Instead of earning a generalized master’s (M.Ed.) or education specialist (Ed.S.) degree in education, many people with undergraduate teaching degrees or people seeking careers as department heads in school administration choose to earn advanced degrees in Curriculum & Instruction. Most M.Ed. or Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction degrees will not provide additional licensure credentials for currently licensed teachers. Instead, the degree prepares teachers for a new role within the school system, allowing them to use their knowledge to improve teaching quality and to enhance curriculum delivery in their districts.
Coursework for Curriculum & Instruction
Students usually begin their coursework by learning about the organization of schools and school systems. They also learn about learning theories and the education of today’s increasingly diverse student populations, gathering the knowledge that they need to both evaluate and diagnose program achievements and opportunities. For the specialty in Curriculum & Instruction, they usually take a set of electives that dig into the theory of curriculum design, current educational ethics and the qualities of today’s most skillful teachers. The program will either end with the student completing comprehensive examinations, a thesis or a capstone project.
Choosing Between the M.Ed. and the Ed.S.
If students feel confident that this advanced degree will be their final education degree, an Ed.S. makes sense. The Ed.S. falls somewhere between the master’s and the doctorate and is much more of a terminal degree. However, if students think they may continue into a Ph.D. program at a later date, they may want to consider the M.Ed. degree.
In addition to comparing their educational goals, students should consider the cost of each credential. In many cases, an Ed.S. can be slightly more expensive.
Why Distance Learning Works for This Degree
Teachers rarely have the luxury of leaving their jobs or taking a sabbatical to complete a master’s degree. Fortunately, many distance learning programs are set up to accommodate the teacher’s schedule. For instance, coursework may be light during the school year and more demanding during the summer.
Also, instead of driving to campuses and attending lectures, teachers can complete their work outside of their normal school days. Because a distance learning degree can be earned from any accredited school, teachers can choose from a wide variety of universities to find programs that fit their budgets. They aren’t limited by geography to a sub-standard school.
Paying for the Degree
Many universities offer scholarships that will enable teachers to pay for their master’s degrees. In addition to looking for scholarships before coursework begins, master’s candidates should look for scholarships while their education is in progress. For example, many universities will recognize top work amongst both on-campus and online students with scholarship awards after their first semesters or first years of classwork. Of course, students can always supplement scholarships by completing the FAFSA and seeking federal student loans.
What to Expect After Graduation
A teacher who earns an undergraduate degree in mathematics could earn an M.Ed. or an Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction. That teacher would then be qualified to work in mathematics curriculum development for a school district or to supervise mathematics teachers from multiple schools. If teachers want to pursue careers in school administration or district administration, then a generalized education degree may be more suitable.
Students should look for programs that are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to ensure that the degree they will earn meets rigorous standards and has credibility in the field of education. NCATE usually accredits online programs offered by brick and mortar universities but has begun to accredit universities that are non-traditional.