Online EdD Programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Curriculum Development, and Teacher Leadership

Updated: February 1, 2023

Curriculum and instruction are the foundation of education at every grade level. Professionals who earn doctorates in these fields are prepared to impact educational outcomes directly through the development and improvement of course content and sequencing, as well as lead teams of teachers or instructors in a variety of settings. There are currently 50 online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs available in the U.S. with concentrations in Curriculum, Instruction, or the closely related field of Teacher Leadership.

Online EdD programs in Curriculum and Instruction provide students with training in curriculum development, implementation, evaluation, and improvement, and supplement this training with courses that place school curriculum in different social, historical, and political contexts. Teacher Leadership programs typically cover these topics as well, but also focus on aspects of mentoring and coaching, such as how to plan and lead professional development programs. Graduates of EdD programs in these concentrations are prepared to assume leadership roles in settings such as K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities, school districts, and education research organizations.

This page contains a wide range of online EdD programs with specializations in curriculum and instruction, curriculum development, or teacher leadership. However, it does not include programs that focus specifically on special education or K-12 administration. Students interested in pursuing a degree in either of these fields should check out our Online EdD in Special Education or Online EdD in K-12 Leadership pages for more information.

Curriculum for Online EdD Programs in Curriculum and Instruction

Students interested in pursuing an EdD in Curriculum, Instruction, or Teacher Leadership online have a range of program options to choose from. Some of these programs are relatively broad, offering curricula that touch on a variety of topics related to leadership, curriculum development, teaching, learning, and instructional design. Others are more specialized, focusing on certain aspects of these fields (e.g., program design and assessment) or specific academic subjects, such as reading, STEM, social studies, or English as a second language (ESL). Some examples of available programs include:

  • Online Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Online Doctor of Education with a Concentration in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Online Doctor of Education with a Concentration in Curriculum & Teaching
  • Online Doctor of Education in Leadership with a Specialization in Curriculum Leadership
  • Online Doctor of Education in Instructional Design
  • Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with Concentrations in Instructional Leadership or Teacher Leadership

Most EdD programs in Curriculum and Instruction combine classes that cover the fundamentals of teaching, coaching, and the education system with courses that focus on the development of curricula that meet the needs of a diverse student population. Core classes for EdD programs in these concentrations may include:

  • History of the American Education System: An overview of the American education system and how it has evolved. The structure of primary, secondary, and post-secondary education and the development of educational standards at each of these levels. The role of teachers and administrators in America’s different systems of education, and how they have contributed to the improvement of these systems throughout history.
  • Foundations of Curriculum, Instruction, and Evaluation: The fundamentals of developing a curriculum, including identifying learning needs, curriculum mapping, and designing course content that aligns with education standards and students’ learning objectives. How knowledge is disseminated in school settings via class content and sequencing, course materials, assignments, and exams. How to evaluate learning outcomes from a curriculum and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Organizational Systems and Leadership in Education: The structure of different educational institutions at multiple levels of education, from primary to post-graduate. How different departments and teams collaborate to establish student learning goals and meet students’ needs in the classroom and on campus.
  • Education Policy: The politics of education in America, and the key stakeholders, including historical and current debates around such topics as education standards, campus regulations, and funding for educational programs. How recent education reforms have shaped students’ experiences at the K-12 and post-secondary levels.

While foundational courses in curriculum and leadership are a typical component of all EdD programs, degree tracks in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Leadership tend to examine the processes of curriculum development, implementation, and improvement in more detail. Concentration courses for these programs may cover topics such as school program funding, staff training and professional development, student instruction, and assessing student progress. Some examples include:

  • Advanced Topics in Curriculum and Instruction: The latest research and theories on best practices for curriculum development and instruction. An in-depth discussion of curriculum mapping, technology in the classroom, collaborating with stakeholders in the curriculum development process, and incorporating new instructional models into the classroom.
  • Curriculum Evaluation and Improvement: The different strategies for assessing curricula and learning outcomes, and how to apply these findings to targeted plans to improve student achievement.
  • Promoting Professional Development: How to develop and implement effective training programs for teachers and other educators, keeping them up to date on standards for curriculum and instruction as they evolve over time, as well as the latest strategies and trends in learning, assessment, and professional collaboration.
  • Diversity Education in Curricula: The role of diversity education and acceptance in the development of a safe and productive learning environment for students of all ages. How to incorporate diversity into different types of educational programming, such as literature, social studies, history, and science classes, as well as extracurricular programs.

In addition to core and concentration courses, students may also be able to take one or more elective classes that are not within their specific major or department, but which are relevant to their future career(s) of interest. Such classes may include:

  • Leadership in the Workplace: The principles of effective leadership and communication in group settings, and how to lead teams in the design and execution of plans on an organizational level.
  • Technology in Education: The latest developments in education technology and how they can enhance the learning process for students across grade levels. The different forms of education technology, from mobile apps to online course modules, and how to incorporate them into curricula.

During the latter half of their EdD program, students typically begin their dissertation, which is a capstone research project that investigates a problem or issue in education, with a particular focus on curriculum, instruction, and/or teacher leadership (depending on their program focus). While the vast majority of EdD programs require the completion of a dissertation, some programs allow students to take capstone research seminar courses that replace the dissertation requirement. For more information about EdD dissertation requirements, please refer to our Dissertations and Research Requirements for EdD Programs page.

EdD programs may vary in terms of their curriculum content and course sequencing, and therefore the course descriptions described above should be viewed as guidelines. To learn more about EdD program structure and curriculum, please see our Structure of Online EdD Programs page.

Career Paths for Graduates of EdD Programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Curriculum Development, and/or Teacher Leadership

Graduates of EdD programs in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Leadership are prepared to enter jobs that involve leading teams in the creation, expansion, evaluation, or improvement of curricula and educational programs. They may also find work in government agencies, education advocacy organizations, corporations, and other work environments where their knowledge of curriculum and professional development can translate into advocating for improvements in education policy, staff trainings, or academic programs. Examples of roles that graduates might pursue include:

  • School Principal: School principals are in charge of the daily operations and long-term performance of the schools under their purview. They supervise teachers in the development of curricula and their instruction of students, collaborate with school district boards to ensure that their schools’ programs align with district and state standards, and manage school budgets in collaboration with other school staff.
  • Instructional Coach: Instructional coaches work with teachers, principals, and other education professionals to improve classroom instruction and learning outcomes based on school- or district- wide goals. They might train staff in new education standards, help facilitate the implementation of new curricula or teaching methods, or work to help resolve certain educational challenges that have arisen on campus.
  • College or University Dean: College deans direct one or more academic departments at post-secondary institutions, including universities, community colleges, and liberal arts colleges. Deans oversee the daily operations of their department, the development and implementation of course curricula, faculty members’ research and/or professional development, and funding for departmental programs.
  • Curriculum Specialist: Curriculum specialists can work with a variety of educational institutions in order to help them create curricula and other student programming. They also collaborate with teachers and school administrators to evaluate and improve curricula and instruction methods for students at different grade levels.

Online Ed.D. Programs in Curriculum and Instruction

The following schools are sorted by state for easy reference; however, most online EdD programs accept students from other states as well. For out-of-state programs, students should confirm with an admissions advisor that the program accepts students from their state of residence before applying.



The University of West Alabama

Accreditation: SACSCOC
Department: Julia Tutwiler College of Education


Florida State University

Accreditation: SACSCOC
Department: College of Education

Nova Southeastern University

(Fort Lauderdale)
Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP
Department: Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Southeastern University

Accreditation: SACSCOC
Department: College of Education

University of West Florida

Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE


Valdosta State University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP
Department: James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education & Human Services


Idaho State University

Accreditation: NWCCU, NCATE


Concordia University - Chicago

(River Forest)
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP

National Louis University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: National College of Education

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Accreditation: WSCUC
Department: Educational Psychology & Technology Department

University of Illinois

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Indiana University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: School of Education (IU Online)


Baker University

(Baldwin City)
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: School of Education

Kansas State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE
Department: College of Education

Southwestern College

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP


Murray State University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP
Department: College of Education and Human Services


Grambling State University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE

The University of Louisiana Monroe

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP


University of Massachusetts Lowell

Accreditation: NECHE


Andrews University

(Berrien Springs)
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE
Department: School of Education


The College of St. Scholastica

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Winona State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE


George Fox University

Accreditation: NWCCU, NCATE

South Carolina

Southern Wesleyan University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE

University of South Carolina

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP


Carson-Newman University

(Jefferson City)
Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE
Department: Adult and Graduate Studies

University of Memphis

Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE
Department: College of Education - Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership


Texas A&M University, College Station

(College Station)
Accreditation: SACSCOC

University of Houston

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP


Liberty University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, NCATE

Regent University

(Virginia Beach)
Accreditation: SACSCOC, TEAC
Department: School of Education


City University of Seattle

Accreditation: NWCCU

West Virginia

Marshall University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE
Department: College of Education and Professional Development


University of Wyoming

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE
Department: College of Education - School of Teacher Education