Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction: Program Overview

Doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction are intended to provide educators with highly developed expertise in the theory and practice of education. Students generally focus their studies in a major area of specialization.

Essential Information

The most common doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction are Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs. The primary difference is that Ed.D. programs tend to focus on applied instruction and curriculum research, whereas Ph.D. programs primarily emphasize theoretical research.

Program specializations include non-licensure or license preparation with subject-specific education. Prerequisites include a master's degree in a related field of study and some professional education experience. One or more practicums are also required.

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Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction

Students in doctoral curriculum and instruction programs complete advanced coursework that teaches them to analyze and evaluate educational systems, understand successful approaches to education and manage other education professionals. In order to complete the degree program, students are required to pass preliminary and final exams, in addition to researching and writing an original dissertation or research project.

Curriculum and instruction doctoral degree programs generally require 60 hours of core coursework, which include courses in research, a selected minor area of study and dissertation seminars. Core coursework common to many doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction can include:

  • Theoretical models for curriculum and instruction
  • Implementation and assessment of curriculum
  • Research methods and procedures in education
  • Computer applications for educational curriculum and instruction
  • Educational policy analysis

Career Information

In general, Ph.D. programs prepare students for educational research careers, and Ed.D. programs prepare students for leadership positions within institutes of higher learning. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinator positions were predicted to increase 7% from 2014-2024. These professionals earned a median yearly salary of approximately $62,270 in 2015. The BLS also indicated that salaries for instructional coordinators vary greatly; the lowest 10% of workers made $35,950 or less, while the highest 10% made $97,770 or more per year.

Continuing Education Information

Because the Ph.D and Ed.D. are terminal degrees in the field, graduates with curriculum and instruction doctorates primarily pursue continuing education through professional development courses, seminars, workshops and conferences.

Depending on whether an individual is interested in applied instruction and curriculum research, or theoretical research, they have the choice of earning an Ed.D or a Ph.D., respectively, in curriculum and instruction.

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