When considering the next steps in their career, educators have a diverse selection of paths from which to choose. Typically, most of these paths involve continuing their education in some capacity. The challenge for many is deciding which of these paths to take.
What is a Curriculum and Instruction Degree?
Before diving into the Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction pathway, it is essential to understand the field of curriculum and instruction, a field steeped in the transformative processes requiring effective instructional decisions to positively impact student learning.
In the ever-changing landscape of education, a degree in curriculum and instruction equips educators with the knowledge and skills needed to recommend curriculum improvements, identify teacher training opportunities, and implement educational standard changes.
How is a doctoral curriculum and instruction degree different from other programs? Many programs provide educators the opportunity to learn new skills and gain knowledge in their field; however, these programs are typically geared toward specific content areas. While these advanced degrees provide educators with growth opportunities, they tend to limit the available professional roles.
The doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction is not limiting. It empowers educators in their classrooms to better understand curriculum and the skills needed to teach that curriculum. Doctoral students complete their programs to apply a continuous cycle of improvement through innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
Beyond the classroom, the doctoral degree opens doors for professional advancement. Suppose your goal is to lead the development of teachers through strategic curriculum design and implementation. In that case, a doctoral degree provides the real-world skills and knowledge needed to enter that role. School districts and private organizations seek individuals with a deep understanding of curriculum and its development and delivery that a doctoral degree provides.
What You’ll Learn in a Doctoral Curriculum and Instruction Degree Program
The educational field is ripe with opportunities to effect change and impact students’ lives. The field itself, thanks to research and collaboration, improves each year. The more educators know about theoretical models and their practical applications in the classroom, the more equipped they are to meet the needs of diverse learners and educators.
In a doctoral curriculum and instruction program you will learn how to:
- Develop a collaborative culture that supports the growth and development of both educators and students
- Conduct, access, and apply research to improve classroom practice, district implementation, and student engagement to positively impact student learning and development
- Facilitate programs and activities that foster community and parent involvement in district, school, and student learning goals
- Develop, promote, and implement professional learning that meets the needs of adult learners and generates excitement and fresh perspectives about student learning and achievement
- Act as an advocate for students, teachers, and the profession
What are the Benefits of a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction?
Significant Professional Growth
During my time as a doctoral candidate through Gardner-Webb University, I found myself rejuvenated by the research I conducted and the collaborative projects in which I was a participant.
The learning community developed in the program provided me with a deep understanding of student learning at both the theoretical and practical levels. I gained confidence in my ability to make classroom decisions based on data, research, and student needs, which led me to develop innovative project-based learning units that fostered student growth, collaboration, and excitement.
Not only did I gain confidence in myself, but I gained trust from my colleagues and administrators. These individuals value my expertise in decision-making processes that impact outcomes for the district. And beyond the classroom, the doctoral degree opened leadership opportunities for me as a mentor teacher, a school-wide teacher leader, and now an instructional facilitator.
Higher Education Opportunities
The doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction also provides degree recipients with opportunities in higher education. The degree program provides a pathway to continue working in the education field at the university level in educator preparation programs as instructors and researchers.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for post-secondary instructors is $79,640 per year. If you’re like me and not ready to leave the K-12 setting, a doctoral degree provides an opportunity to work in higher education as an adjunct professor, as well.
K-12 Career Advancement
Want to advance to the next level in your career at the district level? The curriculum and instruction doctoral degree also provides opportunities for educators to move into specialist positions for school districts.
- K-12 School Administrator: The doctorate opens the opportunity for school leadership in the K-12 setting. School administrators’ responsibilities include management of a school’s daily operations, budget, and staff. Additionally, school administrators may be expected to assess curriculum programs and their implementation on site. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, salaries for school administrators range between $53,000 and $104,000, and depend on district/school size, as well as state salary schedules and years of experience.
- Instructional Coordinator/Facilitator: The role of an instructional coordinator/facilitator varies by state and school district. Generally, instructional coordinators/facilitators are expected to develop standards-based curriculum and monitor its implementation. They also manage assessment practices, both at the classroom and the school level, working closely with administrators and teachers to analyze data in order to assess and meet student needs. The salary for an instructional facilitator depends on state salary schedules, with the median salary of $64,450 according to the Bureaus of Labor and Statistics.
- Superintendent: Superintendents typically work for a school board and oversee the operations and management of entire school systems and personnel. They are also expected to develop the school system’s budget. According to PayScale, the average salary for a school superintendent is $118,655 and depends on state salary schedules and years of experience.
In these roles, you will oversee district instructional programs and implementation and teacher growth through professional development planning and roll-out. State salary schedules determine the salary for these positions.
If you are interested in education and development beyond the school system, the opportunities for individuals with a doctoral degree are numerous. The degree allows individuals to fill curriculum-focused roles in private institutions and non-profit organizations where continuing education and training of employees is paramount to continued success and growth.