Doctoral degree programs in curriculum instruction can result in either a Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree, both of which typically combine academic study with practical experience. Before applying, prospective students must make sure they meet the extensive educational and experiential admissions requirements.
Selecting the Right Program
Doctoral-level programs prepare education professionals for research careers or leadership positions within an education system where they can evaluate curriculum, lead change or implement policy. Doctoral programs may result in either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) credential.
Students considering a doctoral program will want to consider their career goals and program types when choosing a school for curriculum and instruction. For instance, Doctor of Education programs may appeal to students looking for advanced careers in areas like curriculum development or teacher education. Those interested in research careers may wish to look for schools that offer a program resulting in a Ph.D.
Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
Ph.D. programs in curriculum and instruction can be completed in four years. They typically include advanced coursework, a practicum and a research-based dissertation. Students may be able to focus their education on studies on a specific area, such as literacy, instructional technology or moral education. Common course topics include:
- Education foundations
- Curriculum development
- Teaching models
- Curriculum theory
- Educational statistics
- Educational research
- Teacher preparation
Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
An Ed.D. program prepares graduates to work as advanced practitioners in the field of education. These courses are often similar to those in a Ph.D. program, though they tend to focus on teaching practices, rather than research. This program is also made up of core courses, research projects and a dissertation. Course topics may include:
- Curriculum policy
- Research in education
- Contemporary curriculum
- School improvement and reform
- Critical pedagogy
- Professional development for teachers
Students may also look for a program that combines both in-class and hands-on learning experiences. When applying, students should see if an internship is required or even available. Additionally, students may look for teaching assistantships, which will allow students to assist professors and often teach some classes at the university level before graduation and completing a dissertation.
Many of these doctoral programs are designed for professional educators and take up to five years to complete. Students who plan on working during their enrollment may wish to look for hybrid programs that allow some coursework to be completed online. These programs may still have some residency requirements.
When choosing a school, students will want to consider the school's admissions requirements. Some schools look for students with at least three years of professional experience in an education environment. Others require students to have a strong educational background; for instance, some schools require all applicants to have previously earned a Master's or Specialist degree in education. Students may also need to have earned a minimum undergraduate GPA. Application materials often include:
- Academic transcripts
- GRE test scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose
- Writing sample
- Curriculum vitae
When choosing a doctoral program in curriculum and instruction, prospective students should make sure that they can fulfill the admissions requirements and that the program's curriculum meets their educational and career goals.