Curriculum & Instruction

The Top 10 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

The Top 10 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction
One of the best reasons to get a master's in curriculum and instruction is because this degree can help you meet many different career goals. Image from Unsplash
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Christa Terry January 6, 2020

The field of education is constantly changing, the goalposts constantly shifting. One way teachers and aspiring administrators can keep up is by earning a master's in curriculum and instruction. This degree delivers a lot of value, both in and out of the classroom.

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Professionals in education have a broad—and sometimes confusing—range of advanced degrees to choose from. There’s the subject- or population-specific Master of Arts in Teaching, designed for educators who want to up their game in the classroom. Then there’s the Master of Science in Education (or simply Master of Education), of which there are many variations, depending on which concentration—and sub-concentrations—students choose.

The master’s in curriculum and instruction (formally known as either a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (MEd) or an MS in Curriculum and Instruction) is one professional development option for educators and aspiring administrators who have a passion for:

These programs cover a lot of ground, making this type of MEd particularly versatile. With a master’s in curriculum and instruction, you can have a huge impact on the lives of students, regardless of whether you stay in the classroom or move into other positions in education. Here’s why this just might be the right degree for you.

Top 10 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

10. You can earn this degree quickly and inexpensively

Most master’s in curriculum and instruction programs take two years or less to finish for full-time students. It’s possible to earn this degree part-time and/or entirely online, meaning that you won’t have to quit your job to get your master’s.

MEd in Curriculum and Instruction programs that can be completed relatively quickly include:

Affordable master’s in curriculum and instruction programs include:

9. This master’s could improve your lifelong earning potential

While there’s no guarantee that earning a master’s degree will get you that raise you’ve been gunning for, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that advanced degree holders across industries earn $1,559 per week, while those with bachelor’s degrees earn $1,281. That’s a nice premium.

According to one report from the Center for American Progress, teachers with master’s degrees typically make anywhere from $1,400 to $10,000 more per year than those with bachelor’s degrees. Over the years, even a difference of a couple thousand dollars per year can add up (particularly for teachers, who earn less than other similarly trained professionals).

Obviously, money isn’t the only reason to get a master’s in curriculum and instruction, but it’s nice to be able to pay the rent. Be sure you’ll be able to do that before enrolling in an MEd program. Don’t just assume you’ll make more money with a master’s, or that financial aid will cover most of the cost of earning this degree. Look into how much you’ll actually make in the positions open to you (more on those below) and keep that in mind when choosing among master’s programs with very different tuition rates.

8. You’ll be prepared to meet new challenges in education

The field of education is always changing, thanks to the rapid development of new technologies and the persistent stream of new policies, standards, and best practices. Schools face more pressure than ever to meet academic benchmarks and to prepare students for careers in tech. There are state and federal standards that must be met; districts and individual schools can set additional standards or performance targets. A master’s in curriculum and instruction can give you the skills and knowledge you’ll need to keep up with this changing landscape, whether you decide to remain in the classroom or work in administrative or design roles.

You’ll get hands-on experience in:

  • Evaluating and assessing existing curricula and learning materials
  • Identifying and correcting flaws in existing curricula
  • Adjusting existing curricula so they meet emerging academic standards
  • Developing or identifying curricula that are more responsive to student needs
  • Ensuring that existing or new curricula are in alignment with current education theory
  • Adjusting required curricula for use in special education or gifted programs

7. You’ll be qualified to take on roles outside the classroom

Getting a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction can help you move out of the classroom into a new role. That’s not to say that you have to make the jump into curriculum design, administration, or educational assessment after earning an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, but you’ll be qualified to do just that. One of the best reasons to get this degree is because you’ve been dreaming of stepping away from teaching, but you still want to work in education.

6. You will broaden your influence over student outcomes

It sounds counterintuitive that a master’s degree designed to get you out of the classroom positions you to help more students, but the fact is that earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction can help you reach those learners who seemed the most lost or confused in class. If you decide to pursue this degree but stay in the classroom, you’ll have access to proven instructional strategies, data-driven assessment skills, and tools you can use to make on-the-fly adjustments to your curriculum.

If you decide to work in educational administration or curriculum design, on the other hand, you’ll still be able to take steps to help those students who’ve struggled the most. You’ll do so by developing learning materials, lesson plans, textbooks, and assessment strategies designed to enhance student learning and classroom engagement (without running afoul of state and national academic standards or district policies).

5. The career options for a master’s in curriculum and instruction are diverse

One of the best reasons to get a master’s in curriculum and instruction is because this degree can help you meet many different career goals. When you earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, you’re qualified to teach. With a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in hand, you’ll have many more career pathways open to you. You can keep teaching (and you may find that what you’ve learned in a master’s in curriculum and instruction program makes you a better educator), but you can also step into any of the following positions:

  • Principal The principal is the top dog at all elementary, middle, or high schools. Much like the president of a company, the principal is responsible for determining how a school meet goals (in this case, academic goals set at the district, state, and federal levels). Their leadership is broad but includes oversight and evaluation of curricula and instructional materials. Principals take on many duties, and they are paid accordingly.
  • Instructional coordinator These professionals oversee curriculum for schools and districts and help develop a body of instructional materials designed to meet state and federal educational standards. They work closely with teachers, other educators, principals, and administrators in early childhood education centers, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, and trade schools. Instructional coordinators are also found in state and local government education agencies, which is where they are likely to make the most money.
  • Curriculum specialist In this role, you’ll not only plan and develop curriculum and teaching guidelines for academic publishing companies, but you’ll also field test them and evaluate their performance through the lens of state and federal achievement standards. Sometimes you’ll make adjustments to materials based on your assessments, and sometimes you’ll need to design entirely new materials or policies. Don’t expect to make more than you would in the classroom, however. For all the responsibility you’ll take on, you won’t earn much more than the average elementary school teacher.
  • Education specialist Educational specialists work in adult education, instructional technology, curriculum and instruction design and assessment, educational psychology, and educational leadership to design, evaluate, test, and tweak courses and classroom management strategies in collaboration with instructors and administrators. Again, you won’t make much more than teachers in this role.
  • Curriculum and instruction design director These professionals oversee curriculum specialists and instructional coordinators in both the public education sphere and in private companies. You might work closely with the superintendent of your district to create instructional guidelines and assessment models if you become a curriculum design director in the public school system. You could also work for a curriculum design company or for a private education firm in curriculum development, overseeing the creation of textbooks and e-learning technologies and making twice as much as you would in a classroom.

If you think that some of these roles are quite similar or there’s a lot of overlap between them, you’re not wrong. Different companies and school districts use different naming conventions when it comes to the many roles associated with educational materials and policies. You can find professionals with MEd in Curriculum and Instruction degrees doing everything from designing curricula, creating textbooks, and designing online instruction tools to creating curriculum guidelines for entire districts in administrative roles in education. The answer to the question “What can I do with a master’s in curriculum and instruction?” is: a lot.

4. Curriculum and instruction specialists are in demand

The BLS job outlook for professionals skilled in curriculum and instruction isn’t exactly stellar—it predicts average growth over the next 10 years—but it’s worth looking at the future impact of both Big Data and accountability in education when you’re looking at reasons to get a master’s in curriculum and instruction. Curriculum and instruction specialists don’t just create lesson plans. They also analyze and assess curriculum, school, and district performance, which means that as more schools look for ways to meet state and federal performance standards, more jobs for these professionals may be created.

3. You can advance into some of the most powerful, best-paid administrative positions in education

Some students pursue Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degrees because they want to become curriculum and instruction specialists, instructional coordinators, or curriculum directors. However, this master’s degree can also prepare you to step into administrative positions in which you can influence how and what students are taught.

Maybe you’ve dreamed of becoming a vice principal or principal. Earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction can also put you on the path to becoming a district superintendent or a provost or dean at a college or university. You will also be qualified to take on administrative and managerial roles in the growing field of e-learning and curriculum technology design.

2. You can transition to corporate education and training

The master’s in curriculum and instruction isn’t just for teachers who want to move into administrative roles. With this degree, you will be qualified to design and oversee corporate training programs as a corporate trainer facilitator, and you may be able to earn more money in the role than you would as a teacher. If you advance far enough in the corporate world and become a chief learning officer, you’ll definitely make a lot more than you would in the classroom.

There are plenty of jobs for training specialists in corporate America. Employee engagement is a hot field right now, and many companies are investing a lot in employee education. You don’t necessarily need a master’s degree to become a corporate trainer, but about one-third have one, and you don’t need a business degree to advance in this field. Plenty of corporate trainers have master’s degrees in education like the MEd in Curriculum and Instruction.

1. You will become a leader in devising education policy

In front of a classroom, you can reach 20 to 30 students. When you earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction and step into an administrative or curriculum specialist role, on the other hand, you can potentially reach thousands of students in multiple schools. Even if you never interact directly with students, you’ll enhance their educational journeys through the curricula you choose or develop, policies you help design, and the guidance you give their teachers. While a big part of your job will be to ensure that your school or district meets state and federal standards and regulations, you will also have many opportunities to evaluate textbooks, classroom materials, lesson plans, and other instructional content and then to make changes when things aren’t working.

In short, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction is an extraordinary degree option for any teacher who has ever looked at how students are taught in our current education system and thought: “I can do better.”

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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