What Does it Mean to Study Curriculum Design?
With the increased popularity of educational accountability in traditional and online schools, as well as corporate education, there is an increased demand for individuals trained in curriculum design. An education degree in curriculum design program provides the tools necessary to plan and design comprehensive curricula, and to improve educational methods in the process. Curriculum design students learn how to evaluate teacher and student learning processes. They also develop techniques to implement enhanced learning methods.
What Do Curriculum Designers Do?
Curriculum designers help set the ground rules for education, training, and development. In order to achieve success as a curriculum designer, you must build an advanced set of skills in:
More specifically, curriculum designers generally manage the curriculum review process, evaluating how well an organization's curriculum aligns with program outcomes, learning methods, and assessments. More often than not, curriculum designers specialize in a specific subject matter.
In addition, curriculum designers choose the most appropriate learning strategies for a particular organization or for a school's curriculum. They also make higher-level decisions, such as recommending the types of learning materials to be purchased. In many cases, curriculum designers can also supervise the individuals who maintain and distribute these essential learning materials.
Curriculum designers are also instrumental in implementing new technology in classrooms or other learning environments. They may be responsible for monitoring important equipment and software, ensuring that it is being utilized in the proper manner. They often work with computer and media specialists to determine the best way of delivering materials to students and other individuals.
In order to make the curriculum design process work smoothly, curriculum designers often meet with educational decision-makers, committees, and advisory groups to determine the specialized needs of a certain group of individuals. Additionally, many curriculum designers train teachers and other professionals to make proper use of their technology and educational materials. For educators who want an important and fulfilling career beyond the classroom, the curriculum design field provides a rewarding opportunity.
Trends for Curriculum Design Careers
The U.S. Department of Labor expects the demand for and related professionals to grow in the next decade. Employers will need curriculum designers to develop new learning programs that can meet the demands of an increasingly technologically advanced society.
Additionally, school boards across the country seek curriculum designers to improve the quality of education and in the performance of students in their schools. As such, curriculum designers ensure that all teachers and administrators stay up to date with changes in the curricula.
Lastly, the growing importance of lifelong learning and the detailed programs for individuals with special needs will create additional job openings for curriculum designers. For example, the proliferation of English as a Second Language Programs creates a demand for even more educational planning, resources, and management.
Preparing for a Degree in Curriculum Design
When deciding to pursue a graduate degree in curriculum design (the only level at which the specialty is offered), it is important to do some research before deciding on a particular program. Specifically, you should consider the following criteria when choosing a school:
- Decide whether you want to study online or on a college campus.
- Get a sense of what each of the curriculum design programs expects from you.
- Make sure that you are comfortable with the subject matter, the structure, and the delivery of the courses.
- Visit the web pages of the schools that interest you. Learn about their admission requirements and their admissions processes.
- Email or write to admissions officers at these schools to obtain further detailed information.
- Talk to professors, current students, and other graduates of the programs to get a feel for the program on a personal level.
- If you do not already have the necessary prerequisites (which will vary by program), enroll in the appropriate courses at a local college or through an online program.
- Avoid completing the application process at the last minute.
Success in a curriculum design degree program requires excellent research, organizational, and analytical skills. Students with the natural ability to present otherwise dull material in a new, interesting light often achieve fast results. Having experience in education or a related field (whether work-related or through volunteer experiences) is either a plus or a requirement for some curriculum design degree programs.
Online Degrees in Curriculum Design
With the increasing demand for curriculum designers and related professionals in today's society, more universities offer a variety of curriculum design degrees. Recognizing that education professionals often do not have the opportunity to leave their homes and professional lives to attend a class on campus, many colleges now offer the opportunity to earn curriculum design degrees online. More often than not, institutions offer these valuable courses through high-tech methods that can include video conferencing and online chat programs.
Professional curriculum designers must also take continuing education courses to remain at the top of their fields. Some courses that curriculum designers should take throughout their careers include courses dealing with:
- instructor evaluation techniques
- curriculum training
- consulting and instructor support
- observation and analysis of teaching methods
Master's Degrees in Curriculum Design
Curriculum design specializations are not offered at the undergraduate level, and are rarely found in PhD programs. The most common degree in curriculum design is the Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a specialty or concentration in curriculum and instruction, assessment, reading, technology, elementary or secondary education, and so on.
Some graduate schools offer a Master of Arts designation for their curriculum design programs, such as the Master of Arts in Education with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction. This program permits teachers to turn education theory into practice with a field-based graduate degree. Students may also choose to pursue a Master of Science in Education with a curriculum design concentration, which focuses on instructional skills and leadership abilities.
What Can You Do With a Curriculum Design Major?
As mentioned previously, today's increasingly global society and economy has created strong demand for professional curriculum designers. Often, these jobs are advertised under an array of titles, including:
- Curriculum Specialist
- Curriculum Consultant
- Curriculum Coordinator
- Staff Development Specialist
- Directors of Instructional Material
- Instructional Coordinators
Often, graduates of master's degree programs can find employment in the following areas:
- Schools and School Boards: Curriculum design graduates often find employment in elementary and secondary schools or within school boards. Many go on to develop curriculum for colleges and universities. Some curriculum designers teach as well, although most of these positions require teaching licensure.
- Government: Curriculum design graduates can also find employment with public agencies, especially those in educational public policy arenas. Even agencies like the CIA and the FBI employ curriculum designers. All areas of government require skilled individuals to develop training manuals and related documents.
- Corporations: Many corporations hire curriculum designers to develop interesting and effective corporate training programs. Additionally, companies that specialize in developing educational and training materials often find an individual trained in curriculum design to be invaluable.
- Self-Employment: Some individuals choose to work as freelance consultants in the field. Potential clients include schools, government, and various companies in the private sector.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2004, two out of five curriculum designers worked in the area of local government education. Approximately one in five worked in the private education field, with the same percentage employed in state government education. The rest of the curriculum designers worked with individual and family services, daycare services, research and development fields, and in the management and technical consulting fields.
Curriculum Design Certification and Licensure
In general, there are no specific licensing requirements to become a curriculum designer. However, if you do wish to teach in elementary, high schools, and post-secondary institutions, you must acquire the appropriate teaching credentials for the state where you wish to work. Additionally, some graduate programs require all applicants to be licensed teachers. Professional teacher qualifications vary according to the state or province that you reside in.