1. What kind of jobs can I get with a Master in Curriculum and Instruction, and what is the job forecast?

If you hold a Master’s of Curriculum and Instruction, there are excellent career options in schools, colleges, private corporations, healthcare, business and industry, and government agencies at the local, state, and national levels.  With the continuing digitization of learning, online programs and trainings are proliferating, while more organizations in non-school related sectors are demanding highly-skilled, highly-qualified individuals for curriculum and instruction.   Though companies are hiring highly-qualified individuals, the focus in schools is still on teachers’ professional development, leadership training, career advancement, or pathway to advanced studies.

Instructional coordinators, also known as curriculum developers, or curriculum specialists, oversee organizational curriculum and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, coordinate its implementation with teachers and principals, or other key stakeholders, and assess its effectiveness.  They get the stimulating and satisfying job of helping students or individuals learn, but (in the school setting) without the classroom discipline issues, parents, and the draining everyday responsibilities required of teachers.

Generally speaking, most degrees in curriculum and instruction are designed for current teachers seeking professional development or career advancement.  Within the field of curriculum development, there are also many specializations for teachers, most broadly, online or traditional delivery, and more specifically the following areas:

  • Early childhood education
  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education (various subjects)
  • Reading
  • Special education
  • Mathematics education
  • Leadership
  • Online/E-Learning
  • Library/Media
  • Science
  • ESL

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that employment of Instructional Coordinators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  


2. What is the difference between online and campus-based programs in a Master in Curriculum and Instruction?

There are several differences between the online and traditional Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction models.  The two most significant factors driving the explosion of online learning is affordability and flexibility.  The cost of traditional learning is very high, and many would rather continue working and earning money, while paying considerably less for an online degree they can often take at their own pace.  

The curriculum remains the same in both programs; both degrees require graduate courses such as:

  • Systematic Design of Instruction
  • Fundamentals of Program Development
  • Media in Teaching and Learning
  • Teaching Diverse Learners
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Theories and Trends
  • Educational Research for Masters Students

The traditional classroom, utilizing face-to-face contact and the communication inherent within a relational field does provide a complete and often un-measurable advantage.  

Both degrees usually take around two years, though this varies with full vs. part time and the motivation of the student.  The programs generally involve core coursework and later move into specialization (such as elementary or secondary) with a practicum experience and a capstone projector or research paper at the end. Generally MS degrees contain the research component.

The online format could be asynchronous, which means you can take classes whenever you want at whatever pace you desire.  This is the most flexible, though some schools have limits on how long a student can be in the program.  Typically asynchronous learning is delivered through the web, email, or message boards to the student who then completes the work and turns it in.  Synchronous learning is different in that it is through chat and video-conferencing technology.  This kind of online learning is with others, not alone, and is basically a virtual classroom.  

Many programs offer a combination of these two types of learning and a lot of variety exists from school to school.  Another key difference to note when researching the school of choice is the on-campus requirements.  There are many curriculum and instruction programs entirely online with no campus visits, however, there are some that require a few days to a week of on-campus visits.


3. What is the salary range for a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, instructional coordinators earned between $35,950 and $97,770 in 2015, with a median salary of $62,460.  Secondary schools employed 62,380 instructional coordinators in 2015 and paid a mean average of $69,310 per year; the federal government employed 2,320 professionals in those positions and paid an average of $90,300 per year. This is a financial step up from teaching by a average of $5,000, as elementary teachers and secondary teachers median salaries are $54,000 and $57,000 respectively.  Also worth mentioning is that Payscale reports instructional coordinators score very high in finding meaning and satisfaction in their jobs.  

 

4. What kind of degrees allow you to work in the field of curriculum development?

Curriculum development is generally thought of in terms of being an instructional coordinator or curriculum developer in a school setting, however, other organizations like hospitals, private companies, and government agencies are demanding highly-skilled and qualified instructional coordinators or curriculum designers more and more.   For most of these jobs the typical entry-level education is a master’s degree.  There are different programs with slight variation, but essentially there are Master of Science, Master of Art, and Master of Education degrees in Curriculum and Instruction.  Most of these degree, regardless of format or delivery, offer specializations such as:

  • Early childhood education
  • Elementary education
  • Secondary education (various subjects)
  • Reading
  • Special education
  • Mathematics education
  • Leadership
  • Online/E-Learning
  • Library/Media
  • Science
  • ESL

Many of programs offer students the ability to essentially design their own degree, by working with an advisor.  Classes are chosen according to the student’s interest, therefore every degree may look different.


5.  What is a job description for someone with a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction?  What are the day to day responsibilities?

There is a lot of variation organizationally and nationally among the states regarding job descriptions for instructional coordinators.  Typically, instructional coordinators, also known as curriculum specialists, instructional coaches, or assistant superintendents of instruction, are vital to ensuring the educational mission of the school or organization is actually being carried out effectively.  To that end, instructional coordinators evaluate, implement, design, approve, assess, and adopt curriculum.  They also help teachers or instructors with instruction through evaluation tools, mentoring, and maintaining the standards expected for the organization.  Depending on the job, they coordinate testing and review data points regarding the success of students or teachers in fulfilling state or federal standards.  In short, instructional coordinators are leaders who need the knowledge and skills required to ensure effective curriculum and instruction.  Something else to note is that instructional coordinators often travel between schools working with every grade-level and spend a lot of time organizing data.  The job is typically year round and works closely with administration.

Character traits such as good interpersonal skills to work among teachers, administrators, or other stakeholders is required.  Creativity and integrity are also necessary.  Skills particularly relevant for the job are analytical skills, writing skills, and leadership skills.

Consider the following list from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Develop and coordinate implementation of curriculum
  • Plan, organize, and conduct teacher training conferences or workshops
  • Analyze student test data
  • Assess and discuss implementation of curriculum standards with school staff
  • Review and recommend textbooks and other educational materials
  • Recommend teaching techniques and the use of different or new technologies
  • Develop procedures for teachers to implement curriculum
  • Train teachers and other instructional staff in new content or programs
  • Mentor or coach teachers to improve their skills
  • Instructional coordinators evaluate the effectiveness of curriculums and teaching techniques established by school boards, states, or federal regulations. They may observe teachers in the classroom, review student test data, and interview school staff and principals about curriculums. Based on their research, they may recommend changes in curriculums to school boards. They may also recommend that teachers use different teaching techniques.

 

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