Earning an online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction could significantly help your career if you already hold a certification or undergraduate degree in teacher education. While undergraduates can certainly make a career out of teaching, those who take the extra step to earn a graduate degree open up the door to leadership, administration, assessment, and research positions.
Because so many professionals still plan to keep teaching, a plethora of schools now offers higher education programs online. The exceptional format of distance education allows current teachers to keep their jobs while making themselves more marketable in their spare time. They benefit from classes that disseminate information about theories and current trends, while still gaining hands-on, paid experience simultaneously.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to keep working, earn a master’s degree, and also advance your education without breaking the bank. The good news is that there are plenty of universities offering more than affordable tuition. See below for our selection of the 15 cheapest programs in curriculum and instruction. Our expense information is sourced from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator database, which in turn is gathered from colleges and universities themselves. We’ve ranked them from most to least expensive, assigning public institutions a ranking based on the average of their in-state and out-of-state rates. You may be surprised by their affordability, but you’ll also love that so many of them also boast high academic rankings and reputable accreditations.
15. California State University Bakersfield
Online Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction
California State University at Bakersfield is just one of the many public schools available to students on the West Coast. Drawing from an extensive network of state institutions, CSUB offers a number of online programs to which students from around the country may apply. For example, the online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is a convenient choice for professional teachers who want an advanced degree from an NCATE-accredited institution. Distinguished faculty design the program around the core tenants of educational technology integration, equity, and the “Four C’s.” Students learn to constantly draw on their knowledge of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity to improve learning and leadership in schools. U.S. News currently ranks CSU’s Bakersfield campus the 32nd best public school in the nation.
Tuition: $6,775/yr (In-state) $17,935/yr (Out-of-state)
14. Capella University
Online Master of Science in Education: Curriculum and Instruction Specialization
Capella University’s Professional Education Unit acts as a reputable, comprehensive department with full NCATE approval. The Graduate School of Education earns high ratings from alumni, 93% of whom report satisfaction with Capella. Nearly as many say the academics were relevant to their career goals and helped them achieve their desired outcomes. The accredited online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction focuses on the entire spectrum of P-12 education, preparing graduates to improve outcomes and reduce learning gaps within any age group. The curriculum blends theory, technology, and research to create a program sure to impress future employers. Online courses offer maximum flexibility, lasting just 10 weeks each and available multiple times a year.
13. Texas A&M University Commerce
Online MEd and MS in Curriculum and Instruction
Texas A&M is another university that draws from an extensive public network of institutions. Students in the online graduate degree in curriculum and instruction (which is available in both master of education and master of science formats) require 18 core credits plus an additional 18 in electives. Learners also have the option of applying their elective classes to a second major or a graduate certificate, which can prepare them to find specialized work in gifted or bilingual education. No matter what path they choose, all students must take three foundational classes: Classroom Management for Teachers, Research Literature, and Techniques, and Diversity and Equity in Education. Forbes currently places TAMUC in the 188th spot for Southern universities, while also listing it as the 252nd best institution for research.
Tuition: $6,583/yr (In-state) $17,203/yr (Out-of-state)
12. California State University Fullerton
Online Master’s Degree in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction
Bakersfield isn’t the only California university to break the Top 15 best value, top online master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction. The CSU Fullerton campus offers a similar program with a focus on elementary education (and at a slightly cheaper price!). It’s also worth noting that students living in the region may consider the curriculum and instruction degree with an emphasis in diversity. However, the school only offers this degree in a “hybrid” format, meaning some classes require travel to campus. At the very least, the Elementary Curriculum and Instruction degree takes place entirely over the internet, focusing on technology integration and the “Four C’s” from kindergarten through 12th grade. Applicants to this university shouldn’t expect an easy ride, either; Fullerton professors demand the best from students, and GradeInflation.com ranked the school as one of the nation’s 16 toughest graders.
Tuition: $6,186/yr (In-state) $17,346/yr (Out-of-state)
11. Emporia State University
Online Curriculum & Instruction Master’s Degree
Emporia State University has earned its fair share of bragging rights – U.S. News ranks its graduate program in education 11th in the entire country for 2015, plus the very best in the state of Kansas. This suggests that if offers students one of the best online master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction in all of the Midwest. This 34-credit hour, convenient program gives graduates the flexibility to seek work as both administrators and teachers in public and private schools. Students may choose a concentration in either “Effective Practitioner,” “Curriculum Leadership,” or “National Board Certification.” In addition, all program members participate in a practicum and complete required coursework in curriculum leadership, values and beliefs, technology, brain-based learning, cultural awareness, and more.
Tuition: $5,614/yr (In-state) $17,388/yr (Out-of-state)
10. Framingham State University
Online Master of Education Concentration in Curriculum & Instructional Technology
Framingham State goes beyond traditional programs in curriculum and instruction, choosing instead to focus intently on the application of technology in classrooms. As more classes move online and computers take center stage in teaching, degrees such as these are growing in demand. And what better way to learn about instructional technology than through distance education? This online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction leads students through all the training they need to be successful in the professional world. Students may also seek initial licensure, but only by completing an intensive 300-hour practicum experience. Those who are already licensed but would like to add an additional specialization to their repertoire may do so through a less involved, 150-hour practicum. FindTheBest awards FSU a difficult-to-beat 91 “Smart Rating,” a calculation based on affordability, selectivity, and academic excellence.
Tuition: $8,080/yr (In-state) $14,160/yr (Out-of-state)
9. University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Online Education (M.E.d., M.A.T.) with a Concentration in Curriculum & Instruction
Students from all over the country can earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction online through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The program takes into consideration the diverse needs of distance learners, and works to help authorize its curriculum beyond the state of Louisiana, even approving certain international students! To be eligible for the program, students must have a valid teaching certificate and at least a year of relevant experience. All courses take place through the popular online learning system “Moodle” and help students revise, improve, and even create their own curriculum. Upon graduation, alumni also have the leadership qualities to train other teachers in the art of effective instruction. Princeton Review names ULL to its prestigious list of the top 379 colleges in the country for 2015.
Tuition: $6,192/yr (In-state) $15,742/yr (Out-of-state)
8. Ottawa University
Online Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction
The Curriculum and Instruction program at Ottawa University is distinctively designed to blend foundational coursework with advanced applications in instructional methodology. The school’s cross-disciplinary approach reaches outside the realm of education, considering the dynamics of group interaction, theories of organizational management, and the importance of cultural awareness. Specifically, the affordable online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction covers philosophy, differentiated instruction, assessment and evaluation, accountability, organizational change, and content studies. Online classrooms feel small, allowing students to get the individualized attention they need from knowledgeable professors. It’s also worth mentioning that U.S. News labels Ottawa the 19th best choice in the country for veterans.
7. University of Phoenix
Online Master of Arts in Curriculum/Instruction – Reading
Most people have at least heard of the University of Phoenix – it’s one of the biggest online institutions in the nation, and touts an impressive network of campuses that puts millions of Americans within driving distance of traditional courses. Even so, many degrees are available entirely at a distance, including the online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. This program has a more specific focus than many of the others listed here; instead of creating a broad-based curriculum instruction program, Phoenix professors have established a major that caters specifically to aspiring reading specialists. The program follows International Reading Association Standards and prepares students for work in any classroom from preschool to 12th grade.
6. University of Texas Brownsville
Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Emphasis in Digital Literacy
The online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at UT Brownsville declares three main objectives for its students. The goal is for students to graduate with 1) advanced knowledge and skills regarding curriculum design, 2) the ability to serve as master teachers for other instructors, mentors, and coaches and 3) research and field experience related to educational settings. The program responds specifically to the needs of the surrounding community and the state-mandated initiative to restructure education programs. UT Brownsville incorporates a specific emphasis on digital literacy that gives additional attention to the issue of using digital tools in both traditional and virtual classrooms. U.S. News distinguishes UT Brownsville as one of the best online graduate programs in education, ranking it 112th nationally.
Tuition: $5,372/yr (In-state) $14,834/yr (Out-of-state)
5. Armstrong University
Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction Online
Armstrong University’s flexible, cheap online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is available in both the virtual and traditional classroom format. Students living in Georgia are eligible for the program if they hold a T-4 certification or an equivalent certification from another state. Uniquely, the degree also qualifies for the “Armstrong Edge” program, which helps students update their certification while also earning their master’s degree. This advantage is only available through certain advanced programs that meet the requirements of Georgia’s Professional Standards Commission. College Prowler reports indicate that Armstrong is most impressive for its affordable tuition and knowledgeable professors.
Tuition: $5,085/yr (In-state) $14,847/yr (Out-of-state)
4. Peru State College
Online Master of Science in Education with a Certificate in Instructional Mastery
The 36-credit program in education at Peru State is designed to be low-stress, allowing busy adult learners to move through the degree at their own pace. Described as “leisurely,” the master’s degree in curriculum and instruction online allows students to choose the classes that meet their needs and interests. Courses are eight weeks in length and available all twelve months of the year, making it easy for students to fit classes into their schedules. In addition to a certificate in Instructional Mastery, Peru State also offers options in Classroom Behavior and Management, Instructional Technology, and Inclusionary Practices and Policies. Best-Education-Schools.com ranks PSC 576th in the entire country out of all out of all teacher education programs.
3. Western Governors University
MS Curriculum and Instruction Online
Western Governors University is notorious for its affordable tuition and high-value programs. Its education programs, in particular, have a great reputation, and in fact, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked WGU #1 in the nation for secondary teacher programs. This rating indicates that students can attend one of the top online master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction in the nation while also enjoying one of the lowest tuition rates. The department suggests that as long as program members can devote at least 15 hours a week to their studies, they can continue working, molding their class schedule around their other obligations. Potential classes include “Learning Theories,” “Educational Psychology,” and “Differentiated Instruction.”
2. Chadron State College
Online Master of Education – Curriculum and Instruction
Chadron State College offers a diverse curriculum and instruction program that appeals to a wide range of teacher interests. Applicants may consider specializing in Elementary General Education, K-12 Special Education, Secondary Education, Elementary Field Option, or PK-12 Reading Specialist. However, there is a large number of required courses that students must complete regardless of specialty, including “Curriculum Development,” “School Law,” and “Educational Philosophy.” Graduates can find desired positions in administration, counseling, supervision, research, assessment, and more. Chadron currently enjoys multiple accolades from Military Times Edge magazine, G.I. Jobs, and others for its impressive programs for veterans.
Tuition: $5,600/yr (In-state) $5,630/yr (Out-of-state)
1. American College of Education
Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Students who are looking for an institution intensely focused on teacher education should consider the American College of Education. In addition to being the most affordable school in our selection, ACE also holds the unique distinction of catering entirely toward teaching professionals and aspiring academic administrators. Classes cover everything from bilingual education and instructional design to educational technology and health and wellness, offering learners a unique buffet of options. Those within the Curriculum/Instruction major even have the option to choose one of nine subject-area concentrations. GetEducated.com grants ACE high grades in every category, including affordability, student satisfaction, and public perception. The website also awards the university a top ranking for its online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates’ careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.