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Online Graduate Courses: Research and Curriculum Development

written by: KLeeBanks•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 6/29/2011

Graduate level courses offer many challenging and rewarding opportunities to advance your own education. Some courses, such as research and curriculum development, even prepare you to enhance the education of other students as you research, design, and develop online courses.

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    Research is as vital to curriculum development, as curriculum is to the success of education. Online learning especially requires strategic planning and structuring according to instructional design principles conducive to a virtual learning environment. Without a vast assortment of courses across all fields of interest and expertise, it would be difficult to pursue higher education for pleasure or for the purpose of advancing careers. Academia has an ongoing need for creative, dedicated, trained professionals who will continue to develop fresh, accurate, appealing curriculum.

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    Online Graduate Courses

    Graduate courses in research and curriculum development cover various aspects leading up to and including the actual creation of courses. It is important to know the principles and methodology behind curriculum development and instructional technology, in order to apply those to the actual process of creating content. In other words, foundational courses are prerequisites.

    For instance, you may study adult learning styles and trends, research addressing the most effective use of technology, curriculum theories and instructional strategies, and research related to literacy and curriculum development. Then you may follow these courses with others addressing instructional design principles, creation of learning objectives, incorporation of evaluation and assessment tools, and implementation of technology in course development.

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    Types of Graduate Level Courses

    Various types of online graduate level courses and programs are available with many institutions. Some online colleges and universities offer individual graduate level courses (master’s and doctoral) that you may choose in an area of interest, or as electives within a degree program.

    Another alternative, if you are interested primarily in taking a few courses for career advancement opportunities, is pursuing a professional graduate certificate or diploma. These programs vary from as few as three courses to as many as a dozen or more, and you may complete them and receive your graduate certificate in less than a year, up to about eighteen months.

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    Schools Offering Graduate Level Courses

    American InterContinental University (AIU) Online, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, provides research and curriculum development courses such as Designing Effective Courses, Educational Research Methods, Principals of Instructional Design, and Curriculum Design and Evaluation.

    Situated in Prescott Valley, Arizona, Northcentral University (NCU) offers graduate level courses in this field including Curriculum and Instructional Strategies, Instructional Design, Developing Instructional Strategies and Curriculum, and Literacy: Focus on Curriculum.

    The University of Phoenix, also headquartered in Arizona, likewise offers graduate level curriculum development courses including Instructional Design, Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction, and Models, Theories, and Instructional Strategies.

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    Career Outlook

    According to 2008 figures from the Occupational Handbook, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a curriculum developer may expect to earn an average hourly wage of about $28 or approximately $57,000 annually. This figure is similar for related positions such as educational consultants and technologists.

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    Conclusion

    You may want to consider earning a master’s or doctorate degree in education, specializing in research and curriculum development. The future of education, particularly online learning, depends on professional development of high quality courses structured for the online environment.