Certificates in curriculum and instruction offered through distance education are typically at the graduate level. Programs in this field of study specifically focused on elementary education are rare, as most programs are designed to be applicable across the K-12 educational levels. Online certificates typically take around a year or less to complete.
Graduate certificate programs in curriculum and instruction require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree program, and programs at the post-master's level require candidates to have a master's degree as well. These programs are often designed for experienced educators, so employment and licensure as a teacher could be required.
A certificate in curriculum and instruction program prepares graduates for a number of careers, including designing and overseeing the development of curricula. Some programs may also allow for specialization in different areas, such as global literacy and education technology. Example courses include:
- Language and literacy learning
- Language and culture
- Legal issues in education
- User interface analysis and design
- Teaching science in elementary school
- Mathematics education
- Technology in education
- Race, gender and social justice
- Foundation of literacy
- Language development
Students enrolled in an online curriculum and instruction certificate program can usually complete all requirements virtually. Students access course materials -- including assignments and lectures -- in an online classroom environment. They interact with their professors and classmates using discussion boards, chat rooms and sometimes conferencing technologies.
These programs are not designed to train prospective teachers, so student teaching experiences or other internships are not required. However, some programs may contain coursework that requires students to put into action what they've learned in the classroom as part of their studies. Students would be required to be employed teachers in these cases.
Graduates may be prepared for a wide array of careers, including those in instructional design and educational research. In these positions, students may evaluate current academic programs and technology, review textbooks and software, or make purchases of educational material.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of elementary teachers is expected to increase 6% in the 2014-2024 decade, while opportunities for instructional coordinators are projected to grow 7% during the same time period (www.bls.gov). These figures represent average growth when compared to all job sectors.
Experienced teachers who wish to redirect their careers toward curriculum development may pursue an online graduate certificate in curriculum and instruction. Because almost all course requirements can be completed virtually, these programs provide working professionals with the flexibility to tailor their studies around full-time schedules.