Curriculum Supervision Degree and Certificate Program Summaries

Students seeking a career in curriculum supervision have a variety of educational opportunities available to them at the graduate level, including master's and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate programs.

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Essential Information

Curriculum supervision is essential for any teacher or education professional involved in setting classroom policy. Several schools offer curriculum supervision programs at the graduate certificate, master's degree and doctoral degree levels. Specialization options are common through all program levels, and can include subjects like learning theory, public policy and leadership.

Certificate in Curriculum Supervision

A certificate program in curriculum supervision provides the knowledge and skills necessary to assume a prominent role in determining the academic direction of a school or school system. Students engage in the process of developing study plans, designing experimental programs and evaluating staff. Some programs offer sub-specialties in educational technology, educational leadership and literacy. A certificate may be earned in 1-2 years of full-time study or up to four years through part-time scheduling.

Applicants to a curriculum supervisor certificate program must have a master's degree and a valid state teaching license or certificate. Some schools may require a year or more of teaching experience prior to enrollment. Schools may also require a 3.0 grade point average or better on all undergraduate and graduate work.

Courses in a curriculum supervision program cover foundational topics in curriculum development and school leadership. Students may choose electives based on an interest in lesson plan creation or administration. Some certificate programs will not count grades below 2.5 toward fulfillment of a program's requirements. Common coursework includes:

  • Education leadership fundamentals
  • School system organization
  • Contemporary school leadership issues
  • Curriculum development and evaluation
  • Supervision of teachers

Master's Degree in Curriculum and Supervision

A master's degree program in curriculum supervision explores the theory and practice of establishing educational goals, creating a defined plan of instruction to meet those goals and making sure teachers are prepared to implement changes. Program content explores contemporary trends in education, formal and informal learning environments, professional development and teacher coaching and mentoring. Admission to a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree, preferably in education. Master's degrees are typically completed in two years.

Master's degree programs are frequently structured as a set of core courses combined with elective instruction and seminars. Students may take several electives depending on their concentration field and sub-specialization. Candidates may be required to complete a thesis or research project. Course topics often include:

  • Supervision principles
  • Classroom supervision and coaching
  • Elementary and middle school curricula development
  • Adult learning and teacher training
  • Cultural and social diversity

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  • General Instructional Media Design

Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction

A doctoral degree program in curriculum supervision and instruction emphasizes research into the design of educational programs and the role of teachers in realizing the educational agenda embodied in a curriculum. Candidates choose a specialization, such as leadership, public policy, pedagogy or learning theory, and conduct original research for their dissertation. Courses, seminars and mentored instruction teach how to critique contemporary curriculum research and provide improved solutions. Doctoral degrees may be completed in 5-7 years.

Some doctoral programs accept applicants with a bachelor's degree in education or a related subject, while others require a master's degree. Most admissions are based on a high grade point average at all levels of postsecondary education.

Courses and seminars make up the first 2-3 years of a doctoral program, with the remaining years devoted to dissertation research. Applicants with a bachelor's degree may require additional coursework than those who enter the program with a master's degree. The following are examples of topics of study at the doctoral level:

  • Education research methods
  • Education statistics and analysis
  • Literacy theory
  • Curriculum evaluation and development
  • Leadership approaches

Popular Career Options

Certificate holders with specialized training may work at staff or management levels within an educational system. Potential employers include the following:

  • Public and private schools
  • School districts
  • State and local education agencies

Graduates of a doctoral program are prepared to teach at the postsecondary level. Additionally, they may qualify for executive or administrative positions at schools, colleges, universities and school districts. Possible careers for doctoral degree holders include:

  • Education researcher
  • Professor of education
  • Education policy advisor
  • Education consultant

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of a master's degree program in curriculum supervision qualify for positions as curriculum specialists and education administrators both within schools and at school district central offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of instructional coordinators (the broader group to which curriculum specialists belong) was expected to increase 7%, about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2014-2024 ( As of May 2015, the BLS reported the median annual salary for instructional coordinators was $62,270.

Continuing Education Information

Completing a certificate program may satisfy the academic requirements for administrative certification through the state. However, graduates may also have to pass the Praxis 10410 exam in administration and supervision to earn additional certification.

Educators interested in advancing a career into teaching at the college level or administration may choose to consider earning a doctoral degree. A number of schools with master's degree programs also include doctoral studies in curriculum supervision.

Degrees in curriculum supervision are offered to individuals who have already completed a bachelor's degree and wish to pursue graduate studies to further hone their skills and knowledge base. Careers are available in this field as education consultants, policy advisors, and researchers.

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