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Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree in C&I

Earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction (C&I) such as Emporia State University’s (ESU) online Master of Science (MS) in C&I can be very beneficial for you as a modern educator. In short, a master’s in C&I can help you advance your education career, raise your income potential, improve as an educator, and improve the overall quality of education and student learning in your school. These and other benefits of improved student learning within a community make earning a master’s in C&I an attractive prospect for many modern educators.

How Can Earning a Master’s in C&I Help Me Professionally and Financially?

A master’s degree can be helpful, and at times necessary, for established teachers pursuing higher-level positions in a school system. These positions demand higher salaries and have faster job growth rates than typical teaching positions.

For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, typical entry-level education for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is a bachelor’s degree. In 2017 median pay for these teachers was $56,900 annually, with a job growth rate of 7 percent (2016-2026). In contrast, a master’s degree is the typical entry-level education standard for instructional coordinators. Median pay for instructional coordinators was $63,750 per year in 2017, and job growth is 11 percent through 2026.

Educators with an MS in C&I are also well-prepared to become curriculum directors. PayScale places the median annual salary for curriculum directors at $72,868 (2018 data).

What About the Intrinsic Benefits of Earning a Master’s in C&I?

The prospect of professional and financial gain is an attractive reason to pursue a master’s in C&I. But for many educators, the most rewarding aspect of earning such a degree is developing an advanced understanding of effective C&I design along with the ability to implement it effectively. To understand the potential for improving teaching and student learning through C&I design, educators need simply to understand what C&I is, the essential importance of C&I, and the way it is changing in modern education.

What Is C&I?

The concepts of curriculum and instruction are more or less the basis of education. In the simplest terms, “curriculum” can be thought of as what students learn, the subjects, or course of study. “Instruction” can be thought of as how students learn and how teachers teach.

The subjects of curricula are based on learning outcomes for students as set out by teachers, curriculum directors and specialists, and administrators. The methods of instruction and teaching strategies are ideally based on how students can best achieve these expected learning outcomes.

How Do State Standards Affect C&I Design?

Curricula are generally designed in alignment with a set of standards as set forth by a state’s education agency or department of education. For instance, most states have adopted and required their schools to base curricula around the Common Core State Standards. These standards were designed to “establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Accordingly, instructional methodology has traditionally been more or less standardized. Teachers teach to the standards and standardized tests. All students are taught with the same methods and are expected to demonstrate their learning in the same ways. But, recently, these traditions have been changing, often dramatically.

How Is C&I Changing?

Traditional educational institutions, content, and pedagogy are sometimes based on outdated, narrow spectrums of cultural belief systems, values, and experience. Today’s student populations are more diverse than ever, and are thus underrepresented in these traditional systems.

Many educators, schools, and educational agencies are now questioning the efficacy of generalized standards and one-size-fits-all teaching methods based in the traditional model. Educators are recognizing the need for culturally responsive education, addressing the varying learning styles and needs of a diverse student population.

Curriculum content is therefore changing to be more inclusive and representative of this diversity, whether socioeconomic, cultural, or mental and physical ability-based. Instruction methods are also changing to better affect each student’s learning experience. This can be seen in more individualized practices like differentiation, student-led inquiry, and the personalization of learning goals and assessment methods. It is also reflected in experiential education and interpersonal learning practices like project-based learning and collaborative classroom design.

And, of course, we live in a digital world. Effectively integrating technology into curriculum, instruction, and the classroom in general is a must. Education in digital literacy is a necessity for student success in school and beyond. Teachers are using educational technologies to address diverse student learning needs and apply adaptive teaching methods.

These technologies can even help students collaborate with others across the globe, furthering cultural exchange, multicultural education, and global perspectives. These are all important aspects of preparing students for life and work in an increasingly globalized world.

C&I is indispensable to modern education. These and other current issues in C&I are essential areas of study in degree programs like ESU’s online MS in C&I. Earning a master’s in C&I can do more than advance your education career. It can prepare you to be a leader in adapting and improving education in today’s diverse, digital world.

Learn more about Emporia State University’s online MS degree programs in Curriculum and Instruction.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Instructional Coordinators

PayScale: Curriculum Director Salary

Chron: Qualifications of a Director of Curriculum Development

Common Core Standards

Education Week: What Is Curriculum? From Managed Instruction to Personalized Learning

Education Week: For Educators, Curriculum Choices Multiply, Evolve

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers What Is Curriculum & Instruction?

Sage Publishing: Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Standards

U.S. News & World Report: Online Curriculum and Instruction Master’s Degree: An Overview

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