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Top Universities: Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

Whether you’re looking to level up as a teacher or pursue advanced roles in education, a master’s in curriculum and instruction can open up exciting new career opportunities. This page explores everything you need to know about choosing the right program for your goals, timeline, and budget.

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A teacher is sitting with a group of young children, all attentively looking at her. The children are dressed in casual clothes and appear engaged and happy. The background shows shelves of books, suggesting they are in a library or classroom setting.

If you’re passionate about developing cutting-edge educational methods that speak to a diverse student population, earning an online master’s in curriculum and instruction is a great option. With an emphasis on theory and research, master’s students will learn how educational practices are evolving and how to best meet the needs of students amidst those changes.

Once you earn your master’s, you’ll be eligible for more career options and higher earning potential than you would with a bachelor’s. In fact, the median weekly earnings for those with a master’s is $229 higher than those with a bachelor’s.

If you’re considering the idea of pursuing your master’s in this field — but you also need to accommodate a work schedule or other responsibilities — an online degree program can provide the flexibility you need. Continue reading to learn what you can expect from an online master’s in curriculum and instruction program, explore potential career options, and get answers to frequently asked questions.

Leading Schools for Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

With so many available options, choosing an online master’s in curriculum and instruction program that fits your needs can be challenging. We’ve taken out some of the guesswork by spotlighting three of the best-in-class programs based on affordability, flexibility, accreditation, and career advancement below.

In each of these programs, you can expect to receive high-quality instruction from an accredited institution that will set you up for success in a wide range of careers, from teaching to administration, among others.

Louisiana State University

The image features the logo of Louisiana State University (LSU), which consists of the letters "LSU" in bold, purple font.

The 30-credit online curriculum and instruction MEd at LSU costs $374 per credit and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Applicants to the MEd at LSU do not have to submit GRE/GMAT scores, but you’ll need to supply transcripts from an accredited university showing you earned your bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA — or minimum 2.75 in your last 60 credits of courses.

This program is TEACH Grant-eligible, meaning you can earn up to $4,000 a year in grants as long as you complete four years of teaching a high-need subject at a school that serves low-income students after you graduate. You can also customize the program with courses that align with your career goals, choosing from among seven specialization options — STEM, ESL, reading and literacy, and education technology among them.

Graduates of the MEd in Curriculum and Instruction often become instruction coordinators, curriculum specialists, educational consultants, and academic directors. You’ll lead the way in creating innovative educational policy and curriculum and make a difference for students and fellow educators.

Ohio University

Ohio University logo featuring a sketch of the Cutler Hall building on the left and the words "Ohio University" in a bold, uppercase font on the right. The design is in a dark green color.

The online curriculum and instruction master’s program at Ohio University is ideal for teachers and educational leaders who are ready to learn specialized skills in a flexible learning format. Students can apply for the program in any term with the option to finish in as little as three semesters via an accelerated program. Courses are offered mostly asynchronously, so students can access course content at any time. Ohio residents will pay $508 per credit, while non-residents pay a slightly higher tuition at $527 per credit.

Students are required to be employed as an educator during this master’s program. You’ll learn about curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment, mentoring, and assessment, bringing best practices into your current and future professional roles.

One unique facet of this program is the Master’s Action Research project, which students can complete in a setting of their choice — whether that’s a community, school or in a specific classroom.

Indiana University

Indiana University Online offers a Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum MSEd that encompasses topics like learning and curriculum strategies, assessment and evaluations, and multicultural education. The program places a strong emphasis on helping educational leaders develop equitable curricula that incorporate research-based best practices.

The 30-credit program is offered 100% online, so students can access their courses in the time and manner that works best for them. You’ll take 18 credits of core coursework as well as 12 credits of track-specific courses. In-state tuition is $350 per credit, while non-residents pay $490 per credit.

The school’s unique approach to student support results in graduates who succeed, as their own research shows that more than half of IU Online students advance in their careers before they complete their degree. You’ll benefit from a “Go Team” of online onboarding specialists who will prepare you and provide resources as you pursue your degree.

Benefits of an Online Curriculum and Instruction MEd

Earning your master’s in curriculum and instruction online is an excellent option for professionals looking to advance in their careers or pivot to a new field of education. Completing your degree online allows you to maintain your current work and personal responsibilities, while still receiving a high-quality education tailored to your specific goals.

Personalized Learning

With an online master’s in curriculum and instruction, you can narrow in on the areas of education that align with your personal and professional interests. In many cases, you can personalize your program with courses in a particular specialty, or you can pick and choose from multiple tracks. You’ll also be able to complete your coursework in a flexible time frame, either choosing part-time study over a few years, or an accelerated program you can complete in about 12 months.

Flexibility of When and Where

Academic advancement shouldn’t have to interfere with your personal and professional responsibilities. If you wish to earn your master’s in curriculum and instruction, doing so online allows you to fit your program requirements within your unique schedule. Most online programs offer asynchronous courses, so you can access course content anytime, anywhere. Many students choose weeknights and weekends to complete their coursework, but each individual can choose the schedule that works best for them.

Integration of Technology

Technology is a powerful tool in online learning, enabling students to connect with instructors and peers in a timely, efficient manner. Your online program will typically operate within a learning management system or virtual classroom, where you can find coursework in one easily accessible location. Some students are hesitant about online learning due to potential technical complications, but high-quality programs will ensure all students have access to thorough technical support.

Affordability

Online learning eliminates much of the overhead costs associated with in-person learning, making it a more affordable option for your master’s in curriculum and instruction. Not only will you typically pay less in tuition, but you’ll also be able to save money on transportation and course materials. Note that some institutions have different financial aid policies for online programs, so be sure to check with your department or financial aid staff to confirm your options.

Career Preparation

As more education jobs transition into online or hybrid work, completing your degree online can be constructive preparation for teaching in hybrid or remote settings. You’ll gain the skillset to communicate effectively online with instructors and peers, and you’ll also learn how to use many of the tools that are common in the classroom — from learning management systems to virtual classrooms and assessment tools. You’ll also fine-tune your time management skills without the built-in accountability of synchronous, in-person learning.

What to Expect from a Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program

While each institution and program is different, the general goal of the best online MEd programs — specifically those geared toward curriculum and instruction — is to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to excel in a wide range of educational settings, both in and out of the classroom. If you’re curious about what this type of graduate program looks like, we’ve outlined some of the most common characteristics you can expect — from popular courses to specialties.

Popular Courses

Within your online master’s in curriculum and instruction program, you’ll typically be able to choose general or specialized tracks with courses that align with your interests. Some of the most popular courses you’ll encounter in this degree program include:

Technology and Learning

Education and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined, and it’s important that educators and curriculum leaders stay informed in the process. In a technology and learning course, students will explore concepts and challenges related to technology’s use in the classroom and in education broadly. Special attention will be given to national standards surrounding education-technology integration, such as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and the National Education Technology Plan. Upon completing this course, students should have the insight and skills required to effectively and ethically integrate technology in the classroom.

Multicultural Education

This course focuses on examining top issues surrounding educational equity and teaching students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and learning backgrounds. Students will learn how to design curriculum, give instruction, and conduct assessments that best serve those in diverse groups. The course will cover practical teaching strategies as well as theories and research on multicultural education best practices.

Theories and Trends in Curriculum and Instruction

As the name suggests, this course explores innovations in curriculum and instruction research and practice, keeping students informed and skilled in the latest advancements. As classroom instruction and student needs evolve, it’s vital that educators stay up to date on emerging theories and trends that can help support and advance students of all ages, backgrounds, and learning capabilities. This course seeks to inform current and future educators on useful theories, policies, and research applicable in the classroom.

Instructional Methods for Behavior and Learning

Research and strategy are the two key pillars of this course, informing educators on behavioral management methods in the classroom.This course will walk its students through the practical steps of behavior support at the individual, classroom, and school-wide level. It will also cover curriculum design concepts applicable to behavioral management. This course content is important preparation not only for general classroom instruction, but also for specialties in community education and special education.

Curriculum Design Theories

Educators have numerous approaches to curriculum design at their disposal, and this course seeks to introduce their advantages and challenges in preparation for classroom instruction and school-wide management. In a curriculum design theories course, students will evaluate and assess different curriculum designs in the context of learning theories while exploring emerging research and trends. These may include student-centered, problem-centered, or subject-centered curriculum designs, as well as other models typically found in both traditional and nontraditional classroom settings.

Specialization Options

Do you have a specific vision for how you want to apply your curriculum and instruction master’s degree? By choosing a specialty, you can prepare for your chosen field by narrowing in on skills, knowledge, and research that are applicable to your specific career. We’ve outlined some of the top specialization options for a curriculum and design master’s program here:

Early Childhood Education

Whether you’re pursuing a career as a curriculum designer, instructor, instructional consultant, or program director, anearly childhood education specialty will prepare you for many advanced and rewarding roles in K-3 education. Courses in this specialty will cover curriculum design concepts, the use of technology inearly childhood education, and emerging research on K-3 education best practices. Students will also explore basic concepts on teaching early childhood students from diverse backgrounds and learning capabilities.

STEM

As the size of the STEM workforce increases to accommodate society’s evolving needs, pursuing a STEM specialt yas part of your online curriculum and instruction master’s program is useful preparation for in-demand careers. With this concentration, master’s students will explore different approaches to STEM curriculum design, with a particular emphasis on project-based learning. Coursework will prepare educators to address many of the challenges and opportunities in STEM education at the school, district and state level. Graduates with this specialty will be well-prepared for careers as STEM program coordinators, instructors, curriculum designers, and more.

Special Education

This concentration focuses on the theories, research, and methods of teaching adults and children with learning disabilities. Students pursuing this track will discover how to best serve diverse learning ability levels, how to design curriculum to meet specific needs, and how to effectively deliver instruction in a special education classroom. In addition to studying special education within a theoretical lens, many online programs incorporate in-person or online clinical experience so that students can apply their knowledge and skills in a practical setting.

Understanding Accreditation for Online MEd Programs

Accreditation is an important indicator of a high-quality academic institution and program. In addition to institutional accrediting agencies, there are programmatic accreditations specifically for education degrees. These most notably include the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).

Tuition and Financial Aid for Education Master’s Students

Even though online programs are typically more affordable than in-person master’s programs, it’s still important to make a solid financial plan for tuition and fees. Make sure you understand all the costs associated with your program and discuss financial aid options with your institution. You may be eligible for need-based and merit-based scholarships, grants, work-study programs, or employer tuition assistance. Check your state’s government website for active scholarship opportunities, as well as your institution’s financial aid department.

Examples of Online Master Program Costs

School No. of Credits Resident Cost/Credit Est. Annual Tuition

30

$359

$10,770

30

$452

$10,850

33

$416.50

$13,744.50

What Can You Do with an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction?

An MEd in curriculum and instruction is often associated with classroom careers, but there are many other opportunities to consider. With a master’s in curriculum and instruction, you’ll have the knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers as a curriculum coordinator, principal, training manager, and other roles at the school and district level.

Curriculum Coordinator

Curriculum coordinators work with teachers to design and implement curriculum for specific subjects, students, and classroom needs. In this role, you’ll provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff and enforce state and national curriculum requirements. There’s room for growth as a curriculum coordinator, with executive-level opportunities at the district, state, or even national level. Location can impact your earnings as a curriculum coordinator, with Connecticut and Vermont as highest-paying states.

Principal

A master’s in curriculum and instruction takes you a step closer to becoming a school principal — one of the highest paying roles in education. K-12 principals earned a median annual wage of $101,320 in 2022. As a principal, you’ll manage school administration, oversee all operations, and collaborate with district leaders. You will also supervise your school’s various educational and extracurricular programs and will ensure a positive, safe learning environment for your students and staff.

Training Manager

Training managers provide support and professional development to an organization’s staff. You may find training managers in schools, but they’re useful in nearly any industry. Typical tasks for training managers include delivering presentations, orientations, and workshops, and you’ll also be charged with ensuring staff meets their training requirements. The job outlook for training managers is growing fast at 6% each year, which is faster than the national average. The median annual wage for training managers was $120,000 in 2022.

What are the admissions requirements for curriculum and instruction MEd programs?

To be admitted into your master’s program, common requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Application
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Education prerequisite courses
  • GRE or GMAT test scores (optional for some programs)

Does a master’s degree prepare you for curriculum and instruction licensure or certification?

While a master’s in curriculum and instruction is a useful degree for many educational careers, it does not automatically provide licensure or certification for teaching. However, it can prepare students with knowledge and skills applicable to other types of certification, including instructional design, special education, and adult education certifications.

How much time is needed to complete an online master’s in curriculum and instruction?

Most online curriculum and instruction master’s programs require 30 credits, typically completed within one to two academic years. Some institutions offer accelerated programs that students can complete in as little as two semesters, but most students participate part-time and therefore choose longer tracks.

Is it possible to earn a curriculum and instruction master’s degree 100% online?

Yes; in fact, exclusively online learning is one of the most flexible and affordable methods of earning a master’s degree. While many curriculum and instruction master’s programs are 100% online, some may require one or two in-person sessions (typically at the end of the semester) for presentations or clinical experiences.