Updated: August 1, 2017
What are you doing right now? No really—like, right at this moment?
No, we’re not talking about the Doritos you’re eating or the Drake album you’re listening to. We’re talking about the fact that you’re here looking for online doctoral programs in education!
That’s a good thing, because the online education scene is busting at the seams right now. The demand for easily accessible and reputable degrees is as high as it’s ever been, and there is little sign of that trend reversing any time soon. And with that demand is a need for people like you, who have the chops to design curriculum.
Those who hold degrees in Curriculum and Instruction often work as Instructional Coordinators, although jobs are not limited to that particular title. Instructional Coordinators typically oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, coordinate its implementation with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness.
Increasingly, however, the need for Instructional Coordinators is moving online as post-secondary schools in particular are making some of their degree programs and courses available on the web. New jobs are being created that will require qualified professionals to help manage and develop curriculum.
The minimum degree requirement to work as an Instructional Coordinator is a master’s degree in a relevant field, but with an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in a field such as Curriculum and Instruction, you can get a leg up on the competition. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for entry-level Instructional Coordinators is between $60,000 and $65,000 per year. But with a doctoral degree in the field, you can expect that figure to increase, particularly as you gain experience on the job.
What Are the Best Online Doctoral Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction?
So if an Ed.D. is in your future, what are the options? Can they be completed online? The answer is yes, and we’ve taken the liberty of taking some of the guesswork out of it for you. We have assembled a list of what we think are the 10 best online doctoral programs in Curriculum and Instruction with your needs in mind.
To assemble our list, we took into consideration factors such as academic reputation, average cost, and graduate success rates. Data is taken from publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com. The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals.
Now, put down those Doritos, and get to work!
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 100
Average Tuition: $410
The University of Arkansas offers an online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership that provides professional preparation for students pursuing careers as principals, other building-level administrators and supervisors in public and private schools; superintendents and other central office personnel; federal and state governmental agency officials; and other educational leadership related professionals. The program requires three intensive weekend seminars on campus.
Once a semester the online cohort will meet face to face for a meaningful U of A campus experience. Each intensive weekend cohort seminar will be focused on a theme that connects theory with practice and includes mini-lectures by scholars and practitioners in the field, facilitated discussion groups, and lively debate of critical issues facing school leaders. The intent of the cohort weekend is to build relationships, introduce students to leaders in the field and expose them to interactive, hands-on learning experiences that lend themselves more easily to the face-to-face environment.
Among the many outstanding features of Arkansas’s program, it boasts an extensive network of K-16 partners throughout the state, a distinguished list of alumni in key leadership positions throughout the country, faculty committed to providing a highly rigorous and relevant classroom experience, researchers that bridge theory and practice to respond to the needs of policymakers and practitioners in the field, and students who are passionate about transforming schools and improving the lives of children.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 99.85
Average Tuition: $690
The University of Florida offers an online Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education (CTTE). It is a job-embedded program that allows students to learn online while applying new methods of teaching at work. Students, school districts, and teachers alike benefit from the on-the-job nature of Florida’s program, which is made specifically for the practicing educator.
Students will tackle real-world problems while learning through theory and research to inform their teaching. This program is not intended to prepare educators for positions in research-intensive universities but rather to prepare practicing educational professionals to draw on educational theory and research, and the expertise of colleagues and UF faculty to address the pressing problems of practice facing educational leaders today.
The program is cohort based with participants working together as a community of learners to tackle common and individual problems of practice. Courses specifically link theory and research to problems of professional practice within participants’ contexts, and course assignments support educators in application of and inquiry about their learning. Each key feature of the program corresponds to one or more of the Carnegie recommendations for effective professional practice doctoral programs.
University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 99.43
Average Tuition: $533
The University of South Carolina offers an online Ed.D. in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a Curriculum Studies Concentration. It is designed for professional educators who want to excel as curriculum specialists in PK-12, higher education institutions, or in the private sector. South Carolina’s online Ed.D. prepares leaders for the challenges of curricular administration including culture and leadership, ethics and morals, and curriculum design and implementation.
The program offers numerous benefits, including perspective on contemporary, historical, and critical curriculum issues; a diverse curriculum from one of the premier research educational institutions in the country; preparation for educational leadership roles including university professorships, district-level curriculum administration, and school-level instructional positions.
The program is structured around 18 hours of core Curriculum and Instruction courses, 9 hours of Curriculum Studies concentration courses, 12 hours of research courses, 9 hours of cognate courses, and 12 hours worth of work for a qualifying exam, comprehensive exam, dissertation proposal, and dissertation. The core Curriculum and Instruction courses include Introduction to Diversity and the Curriculum, Principles of Curriculum Construction, Advanced Study of Diversity and Curriculum, Curriculum Seminar: Classics & Theory, Applications of Learning Principles, and Instructional Design and Assessment.
Texas A&M University
College Choice Score: 97.83
Average Tuition: $823
Texas A&M University offers an online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. It prepares leaders in P-12 public and private education to be accomplished in providing direction in curriculum, instruction and instructional assessment. The program requires a minimum of 64 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree, all of which will be presented through a Web-based delivery system in a cohort structure. The estimated completion time for the program is four years.
The program offers training in three major areas of Curriculum and Instruction: leadership, discovery, and application of knowledge. The three themes appear as intertwined strands throughout the key elements of the program, which include curriculum, qualifying assessment audit, preliminary examinations, professional internships, and record of study.
Graduates of the program are involved in a variety of roles, such as leadership roles in school change and improvement initiatives; school or district curriculum leadership; professional development of colleagues; parent and community involvement; pre-service teacher preparation and supervision within school contexts; contributions to the teaching profession through service to professional organizations, school districts, and state government steering committees; successful experiences with external funding efforts; and organizational management.
University of West Florida
College Choice Score: 97.45
Average Tuition: $378
The University of West Florida offers an online Ed.D. with specializations in two relevant areas: Instructional Design and Technology with a Performance Technology option and Instructional Design and Technology with a Distance Learning option. PT prepares students to use technology to improve productivity and performance in the workplace, whereas the DL option prepares students to design and develop distance learning programs for their organizations.
The Performance Technology option also targets individuals who want to investigate how instructional technology and systems thinking can be used to improve performance and learning in various organizational settings. The Distance Learning concentration also targets individuals who want to develop expertise in the theoretical constructs and best practices associated with the design, development, implementation, evaluation and administration of distance learning. All students complete a common core, providing them with foundational knowledge related to the theory and practice of instructional design and technology in addition to electives within the chosen concentration.
Each concentration’s main concern is how to effectively apply technology to achieve educational goals in a wide variety of educational settings—K-12, colleges and universities, industry, the military, government, and health care. To this end, students are prepared to analyze learning systems; determine instructional goals; design, develop, and implement solutions for reaching those goals; and evaluate the effectiveness of those solutions.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
College Choice Score: 96.8
Average Tuition: $500
The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online Ed.D. with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction. It is a 60-credit program designed for persons who are interested in and show promise of becoming scholars and leaders in education and the allied health professions. The Curriculum and Instruction concentration prepares scholars in the domains of curriculum, teaching, teacher education, and/or educational policy at the K-12 or college level, or in local, state, regional, or national agencies.
The program features rigorous academic coursework and research experiences that prepare future scholars and practitioners to understand and address educational problems and needs from a holistic perspective. Applicants to this program can either enter after completing their bachelor degree or their master’s degree. In either case, a master’s degree is required for the Ed.D. If applicants enter post-bachelor, they will first complete a terminal degree in a master program in education, health sciences, or a related field before proceeding with doctoral coursework.
All applicants must have a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 and a minimum cumulative graduate grade point average of at least 3.25 to be considered for admission, and all applicants must have completed the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with minimum score of 292 (Verbal and Quantitative scores combined) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) score of 397 (Scaled Score, 50 Percentile Rank) for probational admission.
New Mexico State University
College Choice Score: 91.23
Average Tuition: $792
New Mexico State University is unique among the programs on our list in offering two online doctoral programs in Curriculum and Instruction: an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. Both degrees are rigorous degrees requiring intellectual and personal commitment; ask for a lifelong commitment to teaching and learning, to research and to service; have similar academic courses of study; and require a dissertation based on original research.
Students who are interested in earning the Ph.D. instead of the Ed.D. must satisfy additional language and computer tools requirements above and beyond what is required for Ed.D. students. Satisfaction for this requirement can take the form of regular coursework included in the program of study. Students may elect to pursue this additional coursework both residentially or online. Students must be admitted to the doctoral program before taking courses.
Students interested in curriculum and instruction will benefit from a concentration in Learning Design and Technology. Additional areas of concentration include Bilingual Education; Critical Pedagogies/Multicultural Education; Early Childhood Education (on-line only); Literacy, Language and Culture; and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In order to be admitted to the program, students must have three years of teaching experience at the pre-K–12 level or post-secondary level (or equivalent). An earned MA degree in education (or equivalent) is also required.
College Choice Score: 90.33
Average Tuition: $565
Liberty University offers an online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction that provides advanced training for a role in higher education. With the purpose of developing skilled and effective leaders, the program is a model of high academic standards and leadership in education. Specialized courses develop the skills necessary to become a teacher, superintendent, principal, college instructor, or any other academic position requiring strong leadership skills and decision-making abilities.
This program is accredited under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards through the CAEP Accreditation System. The online program requires 60 total hours, which also requires intensive coursework. Up to 15 credit hours can be transferred in from an accredited and un-conferred degree, and up to 24 hours of coursework for the Ed.D. program can be applied from an accredited, conferred Ed.S. degree.
Liberty’s program in Curriculum and Instruction is unique in offering sub-specialties for students who have specific interests in particular areas of education. Students can choose from not only a general concentration in Curriculum and Instruction but also from C&I for Elementary Education, Middle-Grades Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education.
Concordia University Chicago
College Choice Score: 89.78
Average Tuition: $597
Concordia University Chicago offers an online Ed.D. in Leadership with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction. It is designed for teachers who wish to pursue a program as educators and scholars preparing for leadership roles in public or private schools. This program develops educational experts who can design, implement, evaluate and manage curriculum and instruction programs in K-12 schools.
Students in Concordia’s program can expect to develop the abilities for research and critical thinking in the field of curriculum and instruction, with a theoretical and practical knowledge; gain competency in curriculum evaluation, development and mapping; improve understanding in the teaching and learning process; build a strong professional background in areas related to curriculum and instruction; and support and lead reform and change efforts related to teacher development in schools.
Coursework in the program encourages exploration, discussion, and understanding of the challenges and possibilities of teacher education. Relevant coursework for the program includes Curriculum Theory and Design, which explores analysis, trends, and current practices in light of national and international models and educational programs, and Curriculum Leadership, which explores current issues in curriculum and instruction as well as management of curriculum development.
College Choice Score: 81.53
Average Tuition: $1,047
Andrews University offers an online Ed.D. and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. It is concerned with creating superior learning environments within learning organizations such as corporations, schools, colleges and universities. C&I degrees are interdisciplinary, involving a broad spectrum of content areas and educational levels. Andrews also offers a 32-credit MA that can typically be completed in 4 semesters if the student is full time or 2 full years if the student is part time.
Both the EdD and PhD are 91-92–credit programs, and they are typically completed in 6 years beyond the MA. All applicants to the doctoral programs should hold a master’s degree in an area appropriate to the major emphasis of the specialist or doctoral program from a regionally accredited American university or senior college, or its equivalent from a comparably, recognized institution outside the U.S. Accreditation must be from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or schools outside of the U.S. must have government recognition in the country of origin.
Students must provide evidence of adequate preparation in the proposed field of graduate study and in general education in order to be admitted. Graduates of Andrews’ program serve in a variety of roles, including classroom teachers, department heads, principals, superintendents, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, department chairs, researchers, academic vice presidents, and college presidents.