Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction

For current or recent teachers who hold a valid California teaching credential. If you’re looking to enter teaching for the first time, consider PLNU’s master’s in teaching program.


You don’t work in education because it’s easy — you do it because it matters. You want to be an educator who makes a difference in people’s lives. That’s what we want, too. If you’re a current teacher, PLNU's master's in curriculum and instruction is the program for you. We offer a fully online curriculum throughout the state of California.

You can choose between a master of arts (M.A.) or a master of science (M.S.) track with our program. The M.A. track is meant for teachers already in the field looking to advance their careers while simultaneously becoming better educators. Current educators seeking to continue their education and pursue a doctorate should choose the M.S. track. 

M.A. vs M.S. Comparison

 Masters of Arts (M.A.)Masters of Science (M.S).

Who it's for

The master of arts designates a terminal ending of the candidate’s scholarship; the degree is designed with a final action research project that integrates the candidate’s learning in the program with a field-based project that draws conclusions that are practical, relevant, and reflective of the candidate’s teaching or leadership experience.

The master of science prepares a candidate for future scholarship in an area of interest. The candidate completes a five-chapter thesis that includes a relevant literature review, applies research methodology, and critically analyzes data to inform practice and theory. This degree provides a direct pathway into the proposed PLNU Ed.D. doctoral program.

Program start

Spring, summer, fallSpring, summer, fall

Program Structure







*Approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California.


*Approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California.

Program Highlights Receive your M.A. online in the state of California, have a flexible schedule, work closely with your local district partnerships, add customizable added authorizations, and develop knowledge and skills that align with professional standards.

Receive your M.S. online in the state of California, have a flexible schedule, work closely with your local district partnerships, add customizable added authorizations, and develop knowledge and skills that align with professional standards.




International Student 




When you join PLNU’s master’s in curriculum and instruction, you’ll challenge yourself to become a more effective teacher or workplace trainer. You’ll be prepared to advance your career and live out your calling to the fullest by:

  • Stepping into a teaching/leadership role.
  • Becoming a curriculum expert. 
  • Increasing your pay scale.

At PLNU, we’re here for the same reasons as you: We truly believe in the power of education, and we care deeply about individuals — including you — who are living out their call to teach.

Everyone you encounter here will share that goal with you, from your admissions counselor to your professors. Rest assured, PLNU’s School of Education will take a personal interest in you and care about your concerns, experience, beliefs, and goals.

Relevant Topics to Meet Real Needs

District partnerships ensure PLNU’s curriculum addresses current needs and topics facing educators. In addition to offering accredited programs grounded in research, PLNU equips you to integrate your beliefs, values, and goals with your teaching practice.

Customizable, Deep, and Achievable

Six certificate options allow you to specialize in an area of interest while developing transferable, employer-desired abilities and skills. 

Choose a learning method that best suits your lifestyle, either fully online asynchronous throughout the state of California or in person at one of our Southern California campuses.  

Graduate with the reading and literacy added authorization already embedded in the program. If you seek to add the California Teacher of English Learners, our program provides the opportunity through one additional class. 

Lifelong Network of Support

PLNU’s Education Associates alumni network keeps you connected long after graduation. Faculty members have a reputation for staying in touch and continuing to mentor students. Career counseling and additional professional development opportunities are always available to you.

Deborah Erickson Headshot


Deborah Erickson

Dr. Deborah Erickson, dean of PLNU’s School of Education, has been on faculty since 2013, after serving 11 years in faculty and leadership positions at California Lutheran University’s Graduate School of Education.

Read More

The master’s in curriculum and instruction is designed to equip you to significantly improve student learning in diverse settings. You’ll learn to apply best practices and benefit from the latest research on effective teaching.

This program substantially builds on the foundation of initial teacher preparation and the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). When you and your classmates complete PLNU's master’s in curriculum and instruction, you’ll be prepared to:


  • Engage in lifelong learning in an information-based, interactive society and explore the major classical and modern philosophies as they relate to contemporary educational theories and practices.

  • Develop and internalize the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions to conduct research that transforms teaching and significantly impacts learning in educational settings.

  • Communicate a cohesive personal educational philosophy, an educational mission, core values, and vision of teaching and learning as a servant leader.


  • Demonstrate evidence of an applied understanding of the five propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, including a commitment to students and learning and distinguishing cultural and familial differences from one another to inform their practice.

  • Reflect on learning throughout the program and develop a professional development and research plan to continually extend and refine a philosophical, technological, and research application and orientation to teaching and learning.


  • Work within a professional educational learning community reflecting and contributing to instructional improvement within diverse educational communities.

  • Extend and refine the understanding of current challenges and trends in education, developing a response plan aligned with personal philosophy in addressing these situations.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for professional licensure or certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in teacher credentialing is available on this website

San Diego educator teaches students in a classroom

A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

Our School of Education is one of the top producers of education candidates not only within San Diego, but the state of California. Read more about the work being done at PLNU.

Application Information

Are you ready to take the next step and apply?

We're here to make the entire process a simple one. We'll walk you through the application process, answer your questions, and get you one step closer to earning your degree.

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 Quad I — September 2, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad II — October 28, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — January 13, 2025
  • Spring 2025 Quad II — March 17, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — May 12, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad II — July 7, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 Quad I — August 21, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad II — October 16, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — December 11, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad II — February 28, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — April 25, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad II — June 20, 2025

Note: Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad. Check with your enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's master’s in curriculum and instruction program, you must have:

  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript.
  • A teaching credential.

Admissions Interview: You may be eligible for an interview waiver. Eligibility can be discussed in more depth with a PLNU admissions counselor once you've started your application. 

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution*. (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double-spaced.
  4. Once you have submitted your admissions application, your two selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd life to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary.
  5. For credential seekers only: Submit basic skills exam (CBEST or equivalent) scores. This can be demonstrated by taking the CBEST exam.
    • OR Multiple Subject CSET plus writing skills examination.
    • OR CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examination.
    • OR providing proof of a valid California teaching credential.

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Career Opportunities

The master's in curriculum and instruction is designed to help you advance your teaching career.

The program is ideal for:

  • Elementary school teachers
  • Middle or high school teachers

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions

What's required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's master’s in curriculum and instruction program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process. 

Proof of a teaching credential is required for all applicants. 

You’ll also need to take a basic skills test, such as the CBEST, if you’re interested in earning a credential as part of your M.A. All applicants will also need to submit a writing sample and complete an interview.

See the application checklist to learn more about what's required to apply and be admitted into the program.

Can I work while completing the program?

Yes! Most of our applicants are current classroom teachers who complete this program fully online asynchronous to their lifestyle.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You’ll have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through PLNU’s Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Completion depends almost entirely upon the energy, confidence, motivation, and availability of the student. While the entire degree program can be achieved within a single year, it’s more common for students to schedule classes over a 12-month period. A student’s financial aid package can, at times, dictate the academic load that must be maintained.

On average, students 12-20 months depending on the track taken.

How many days a week do classes meet?

The program is offered fully online asynchronous to complete courses when it works best for your schedule.

When can I start?

Students pursuing the credential can be admitted at the start of six different quads a year in quad I. Students who are pursuing the master's can choose to take one master's-level class in quad II (second half of the semester).

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

How do district partnerships work?

PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the San Diego and Bakersfield areas. For students enrolled online outside of these locations, PLNU will partner with your local school district to place you for your fieldwork and student teaching hours. No matter your location in the state of California, PLNU will place you at a district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (fieldwork) before you enter the fieldwork phase of your program.

What if I would like to earn a certificate or added authorization without completing a master’s degree?

This option is available.

I am not yet working in education. Is this the right program for me?

The M.A. or M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction is geared toward seasoned education professionals or business professionals who instruct others as part of their work. For aspiring teachers like you, PLNU offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The MAT is most likely to meet your needs if you have just completed your undergraduate degree or are transitioning to education from another field, but please contact your enrollment counselor if you’d like more personalized information.

How many units does this program require?

Both the M.A. and M.S. tracks consist of 36 semester units. Eighteen of those units are core classes and include a master’s research design project. The remaining 18 units can be applied to a variety of elective courses within the School of Education and must be applied in such a way as to earn at least one specialized concentration or emphasis of study.

Can I earn a certificate without attempting the entire degree?

Yes. Many students desiring only a certificate complete just the courses needed for that particular program without earning the entire master of arts degree.

How can I earn the Reading and Literacy Added Authorization?

Just like clearing a teaching credential, students can achieve this concentration separately or within the M.A. or M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction degree program. Candidates wanting to earn this state certificate must take 12 specific units of study related to this powerful concentrated study. The coursework for this concentration includes the completion of a master’s research design project.

Is a master’s thesis required to earn the degree?

Those pursuing their M.A. must complete a research project while those pursuing their M.S. must complete a thesis project because they seek to continue on to a doctorate.

Yes. Within the M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction (and like every other master’s program within PLNU’s School of Education), students are required to complete a four-unit course called culminating research and design. This course is designed to prepare students for the research and the writing of a master research paper focused on a single research question. After successful completion of this course, students will be paired with a university mentor to guide them in completing their research project.

How many units can I transfer in from other universities?

Students can transfer up to six graduate units from other schools (or from BTSA participation) toward the master’s in curriculum and instruction — providing that coursework is less than seven years old and was not counted toward another credential or degree program.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the master’s in curriculum and instruction program, view the PLNU catalog. 

M.A. Course Information M.S. Course Information

Department Faculty