, and instruction in the field of literacy. This 30-credit program is designed for current Minnesota teachers with a valid license who want to hone their teaching and instruction skills in the classroom. Students take courses on literacy strategies and curriculum design for elementary, middle, and high school instruction along with classroom fieldwork. Also offered in this MA program is an optional K-12 Reading Endorsement add-on, which is perfect for current teachers who want to further specialize their careers. This online program boasts affordable tuition at just $395 per credit.

2. University of Kansas

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Lawrence, KS $11,027

The University of Kansas' online Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) in Curriculum and Instruction program features short 8-week courses that allow students to earn their degree in as little as 2 years. This program also features an optional concentration in reading education with a licensure, non-licensure, and endorsement track or an optional concentration in TESOL with a teacher and non-teacher track. This program uses the University of Kansas' unique KU Connect platform, which lets students access class materials on their computer or via a mobile app, communicate with their professors and peers, and engage in interactive class discussions. In the curriculum/instruction and reading education concentrations, students take 10 courses for 30 credits, and in the TESOL concentration, 11 courses for 33 credits.

3. Kansas State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Manhattan, KS $11,069

Kansas State University has an online, fully customizable Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction degree program that offers the following 6 areas of specialization:

  • Teaching Civics and Government
  • Educational Technology
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Learning Skills/School Improvement
  • Mathematics Education
  • Reading Specialist

Each of these degree concentration areas requires 31 credits, and some give students the option of completing a master's report or a master's thesis for additional credits. All students take core courses on curriculum development, teaching and assessment, and diversity along with their specialization courses. Students in this curriculum and instruction program pay the same flat rate per credit, regardless of their residency status or chosen concentration. Kansas State University's program has also achieved accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

4. University of Nebraska at Kearney

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Kearney, NE $7,187

The University of Nebraska at Kearney's online 36-credit Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction degree program is for those with a teaching certificate who want to improve their instruction and classroom skills. This online program has a unique variety of concentration areas that should appeal to teachers of all kinds, including:

  • Reading/Special Education
  • ESL
  • Secondary Education
  • School Librarian
  • Transitional Certification
  • Instructional Effectiveness
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

All students take core courses in curriculum development and the philosophy of education, and the ESL concentration helps students earn the ESL PK-12 endorsement for their Nebraska Teaching Certificate. This program boasts a low per-credit tuition price of $309 for resident students. The University of Nebraska at Kearney's College of Education has received accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

5. Fitchburg State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fitchburg, MA $3,828

Fitchburg State University offers an online 36-credit Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching degree program with an accelerated format that allows students to earn their degree in as little as 1 year. This program is designed for working teachers and non-teachers alike and doesn't require that students have a teaching license. Courses cover a range of subjects, such as assessment strategies, educational technology, and educational laws. This degree program is affordably priced at just $372 per credit with all fees included and with all students, no matter their residency status, paying the same rate. Fitchburg State University has received accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 University of Scranton Scranton, PA $11,630
7 University of Mississippi University, MS $8,660
8 University of Maine Orono, ME $9,106
9 Freed-Hardeman University Henderson, TN $10,620
10 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE $7,588
11 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX $9,812
12 Dordt College Sioux Center, IA $5,860
13 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI $18,132
14 East Carolina University Greenville, NC $7,485
15 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD $ ,875
16 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA $16,992
17 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS $8,624
18 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO $11,700
19 Bethel University McKenzie, MN $10,017
20 Wichita State University Wichita, KS $6,904
21 George Mason University Fairfax, VA $15,138
22 Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley, PA $11,286
23 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI $22,680
24 Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA $17,112
25 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA $15,510

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Curriculum & Instruction Master's Degree Programs

Online master's programs in curriculum and instruction are designed for current or aspiring educational professionals who wish to develop their teaching, curriculum design, and classroom instruction skills. These types of programs usually include anywhere from 30 to 36 credits of coursework and require or make optional a final master's project, thesis, or capstone.

Many online master's programs in curriculum and instruction offer areas of concentration so that students can specialize their degree in one field of teaching. Below, you can find examples of concentrations that are offered in online programs:

  • Learning Skills/School Improvement
  • Instructional Effectiveness
  • Reading/Literacy Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Montessori
  • TESOL
  • ESL
  • Mathematics Education
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
  • Teaching Civics and Government
  • Learning Skills/School Improvement
  • School Librarian

Some programs of this type are designed for current teachers who already have a valid teaching license and would like to specialize in curriculum design or instruction. However, other programs can lead to licensure. Typically, programs work with students to help them meet specific state licensing requirements but cannot assure them the program will fully prepare them for licensure. If you are a non-teacher, it's best to check with a program about if and how they will help you achieve licensure.

Additionally, some programs have optional endorsements for current teachers; they can earn both their master's degree and an endorsement in reading, TESOL, or another area.

How Long to Earn a Curriculum & Instruction Master's Degree?

Generally, online curriculum and instruction degrees take about 2 years or fewer to earn. However, some programs feature an accelerated format and can be completed in only 1 year. Also affecting the length of these programs is your enrollment status. If you are only attending part-time, then it may take you a little longer to earn your degree compared to attending full-time.

What Will I Learn in a Curriculum & Instruction Master's Program?

The coursework in online curriculum and instruction master's programs is often unique to each program, and your exact classes depend on the program's focus and whether you choose a concentration. However, there are some common subjects found in these programs, which you can learn about below.

  • Curriculum Development and Instruction - This is generally an introductory course that covers the various theories, models, philosophies, and current trends of curriculum design and instruction.
  • School Improvement - This course focuses on the methods and practices for analyzing data related to curriculum, instruction, and student outcomes in order to develop a plan for increasing a school's effectiveness.
  • Educational Technology - This class teaches educators how to use different kinds of technology in the classroom, including multimedia and communication technologies. Some courses also focus on the technologies used to facilitate online learning.
  • Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction - This course centers on the methods and models used to create differentiated lesson plans and curriculums for students who have diverse learning needs and styles.
  • Instruction Theories and Models - This class presents different teaching methods and strategies that can apply to the varied way students learn.

How Do I Choose an Online Curriculum & Instruction Master's Program?

The variety and types of curriculum and instruction master's programs can make it difficult to choose a program that is right for you. To help you make your decision, we suggest that you first think about how your program helps you meet your career goals, then what the total cost of earning your degree is, and last, if your school/program is accredited.

Career Goals

It's paramount to consider whether the curriculum and instruction master's programs you are looking at will help you fulfill your career goals. If you are not currently a licensed teacher but want to earn licensure, make sure your program helps you achieve that goal. Many programs can lead to licensure, but it's important that you check with your prospective program about whether it helps you achieve licensure in the state you will teach in.

Similarly, if you are a current teacher and have the goal of adding an endorsement to your license, then you want to choose a program that allows you to earn a master's and an endorsement.

You also want to consider any specialization areas a program offers, as not every program will offer the same specialization. If you want to concentrate in TESOL, then make sure your program has that area of study. It's vital that you choose a curriculum and instruction program that fits your current status as a teacher or non-teacher and offers a concentration that matches your teaching area goals.

Cost

Generally, these types of programs can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 per credit; however, some may charge a flat semester rate. When determining your tuition cost, your residency status may come into play, as some universities charge non-resident students more than resident students. That could mean that attending a program in your state of residency could cost less than attending an out-of-state program. If you are looking at curriculum and instruction programs located outside of your state, you'll want to choose one that charges all students the same tuition price.

Most universities, but not all, usually charge additional fees as well. These fees, such as technology, library, and distance education fees, are added to your tuition. To fully understand the total cost of your degree, you can ask your university for a breakdown of your tuition plus fees.

Accreditation

There are two kinds of accreditation you'll want to look for. First, it's imperative that your college or university has achieved regional accreditation by an organization approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regional accreditation proves that your school has met high academic standards, and only those students who attend an accredited school can receive financial aid from the federal government.

There is also optional program/institutional accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which accredits programs that prepare future educators and teachers for licensure. To receive this accreditation, a program must meet standards that include curriculum content, clinical experience, and program quality.

How Can I Afford a Curriculum & Instruction Master's Degree?

To help you afford your curriculum and instruction master's degree, you can apply for federal financial aid and scholarships.

Federal Aid

For federal aid, you first want to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the U.S. Department of Education. Generally, graduate students are eligible to receive Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and grants. Also helpful to graduate students are Direct Consolidation Loans that allow you to combine your new loans and any previous loans you have from your undergraduate degree into a single loan.

Scholarships

There are also a variety of scholarships from universities, private organizations, and professional associations that could help offset your degree costs. Below are a few examples of scholarships for graduate students pursuing a teaching-related degree.

Edwyna Wheadon Postgraduate Training Scholarship

From the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this is a $500 scholarship for a current English/Language Arts teacher who is a NCTE member and wants to pursue a postgraduate degree.

K-State Global Campus Scholarships

This is a $1,000 award from Kansas State University for an online student demonstrating financial aid and pursuing a degree housed within the College of Education.

Leon Bradley Scholarship

This $3,500 scholarship is open to minority students pursuing education to become teachers or school administrators. To qualify, you must have a 3.0 GPA and live in or attend school in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California or Colorado.

What Can I Do with a Curriculum & Instruction Master's Degree?

Graduates with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction are able to pursue a career in education as an instructional coordinator, teacher, or professor. The type of teaching career you can pursue depends on the academic area of your degree, your chosen content area, and whether you have earned an additional teaching endorsement.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators are experts at designing curriculums. Along with developing new curriculum and revising out-of-date ones, they also conduct training sessions or workshops, assess textbooks and other learning materials, and create procedures for how to implement curriculums.

Teacher

Teachers work in elementary, middle, or high schools where they are responsible for creating lesson plans, grading assignments, conducting classroom instruction, and interacting with parents, students, and administrators. Usually, middle and high school teachers teach in only one content area, such as English, history, or math.

Professor

Professors teach at colleges or universities and have most of the same job duties as teachers. However, professors must also conduct their own research and produce articles or books within their area of interest. They also have duties that include managing departments, designing curriculum for degree programs, and advising students.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Instructional Coordinators $64,450 6%
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $57,980 3%
Middle School Teachers $58,600 3%
High School Teachers $60,320 4%
Postsecondary Teachers, Education $64,780 8%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Licensure & Certification for Educators

Teachers who work in public schools must be licensed by the state. While the exact licensure requirements vary by state, teachers generally must hold a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher training program, undergo a background check, and pass a teacher exam in their teaching subject area. Additionally, instructional coordinators who work in public schools may be required to obtain an education administrator or teaching license.

Professional Associations for Educators

Professional associations in education play an important role in advocating for and training teachers. By joining one of these associations, you can enhance your career and take advantage of a wealth of different resources.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

AFT is a union organization that now boasts over 1.7 million members, all of whom are public school and college teachers, educational workers, and healthcare professionals. AFT participates in numerous campaigns and community service projects. As an AFT member, you get access to educational and teaching resources, exclusive insurance and mortgage services, and a range of discounts.

National Education Association (NEA)

NEA advocates for public education by offering resources to teachers, providing grant opportunities, and supporting key educational issues, such as school funding. A paid NEA membership allows you to access exclusive discussion forums, discounted legal services, and educational resources.