Earning a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Online

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Become Team
October 5, 2021

Earning an online Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction qualifies graduates to work in K-12 schools, higher education facilities, government jobs, and the private sector. Within schools, these experts direct or administrator age-appropriate curriculum and instruction. Government or private sector positions, however, places these graduates in instructional coordinator roles or in training and learning development departments.

Students considering an online doctorate in curriculum and instruction are usually nontraditional learners who work full time while they earn their degree. Online coursework provides the same instruction as an on-campus degree, but it is designed to accommodate students with professional or personal obligations. For example, distance learning can include asynchronous learning, minimal or no in-person requirements, local field experiences, and potentially lower tuition rates. Ideal candidates for an online Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction have a robust background in education-related roles, and also possess an affinity for designing curricular outcomes to help students succeed.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction?

Graduates of online Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction programs work in multiple industries, and hold diverse positions that demand varying job responsibilities and personalities. For instance, careers in K-12 require that curricula is designed for adolescents and children who must learn basic information. Conversely, roles in higher education develop curricula that prepare adults for their careers.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $63,750
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Instructional coordinators develop curricula, review textbooks or training manuals, and mentor staff members. These professionals also conduct training workshops and evaluate assessment data. While many employers require only a master's degree for this role, candidates with Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction have a competitive advantage in the job market.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Annual Median Salary: $92,360
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Earning a doctorate in curriculum and instruction online qualifies graduates for higher education administration roles that oversee academics. Job responsibilities vary depending on the area of the school administrators manage. Many administrator roles require a master's degree at minimum, though some roles may demand a Ph.D.

School Superintendent

Annual Median Salary: $116,252
Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Superintendents hire principals, control final disciplinary actions for all employees, and collaborate with their school board. Many superintendents also demonstrate strong budget management, leadership, curriculum planning, and human resource skills. While a master's degree is required for this position, applicants with a Ph.D. may have a competitive advantage in the job market.

The Top-Paying Industries for Instructional Coordinators

Source: BLS

Traits of a Successful Curriculum and Instruction

Jobs in curriculum and instruction require professionals to accurately evaluate curricula, identify relevant teaching methods, and determine a program's effectiveness and efficiency. The best candidates also possess cutting edge knowledge of curriculum design principles and methods. As leaders in educational institutions, professionals must additionally understand management principles that directly relate to strategic planning, leadership, and coordination. Related roles often demand that candidates understand human resource procedures for labor relations and personnel information systems. Furthermore, professionals should know state codes and regulations to ensure programs maintain compliance. Curriculum and instruction jobs also require technological competence, as they may use multiple training software programs, analytical or scientific software, or document management software.

Learning Strategies: Leaders of curriculum and instruction draw from a diverse strategy pool to design content that reaches multiple learning styles. Understanding multiple instructional methods can increase the effectiveness of training programs.
Instructing: Curriculum and instruction professionals must know training methods and procedures that help others succeed. The most successful candidates use differentiated instruction to appeal to more learning styles.
Speaking: Effective communication is essential for curriculum and instruction professionals. Most positions require regular interaction with others, frequent collaboration on projects, and the ability convey relevant information clearly and concisely.

Salary by Experience Level

Aspiring instructional coordinators enter a growing and exciting field. Positions within educational institutions and the government usually offer a salary schedule, giving professionals a clear career progression. Additionally, organizations in the private sector frequently look for a competitive edge in their respective industries, making the demand especially strong for professionals who can effectively educate their workforce. Since these professionals are often regarded as subject matter experts, those with a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction earn much higher wages.

Pay by Experience Level for Instructional Coordinators

Source: PayScale

Certifications and Licenses a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Prepares For

Steps to Earning a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Online

While undergraduate and graduate programs possess similar application processes, applying for a Ph.D. program often includes additional requirements. Furthermore, as colleges and universities set their own standards, application processes may differ. However, despite these differences most programs feature some common requirements. The section below contains the general process required to earn an online Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.


As the highest degree one can earn, applying to doctoral programs requires more effort than a bachelor's or master's degrees. For instance, programs often require applications to include relevant work experience, evidence of preliminary research on potential program supervisors, and an in-person entrance interview. Some schools even require a letter of motivation that outlines the student's objectives, along with a research proposal that demonstrates the applicant's base knowledge. Students must also provide noteworthy transcripts of previous coursework and letters of recommendation.

Curriculum for an Online Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

  1. Politics of Education: As the head of educational institutions, administrators must understand relevant laws and policies. This course examines how politics transforms social values and resources. Students analyze the roles of federal, state, and local governments, and their impact on school policies.

  2. Sociology of Education: School administrators create learning environments that allow all students to thrive. Therefore, the best leaders evaluate ways to close achievement gaps. In this course, students explore fundamental sociology principles and theories that influence education, analyze empirical research, and develop innovative strategies to combat disparities.

  3. Economics of Education: Effective school leadership accounts for the impact of economics on education. In this course, students use microeconomic theories to examine current problems in educational institutions. Students also learn about returns to education, production functions, labor markets, and economic growth. This course prepares future school leaders to make qualitative decisions.

  4. Qualitative Research Methods: Qualitative research allows educational administrators to make sound decisions by identifying political and ethical concerns. This course also allows professionals to identify valid and reliable research. In this course, students examine qualitative research from an administrative and policy perspective. Students also explore epistemology, methodology, and representation approaches to examine current issues.

  5. Leadership Communications: Administrators often speak on behalf of their department or facility, which reflects many stakeholders. This course prepares graduates to address multiple audiences, identify the best theories to effectively communicate messages, and generate appropriate context-specific messages. This course also emphasizes leadership skills including inspiration, motivation, and decision-making.


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