Curriculum and Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

of WIU's Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program

1.   Does the Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program lead to initial licensure?

No.  Candidates at WIU must complete the undergraduate program in Curriculum and Instruction in order to receive initial licensure.  If a candidate already holds a teaching license, it is possible to earn an endorsement in elementary education or early childhood education and to have some of that coursework count toward their graduate degree.  Candidates should inquire with their advisor or contact the COEHS advising office at 309-298-1438.

2.   What is the difference between the Curriculum and Instruction and Reading Graduate Programs?

The Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction and the Master of Science in Education in Reading are two different graduate degree programs.  The Reading graduate program is designed to lead candidates into completing an endorsement as a reading specialist or as a reading teacher.  Reading is the major focus of the program.  On the other hand, the Curriculum and Instruction graduate program is designed with areas of specialization in mind.  Areas of specialization provide in-depth study of a specific content area.  Candidates are given the opportunity to expand both their content and pedagogical knowledge.  Presently, the Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Degree offers areas of specialization in literacy education, elementary curriculum, early childhood education, social studies education, science education, and math education.  Candidates also complete a core designed to broaden the candidate's experience, and includes coursework on recent trends and research, assessment and differentiation, and methods of research.  For the Early Childhood area of specialization, the core courses include curriculum, child development, intervention, family engagement, language development, play, and literacy in early education.

3.   What is the difference between the Elementary Curriculum and Literacy Education Areas of Specialization?

The Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction is designed for practicing teachers who teach from pre-kindergarten through the middle grades.  Three areas of specialization are entirely online:  Elementary Curriculum, Literacy Education and Early Childhood Education.  Below are the specific characteristics of the Elementary Curriculum and Literacy Education:

  • The Elementary Curriculum area of specialization offers a balanced program of courses in each major subject area of the elementary school curriculum.  Candidates take courses from all four content areas: literacy education, mathematics, science, and social studies. 
  • The Literacy Education area of specialization is designed to extend candidates' knowledge, skills, and understanding of literature and language arts in the elementary and middle grades.  This specialization focuses on major theories, current research, and practical classroom application of strategies for supporting the development of children/adolescents' speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities.

4.   How do I revalidate courses?

If you have coursework that has become outdated (more than 6 years old for master's and specialist degrees), you may petition the Graduate Council for an extension of time.  Evidence must show that such courses have been revalidated by examination or some other means as determined by the department.  Transfer credits must be revalidated by instructors from the credit-granting institution.  Graduate courses with grades of C or lower may not be revalidated.  Revalidated courses will not be included in the calculation of grade point average (GPA) once an extension of time has been granted.   Contact your advisor for more information.  A maximum of six credit hours may be revalidated.

5.   What is the C&I 600/SCED 602/ECH 603 Capstone experience?

The capstone course is primarily a research-writing course, which is taken as the last course in a candidate's program.  Each candidate will be expected to identify an appropriate research topic, investigate their topic, and present the issue in an in-depth paper.  This is a core course and is the capstone course in the Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program.  Prerequisites for this course are 24 semester hours in graduate work, including EIS 500, C&I 574, and C&I 566.

For the early childhood area of specialization, ECH 603 is also a research-writing course which requires prerequisites of 24 hours in graduate work, including EIS 500, ECH 474(G), ECH 539, and ECH 565.

6.   When do I need to file a degree plan?

A degree plan is filed with the Office of Graduate Studies after the completion of 9 semester hours and before the complete of 15 semester hours.  Contact your advisor for more information.

7.   How many courses should I take at once?

We recommend that you take one course in the fall semester, one course in the spring semester, and two courses in the summer term.  If you follow this schedule, you can complete your graduate program in about three years.  If you need some flexibility you do have six years to complete your program before you must revalidate courses.  Candidates in the Early Childhood area of specialization can take one course in the fall and spring semesters, but may only be able to take one course in the summer depending on the course schedule.

8.   How long do I have to finish my graduate degree?

You have six years to finish your master's degree before coursework begins to become outdated.  Once a course becomes outdated, it must go through a revalidation process in order for it to be put towards your master's degree course requirements.  A maximum of six credit hours of coursework may be revalidated.

9.   Is this program online or face-to-face?

Courses for the Curriculum and Instruction master's degree program are offered online as well as in the traditional face-to-face format, with the exception of two areas of specialization: The elementary curriculum, literacy education and early childhood education areas of specialization are offered entirely online. For the other areas of specialization, candidates should check with their advisor to determine to what extent their program is offered online. 

10.   Can I use financial aid for online courses?

Yes!  Semester-based, online courses are eligible for most federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs.  In order to be eligible for federal financial aid, you must be:

  • Fully admitted in a degree or approved graduate certificate program
  • Registered for at least 6 credit hours for each semester you towards which you apply the aid

To determine your eligibility for federal and state financial aid, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Call the Office of Financial Aid at WIU for more information at 309-298-2446.  Graduate assistantships are often available also.  For more information contact
Dr. Sebastian Szyjka, Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Coordinator, at or 309-298-1961.

11.   Do I have to take admission tests to be admitted to the WIU Curriculum and Instruction graduate program?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for applicants to the WIU Curriculum and Instruction graduate program; however, you must apply for and be accepted to the School of Graduate Studies in order to be accepted into the Curriculum and Instruction graduate program.

12.   When do I register for courses?

Summer and Fall advanced registration begins in April, and Spring advance registration begins in November.  Each student is assigned a date they may begin enrolling in classes.  To find out your earliest date and time to register, check your STARS account here.

13.   When do I need to apply for graduation?

Before March 10 (spring semester), June 10 (summer term), or October 10 (fall semester).  It is important to meet these deadlines to prevent your degree from being recorded the following semester.

14.   How do I make changes to my approved degree plan?

You must submit a petition if you want to make changes to your approved degree plan.  Once you complete the petition, you must send it to your degree department for signature.  The form is then sent to the School of Graduate Studies where the change is made on your plan.  The petition form to make changes to your approved degree plan may be found here.

15.   How do I know which courses to take?

When you apply to the Curriculum and Instruction graduate program, you will be assigned an advisor.  Each semester you will consult with your advisor on what course(s) best meet your degree plan.  Your advisor will often be aware of course rotations and can help you make timely choices.