Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Online

Great teachers develop skills in technology, communication, management, storytelling, and personal reflection. These traits also form a strong foundation for an online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction. Besides providing personal intellectual fulfillment, earning a doctorate can help a classroom teacher move into positions of leadership at the school or district level, teach future educators at a college, or embark on a rewarding career as a researcher and/or writer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that education professions will grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026, and a doctorate can open the door to many of these new jobs.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction?

A doctorate in curriculum and instruction can allow individuals to pursue rewarding and fulfilling careers. Online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction prepare teachers to train and lead educators at all levels. Additionally, a doctorate can lead to more career options, higher salaries, and improved communication skills.

Doctorate holders qualify for many positions not available to master's degree holders.

Earning a doctorate provides students with an opportunity to explore their intellectual and academic passions. Committed educators can delve into difficult research questions in the field and examine the latest trends under specialized supervision. A doctoral program also equips students with the research and analysis skills needed to perform deep research and publish articles in top peer-reviewed journals.

Doctorate holders qualify for many positions not available to master's degree holders. College teaching and administration positions, for instance, usually target candidates with doctorates. Many K-12 leadership roles open first to applicants with doctorates, and professionals who hold a doctorate can also launch side careers in consulting, teaching, writing, and speaking. This helps explain why people with doctorates can earn a million dollars more than those who hold only a master's degree over their lifetimes. Finally, doctoral-level work helps individuals grow and reshape their communication skills, enabling them to provide leadership and expertise in the field.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction?

Individuals who earn a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online can find careers in K-12 educational settings, colleges and universities, corporate entities, and government agencies. They can also work as independent consultants. Traditionally, a newly minted doctoral students went straight into teaching at the postsecondary level. While many graduates still follow this path, others opt to become principals or curriculum coaches at elementary, middle, or high schools. Although college teaching careers and K-12 careers both fall under the larger umbrella of education, these two pathways provide different work environments, job responsibilities, and levels of personal satisfaction.

Earning a doctorate can also prepare graduates to enter the corporate world as a training and development manager or a chief learning officer. Some companies find it more effective to train employees themselves instead of sending them back to school. As a result, corporate training has grown into a booming industry that welcomes professionals with academic backgrounds in curriculum and instruction and professional experience in teaching.

An online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction emphasizes the importance of teaching, learning, and research.

Nonprofits, government agencies, and research institutions also need education professionals with the research skills gained during an online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction program. These organizations seek executive leaders, research fellows, writers, and trainers; doctoral work specializes in training people with these skills. Many individuals also parlay their doctorates into independent consulting careers, where they may write, speak, and provide outsourced resources to companies, schools, and nonprofits.

An online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction emphasizes the importance of teaching, learning, and research. Graduates who hold this degree also develop valuable skills in data collection, analysis, and presentation, along with the ability to present complex information in clear, concise, and actionable ways. These skills and talents transfer seamlessly between industries, making an education doctorate a valuable degree.

Curriculum and Instruction Doctoral Program Overview

Before enrolling in an online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction program, prospective students should consider what they hope to achieve with their degrees. Their desired outcome will determine if an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. will better help meet their goals. Both degrees require applicants to hold a master's degree. Once enrolled, students take a series of core courses, complete a complex research project, and study new educational theories and applications. Education professionals with either type of doctorate can assume leadership, research, and teaching roles at the highest levels of the field.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction

Online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction take one of two forms: a doctorate of education (Ed.D.) or a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.). An Ed.D. typically emphasizes applied knowledge and research, while a Ph.D. focuses on pure research and theoretical advancement of the field.

Most Ed.D. students are practicing teachers who are looking to move into positions of leadership or administration in a K-12, college, or nonprofit setting. Ph.D. students, in contrast, may have less professional experience and plan to move into university teaching, research, advocacy, or writing posts. In general, prospective students who need a degree for leadership roles often choose an Ed.D., while those interested in research and teaching elect to pursue a Ph.D.

Each degree's core curriculum consists of a similar set of courses; however, a Ph.D. track tends to offer more theory courses, while an Ed.D. program requires more courses in administration and application of theory. Students conclude a Ph.D. with a dissertation, which advances pure knowledge in the field. Alternatively, Ed.D. students complete an applied research project that looks at the efficacy of theory applied to practical settings. Ph.D. candidates usually identify a research question, while Ed.D. students identify a problem and explore its solutions through research.

Due to the difference in these projects, the research component of a Ph.D. may take longer and require more courses in statistics, data analysis, and research methodologies.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Students interested in earning a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online typically need to hold a master's degree prior to enrollment. Some institutions require the degree to be related to education, while others simply ask for a master's in any field. While minimum GPA requirements vary from school to school, prospective students usually need a 3.0 or higher for consideration. Some schools require applicants to submit acceptable GRE or MAT scores, while others accept students without standardized admissions tests.

Additionally, some schools only accept new learners who hold a teaching license and a minimum of one year of classroom experience, while many welcome applicants without specific experience. Applicants should also expect to submit a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae, and several letters of reference. In some cases, prospective students also need to participate in an admissions interview by phone or online.

Curriculum

An online doctorate in education curriculum and instruction typically requires around 40 credits. While specifics vary by school, most education doctorates divide their curriculum into four components: core courses, concentration courses, research courses, and a dissertation. Core courses cover the fundamentals of educational philosophy and leadership, while concentration courses depend on the specialization options offered by a university. At some schools, curriculum and instruction itself serves as a concentration. Other institutions, however, offer concentrations such as instructional technology, exceptional learners, and leveled education.

Research forms the distinctive core of a doctorate, setting the degree apart from the bachelor's and master's levels. Students usually take courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods, statistics, data analysis, and educational research. These classes equip students with the skills needed to carry out their dissertations. While Ed.D. students focus on applied knowledge, Ph.D. students concentrate on pure theory and research. The dissertation component generally breaks down into three phases: prospectus writing, proposal development, and dissertation writing. Students also carry out an oral defense, and some programs require participants to pass a comprehensive exam.

Research in Curriculum Design and Development

Students research curriculum theories in order to answer questions about how people learn, who decides what they learn, and how to determine classroom content.

Curriculum Theory

By considering the nature and function of curricula, students in this course explore the theoretical constructs of K-12 coursework. The course also covers the process of developing and assessing curricula.

Advanced Qualitative Design and Measurement

Learners use advanced methods of qualitative inquiry to identify a research question, collect and analyze data, and create a research proposal. This course prepares students for the dissertation phase of their program.

The Role of the Teacher Practitioner

Students use the inquiry process to gather information on a defined classroom problem. They read relevant research and create an action-based plan to solve the problem.

Issues and Trends in Exceptionality

This course focuses on the latest research and trends in the field of special education. Students consider, critique, and discuss controversial issues related to teaching exceptional learners.

Program Outcomes

Students in a doctoral program examine principles of administration, learning theories, and curriculum development in order to work as administrators, professors, and curriculum writers. Graduates from an accredited curriculum and instruction online doctoral program learn about the latest trends in education, theories of teaching, and instructional technology. Additionally, a student's dissertation preparation teaches them the research and analysis skills needed to advance learning theories and provide instruction in the field to new teachers.

Professionals who hold a doctorate in curriculum and instruction can work in a variety of educational settings, including public schools, charter schools, adult education settings, nonprofits, curriculum development companies, and state education offices. Alternatively, they may provide direct instruction to students while serving as researchers, consultants, writers, and speakers who provide critical leadership in terms of innovation and effectiveness.

Accreditation for Online Curriculum and Instruction Doctoral Programs

In the U.S., accreditation refers to a voluntary process by which schools receive recognition from private accrediting agencies. Through this process, agencies determine whether colleges and universities meet minimum standards of excellence in many areas and demonstrate potential for continued growth.

Regional accrediting agencies serve as the gold standard for accreditation, and students evaluating their options for a doctorate in curriculum and instruction should make sure that their target schools hold regional accreditation.

Additionally, programmatic accrediting agencies may recognize a single program or department at a school. For instance, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accredits many of the best online doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction.

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