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Affordable Online Master's in Curriculum & Instruction

By BVS Staff

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 want to continue teaching while earning their degree, many schools now offer graduate education programs online. 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 continuing to gain hands-on, paid experience at the same time.

The 20 Best Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Online Programs Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer master's degrees in curriculum and instruction online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

In addition, we limited our search to schools with education programs that have received accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer masters in curriculum and instruction online and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in three categories:

  • Program Popularity: Out of all the education students, how many choose specifically to major in curriculum and instruction? In other words, how successful is the elementary teaching program at attracting graduate students to their degree over other education-focused options? To find out, we considered both the number of students who graduated with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction in the most recent school year as well as what percentage those students comprised of all education program graduates.
  • Overall Strength in Education: How many different online education master's degrees does the school offer? A large number indicates a college that is willing to devote a lot of time, resources, and faculty expertise to training future teachers through distance learning.
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap online master's degrees in curriculum and instruction below!

Cheap Online Master's in Curriculum and Instruction Degrees Ranking

20. University of Mississippi

Online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction

Pursuing an accredited online master's degree in curriculum and instruction at Ole Miss comes with several key benefits. First, if you already hold a teacher's license in Mississippi, you can earn an additional Pre-K license endorsement while pursuing your MEd. Even better, it will only take you a year of full-time study to complete the program. As if that weren't enough, you'll also have a few opportunities to reduce the cost of this already affordable program. These include graduate-level scholarships and the chance to "bank" hours toward tuition (in the latter case, you'll need to work in a district that hosts University of Mississippi student teachers.)
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,878/yr
Score: 55

19. Cornerstone University

Online Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction

At Cornerstone University, you'll get the chance to evaluate relevant research and develop a comprehensive project while earning your MEd. The curriculum includes two "Master's Project" courses, for which you'll pick a specific topic (such as curriculum development) and then create an in-depth proposal that addresses a relevant area of need. It's a great way to put your skills to work in service of a problem that speaks to you. Cornerstone also stands out on this master's in curriculum and instruction online ranking for its Christ-centric approach to the subject, making it a top choice if you want to integrate your faith with your studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,486/yr
Score: 56

18. Concordia University-Nebraska

Online MEd in Curriculum & Instruction

With a faculty comprised of former principals, administrators, and other education professionals, there's no doubt that Concordia University - Nebraska's cheap online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction will prepare you for leadership in the field. Throughout the program, you'll develop curricula that serve the needs of diverse learners, study academic theories that you can apply to your own teaching practice, and hone your leadership skills. Additionally, you'll conduct ample research to stay up-to-date on current best practices. If it meets your career goals, you can even add an endorsement as a Curriculum Supervisor, but keep in mind that you'll need to complete a practicum with this option.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,919/yr
Score: 57

17. Southern New Hampshire University

Online MEd in Curriculum & Instruction

Southern New Hampshire University offers one of the top online master's degrees in curriculum and instruction when it comes to specialized study. Here, you can choose among five unique concentrations: Dyslexia Studies and Language-Based Learning Disabilities, Education Leadership, Reading, Special Education, and Technology Integration. Although the requirements for each vary, most concentrations require just three additional courses and do not lead to a specific endorsement. However, they will help you differentiate yourself from your peers. When you graduate with a concentration in Reading, for example, you'll leave with a portfolio that demonstrates your proficiency.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,810/yr
Score: 58

16. Sam Houston State University

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

If you'd like to teach at the community college level, give Sam Houston State University a look. By working with an advisor, you can devise a course of study that prepares you to teach either dual-credit courses or classes at a community college. The degree offers similar flexibility in its curriculum. Most significantly, you'll be able to personalize and focus your studies through six electives - you can even go outside the C&I field for these courses. That's just one reason SHSU stands out on this online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction ranking, however. It's also affordable, nationally accredited, and includes a heavy focus on leveraging technology in the classroom.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,995/yr
Score: 59

15. Concordia University-Saint Paul

Online Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum & Instruction: K-12 Reading Endorsement

While teaching to the test is a controversial notion, the fact remains that teachers must prepare students to meet local, state, and federal standards. Fortunately, Concordia University - St. Paul, can help you do just that. As you pursue this affordable master's in curriculum and instruction online, not only will you learn how to use psychology to motivate and empower your students, but you'll also earn a K-12 reading endorsement. This comprehensive program touches on legal and ethical issues and even provides instruction in age-specific literary strategies to help students meet key benchmarks. And for the grand finale, you'll take a capstone course in which you analyze current research surrounding an issue pertinent to your career goals.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,550/yr
Score: 60

14. Greenville College

Online MA in Curriculum and Instruction

Greenville University designed its accredited online master's degree in curriculum and instruction with all working adults in mind - not just teachers. You don't need a teacher's license to apply, and the curriculum is broad enough to accommodate a variety of career goals, from human resources professionals to corporate trainers. While a few of the required courses focus on traditional subjects (e.g., "Literacy for Today's Society") you'll find plenty of ways to tailor the degree to your needs. For example, for your capstone project, you might design an "improvement effort" for your place of employment, whether it's a school or a corporate setting.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,524/yr
Score: 62

13. Nova Southeastern University

Online Master of Science in Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology

Nova Southeastern offers an accredited MS in Curriculum and Instruction online at that focuses heavily on technology. Required courses such as "Technology and the School Curriculum" and "Web 2.0 Tools: Applications for Teaching and Learning" exemplify this tech-forward approach. You'll also get the chance to put your knowledge to work in two "Special Topics" classes. These courses will challenge you to apply everything you've learned to analyze contemporary issues in education. Given that the use of educational technology continues to increase, NSU's program offers a great way to show future employers that you stand at the forefront of your field.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,175/yr
Score: 64

12. University of Memphis

Online MS in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership: Literacy

Because of its strong emphasis on literacy, the University of Memphis' accredited MS in Curriculum and Instruction online program is best suited for educators who want to work as reading specialists or in other similar positions. Nearly all core classes examine pedagogy through the lens of literacy, and you'll complete a literacy-focused research practicum alongside your master's project. If this narrow focus meets your career goals, you'll also appreciate the ability to add an endorsement in Literacy Leadership and Coaching. The endorsement requires just five courses and three years of teaching experience, and the classes count towards your MS degree as well.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,855/yr
Score: 66

11. Northwest Nazarene University

Online M.Ed. Curriculum, Instruction & Innovation

Flexibility is the name of the game at Northwest Nazarene University. Although the school employs the cohort model (which means you'll take all your classes with the same group of classmates), you can start during any semester, not just the fall. You'll also have the option to complete all your classes and advising sessions online, or (if you live near Nampa) you can meet with faculty advisors in person. This flexibility also extends to the curriculum. While earning this cheap online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, you'll pick an emphasis in either Curriculum Design, Instructional Coaching, or Innovation. And this all comes in at a more than reasonable cost of less than $9,000 a year.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,971/yr
Score: 71

10. Northern State University

Online Masters of Science in Teaching and Learning

Although all of the programs on this list include a focus on research, Northern State University offers a particularly strong research component as part of its affordable MS in Curriculum and Instruction online. The curriculum includes quite a few courses that focus on research and data, including "Data-Driven Decision Making" and "Research-Based Curriculum and Instruction." The degree also culminates in a master's level research project that pairs you with a faculty member to explore an issue of your choice. But if you're concerned that all this theory will come at the expense of practice, fear not: the curriculum's two-credit "supervised field-based learning experience" will help ground your studies in solid real-world practice.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,289/yr
Score: 75

9. University of Missouri-Columbia

Online MEd in Learning, Teaching & Curriculum: Literacy Education

Even if you opt for part-time study, you can still earn Mizzou's accredited online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction in just two years. This literacy-focused degree melds a strong foundation in pedagogy with plenty of hands-on work, including two practica. The curriculum also puts a heavy emphasis on technology - particularly as it applies to reading instruction. Required courses include "Curricular Decisions for Literacy in a Digital World" and "Literacy and the Internet," among others. And if you want to tack on a reading specialist certificate, you can easily work with your advisor to enroll in specific courses that meet Missouri's requirements.
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,931/yr
Score: 76

8. Concordia University-Chicago

Online Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Instruction

"Integrity, competence, and servant leadership" characterize the affordable master's in curriculum and instruction online at CU - Chicago. Especially when it comes to developing your competence, this program doesn't cut any corners. You'll take classes in leadership, research, and instruction - to name a few - and graduate with a well-rounded skillset. Through a unique "Seminar in Reflective Practice" capstone class, you'll also have a chance to step back and reflect on your role as both an individual and a practitioner. The course also encourages participants to assess their personal growth throughout the program, challenge pre-existing beliefs and assumptions, and put theory into practice in the classroom.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,688/yr
Score: 77

7. Cleveland State University

Online Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Technology

If you're always on the hunt for computer programs and apps that can augment your classroom instruction, give Cleveland State University a look. Not only can you earn its educational technology-focused accredited master's in curriculum and instruction online, but you can add an endorsement in Education and Technology or a certificate in Online Teaching. Even if you choose not to pursue these add-ons, you'll still graduate with knowledge in eLearning, online instruction, and other non-traditional modalities. Plus, a required "Current Topics and Research in Educational Technology" course ensure you'll have up-to-date information on the most cutting-edge work in the field. Finally, you'll wrap up your studies with a comprehensive exam, thesis, or research project.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,045/yr
Score: 78

6. Black Hills State University

Online Master of Science: Curriculum and Instruction

Black Hills State University offers a cheap MS in Curriculum and Instruction online that caters to the needs of practicing instructors by emphasizing hands-on work. Not only does the coursework encourage you to take what you've learned and immediately apply it to the classroom, but it also includes a required clinical practice experience during your final semester. Another perk of attending BHSU is its support of specialized training. In fact, the curriculum provides three different study plans: Technology Integrationist, Math Specialist, and Science Specialist. All three meet South Dakota's requirements for their associated designations and can help you stand out from the competition as you advance in your career.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,956/yr
Score: 80

5. Liberty University

Online Master of Education - Teaching & Learning

Liberty University has one of the best options on this master's in curriculum and instruction online ranking for evangelical teachers and other educators who want to work in Christian schools. In addition to learning about Christian ethics throughout the curriculum, you'll take classes alongside similarly faith-focused instructors and peers. Liberty also stands out for its cognates, which enable you to choose a focus area (such as Gifted Education, Leadership, or Student Services) and in many cases lead to an endorsement. And if cost matters, you'll appreciate the low tuition and generous experiential learning policy, which allows you to earn credit (after taking an exam or creating a portfolio) for knowledge learned on the job.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,430/yr
Score: 81

4. Louisiana State University-Shreveport

Online Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction

Personal attention and a customizable curriculum help set LSU Shreveport apart from its competitors. For starters, all incoming students to the accredited online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction program will immediately begin working with a program director to create a personalized plan of study. And this guidance will continue right up to graduation as you work together to ensure that your degree will help you meet your career goals. You'll also have the option to pursue a concentration in one of four areas, or you can take a general tack for a broader understanding of the field. Lastly, a targeted reading practicum and comprehensive research project will round off your studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,582/yr
Score: 84

3. Arkansas State University

Online Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction

The affordable online master's degree in curriculum and instruction at Arkansas State University comes with two unique emphasis options that let you specialize as either a Curriculum or Special Education Director. Both these optional concentrations focus on leadership and will prepare you for licensure in Arkansas. And even if you opt not to complete an emphasis, you'll still benefit from a core curriculum that helps build your critical and analytical skills and teaches management and organizational techniques. Required courses span the abstract ("Ethical Leadership") to the pragmatic ("School Law") and include an internship, giving you an opportunity to put your leadership skills to the test.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,231/yr
Score: 86

2. Western Governors University

Online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction

Given that Western Governors University is so devoted to offering quality distance learning degrees to adult students, it's no surprise that it earns a spot on this MS in Curriculum and Instruction online ranking. The degree has plenty going for it, from the price (tuition averages just under $6,800) to the speed at which you can finish (some students need just ten months). That latter point is made possible thanks to WGU's unique competency-based approach, which allows you to pass courses by demonstrating your mastery of the subject rather than waiting until the term ends. Another rare perk? You don't need a current teaching license to enroll.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,790/yr
Score: 98

1. University of Texas-Arlington

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Literacy Studies

Texas residents, in particular, will benefit from the accredited online master's degree in curriculum and instruction at UT - Arlington. That's because you can earn one of three certificates while pursuing your MEd: Reading Specialist, ESL, or Master Reading Teacher. (Out-of-state residents might be able to earn similar certifications or endorsements, but you'll need to check your state's requirements.) If none of these appeal, you can collaborate with advisors to focus your work on another area, such as working with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Regardless of your path, the program in general places a strong focus on literacy and incorporates three required practica for an abundance of hands-on experience.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,068/yr
Score: 100

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction programs!

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See also:
The 9 Most Affordable Online Master's Degree in Educational Assessment and Evaluation

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