Why Get a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction

Many teachers who have significant experience as a teacher may decide to eventually earn their master of arts degree. Doing so will allow them to gain more expertise in teaching, as well as possibly earn a higher salary.

One of the most popular and in demand master’s degrees in education is the Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. Depending upon where you study, the degree could be intended for experienced teachers or administrators who want to move into a different role.

While earning this master’s degree, you will be able to build upon your curriculum design, academic planning and evaluation of student skills. You also can specialize in an academic discipline including social studies, science, mathematics or the language arts. Many of these advanced degree programs will require you to perform several months of internship teaching as part of your program.

After graduation, you can qualify for better educational career opportunities in these areas:

  • Instructional coordinator: This education professional oversees the school curriculum and teaching standards for a school or even an entire district. You will develop instructional materials, coordinate how it is implemented with many different teachers and administrators so that you can determine if it is effective. You could observe teachers working with your curriculum that you chose, and you will likely review the test data of students to determine if benchmarks are being met. You also could interview staff at the school about the curriculum.
  • Career and technical education teachers: These educators work with young sometimes adult students in many types of technical and vocational subjects. These could include reading, writing, foreign languages, healthcare, auto repair, computer education and even the culinary arts. They play an important role in teaching academic and technical information to offer students the skills and education needed to work in an occupation. Some teachers in this role find it useful to have a degree in curriculum and instruction.
  • Librarian: These workers serve a very important role in elementary, middle and high schools. Even though the Internet is so important today, it still is critical for these schools to have a good, organized library that serves the educational and research needs of its students. Many librarians find that earning a degree in curriculum and instruction helps them to work as more effective library professionals.

Why Earn a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction?

Statistics show that educators who earn their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction will have more job prospects and higher salaries over the years. Graduates in these master of arts programs are well prepared for many leadership roles in their school and/or district. This degree provides teachers with the skills to be much more effective in their jobs, whether that is as a teacher or administrator.

A master’s in curriculum and instruction is critical to becoming a better educator because it provides you with the very latest theories and practices to develop better teaching curriculum. Students will gain much better knowledge and advanced skills in how to design, develop and evaluate school curricula.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission for most curriculum and instruction programs, you should meet the following criteria, which are from the Penn State World Campus program:

  • Official college transcripts
  • A statement of purpose that describes why you want to study curriculum and instruction, and what your future goals are
  • Two professional or educational references.
  • Writing sample of 1,000 words in response to a scholarly journal article.
  • 0 GPA minimum
  • GRE scores are not required for this program, but could be required for other programs
  • Updated resume with at least three years of teaching or experience in an educational environment

Curriculum and Courses

The Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State’s World Campus is a 30 credit hour program that is currently ranked #6 in the US according to US News and World Report. With this advanced program, you will greatly improve your knowledge about developing and evaluating a curriculum, and also will learn about teaching, learning, teacher education and educational supervision.

This program is unique in that it offers five different concentrations depending upon your interests and career goals:

  • Children’s Literature
  • STEM Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Curriculum and Supervision
  • Theory and Practice in English, Social Studies and World Languages

The program also offers an option that allows you to work closely with an advisor who can assist you in creating your own, specialized master’s program.

Required courses include these:

  • Overview of Contemporary School Curriculum
  • Learning Processes in Relation to Educational Practices
  • Teaching as Inquiry
  • Strategies in Classroom Management
  • Curriculum Design – Theory and Practice
  • Principles of Instructional Supervision
  • Methods of Classroom Supervision and Coaching
  • Colloquium

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

Some of the job titles that you could have after completing this master’s degree include:

  • Part time or adjunct faculty at a community or regular college
  • Curriculum coordinator or manager
  • Curriculum designer
  • Curriculum specialist
  • Teacher – P-12

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Instructional Coordinator — Job demand in this field will rise by 7% by 2024, which is about average. There should be increased growth in this field as schools are focusing more on evaluating the performance of teachers. Teachers who are more effective according to test results tend to get paid more and retained longer. Instructional coordinators can offer better training and instruction for teachers in changes in curriculum, which can help with their teaching. The median wage in this field was $62,200 as of 2015.
  • Special Education Teacher — Employment for these teachers will increase by 6% by 2024, which is about average. The number of special education teachers needed will vary upon the region of the country and the area of speciality. Many teachers who get their master’s in curriculum and instruction find that they are better equipped to deal with students with special needs. The median pay in this field is $56,800.
  • Librarian — This field will see only 2% job growth by 2024, which is slower than average. However, we expect that there will still be a need for librarians with advanced educational skills in elementary, middle and high schools. The median salary for this field is $56,800.

Scholarships and Grants

  • Capella University: Students who attend Capella University online and are getting any master’s in education can get a $3000 scholarship. These scholarships are based upon merit only and do not need to be repaid.
  • New Mexico State University: If you attend this university, there are a large number of scholarships available to students who are getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an education-related field. These include the Jean Thomas Endowed Scholarship Fund, the Donna Estes Endowed Scholarship and the Wendy and Travis Traylor Endowed Scholarship.

Additional Resources

  • ASCD: This is a global association that is dedicated to learning, teaching and leading excellence. It currently has 125,000 members that include teachers, principals and superintendents from 138 different nations. The major focus in this group is on transformational leadership, global engagement, reducing poverty and increasing equity, and helping teachers to teach better, and for students to learn better.
  • Institute for Research and Reform in Education: This organization specializes in research and reform in all areas of education. There is a special focus on curriculum and instruction to improve educational outcomes.