Online PhD in Educational Leadership through Curriculum and Instruction

The top online PhD in Educational Leadership through Curriculum and Instruction (or simply Curriculum and Instruction) programs are designed for established, experienced educational professionals that want to increase or expand their knowledge by becoming more involved in consequential teaching protocol research and instructional techniques. Candidates are encouraged to embrace the profound analysis of formal educational management disciplines and evaluate its advancements in academic principles. These online doctoral programs in Curriculum and Instruction can take between 4 to 8 years to complete, though how long it takes to complete the program will also depend on the student's pace. Most online PhD programs in this field require students to already possess a master's degree, especially in one of the following disciplines: interdisciplinary studies; the humanities; any of the social sciences; English; education; child or adolescent psychology; or instructional psychology. Students with master's degrees in information systems, communications or accounting may also have the foundational skills necessary to succeed in a program of this kind. This program is offered in different formats and with different focuses. For example, you can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) in Curriculum and Instruction. State University of New York at Albany and Capella University offer the PhD program online, while University of Phoenix is one online school offering the Ed.D program.

About Online PhD Programs in Educational Leadership through Curriculum & Instruction

Online doctoral programs are usually more interactive than traditional courses. Candidates are expected to participate in weekly discussion boards, group projects, study scholarly readings, and write lengthy papers. In addition to course work, PhD in Educational Leadership through Curriculum & Instruction candidates must conduct in-depth research within their area of interest and write a dissertation reporting the findings and discussing future implications. Most online doctoral degrees in this subject require time on campus as well as an internship. Most courses are taught in an online classroom setting, but are also supported by extensive research and through experience gained in the practicum, internship, and externship facets of the online Educational Leadership through Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program.

Year One:

  • Leading Innovation. In this Capella University course, students are introduced to discipline-specific topics and examine behavior and leadership theories, principles, and case studies.
  • Supervision of Curriculum and Instruction. In this course offered by University of Phoenix, students are taught the effective techniques for managing curriculum, effective evaluation instruments, conferencing, classroom management, and recommendations for improvement.
  • Foundations of Research in Curriculum and Instruction. Offered through SUNY Albany, this course focuses on the philosophical basis of various research traditions in education including postmodernism, feminism, positivism, interpretivism, and critical theory.

Year Two:

  • Sociocognitive View of Instruction. This course introduces a theoretical framework for development and instruction, based on the perspective that learning occurs in settings where language is used among teacher and student to develop new ways of thinking and doing.
  • Instructional Models. This course teaches effective instructional models for diverse populations, improvement of instructional programs, as well as staff and personnel development.
  • Teacher Supervision and Evaluation. Current theories and practices of teacher supervision and evaluation are examined, particularly instructional leadership and professional development as part of a systemic plan to improve student learning.

Year Three:

  • The Funding of Educational Institutions. Public education issues and concerns are addressed, particularly the effect of litigation and politics on present and future funding patterns and school finance reform.
  • Curriculum Development. The creation of systemic models of curriculum development are examined, including schedules, structure, stakeholder involvement and end products, as well as the analysis of the cultural and institutional aspects of existing curricular models.
  • Studies in Literacy, Languages and Cultures. This advanced seminar explores theoretical and practical issues regarding literacy in various societies, with an emphasis on philosophical, social, psychological, historical, linguistic and cultural perspectives.

As part of the residency requirement, Capella University online students must attend three four-day colloquia seminars. At these colloquium seminars, students can interact with faculty and peers and take part in self-reflection exercises, research and critical thinking activities, and a final assessment. University of Phoenix's online doctoral program requires residencies in select cities that also consist of seminars. Residencies typically last about three to eight days. Students at SUNY Albany's PhD in Curriculum and Instruction program must complete core courses, advanced seminar courses, inquiry courses, specialization courses and electives, in addition to a dissertation. Examples of dissertations completed in this program include “Integration of Yoga to Vitalize Preschool Children: A Proposed Study of Yoga Therapy to Increase Attention in Preschool Children” (by a Capella graduate) and “Enhancing Moral Reasoning for Novice and Expert Nurses” (by a SUNY Albany graduate).

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Educational Leadership through Curriculum & Instruction

In the education field, earning advanced level degrees online has become more accepted and widespread. There is less of a stigma in online education than there was a decade ago. The course of study for PhD candidates in the top online Curriculum and Instruction programs is valuable and well-rounded for anyone pursuing a higher level job position within the field of education. Specializations and concentrations include learning and teaching across disciplines and differences; instructional technology; language and literacies; science and mathematics education; educational organizational leadership; continuing education; ESL; education finance; educational management psychology; statistics and more. This well-rounded, extensive education may also greatly increase hiring and earning potential after graduation from the program. Some of the criticisms of earning an online degree in this field, however, include high tuition costs and missing out on experiencing face-to-face time with peers and professors. Fortunately, all online PhD programs in Educational Leadership through Curriculum and Instruction require on-campus coursework and seminars which will greatly enhance your learning experience.

Application & Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission into SUNY Albany's Curriculum and Instruction PhD program, applicants must submit official post secondary transcripts, GRE scores, and a personal statement. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation with at least two being written by former instructors addressing the applicant's PhD potential. Qualified candidates are not accepted until a faculty member has agreed to serve as an advisor. While a master's degree is not required, it can move qualified applicants to advanced standing after admission. To be considered for admission into Capella University's PhD program in Curriculum and Instruction, applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited institution. They must have maintained a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA and submit official transcripts, a completed application, a detailed resume, and a statement of purpose. University of Phoenix's Educational Leadership through Curriculum and Instruction Ed.D online program also requires a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA on graduate degree transcripts for admission. Applicants to the Ed.D program must also have three years of professional work experience in a leadership position and membership in a research library.

Career Options & Job Market

A student who has successfully completed an accredited and recognized online doctorate program in Curriculum and Instruction may have many employment opportunities. Because of the advanced degree, the graduate can have the competitive edge in obtaining some of the best jobs in the profession. These positions range from teaching at the post-secondary level to exciting career opportunities in the private sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for curriculum coordinators and instructors is favorable and expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations. Some positions include:

  • A Director of Education, who is responsible for all operational, financial and critical decisions made regarding curricula at a public or private school.
  • As a Post-secondary Instructor, you can teach college or university students by presenting lectures or devising evaluative instruments.

Where to Find Information

  • More information about the PhD in Curriculum and Instruction program atState University of New York at Albany
  • More information about the Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction program offered byUniversity of Phoenix
  • More information about the PhD in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction offered atCapella University
  • Route 21, a leading advocacy organization for education leaders, business owners and policymakers to help infuse 21st century skills into education.

How to Get Funding

An option is finding out whether your employer is able or willing to handle your tuition expenses. offers more information on available scholarships for education students.

Essential Advice

  • Weigh your options and do the research. You'll need to know for sure whether an additional degree will increase your earning potential more than a bachelor's or master's degree in a similar field would.
  • Try to obtain a scholarship, fellowship or grant. Studying at a PhD level is costly, and you may not be able to predict how many years it will take you to complete it.
  • Talk to current PhD candidates and graduates about course load, time management, what admission materials they submitted, and so on. This is the best way to learn if the program is right for you.
  • Check the school's credentials. Once you find a program, make sure it is accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.