Field of Study: Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum and instruction programs prepare people to plan and create sets of courses for schools and education programs. Students learn to design courses for specific ages, grade levels, and subjects. They also learn how to use and evaluate teaching materials.
Some states give all students standardized tests to make sure that students are learning what they are supposed to. In those localities, schools obviously must shape curriculum so that it covers the topics that students are expected to know for the tests. Choice of curriculum also is influenced by the content of textbooks. And schools may have little choice over what textbooks they are allowed to use.
But within these limitations, schools still have some freedom to choose what to cover in class. And they may have considerable freedom to make some other choices about instruction. For example, the sequence of subjects may be flexible. Schools may choose innovative methods of approaching concepts or stick with traditional methods. And they may be able to select learning resources other than textbooks. So schools need resident experts in curriculum development and instructional methods.
When teachers want to upgrade their skills, perhaps with an eye toward someday chairing their department, they often get a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. To enter to such a program, you must already have a bachelor's degree. A degree in education is good preparation for grad school in this field. The bachelor's usually takes four years of full-time study beyond high school. The master's program takes one or two years of full-time study beyond that. A few hundred graduate schools offer this program. They often accommodate the scheduling needs of working teachers, allowing degree candidates to study part time over several years.
When you study curriculum and instruction, you learn how instructional methods are based on theories about how people learn. You study ways of combining different instructional methods to address different learning styles. You learn how to evaluate a course of study to gauge how well it is meeting its goal. Doing so means conducting research, and that generates data. So you learn how to use statistical methods to draw valid conclusions from data.
If research is your primary interest, or if you would like to teach curriculum and instruction in college, you should plan on getting a doctorate in this field. About 100 universities offer this program. This usually takes about three years beyond the master's if you can study full time, but you usually can prepare part time over a longer stretch of years. The program focuses on developing your research skills and culminates in an original research project that you write up as a dissertation.
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
- English Composition
- Public Speaking
Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores. Your bachelor's degree may not need to be in education if you have taken some courses in the subject.
Additional requirements at some schools include:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
- Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
- Letters of recommendation
Typical course work
A master's degree program in curriculum and instruction typically includes courses such as the following:
- Curriculum Theories and Practice
- Designing Staff Development Programs
- Historical and Political Contexts of Curriculum
- Instructional Theory
- Intermediate Statistics
- Qualitative Research and Evaluation Design
A doctoral degree program in curriculum and instruction typically includes more courses such as the above, plus courses on research methods and advanced statistics, such as the following:
- Applied Regression Methods
- Multivariate Analysis
- Research Methods in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
In addition, graduate programs typically require the following:
- Thesis (master's degree)
- Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
- Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)
Things to know
For your master's degree, you may be able to choose among master of education, master of science, and master of arts. The M.Ed. is a good choice if you are a teacher and want to upgrade your knowledge and skills for teaching. It tends to emphasize research less than the other degrees and often does not require a thesis. Your course requirements tend to be more structured. M.A. and M.S. programs are more focused on research, usually require a thesis, and often give you more freedom in your choice of courses. M.A. programs may be slightly more liberal-arts-oriented and less technical than M.S. programs. For example, they may require you to demonstrate competence in a second language.
Similar fields of study
- Adult and Continuing Education Teaching
- Child Care Services Management
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching
- Education Administration
- Education Measurement and Testing
- Education of the Gifted
- Education, General
- Educational Media Design
- Elementary Education and Teaching
- Flight Instructor Training
- International and Comparative Education
- Middle School Education and Teaching
- Multilingual and Multicultural Education
- Religious Education
- Secondary Education and Teaching
- Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education
- Special Education
- Teaching English as a Second Language
- Urban Education
Careers you may qualify for
Adult and Vocational Education Teachers
Coaches and Scouts
College and University Administrators
Elementary School Teachers
Employee Training Specialists
Farm and Home Management Advisors
High School Teachers
Human Resources Managers
Public Health Educators
Special Education Teachers
University and College Teachers
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Schools that offer program
Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.
Bemidji State University
, Located in Northwest
Bemidji State University - Online , Located in Northwest
Capella University - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
College of St. Scholastica - Duluth , Located in Northeast
Concordia University, St. Paul , Located in Metro
Minnesota State University Moorhead , Located in Northwest
Minnesota State University, Mankato , Located in Southeast
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota - Winona , Located in Southeast
St. Catherine University - St. Paul , Located in Metro
St. Cloud State University , Located in Central
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
Walden University - Minneapolis , Located in Metro