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What is a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction?

written by: Lenzi Hart•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 3/31/2010

This article will define what an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction is and how you can pursue such a field of study. From the focus of study to the types of careers that can be pursued using this degree, this article will inform you on the ins and outs of earning this degree.

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    Defining the Degree

    A specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction is best defined as a course load that focuses on the design, implementation and use of "best practices" in educational curriculum. The degree also explores and defines effective instructional strategies for all subject areas and will prepare students obtaining this degree for a career in educational administration positions that focus on the organization and creation of district-wide, and sometimes even state-wide curriculum. Current degree plans also require a good deal of study in the areas of technology and its effective use in the classroom, so a true specialist degree in this area will undoubtedly include the theories and practices of technology and its role in effective curriculum and instruction creation and design. The goal of any curriculum program, especially at the master's level, is to prepare leaders, professors, and those who hope to delve into the areas of research in the field with a solid base of curriculum philosophy and the tools to analyze, create and observe valuable curricula for all students and learners.

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    Degree Characteristics

    Degree plans vary from school to school, but a typical degree in this field of study requires 36 hours of course work which can be completed in a variety of ways. Due to the demands and schedules of "typical" graduate students, many universities offer on-line versions of their on-campus degree plans. Be sure to research your options. If you have a full-time job, family, and busy lifestyle, earning your degree on-line might be a better fit for your schedule. Even though degrees in this field of study are available on-line, I've noticed in my research, that many major universities have a "mixed" assortment of classes for this degree. Nearly 70% of the degree is available through on-line or telecommute courses and the finishing coursework requires on-campus attendance. Read the degree descriptions thoroughly on the university websites to see what your college of choice offers in your area!

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    What Will I Study?

    Again, all universities are different, but a general course load will contain a sprinkling of curriculum studies covering a wide variety of topics. For example, my local university requires that students take at least six courses in these areas of study: (1) philosophical issues and curriculum, (2) political issues and curriculum, (3) cultural issues and curriculum, (4) ethical issues and curriculum, (5) evaluation issues and curriculum, (6) language issues and curriculum, (7) gender issues and curriculum, and (8) technological issues and curriculum. See what I mean by a "sprinkling" of subject matters? You will be a Curriculum and Instruction know-it-all by the time you graduate with this degree! Having this degree will ensure that you are well-versed in a wide assortment of topics concerning this field of study and will be "hip" to what's up and coming in this field.