Curriculum Development Training and Degree Program Overviews

Prospective curriculum development specialists can pursue their career goals by earning master's and doctoral degrees or education specialist credentials in curriculum and instruction or instructional design and technology.

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Essential Information

Curriculum development programs, alternately titled instructional design and technology or curriculum and instruction, train students to design and coordinate educational materials. Most often offered at the master's and doctoral levels, these programs consist of courses in educational research, teaching methods and educational technology. They typically require large amounts of original research and culminate in a thesis or dissertation. A bachelor's or master's degree, possibly in an education field, and work experience may be required to apply.

Master's Degree in Instructional Design and Technology

A master's degree in instructional design and technology can be useful in the field of education, as well as the corporate world. Programs are usually designed for working professionals, so classes might be available on flexible schedules and in a variety of formats, including online. Some schools offer traditional master's curricula in instructional design and technology, while others allow students to design their own. No matter the structure, programs share some basic study topics, such as:

  • Creating curricula
  • Researching teaching methods
  • Evaluating curricula results
  • Educational technology
  • Benefits and detriments of educational technology

Education Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction

An education specialist (Ed.S.) program is designed to give students focused training in education without the extensive research that's usually required for a doctoral degree. Curriculum and instruction programs offer students opportunities to focus their studies on creating curricula for different education levels, learning styles and academic subjects. Many schools offer their Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction programs online. Curriculum and instruction Ed.S. programs typically provide classes in a student's emphasis, with additional training in field research. In addition to courses, students must complete an original research paper and pass an oral exam. Some common topics students might explore include:

  • Researching education
  • Designing and implementing curricula
  • Multicultural students
  • Evaluating instruction methods
  • Understanding learning processes

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  • General Instructional Media Design

Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction

Students pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction can choose an emphasis like education administration, research or teaching. Graduates should be prepared to develop and evaluate course topics and structure. Curriculum and instruction doctoral programs focus on research meant for practical educational purposes, so graduates are prepared for careers in traditional academia and also equipped to meet educational needs in corporate settings. Students must present a final dissertation before graduation. Topics of study might include:

  • Models for developing curricula
  • Teaching methods
  • Analyzing course effectiveness
  • Statistics in research
  • Sociocultural education

Popular Careers

Graduates with instructional design and technology degrees typically enter positions in academia, military or business. Graduates often are hired by K-12 school systems, though they might be prepared for careers in higher education as well. Some popular positions for graduates are listed below:

  • Curriculum implementation specialist
  • Training and curriculum specialist
  • Instructional strategist

Graduates with an Ed.S. usually find work in traditional school systems. The type of job often depends on the graduate's area of emphasis. Some job titles might include:

  • Assistant professor of educational research
  • Professional development director
  • Curriculum development specialist

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 7% job growth for instructional coordinators over the 2014-2024 decade. This growth, which is within the average range for all occupations, was attributed to a greater emphasis on education and educator responsibility, particularly in the areas of math and reading. Other positions were expected to come from continuing education, special needs and English as a second language programs. As of May 2015, instructional coordinators had a mean annual wage of $64,870, reports the BLS.

Curriculum development is typically performed by highly trained professionals who have earned an advanced degree or specialist credential. Master's, doctoral, and specialist programs typically feature coursework in areas such as research methodology, teaching pedagogy, statistics, and educational technology. Many graduates work within the public school system, while others may seek work in post-secondary education.

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