FAQ: Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Programs

Entering a graduate program is obviously a big commitment. It demands the devotion of your time, money, and mind, all of which you want to use with care. When devoting your resources to a program, finding one that fits your needs and supports your goals is of paramount importance.

This article answers some frequently asked questions about the field of curriculum development. Perhaps it can answer some of your questions and help you find your perfect path. 

Q: Do I need to earn a bachelor’s degree or a background in education to pursue a career in curriculum development?

As you can imagine, professionals in this career must be knowledgeable of the field of education to provide quality curriculum planning and instruction. In many cases, employers look for curriculum developers who have hands-on experience as teachers and can bring first-hand knowledge to the work.

However, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in education but feel drawn to work in the field, there are some steps you might take. To determine your best course of action, talk to a director or advisor in a curriculum development graduate program or an employer in the field. You may need to pursue work as a teacher or otherwise gain relevant experience in the field of education prior to pursuing a career in curriculum development.  

Q: Do I need to earn a graduate degree to pursue a career as an instructional coordinator?

In the majority of cases, yes. Public schools and other organizations commonly require professionals in this position to have a master’s degree, usually in curriculum and instruction or something similar[i].

Curriculum and instruction graduate programs engage students in a rigorous study of how to best develop, implement, and assess all aspects of curricula and instruction. They also help prepare professionals to work effectively with teachers, administrators, students, parents, and other coworkers and customers.   

In addition, public schools may require instructional coordinators to have a teaching license or education administrator license[i].

Q: What do people with a graduate degree in curriculum and instruction do?

People who earn graduate degrees in curriculum and instruction may pursue careers with public and private schools and other organizations to evaluate existing curricula and establish new ones. Along with developing course content, people in this profession may conduct research and make recommendations for best pedagogies, teaching methodologies, and assessment tools. They do so with an eye on identifying ineffective components of educational programs and materials. Their ultimate goal is to establish the most effective learning process possible. In addition to curriculum planning, they may also provide training to teachers, staff, students, and parents to enhance communication and learning[ii].

Q: How can I tell if a graduate program in curriculum and instruction is accredited?

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) establishes national accreditation standards for undergraduate and graduate programs in education, including curriculum and instruction[iii]. For a detailed list of currently accredited programs as well as more information on the accreditation process, visit their website. Some accredited schools provide their credentials on their website.

Q: What is the median salary for instructional coordinators?

In May of 2012, the median annual salary for instructional coordinators was $60,050. They made more or less depending on the institution in which they worked[vi]:

  • Those working for government agencies earned an median of $66,970 per year;
  • Those working in state, local, or private elementary and secondary schools earned an median of $65,770 per year;
  • Those working in state, local, or private educational support services earned an median of $60,100 per year;
  • Those working in state, local, or private colleges, universities, and professional schools earned an median of $53,540 per year. 

Q: Do instructional coordinators have the same schedules as teachers?

No, they don’t. Instructional coordinators typically work year-round. During the school year, they work with administrators, teachers, students, and others before, during, and after school[ii]. While teachers are on vacation, instructional coordinators continue to work with administrators and coworkers during standard office hours. 

Q: Does working as an instructional coordinator prepare me to pursue a career as a teacher?

This of course depends on your particular education, training, certification, and experience. In the majority of cases, you must earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree in teacher education to work in the field. You must also earn a teaching certificate or license. As mentioned above, many employers require instructional coordinators to have both the education and credentials required of teachers. Therefore, one could technically make the change to pursuing a teaching career if they already have the appropriate education and credentials.

It’s also important to note that some curriculum and instruction graduate programs do not prepare students to apply for a teaching license.

Q: What is creative curriculum?

The Creative Curriculum is a collection of “forward-thinking, comprehensive, research-based and research-proven curriculum resources[v]” that teachers of early education can incorporate into their curriculum. Through Creative Curriculum, teachers can find materials for curricula; studies that identify best practices, pedagogies, and teaching methodologies; and numerous other resources that help them teach effectively. It is a resource designed to help teachers create strong foundations for students’ education.

Q: What is adaptive curriculum?

Adaptive Curriculum is “math and science for digital-age learners[vi].” It specifically strives to engage students in math and science through products that “meet students where they are”. In other words, Adaptive Curriculum creates programs that students find engaging, useful, and relevant. Adaptive Curriculum can be incorporated into existing curriculum or be used by teachers or students on its own.

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[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-2 | [iii] ncate.org/ | [iv]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-5 | [v] teachingstrategies.com/curriculum/ [vi] adaptivecurriculum.com/us/

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