Help Yourself Help Others with a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction
Teachers across the country educate students by teaching relevant and carefully structured material. But in our fast paced society, how does the curriculum stay relevant and in line with state standards? Trained professionals, called instructional coordinators or curriculum specialists, work to ensure that the curriculum taught to students is at the level it should be.
Instructional coordinators utilize teacher feedback, student data and educational theory to develop classroom curriculum. Once the curriculum is designed, instructional coordinators work with teachers and school administrators to implement the curriculum. From there, coordinators monitor and evaluate the curriculum to ensure that it is effective, making adjustments or alterations as necessary.
Earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can be a great step for teachers who are looking to make an impact on student learning methods.
Skills of an Instructional Coordinator
There are five essential skills utilized by an instructional coordinator. While you may already possess some of these skills from your career as a teacher, or other leadership experiences, you should expect each skill to be expanded upon while you complete your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
- Decision Making
What You’ll Learn: Curriculum
Although master’s degree programs in curriculum and instruction vary from each other in small ways, all programs cover curriculum related to theories of curriculum and instruction, the utilization of educational technology, and research foundations.
|EXAMPLES OF CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION CLASS TITLE|
|Issues in Education||Theories of Instruction|
|Curriculum and Culture||Theoretical Models of Curriculum|
|Educational Measurement and Assessment||Planning for School Improvement|
|Constructivist Learning Technologies||Understanding Research in Education|
Some programs may also include a senior practicum, Capstone or project in order to assess your ability to implement the skills and knowledge you have learned as a program member. These will vary depending on the program you join, but may include completing a hands-on experience in a school.
Certain programs offer program members the opportunity to earn their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an area of concentration. This concentration, or specialization, is often focused on certain grade levels, populations or subject areas. By choosing a specialization, you can delve into a topic more thoroughly and discover specific ways to design effective curriculum and methods of instruction that will best support the education of the concentration area you have chosen.
Schools offer different concentration areas, so be sure to explore the degree concentration options offered by the schools you are interested in before joining a degree program. Concentration areas can include these types of focuses:
- Special Education
- Technology Integration
- Gifted Education
- English as a Second Language
You are not required to choose an area of concentration. However, if you know that you want to develop curriculum and instruction for a specific population, such as the special education students, then it may be beneficial to earn your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in special education.
Average Length of a Master’s in Instruction and Curriculum
On average, students complete their master’s degree program for instruction and curriculum in about two to three years. Programs often require students to complete 30-45 credits and are designed to take place over a two-year span. However, some programs allow students to work at their own pace in a more flexible learning style, which can allow you to complete your program before or after the projected two-year time period.
A Closer Look at Master’s in Instruction and Curriculum Degrees
The exact details of your degree will vary depending on the program you complete your degree through. Your program coordinator or guidance counselor should be able to answer any specific program or degree questions you may have. You can use the following information as a general guideline for a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
|Requirements||To apply, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute|
|Duration||Two years or more|
|Course Credits||Ranges from 30-45 credits|
|Online Options||Offered by most programs|
|Degree Type||Master of Science/Master of Arts|
|Degree Specialization||Areas of concentration vary from program to program|
|Accreditation||Always make sure your program is accredited|
|Job Opportunities||Instructional Coordinator or Curriculum Specialist|
|Job Advancement||Principal or Superintendent|
What to Look for in a Program
When looking for a master’s degree program for curriculum and instruction you should consider what is important to you. Do you have limited free time and need your program to fit in with your busy schedule? Then you may want to consider online programs. You can even think back to when you completed your bachelor’s degree and decide what you liked about your educational experience and what you didn’t like.
Consider things such factors as these when researching programs
- Class size: Big or Small
- Peer Collaboration
- Online Options
- Financial Aid or Scholarships
- Accessible Guidance Counselors
- Practical Experience Opportunities
- Flexible Learning
- Teacher Engagement/Availability
Schools often boast their accreditation status on the homepage of their website, but what makes it so important? First and foremost, there are different levels of accreditation, such as national or regional. Additionally, a school as a whole can be accredited as well as the programs within the school. A school’s overall accreditation can be a good indication that the school takes its responsibilities as an educational institution seriously. A program’s accreditation ensures that the curriculum utilized meets a high educational standard.
These accreditations can also impact you directly. Your ability to transfer your credits or to gain federal financial aid can both be impacted by whether or not your school is accredited. You should also consider that future employers may prefer that your degree be earned through an accredited institute. Also, if you plan on advancing your degree to a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, some schools only accept students who earned master’s degree through an accredited institution.
Do I Need to Be a Teacher First?
While master’s degree programs for curriculum and instruction do not always require applicants to hold a teacher certification to join the program, it can be beneficial to have worked as a teacher or hold a teaching license prior to applying for positions as an instructional coordinator. In fact, to work as an instructional coordinator in a public school, it may be required that you hold a teaching license.
Additionally, most employers will want to see that you have several years of related work experience, such as a teaching career or a leadership position.
Contact your local school district and ask about the current employment standards for instructional coordinators to find out what expectations you will need to meet before being eligible to work as an instructional coordinator in your local schools.
While this article has mostly focused on what to expect before and during your master’s degree program for curriculum and instruction, it’s important to know what to expect after your complete your program.
Before you start earning your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, you should make sure that you know what job title you plan to hold and what salary goes along with it. As we’ve discussed throughout this article, most professionals who hold this degree become instructional coordinators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that, as of 2018, instructional coordinators make a median annual salary of $64,450. The highest paid instructional coordinators are reported to earn as much as $102,200.
The job outlook for instructional coordinators is promising. In fact, the BLS expects job growth in this field to reach 6% over the coming decade, four percent higher than the average growth rate. This could mean more job opportunities for those who complete their master’s degree in curriculum and instruction during that time.
Where can I work?
As an instructional coordinator you will have the option to work in a variety of educational environments. The highest percentage of instructional coordinators is found in elementary and secondary schools, at 41 percent. Beyond that, some find employment opportunities in postsecondary schools, such as colleges and universities, while some are able to secure employment in government positions. Instructional coordinators can also be found in educational support services.
Responsibilities of an Instructional Coordinator
If you are considering earning your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, it’s important to consider what work responsibilities you may have. Remember that these are general responsibilities, the exact duties you will be responsible for may vary depending on where you work or the population you work with. Instructional coordinators can be expected to do any of the following in a given work day:
- Develop and coordinate curriculum implementation
- Plan, organize and administer teacher trainings
- Analyze student test data
- Review and recommend textbooks and other educational materials
- Recommend teaching techniques
- Oversee the use of different or new technologies
- Develop procedures for teachers to implement curriculum
- Mentor or coach teachers to improve their skills