Online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction are designed to develop sophisticated research and curriculum design skills, with the goal of preparing students to improve curriculum structure and instructional practice within schools. Graduates from these programs are prepared to analyze and evaluate instructional practices, as well as create new creative practices that will improve academic achievement. Online doctoral degrees in curriculum and instruction take, on average, four to five years to complete, during which students complete coursework in areas such as social change and human development, which serve to provide insight into educational systems, learning processes, and how these are affected by various social elements. Once students finish their coursework, most accredited online doctorate degrees in curriculum and instruction require students to take a comprehensive examination over their new knowledge, followed by the completion of a dissertation, which is a student’s own contribution to research within the field. The culmination of all of this work is an online PhD in curriculum and instruction, which graduates use to lead educational programs to high student achievement and success.
About Online PhD Programs in Curriculum and Instruction
Online PhD programs in curriculum and instruction prepare students to design, assess and evaluate the educational programs that are used in schools. Students pursuing their online doctorate in curriculum and instruction take the required coursework over the internet in the comfort of their own homes. Unlike with campus-based programs, students can complete most of their research over the internet as well, as there are many reputable digital resources available. However, most online doctorate programs in curriculum and instruction require enrolled students to visit the physical campus for a short residency period, in order to give students access to networking with their peers and face-to-face communication with professors. Dissertation completion may also require visits to school campuses, depending on the nature of students’ research proposals. In these instances, students will work with their professors to determine the best way to fulfill their research requirements. The goal of an online curriculum and instruction PhD is to develop students into knowledgeable educational leaders and curriculum designers. Common coursework that encourages such development is exemplified by Walden University’s degree completion requirements, some of the courses of which are listed below.
- Principles of Social Change. There are many factors that serve as driving forces for social change, and there are many factors that hinder social change. This course explores those factors and examines ways in which educational leaders can successfully petition for change in educational institutions.
- The Learner Across the Lifespan. This course serves as an exploration of the strategies of instruction, how they adapt as students grow older, and the ways in which educational programs can be tweaked to provide better accessibility for students.
- Learning and Instruction. Learning and instruction are related. Without a successful method of delivery, a curriculum will not result in student achievement. This course explores the connection between learning and instruction, and ways in which educational leaders can improve that bond.
- Social Change in Education. The ultimate goal of education is imparting knowledge to students. With knowledge, students can become the driving force behind social change, and can push to make the world a better place. This course explores the role of education in social development.
- Assessment and Accountability in Education. Educators use assessments to determine what students have learned from instruction. Accountability determines the effectiveness and fairness of such assessments. This course studies both, as well as how they are ó or are not ó used in today’s educational systems.
- Leadership in a Global Society. Today’s students will grow up to work in a global society. This course explores can students can be prepared for the global marketplace by addressing instruction that aims to teach students how to work alongside those who interact and communicate differently than they do.
- Educational Organizations and Contexts. In this course, students explore how educational structures function by studying systems, processes, and their overall effectiveness on learning and instruction.
- Theories of Human Learning in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. This course explores learning theory and how it has fueled the development of curriculum over time. Students will learn to assess the effectiveness of such theories, and will examine current research.
- Program Development and Leadership in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment . A deeper look into developing appropriate and effective curriculum and instructional methods.
- Research Sequence. Students will take coursework that prepares them for the sophisticated research that their dissertations will require.
Specializations and Concentrations
An online doctorate in curriculum and instruction may seem very specific, but there are actually multiple paths down which students can choose to take their education. Students that want to tailor their degree to match their interests can choose to concentrate on leadership in educational administration, literacy education, or curriculum development and supervision.
After completing coursework, online PhD curriculum and instruction students take a comprehensive examination over what they have learned, including current research trends in instructional design and assessment accountability. Once students have passed the exam, they propose a research topic for their dissertations. Past dissertations in the field of curriculum and instruction include The Effect of Metacognitive Strategy Instruction on Writing by Judith Conant Steinbach and Practice Makes Teachers: Affordances and Constraints of an Art Education Field Experience Program by Elizabeth Stephanie Cramer. Students then write and defend their dissertations, after which they become online PhD curriculum and instruction graduates.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction
Pursuing curriculum and instruction doctorate degrees online is an excellent choice for individuals that are passionate about education or feel motivated to positively impact student progress and achievement. Individuals with strong leadership skills and an interest in research could also benefit from curriculum PhD programs online, as expects in curriculum and instruction need both for their work. Curriculum and instruction PhD students that have careers and other daily obligations could benefit from an online curriculum, as the coursework in online programs can be completed entirely over the internet. However, most graduate programs in curriculum and instruction require students to visit the physical campus during their enrollment, which is something that working students must keep in mind. As technology is not only used in education, but also by students in their daily lives, pursuing a degree online can give curriculum and instruction PhD students the upper age, as they will have great exposure to technology and digital resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that in some cases, not all research can be completed online. Some dissertations require visits to schools or with students, in which case professors will work with their students to determine the best method of completing such research.
Application & Admission Requirements
As online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction are heavily rooted in education, the learning process, and the evaluation of educational programs, it is highly recommended that applicants have a background in education. Many programs require the completion of a Masters degree prior to enrollment, in fields such as education, instructional design, early childhood education, or educational leadership. Schools usually prefer that students maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average during their graduate careers. Having a career background in one of these areas would help boost an application as well. Many students that enter online PhD programs in curriculum and instruction have teaching experience. In addition to previous experience in the educational field, online doctorate degrees in curriculum and instruction usually require applicants to submit a statement of purpose and recommendation letters, though these specific requirements vary across programs.
Career Options & Job Market
As online curriculum and instruction PhD programs prepare students to be educational leaders capable of constructing, implementing and evaluating curricula, there are many educational careers open to graduates. Utilizing their leadership skills and knowledge of educational processes, graduates have the chance to establish careers as educational administrators or superintendents, who drive school districts toward exemplary student achievement. Another option for curriculum and instruction PhD online graduates is to forge a career as an education professor. Professors teach the advanced research skills and knowledge that they have acquired to university students. Postsecondary teaching positions are a good opportunity for PhD holders. In addition, working as a school principal is also a possibility. In this position, graduates need to know how to effectively implement curriculum, a requirement that makes graduates with their online PhD degrees in curriculum and instruction excellent candidates for the job. School principals are the chief administrative authorities in their schools. There are many opportunities for graduates from curriculum and instruction PhD programs.
Where to Find Information
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
- Articles and Resources for Educators
- Association of Leadership Educators
- Journal of Curriculum and Instruction
How to Get Funding
Graduate education can be expensive. Though earning an online PhD in curriculum and instruction is less expensive than earning a PhD through campus programs, a four-year program can still be costly, especially for students with other financial responsibilities. Luckily, financial aid is available for graduate students that are pursuing their curriculum and instruction doctorate degrees online. Fellowships and grants are designed to aid student research. Some resources specifically tailored to graduate students enrolled in a field related to education are provided below.
- TEACH Grant Program. A grant for undergraduates and graduates that agree to teach low-income students in a high-need subject area for four years.
- AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research. A grant aimed at promoting educational research by minority graduate students.
- Dissertation Fellowships in Education Program. A fellowship awarded to dissertation research that shows potential for new contributions to the field of education.
- Work experience in the educational field is a great way to make your resume stand out from the crowd of applicants. Consider acquiring teaching or school administrative experience prior to applying.
- Staying current on recent trends in education research and curriculum design will prepare you for the coursework and dissertation research required for you to complete your online curriculum and instruction doctorate.
- Joining a professional organization related to education will grant you accesses to top professional development opportunities that can beef up your resume and give you the competitive edge over your peers.
- If you have any questions about a school’s curriculum and instruction PhD program, call its admissions department. They are there to answer any questions you may have.