Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /var/www/ on line 208
Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction | Context - Context
Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction
Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction In Context

Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction programs are designed to prepare graduates for careers in teaching, education administration, and curriculum design in schools from pre-kindergarten through high school.

A common role for graduates is to serve as an instructional coordinator who shapes the curriculum and teaching strategies in schools, school districts, or in wider government. With a 7% projected rise in the number of instructional coordinators expected from 2014 to 2024, it’s a promising time to enter the field or leverage a master’s degree to advance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, as curriculum and instruction continue to be assessed for improvement, there will be a growing need for more well-educated professionals. [1]

Earning your master’s in education in curriculum and instruction can also lead to higher wages. The median wage for instructional coordinators in 2015 was $62,270 — well above the $47,220 average across all teaching and training occupations. [1] That’s a key reason why many take advantage of options through their schools or organizations that offer reimbursement for master’s graduates.

What is curriculum and instruction?

Curriculum and instruction is a field of education responsible for improving curriculum design, advancing instructional theory and analyzing data to assess student outcomes — all with the aim of improving education offered in a variety of settings. [1] it also includes administrative duties and education advocacy, spanning every step of the process involved in advancing education. [2]

Some of the biggest issues facing educators in the United States center on curriculum. [3] Unlike other countries, there’s no single national curriculum model. States, school districts, and national associations are instead responsible for setting or recommending standards. This has led to huge variations in the quality and comprehensiveness of teaching across state lines and between schools. [4]

Why study for an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction?

Students may pursue an M.Ed. to further their career or personal interests, as well as for financial gain and practical skills. It’s also important to note that an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction is typically required to become an instructional coordinator.

Earning potential and career advancement

In education, a master’s degree is usually necessary for those in leadership. Since having an M.Ed. is likely to open doors to more senior or specialized positions such as curriculum resource teaching or curriculum coaching, you have a good chance to earn more from having a master’s in curriculum and instruction, although it’s worth making sure that your career aspirations closely match the program’s learning goals before enrolling.

Kickstarting or changing career

A master’s degree is the entry-level qualification for a leadership position like instruction coordinator or curriculum director. [1] Studying for a master’s may suit those who have just graduated with a bachelor’s in education, or those currently teaching and looking to move up the ladder into a strategic position.

Improving advocacy

By studying curriculum and instruction at an advanced level, you’ll be prepared to tackle some of the biggest issues facing educators. Funding cuts and variations between school districts have led to discrepancies in the quality and comprehensiveness of teaching nationwide. Curriculum and instruction professionals work to help implement changes at a school, district, state, or national level to improve outcomes for students.

Education faculty should have extensive practical teaching experience to draw upon. It’s also worth identifying the particular leaders in any specializations you have an interest in to find out where they teach.

M.Ed. programs can be studied online, on-campus, or as a blend of both. Online programs allow professionals to access a wider range of programs, which can help you find the best program that aligns with your career goals.

Tuition costs vary by program, so be sure to compare costs to choose a program that works with your budget and allows enough flexibility if you intend to continue working while earning your degree.

Pay close attention to the curricula offered by each program to ensure the learning outcomes and courses match up with your career aspirations. Specializations and joint degrees can enhance your study in an area of interest.

Take time to research each program’s graduate success stories and student testimonials, often available on program websites and through professional networking sites. You should also speak to the admissions office about where grads work when they graduate and the availability of information regarding M.Ed. graduate success rates.

Who might pursue this degree?

A curriculum and instruction master’s degree prepares graduates to enter higher positions in teaching, educational leadership, or curriculum directorship (such as instructional coordinators, where a master’s is usually required). [5] Graduates can also work in a range of educational environments and government bodies, helping to shape the future of educational policy and practices.

Curriculum and instruction is a varied and multifaceted field. Although many master’s programs do not require applicants to be practicing teachers, it is likely to appeal to those who are, as it furthers the depth and breadth of an educator’s skills. It may also appeal to those who have just achieved a bachelor’s in education and are looking to further their understanding before entering the field. [13] Indeed, of the 2.64 million people working in education in 2015 across the U.S., 41% had a master’s. [6]

A master’s degree is not always required for every job within curriculum and instruction, but it can help position you to advance and is a common requirement in many cases. For example, most high school teachers have a bachelor’s degree with a major in their chosen teaching subject, accompanied by state teaching certification. However, some high schools expect more — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states require high school teachers to earn a post-certification master’s degree. [7] A Master of Curriculum Instruction could be one route to take to satisfy that requirement.

Common areas of practice

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can open doors in education, including roles within organizations such as: [1]

  • Elementary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Government
  • Education support
  • services
Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction Career Advancement

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical requirement for instructional coordinators is a master’s degree. With so much inequality in educational outcomes for students of all ages, the BLS predicts a growing need for professionals who are focused on evaluating and improving curriculum design and teaching effectiveness. The average growth of the profession is projected at 7% from 2014 to 2024, matching the national average for all careers. [1]

As education’s focus intensifies on holding states and individual schools accountable for student achievement, some schools are seeking to redefine their measures of success, including test scores and graduation rates. Well-trained curriculum and instruction professionals and teaching staff are predicted to play an increasingly significant part in evaluating curriculum, devising strategies for improvement, and mentoring individual teachers to increase student outcomes. [6]

An M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction can prepare you for other roles beyond instructional coordinator. Here are other common titles for graduates of this degree, including median salary rates:

  • Elementary, middle, or high school principal: $92,510 [15]
  • Postsecondary education administrator: $90,760 [16]
  • Postsecondary teacher: $75,430 [17]
  • Instructional designer: $60,864 [18]
  • Training and development specialist: $59,020 [19]
  • Special education teacher: $57,910 [20]
  • Elementary teacher: $55,490 [21]

Salaries for M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction graduates

Salaries vary widely because of the variety of the education profession and variances from state to state and school to school. Of those who hold curriculum and instruction master’s degrees, the three most common occupations are elementary and middle school teachers, secondary school teachers, and education administrators.

The median salary for elementary and middle school teachers is $48,546 a year, followed by $50,909 for secondary school teachers, and $75,375 for education administrators (including instructional coordinators and curriculum directors). [1] Earning your M.Ed. can prepare you to garner higher wages, with top earners in the field reporting these salaries: elementary teachers at more than $81,210, secondary school teachers at more than $92,920, and education administrators at more than $135,770. [21] [22] [23]

The median wage for instructional coordinators in 2016 was $62,460, with the highest 10% earning more than $100,320. [1]

Salaries for M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction graduates

Salaries vary widely because of the variety of the education profession and variances from state to state and school to school. Of those who hold curriculum and instruction master’s degrees, the three most common occupations are elementary and middle school teachers, secondary school teachers, and education administrators.

The median salary for elementary and middle school teachers is $48,546 a year, followed by $50,909 for secondary school teachers, and $75,375 for education administrators (including instructional coordinators and curriculum directors). [1] Earning your M.Ed. can prepare you to garner higher wages, with top earners in the field reporting these salaries: elementary teachers at more than $81,210, secondary school teachers at more than $92,920, and education administrators at more than $135,770. [21] [22] [23]

The median wage for instructional coordinators in 2016 was $62,460, with the highest 10% earning more than $100,320. [1]

Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction Curriculum
Designed to meet the needs of teachers, a master’s in curriculum and instruction allows you to study teaching theories and curriculum design in greater depth than at the bachelor’s level. Many programs also allow you to specialize in an area of interest to hone your skills, focusing on subjects such as early elementary education, leadership, online teaching, secondary education, instructional technology or special education. [8] [9] [10]

What should I look for in an M.Ed. curriculum?

It’s wise to start by focusing on the quality and reputation of the school, before delving into the specifics of coursework and subjects studied in each program. Curriculum and instruction master’s vary from school to school, so each program is unique. When comparing curricula, keep the following in mind:

The availability and subject of specializations
Academic infrastructure, including facilities and learning resources
Faculty experience and current research activity
Depth of coursework
Alignment of program objectives with your professional goals

What are the overall learning goals?

By the end of most M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction programs, you should be able to:

Synthesize multiple curriculum and instruction theories to create effective professional development opportunities
Analyze testing and assessment data to make informed choices about improving instructional programs
Create innovative strategies, incorporating an enhanced understanding of how students learn in the classroom
Evaluate education trends to advocate for key updates in technology, teaching techniques and learning models.
Monitor globalization trends to generate programs that are accessible to a diverse range of learners [9]
Gain important research skills to identify solutions to common and emerging issues in education [11] [9] [12]

Standard and elective coursework

Standard coursework makes up the bulk of a master’s program in curriculum and instruction. Elective courses and specialization tracks let you focus on a particular area of interest, allowing you to supplement your knowledge and prepare to enter a more specialized field after graduation.

Although there is some variation between programs, standard courses usually include:

Foundations of curriculum and instruction
Instructional strategies and models
Educational research
Curriculum planning
School improvement planning
Multicultural education

Electives also vary widely from school to school, usually taking the form of specialization tracks available once the core courses have been completed. These specializations allow you to plot the course of your degree to focus on a particular area of interest, such as early childhood. A specialization can be beneficial by allowing you to pursue a particular career path.


Most curriculum and instruction master’s degree programs allow students to choose a specialization that will focus their studies in an area of interest. By specializing, you’ll study a set of core classes before taking courses dictated by the specialization you’ve chosen.

For example, in an early childhood specialization, you’ll look at curriculum and instruction issues in teaching young children, such as encouraging literacy, or functions of play.

Some of the most common specializations include: [13] [8] [9]

Early childhood education
Elementary education
Secondary education
Literacy and reading
Special and gifted education
Mathematics curricula
Teacher leadership
Integrating technology
Online teaching
Secondary education

Course delivery

Courses can be delivered on campus or online. Some programs offer a blend of these methods — such as online learning with regular evening or weekend classes on-campus to consolidate learning. As a curriculum and instruction master’s is aimed at existing or would-be education professionals, most schools recognize the need to tailor their teaching methods to accommodate work schedules. As a result, there are a high number of online master’s in curriculum and instruction programs that allow you to study when you like.

Assessment methods and culmination of program

Master’s programs traditionally require students to submit and pass a thesis to graduate. However, many education master’s programs now give students flexible options for completing their studies and consolidate their learning. These can include:

Capstone projects

This can take the form of a positional paper or literature review, examining a subject of interest in more detail, usually in consultation with a member of faculty. As you’re able to tailor your capstone to your particular needs and interests, it can help to further prepare you to enter a specialization or particular working environment after graduation.

Research projects

This can be a qualitative, quantitative, or evaluative project that will bridge the gap between theories you’ve learned in the program, aiming to further understanding of a particular area of interest.

Assignment portfolio assessments

A growing kind of end-of-program assessment comes in the form of a collection of assignments completed gradually over time. These can be reflective and may aim to translate the theories examined in the program into a real-world context.

Experiential Learning and Field Placement

Although most do not, there are some M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction programs that include an experiential learning component. These are often in the form of field placements, where students gain practical skills in education settings to reinforce what is taught by the program. They can also take the form of extended research projects with a strong practical component. [8] [10] [14]

Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction Admission Requirements

While each program will set its admissions requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study

Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.

The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the M.Ed. in Curriculum Instruction, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.

  • Master of Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Higher Education
  • Master of Education in Learning, Cognition, and Development
  • Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education
  • Master of Arts in Education, Administration, and Supervision
  • Master of Arts in Education, Elementary Teacher Education
  • Master of Arts in Education, Secondary Teacher Education

Many of these broader programs provide a range of specializations for students. The aim of most M.Ed. programs aimed at Pre-K through 12 teachers is to create a well-rounded, balanced graduate who can go on to positions of leadership in education.

Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction Accreditation Overview

Master’s degrees in curriculum instruction aren’t nationally accredited. As there’s no single set of standards that programs must conform to, the nature and parameters of each degree will vary by the school.

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Licensure and Certifications Overview

Master’s programs in curriculum and instruction are commonly taken by current teaching professionals or those who have just completed a bachelor’s and are looking to further their education before either gaining state certification or entering a role in policymaking. As a result, most curriculum and instruction master’s degrees do not include preparation for teaching licensure or certification. In the U.S., teaching certification happens at the state level, usually after completing an accredited teaching program, which may be taken before or after this master’s program. [1]

The History of Curriculum and Instruction

Curriculum can refer to the content of one course or the entire educational environment that supports teachers’ instruction. It’s a key component that forms the backbone of education. Curriculum development began with career training that dates back 4,000 years. Later, two stages of education were established. The first instructed students to read and write texts. The second involved a practical component, where apprentice scribes shadowed experienced scholars. [24]

Apprenticeships began to decline with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, leading to a rise in unskilled, cheap labor. American schools pivoted to focus on preparing young students with practical skills to successfully function in society. Then in 1867, the U.S. Department of Education was formally created to monitor these schools, initiating the first attempts to collect and assess national data regarding U.S. students. Ultimately, concerns over the government’s potential for overreach in the education sector led the Department of Education to a much diminished role — until the 1950s, when a surge of federal funding changed that. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” launched one of the first curriculum improvement initiatives, seeking to improve the nation’s schools at every level, from Kindergarten to college. [25] Today, the Department of Education helps steer schools toward positive results, including an entire office devoted to education technology. The Office of Education Technology lists these as its core goals:

Promoting equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology;
Supporting personalized professional learning for state, district and school leaders and educators;
Ensuring all learners are connected to broadband internet in their classrooms and have access to high-quality, affordable digital learning resources at school and at home;
Fostering a robust ecosystem of entrepreneurs and innovators; and,
Leading cutting-edge research to provide new types of evidence and to customize and improve learning. [26]

Today the U.S. boasts a range of schools that offer a variety of courses to appeal to modern students of all ages. This includes nearly 100,000 public schools, more than 33,000 private schools, and more than 7,000 universities. [27] The field of curriculum and instruction has arisen out of this shift in focus to a broad and well-balanced learning experience. By undertaking further study of curriculum and instructional practices, theories, and techniques, education professionals are equipped to further their students’ abilities and craft the practices surrounding curriculum and instruction in their own workplaces — or in wider contexts. [11] [27]

Tuition and Fees Overview

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A curriculum and instruction master’s degree allows educators to study the latest teaching theories and practices in curriculum design and development. This degree has a particular focus on strategies designed to motivate and encourage learners, and it equips them with the tools to facilitate a positive change in your classroom.

The key attributes of an online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction are its accreditations, tuition costs and fees, program length, accolades, faculty, and course offerings.

The standard GPA required for admission is a 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.
There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. [28]

Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.

The typical core courses for the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction may include subjects such as theory and practice, education assessment, and curriculum development.

It is best to look at the course and concentration offerings of an online master’s program in curriculum and instruction, Most colleges offer customizable M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction programs. Students can select from a variety of concentrations, such as Children’s Literature, STEM Education, Elementary Education, Reading, Teacher Leadership, Education Leadership, Early Childhood Education (ECE), and Online Teaching and Learning.

Many institutions offer Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degrees online.

Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.

Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.
The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

The comprehensive master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can offer you a variety of concentrations to select from, such as Children’s Literature, STEM Education, Multicultural Education, Curriculum and Supervision, Mathematics, and Theory and Practice in English, Social Studies, and World Language.

A specialization or concentration allows you to structure your advanced studies to your desired learning, career, and professional goals. It also gives you the opportunity to customize your degree and align your studies with the endorsements you wish to achieve.

Yes. Every state has its own teaching requirements for obtaining and renewing teaching licenses/certifications. In addition, most colleges require teaching certification prior to enrollment into their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction program.

The types of careers graduates pursue after completing their online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction include curriculum specialist, education specialist, instructional coordinator, and curriculum developer.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, nationally, the employment of instructional coordinators is projected to grow 7% from 2014 to 2024. [30]

No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

Search for online programs that are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation assures the quality of departments, schools, and colleges that prepare teachers in the United States. [31]

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [32]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.