Two female teachers walk and talk down a school hallway.

All About Concordia University Chicago’s M.A. Differentiated Instruction Program

What does the M.A. Differentiated Instruction Program encompass?

Concordia University Chicago’s (CUC) M.A. Differentiated Instruction Program is directed toward the preparation of master classroom teachers who are interested in leading change and reform efforts in their classrooms and schools.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Council for Accreditation of Education Programs (CAEP), the differentiated instruction program focuses on preparing students to think critically, creatively, and analytically in ways that promote meaningful teaching and learning experiences.

Graduates of the program can articulate learning theory, assess students’ needs, and develop curriculum and instructional strategies to meet those needs. Additionally, students master a variety of cognitive and learning theories, differentiation in the content areas, instructional technology across the curriculum, various instructional approaches, and the importance of managing the differentiated learning environment using research-based instructional strategies and data-driven decision-making.

What career opportunities are available to students who graduate from the program?

Career opportunities abound for graduates of the M.A. Differentiated Instruction Program. Their learning provides the foundation to become teacher leaders in their schools and professional learning communities. Students are also prepared to become curriculum leads or instructional coordinators focusing on differentiated instruction.

Students are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to excel as instructional coaches within their schools and district to support colleagues in using differentiated instructional practices. Students in our program also enhance their practice with their deepened knowledge in theories and philosophies of differentiated instruction and make excellent mentors to new teachers and colleagues concerning differentiated instructional practices.

Finally, once students in the differentiated program complete the ten-course series, they have the option to pursue an endorsement in special education or ESL and ELL, furthering their opportunities for career expansion.

How will this program help educators during this time of remote, hybrid, and traditional learning? How does it address the post-COVID environment?

Differentiated instruction is needed in all schools and classrooms now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing inequalities in education. Classroom teachers and researchers have observed the severe gaps in skill level demonstrated by students due to the loss of learning during COVID. Kuhfeld et al. (2020) projected that in the 2020-2021 school year, students would return to traditional classrooms with 63-68% of the learning gains in reading and 37-50% of the learning gains in math compared to a typical school year and suggested a high-need for differentiated instruction.

Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, teachers continued to teach students moving from face-to-face to remote learning. Thus, these losses in learning gains have not yet been gained back. Differentiated instruction is a critical component to promoting equity and helping students gain back learning losses observed across content areas, especially reading and math.

As education progresses beyond the pandemic, various forms of learning, including remote and hybrid, will likely remain a part of the new educational landscape solidifying differentiated instruction as essential for student success. Concordia University Chicago graduate students in the differentiated instruction program learn vital skills that allow them to be at the forefront as school and classroom leaders during this critical time in education when differentiation is needed at scale in our schools.

Kuhfeld, M., Soland, J., Tarasawa, B., Johnson, A., Ruzek, E., & Liu, J. (2020, May). Projecting the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement. (EdWorking Paper: 20-226). Annenberg Institute at Brown University.