Doctorate in curriculum and instruction program guide

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What is a doctorate in curriculum and instruction?

Curriculum forms the backbone of the education system. With an abundance of research that goes into its creation, a specific curriculum dictates what is taught, and how it is presented.

There are various reasons that students enter a doctoral program. In the field of curriculum and instruction, the goal may be to attain a career in leadership and administration within the sphere of education. This role is for someone who wants to be involved in improving education on a large scale. As such, many doctoral students graduate and find employment as leaders, consultants, and administrators in government agencies, the education system, or in a large corporation related to education.

What do I need to apply?

To be considered for a doctorate program, you will need to meet various academic and professional requirements. This generally begins with the submission of your academic transcripts, showing a minimum GPA of 3.5, from your undergraduate and graduate programs. Many students have earned their master’s in curriculum and instruction or a related field. The admissions department will ask to see a resume or CV which showcases professional experience in the field of education. You will also need a statement of purpose which outlines your research proposal, why you would be a good fit for the program, and what you can contribute. Some universities may also require GRE scores and academic references.

Online vs. on campus

As technology advances so does the ability to learn remotely. With a laptop and good internet access, students are able to take control of their learning and choose when and where they’d like to study. Online courses or entire programs are becoming increasingly available, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some programs offer hybrid courses which combine online and traditional-style learning. Whichever you prefer, there is a doctorate program that fits your needs. Whether you’d like to take your doctorate online or on campus, first make sure the university is accredited.

Does my university need to be accredited?

Accreditation is a vital part of the higher education system. Accreditation agencies evaluate programs and institutions and have the ability to grant accreditation. Universities and programs that are accredited are essentially approved by the U.S. Department of Education as meeting or exceeding a set of standards.

This shows other academic institutions, credential programs, licensing agencies, and employers that the education you have received has prepared you for your next academic or professional advancement. If you are unsure about whether your university or program has been accredited then check on The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs for more information.

What will I learn?

In a doctorate program, you will be responsible for traditional coursework as well as doctorate level research, seminars, and a dissertation. A dissertation is a long summary of your research and findings which is presented at the end of your program. In your coursework and seminars, you will advance your understanding of educational methods, student assessment, instructional practices, and curriculum development.

Curriculum theory

This course will focus on the theoretical constructs of curriculum, the development process, evaluation procedures, and help you understand different approaches to learning. You will strengthen your knowledge of historical approaches, current approaches, assessment procedures, and evaluation of curricula.

Research methods in education

This course helps you develop your understanding and knowledge of research methods in education. It will cover the fundamentals of research design, data collection, and analysis which can help with your dissertation. You will learn about qualitative and quantitative research methods, when to use them, and their effectiveness in research design.

Contemporary issues in teaching and learning

This course will focus on the issues that the education system faces today. You will be introduced to the theories and practical approaches needed to deal with these issues, and learn about the development and implementation of strategies to support learning.

Educational policy and reform

In this course, you will learn about strategic budgeting, the importance of effective leadership, and how educators influence policy change and development. It will also cover the importance of the partnership between teachers, students, and parents to create a positive learning environment.


This will be the final part of your doctorate program. You will conduct research which will shed new light on a topic regarding curriculum, instruction, or education. It is the final project which needs to be passed to graduate from the program.

Financial aid

The cost of a doctoral degree can be difficult to deal with. Luckily there are financial aid options available to those who qualify. One of the most popular financial aid opportunities is Federal Student Aid. This is a federal grant that is offered to students who qualify. The free application, FASFA, is filled out online, and within a few weeks, you should hear back. In addition to federal grants, there are also loans and scholarships available to ease the financial impact of a doctorate degree.

Career options

The school superintendent is responsible for hiring, supervising, and managing school principals to ensure the desires of the school board are incorporated into the educational programs.


According to the median salary for a school superintendent was $165,967 in 2020.

A postsecondary teacher, or college professor, teaches at the community college or university level. Some community colleges may only require a master’s degree while state-level universities may require a doctorate. Professors are responsible for teaching coursework, holding lectures, and educating young adults on a particular subject. They may also conduct research, write books, or host seminars.


Glassdoor reported that the average salary for a college professor was $79,361 in 2020.

The director of assessment works in academic programs and colleges to oversee the alignment and analysis of assessment and evaluation of student records. They analyze data to provide the school board, staff, and parents with relevant information to support the implementation of effective educational strategies.


As reported by PayScale, the average salary for a director of assessment was $75,942 in 2020.

Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

This association provides a platform for educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leadership to ensure the education of their students. They provide books, publications, professional learning, and virtual events to give users a platform so their vision can come to life.

The U.S. Department of Education

This government website promotes student achievement and educational excellence. Information is provided for students and professionals by giving users information about loans, grants, up-to-date COVID-19 information, and news related to education.

American Association of University Professors

This association aims to advance the academic standards, unite professional values, and shared governance of the individuals who educate and learn at the university level. They provide university-related news, academic resources, and state conferences.