Instructional Design Degree

Instructional design is a broad term used to define a systematic process that is designed to deliver information. The term is used interchangeably with instructional technology, educational technology, and curriculum design. Technology has become an important aspect of education and learning in today’s society.  A variety of instructional design models are used to enhance the learning experience and meet the academic needs of students in the ever-changing environment. Instructional design has made learning more interactive and is being applied by many schools.
Instructional designers develop technology-based learning courses and products. According to O*NET OnLine, the demand for these professionals is expected to grow from 8% to 14% (2012-2022).

University of Southern California

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Instructional Design Programs

The field of instructional design and technology has emerged as a distinct academic discipline. Students interested in this field can prepare themselves by enrolling in instructional design degrees. They can go for on campus instructional design courses or online instructional design programs. There are many colleges to choose from. Make sure you select a college that is accredited.

Bachelors in Instructional Design

This is an undergraduate degree program that will help students discover the role of instructional technology in today’s industry. The program will cover all aspects of the field and also focus on practical training. Students will basically learn how to develop instructable materials using interactive media, technology applications, digital imaging, and other facilitation techniques. The program will initially start off with introduction to basic theories and concepts, and will later progress to more advanced learning modules, and hands-on experience. Here are some of the courses covered in the program:

  • Instructional environments

This course will highlight the dynamics of learning environments of the 21st century. Students will learn how learning environments have changed in recent years. Online learning, hybrid formats, and traditional classroom learning are a few of the topics covered in the course.

  • Technology and learning

In this course, students will learn how technology has affected learning experiences. The course will highlight multimedia tools and educational technologies being used by schools.

  • Instructional design

This course will introduce students to the field of instructional design. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of instructional design, its theories, and practical applications.

  • Multimedia tools

This course will enable students to experiment with different multimedia tools and components. Students will learn how to design and evaluate multimedia elements.

The program takes around four years to complete. Students with this qualification can pursue entry-level careers in colleges and universities. It is also possible to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in instructional design.

Masters in Instructional Design

This is a two-year graduate program that provides students with advanced knowledge of instructional design. The program will shed light upon the uses of instructional design in different educational settings. Students will learn about the instructional systems theories, learning processes, and benefits.
In the theoretical portion of a master’s degree in instructional design, students will cover the basics and develop a solid base of theoretical knowledge. The practical part of the curriculum will help students learn how to use different technologies and applications, develop strategies, and design instructional learning programs. Here are some of the courses expected to be covered:

  • Methods of research in education

This course will emphasize on research skills and methods. Students will learn how to use different research methodologies for gathering and evaluating data.

  • Foundations of curriculum development

In this course, students will learn how to effectively design a curriculum. Focus will be on areas such as curriculum evaluation, effectiveness, and implementation.

  • Design of performance and instructional systems

In this course, students will learn how to apply skills and knowledge for designing performance systems. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the principles used in this context.

  • E-Learning design and development

This course will emphasize on the use of multimedia and digital tools. Students will design and develop such tools for instructions and curricula.

Some colleges offering Instructional design masters degree include an internship in the curriculum. This internship is designed to provide students with work experience in business/school settings. Please note that the curriculum of the program will vary from college to college.

PhD in Instructional Design

This is the highest level of degree offered in instructional technology. Students must have a master’s degree to qualify for admission in a PhD program. The program aims to equip students with research skills and scholarly knowledge needed to pursue advanced careers relevant to this academic discipline.
The curriculum of the program typically entails classroom coursework, oral examinations, independent research study, and a final dissertation.  During the coursework, students will cover important topics such as the following:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Statistics for educational research
  • Leading instructional design initiatives
  • Theories of learning and instruction
  • Processes of instructional design

Once the coursework is complete, students will have to pass an examination and begin an independent research study. This will allow them to practically implement research methodologies and develop the basis for a thesis. The area chosen for research must be approved by a faculty member or supervisor. The last phase of the program is dedicated to the development of a comprehensive dissertation. It must reflect the student’s purpose of research study, methodologies used, findings, and final conclusion.
PhD instructional design programs can take four to eight years to complete, depending upon the institute. Students with this level of degree can qualify for leadership roles in educational institutions.

Instructional Design Certificate Programs

A number of bodies are offering certificate programs in this field. A certificate program has a short duration (six to twelve months) and is mainly designed for working individuals who wish to upgrade their skills and qualify for better job positions. The coursework of an instructional design certificate online will typically entail theoretical courses, each carrying a number of credit hours.

Learn Online

Did you know that it is possible to earn a degree in instructional design without having to attend classes at a college? You can pursue instructional design courses online.  All you need is a computer and an internet connection. An instructional design online course is completed with the help of online videos, lectures, tutorials, and conferencing.

How to Enroll?

The admission requirements will vary from college to college. To enroll in instructional design degree programs at bachelor level, students must have a high school diploma with satisfactory academic record. On the other hand, to enroll in instructional design graduate programs, students must have completed their bachelor degree in the same or similar field. Students must also meet a minimum GPA requirement and provide letters of recommendation.

Career Paths

You may work as an instructional designer at a college or university with a degree in this discipline. According to O*NET OnLine, over 31,000 job openings are expected for instructional designers in the coming few years. Your income level will depend upon many factors such as state, degree, skill, and experience. In 2014, the median annual income for these professionals was $61,550.
Working as an instructional designer will give you the opportunity to work with various technological tools and develop learning programs. You can help make the learning environment more interactive and productive.


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Q:What are some of the online instructional design course topics?

A:As part of an online instructional design degree, there are certain courses that you will be exposed to. These include courses that will focus on enhancing your skills in designing efficient and effective instructional materials. Courses that will form a part of your curriculum might include the likes of instructional design and development, web and distance delivery computer applications and instructional system and technology research and management.

Q:Can you tell me about the instructional design masters program requirements?

A:The program requirements may vary slightly from college to college. Generally, students are required to complete the coursework which includes general and concentration courses, acquire a minimum number of credit hours and score a CGPA of 2.0 and above. You can check with prospective schools to learn more about the requirements.

Q:What is instructional design and technology degree?

A:An instructional design degree is for individuals who work to develop instructional materials that are meant to be used in the classroom. Their main purpose is to help create and coordinate curricula and teach educators how to best implement these curricula. People in this field are required to create everything from print materials, to webinars and self-paced e-learning products.

Q:How to become an instructional designer?

A:To become an instructional designer, you must have at least a bachelor degree in this field. A degree in instructional design will familiarize you with relevant concepts and skills. In many states, you will also need to acquire professional credentials such as a certification. Your career as an instructional designer may start at entry-level. However, you can improve your career prospects and move up the corporate ladder with experience and additional skills.

Q:An instructional technology degree will cover what important topics?

A:The curriculum of an instructional technology degree program will cover a range of topics such as theory and design, advanced computer based training, instructional design, multimedia tools, etc. The curriculum will vary from place to place and will also depend on the degree-level you are pursuing. For example, a bachelor degree in this field will highlight various fundamental courses whereas a masters degree will focus more upon advanced courses.

Q:How will a learning instructional design degree be completed online?

A:The coursework of an online instructional design degree is usually covered via online lectures, videos, classroom conferencing, multimedia slide shows, etc. You will need a computer and an internet connection to study online. Some colleges may be offering a hybrid online program. In this program, the practical components are covered on-campus.

Q:What kinds of instructional design courses are covered in a masters degree?

A:In a masters degree in instructional design, students will cover a range of topics such as curriculum development, research in education, multimedia tools, E-Learning, instructional systems, theory and design, etc. The exact curriculum may vary slightly from place to place. The coursework can be divided into theoretical and practical courses.

Q:What skills will I acquire in a degree in instructional design and technology?

A:Students enrolled in an instructional design and technology degree will be exposed to a range of courses and training sessions. Throughout the program,they will not only develop theoretical knowledge, but will also build a skill set needed for careers in this field. Communication skills, management skills, design skills, creative skills, computer skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills and analytical skills are just a few of the skills students may develop.

Q:Can a instructional design certificate help me in my career?

A:Yes, a certificate program may improve your career prospects. A certificate is a non-degree program that helps individuals acquire career skills and knowledge. If you already have a degree in this field and are working, getting an extra credential such as a certificate can help you move up the career ladder and widen your skill set.

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