How to Choose a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction Degree

This article discusses why you would want to earn an advanced degree in curriculum and instruction. You will learn about the different types of degrees that you can choose in curriculum and instruction, the benefits of earning the degree, and also which accreditation organizations you should look for.

What Is a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction?

A Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction is a graduate degree that provides you with the advanced teaching skills to be a more effective teacher and leader within your education specialties. It has been shown that student achievement is increased by having teachers with advanced teaching skills, and this degree program is the most popular option to learn those skills.

A typical master’s in education in this area will teach you how to use empirical educational data research so that you can better develop, implement and evaluate ways that will enhance teaching, learning and performance.

One of the advantages of earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is that many universities offer you the opportunity to specialize even further. By specializing further, you will be able to better hone very specific skills in teaching, curriculum and instruction, as well as teacher education and educational supervision in some cases.

While the specialities in this type of master’s degree will vary by the university, some of the most common possibilities are:

  • STEM education: You learn to increase your knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math subject areas and how they intersect. A master’s of education in this area would teach you how to enhance your STEM teaching skills so that you can teach science, math and engineering students more effectively.
  • Elementary education: This program is designed for professionals who want to focus on curriculum and instruction at the elementary school level in language and literacy; classroom management; second language instruction, etc.
  • Curriculum and supervision: Focuses on curriculum, professional development, leading teachers and instructional supervision.
  • Theory and practice: This emphasis often centers on exploring pedagogical and literary practices that are used in designing more advanced curriculum and instruction programs in English, social studies and world language classrooms.

Core classes will vary based upon the subspecialty you select, if any, but often include:

  • Curriculum development: Learn latest best practices to design curriculum that will provide the best educational outcomes for students from elementary school through college.
  • Curriculum theory: Examines the many factors that make up curricula. This may include learning about the dynamics of the learning process for students of all ages, to how people learn differently as they age.
  • Educational tests and measures: Learn about the different types of tests and educational measuring processes that are available. The proper use of educational tests and measures can strongly influence educational and curriculum policies.
  • Diversity: Study how people of different backgrounds and nationalities study and learn in very different ways. This will allow you to better design curriculum and instruction for groups of vastly different origins.
  • Instruction improvement: Some teachers are hired to improve success rates in many educational facilities. Learning how to improve the quality of instruction efficiently and effectively can be of great importance to succeed in many modern educational workplaces today.
  • Classroom management: The management of a modern classroom is critical to the learning process, so a key part of many master’s in education programs is using the latest strategies to keep order in classrooms at the elementary, middle school and high school level.

Why Earn a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

Salary & Pay

Teachers who earn their Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction degree will greatly enhance their teaching job prospects, and boost their potential long term salary.

High school teachers typically make a median wage of $57,200 per year, while the highest earning teachers can make as much as $91,000 at the high school level. Most of these higher earners have advanced degrees, including master’s in curriculum and instruction degree.

Getting a higher level degree will usually mean that you will be able to qualify for a higher salary. Keep in mind that most teachers’ unions in school districts have negotiated salaries that are 10-25% higher for teachers who earn their master’s degree.

For elementary school teachers, the median pay is $51,600, and the top 10% will earn more than $79,000 per year.

Job Demand

Another reason that educational professionals earn their degree is so they can qualify for higher level positions. Generally, the demand for most types of elementary to high school teacher in the US will increase by 6% by 2024, which is an average rate of growth. For the best changes to improve your career path, earning a master’s degree is advised.

Also, note that earning this type of education master’s degree could open the door to many other job possibilities besides those in a classroom. According to a recent US News and World Report article, a graduate degree in education and curriculum and instruction could take you places today that were not possible a decade ago:

  • Technology and new media: All of the new technology in recent years have opened up many new doors for teachers with graduate degrees. Some are able to take their advanced degree and leverage it into a job in instructional technology and/or media. Some job possibilities include community organizations, after school programs, design companies, etc.
  • Speech-language pathology: There is particularly high demand for speech pathologists, and having a master’s in education can help you to get into this type of position; there is not a hard and fast requirement for the type of master’s you need in this field. But we do know that job demand in this field is soaring, with 21% demand expected by 2024.
  • Educational leadership: US News states that more education leadership management and administration is needed to deal with changing educational terrain.
  • Adult learning: Corporations spent $70 billion in 2014 on corporate training to make sure their employees skills are in line with current demands. There is a greater demand for adult students who are trying to learn new skills as their old skills have become outdated or are no longer needed at all.
  • Health education: There is a strong need for health education, with 13% increase in demand anticipated by 2014. There is more of a focus on preventative medicine today, and a cornerstone of that mindset is to provide many underserved groups with better health education to avoid serious medical problems in the future.

Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Online Degree Program

A top notch Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction degree to keep in mind is the one offered by UMassOnline. Its most recent and updated degree program in this area is now offered entirely online with no campus visits required.

This two-to-three-year program is offered through UMass’s Graduate School of Education. It is offered for experienced teachers who want to increase their knowledge and background, while expanding the contributions they can make in the educational world in their area.

The program also is made for teachers who are currently licensed, but want to apply new, advanced knowledge to teaching, which will enhance the curriculum development program wherever they work.

This NCATE-accredited online program will provide you with a very detailed grasp of curriculum development, as well as a new understanding of the most recent instructional techniques.

Flexible Classtimes

As you analyze contemporary practices and theories that are related to acquiring knowledge, you will be better prepared to enhance the learning of your students. This will allow you to make major contributions to the improvement of the school or facility in which you work.

This program provides access to an outstanding faculty that teaches both the online and on campus versions of the program. The online master’s program is also highly flexible, and you can take most of the classes on your own schedule. Only a few are offered at set times.

Your teachers are all highly experienced practitioners with a complete understanding of 21st century curriculum development, and they are highly qualified to provide you with an examination of the newest techniques of instruction.

For those who are interested in learning more about this program, UMass allow you to take a sample 1-2 classes online to decide if the program suits your educational needs.


A key part of choosing this type of master’s degree is being certain that the program is fully accredited by a respected institution. The organization that you should be looking for in master’s of education programs is NCATE: the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

NCATE is highly respected as an education program accreditation organization in the United States. When you see that the program has been accredited by the NCATE, you know that it has a stamp of quality that any employer will respect.

As you are selecting your master’s program, you should choose a program based upon the above factors. This ensures that you have chosen a respected and quality program that suits your career goals.