What is an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction?
The Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction is—in effect—a teaching doctorate. That doesn’t mean that everybody who holds this degree is a teacher—career pathways are numerous. But it does mean that it focuses on the design and execution of educational programs. Think of it as a degree in curriculum engineering, and you’re very close to the mark.
You may wish to pursue an Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction in order to:
- Become an instructional leader & curriculum specialist in your field
- Understand the historical, theoretical & societal underpinnings of educational practice
- Plan, implement & evaluate effective educational programs
- Advocate for equality and diversity in teaching & learning
- Prepare for learning leadership roles in K-20 settings
Types of Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction
Our listings contain scores of doctoral programs in this field! A standard Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction will tackle theories of learning, pedagogy, best practices in curriculum & design, supervision, and assessment.
At the Ed.D. level, it’s also quite common to see general educational leadership coursework thrown into the mix. In addition, there will always be a research-based project (e.g. dissertation or capstone project) and coursework in research tools & theories.
Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Concentrations & Specializations
You’ll be able to customize your education doctorate in curriculum and instruction to a remarkable extent. Many Colleges of Education in our listings offer doctoral concentrations in specific areas, including:
- Academic Subjects: Literacy Education, Mathematics Education, Science Education, STEM Education, Music Education, etc.
- Student Populations: Bilingual Education, Special Education, Early Childhood Education, etc.
- School Levels: Elementary Education, Middle Education, Secondary Education, Career & Technical, Postsecondary, etc.
- Career Tracks: Educational Leadership, Instructional Design & Technology, etc.
If you have a clear job title or career goal in mind, it may be worth your while to explore these options.
Ed.D in Supervision and Assessment
Supervision and assessment play a large role in curriculum and instruction at the administrative level, so it’s not unusual to see degrees in this field that include supervision or assessment in the title itself. Examples of this phenomenon include Texas A&M’s Ed.D. in Supervision, Curriculum, and Instruction and the University of West Florida’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Assessment.
You probably won’t find a great deal of difference between this doctorate and a standard Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction. Supervision and assessment are typical course subjects in both programs.
Ed.D. in Teacher Education
Theoretically, there’s a huge philosophical difference between mentoring a teacher and merely supervising one. That’s why teacher education can play a major role in curriculum and instruction programs.
Sometimes it’s a dedicated program (e.g. University of Pennsylvania’s Ed.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education); sometimes it’s available as a specialization (e.g. University of Nevada’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Teacher Education). To get a sense of how the coursework is structured, take a look at the curriculum links in our listings.
Earning an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum and Instruction Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: Ed.D. programs in Curriculum & Instruction typically ask for an M.Ed., M.A. in Education, or a comparable master’s degree. Holding an educational specialist degree (Ed.S.) usually grants advanced placement.
- Work Experience: Check the Admissions section. Some schools will want to see that you are currently employed as a teacher or administrator and under contract for the duration of the program. Some may ask for 3+ years of experience.
- Minimum GPA: The standard minimum is 3.0. However, schools with a reputation for academic excellence often ask for higher (e.g. 3.25-3.5).
- Additional Requirements: You could also be expected to submit GRE or MAT scores (occasionally optional), 2-3 letters of reference, an admissions essay/goals statement, a résumé, and/or an academic writing sample.
Curriculum and Instruction Coursework
If you sign up for an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, you’ll spend a lot of time studying and applying theories of learning—that’s the main disciplinary focus. You may also find yourself covering subjects such as educational leadership, the history and goals of education, and public policy studies. Research courses typically make up a solid chunk of the curriculum.
Sample course titles include:
- Theoretical Foundations of Education
- Teaching and Learning Models
- Curriculum Theory
- Contemporary Issues in Teaching and Learning
- Research in Effective Teaching and Learning
- Instructional Design & Technology Integration
- Education in a Diverse Society
- Decision Making for School Improvement
Because every College of Education takes a unique approach to curriculum & instruction education, it pays to visit the curriculum links in our listings. Some schools may want to emphasize the challenges of urban education; others may allow you to explore interdisciplinary areas such as educational psychology.
Curriculum and Instruction Internship
A large number of Ed.D. programs in Curriculum & Instruction have an internship or professional experience component, including programs from public schools and big-name private schools (e.g. University of Pennsylvania). Even online doctorates can contain internship requirements (e.g. Kansas State University). We tend to favor these programs, since they give you a chance to put theory into practice.
Curriculum and Instruction Dissertation
Like all Ed.D. programs, the Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction will contain a final, research-based project. This may take the form of a traditional dissertation, Dissertation in Practice (DiP), or capstone project that demonstrates your understanding of the field. We explore the differences between these options in our guide to Ed.D. Programs without a traditional dissertation.
Be aware that programs with capstone projects or DiPs are just as challenging & rigorous as doctorates with a traditional dissertation. For example, the University of Virginia’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction expects students to tackle a substantive fieldwork portfolio, two examinations, and a capstone project.
Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
Are Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Programs Offered Online?
Yes. While there aren’t as many online Ed.D. programs in this field as there are in educational leadership, there are still dozens of options in our program database. We’ve flagged all the online doctorates in curriculum & instruction with an “Offered Online” marker. A number of them come from CAEP-accredited universities.
Do Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Programs Contain Residencies?
Most Online Ed.D. programs in Curriculum & Instruction will contain on-campus intensives or residencies. They are usually very short (e.g. long weekend). Often, universities like to see you for an initial orientation, dissertation/capstone proposal, and a dissertation defense or final project presentation.
Exceptions do exist. For instance, Texas A&M University’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Northcentral University’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching are 100% online, and require no physical residency of any kind. On-campus components in other programs, such as Boise State’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, may be negotiable under special circumstances.
Curriculum and Instruction Careers
Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Jobs
An Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction can set you up for a wide range of high-level teaching & learning careers in the K-20 field. Sample job titles include:
- Director of Curriculum & Instruction
- Curriculum Leader
- Educational Technical Specialist
- Instructional Coordinator
- Senior Program Officer
- District Administrator
- Educational Consultant
Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monitors wages & jobs in a number of relevant fields for curriculum & instruction graduates. You can start with the categories on teachers or administrators that apply to you (e.g. Kindergarten-Secondary Education Administrators).
But it’s worth knowing that the BLS also publishes job & wage reports for Instructional Coordinators. These are defined as professionals who “develop instructional material, coordinate educational content, and incorporate current technology into instruction.”
Once you’ve looked at the BLS state maps for employment numbers and annual mean wages, you may wish to compare federal data with numbers on popular salary sites (e.g. Glassdoor, Indeed, Salary.com, etc.). Choose job titles that closely match your goals (e.g. curriculum manager, curriculum leader, etc.).
Note: Keep in mind that instructional designers in fields outside of the traditional education sector (e.g. IT) are probably going to earn a lot more than K-20 employees.
Is an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Worth it?
- If you want to work as an instructional coordinator or curriculum specialist, this is the best degree for your needs.
- If you’re a teacher looking for a teaching-related doctorate that will set you up for leadership roles, an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in your area of interest (e.g. literacy) may prove invaluable.
- If you’re an education administrator—or hoping to become one—an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership may be a more relevant and effective credential to pursue.
- If you’re an administrator with a particularly strong interest in curriculum and instruction, a degree such as Columbus State’s Ed.D. in Leadership and Curriculum might allow you to cover both bases.
- If you’re interested in educating teachers at the college or university level, a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction is probably a better choice than an Ed.D. in the same field. University hiring committees tend to favor the Ph.D. However, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a strong research component and a good pedigree (e.g. Ivy League school) will still be serviceable for this purpose. We discuss the topic in greater detail on our EdD vs PhD page.
Curriculum and Instruction Resources
- American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC): Featuring a journal, email listserv, annual conference, and awards process, the AATC is arguably the leading academic organization in the country dedicated to curriculum and instruction.
- American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS): The AAACS is the AATC’s headier, more radical cousin, bringing an awareness of Freierian critical pedagogy into the conversation. Come for the conference and journal, but stay for the task forces and ad hoc committees that take on specific critical issues in curriculum and instruction. These groups produce substantive collaborative projects from the subsequent dialogue.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD): If you’re pursuing an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, this organization—which incorporates the subject into a broader discussion of educational leadership—may be more relevant to your interests than any other.
- The Curriculum and Pedagogy (C&P) Group: Featuring an edited book series with titles like “Collective Unravelings of the Hegemonic Web and Liminal Spaces and Call for Praxis(ing),” the C&P Group advances the furthest academic edges of curriculum and instruction as a discipline. The organization also sponsors a journal and annual conference.
- National Education Association (NEA): America’s largest union is best known for its political advocacy, but it’s also a professional organization that includes most U.S. instructors and curriculum designers. As such, the NEA offers a great deal of useful resource content and significant networking opportunities.