Is a C&I degree for a teacher who’s tired of being in the classroom?

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What is C&I?

The letters refer to curriculum and instruction, which are two separate but compatible entities in education. Curriculum is the content that is being taught. In comparison, instruction is how the curriculum is delivered. In the educational system, the former addresses what, and the latter focuses on how. From pre-k through a doctorate program, the school has established subjects, activities, and assignments that the student must complete. These comprise the respective curricula, whether it is learning to print in pre-k or writing a thesis at the doctorate level. The delivery method will also vary as one advances through the grades and college degrees. In elementary school, the teacher has hands-on instruction techniques. In college and university, the teaching becomes less formal and distant. For example, you might sit in a large lecture hall as you take notes manually or on a laptop.

What about the C&I degree?

Will it take you out of the elementary, middle school, junior high, or high school classroom? There are opportunities for graduates from a C&I program to venture beyond teaching. To do so typically requires a master’s degree in this or a related discipline. We’ll explore some of the career paths for those who want to avoid teaching or aspire to leave the classroom environment.

C&I Specialist

Another name is an instructional coordinator who works in school administration to improve, create, and assess the district’s curricula and instruction. Knowledge of research in effective teaching and learning techniques is paramount. In this endeavor, the Specialist might return to the classroom as an observer to assess the instruction methods and advise teachers on improvements. Other tasks include selecting textbooks, review education regulations, recommend appropriate technology, and confer with administrators.

In most states, the coordinator needs teacher certification or licensure and a master’s degree in education. One example is the accelerated five-year Bachelor’s plus Master of Arts in C&I (MACI) at Chapman University in Orange, California. This program develops educators who will be skilled in technology, instruction, and pedagogical theory.

Instructional Strategist

There are several positions posted on employment sites that require strategists in Special Education for a school district. The job involves serving students and collaborating with parents to provide a positive learning experience. Experience and knowledge of autism and challenging behaviors are part of the job description. Other duties include conferring with instructional coaches, implementing research-supported practices, and introducing current technology.

Similar to the Specialist above, the strategist may work in elementary and secondary schools to observe and perform teacher reviews. Excellent oral and written skills are imperative as you’ll be presenting and reporting to district administrators and community officials.

School Administrator

In the private and public school systems, administrators prepare correspondence, propose improvement plans, prepare budgets, assisting faculty, and provide educational leadership. Several degrees can qualify you for the position. These are a Master of Science in Education (M.S. Ed.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Educational Specialist (Ed.S.), M.A. in Educational Administration, Master of Arts in C&I, and related degrees. These professionals generally advance from teachers to principals to administrators.

Curriculum Design

A sub-specialty of C&I is the design or creation of a school’s content that instills a desire to learn. A school district may consider the students’ social and cultural components to enhance learning patterns and meet state requirements. The ‘C’ is as important as the ‘I’ in C&I. A flawed curriculum will not be effective regardless of the quality of instruction. Conversely, incompetent instructors and teachers cannot overcome heralded subject matter. Both are critical to a thriving learning environment.

The designer will have to work with learning software and video editing in some cases. With the pandemic (as of this writing), instruction via computer is crucial due to homeschooling proliferation. Review of studies on the most effective teaching methods, whether in class or via computer, are part of the job. Familiarity with instruction assists the designer in developing the content.

The position may take you out of the education system entirely and into the business world. A Master of Science in education with a concentration in Learning Design and Technology is another degree in this field. Purdue University Online offers this degree with coursework covering Learning Theory, Design, Strategic Assessment, Human Performance Technology, and Educational Applications of Multimedia. Graduates will have the skills to pursue a career in education (K-12), business training, and professional development.


As mentioned, there are several opportunities to journey into other professions outside of a classroom. As stated, most demand at least a master’s degree; otherwise, your choices will be limited. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, data show that 61% of secondary school teachers have a post-baccalaureate degree.

Related Resources: 

What is the difference between Institutional and Programmatic accreditation?

Are there Master’s programs in Curriculum and Instruction?

Do Charter schools have different requirements for their teachers? 

What is usually done for a background check of teachers? 

What Is the Difference Between an Education Degree and a School Counseling Degree?

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