Instructional Design Master's or Graduate Certificate Programs

Hi everyone!

People reach out to me all the time asking which Master's or graduate degree programs they should enroll in to become an instructional designer. With so many programs out there—and many of them offering virtual options now—it can be hard to choose.

I'd love to hear from those of you who have gone that route so I can point them to some real-life feedback. What program did you do? Did you find it helpful (either from an instructional and/or career perspective)? What did you like and dislike about it?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

29 Replies
Robin Carroll

I also completed the UGA Instructional Design and Development certificate. I already had over 15 years of experience, but I had no formal training. I learned a lot and it was a good item to have on my resume.

I eventually completed an online MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Georgia State University. For those who don't want to invest the time and money in a degree, GSU also offers a five-course certificate program; students take the same courses as those pursuing the MS. At GSU, you can tailor your curriculum to K-12 or adult learning (my field). The curriculum is a good balance between theory and practice. I only had one professor who was less than stellar (she has since retired).

One of the reasons I pursued the MS rather late in my career was that I noticed most job postings stated "master's degree preferred." I was simply not getting as many interviews as I thought my experience warranted. I finally landed an excellent contract position with a Fortune 500 company during my last semester. Since then I've moved on to a full-time role with another large company where I'm doing the sort of job analysis and performance improvement work that I've always wanted to. I'm quite sure I never would have had this opportunity had I not gotten my degree. 

Regarding the time zone problem for international students: I was able to keep up with my synchronous classes while visiting the UK. Other students logged in from India. Check with the program you're interested in to see what time their classes are offered - you may be able to make it work.

Katy Montgomery

I totally agree with what Carissa and Chantel have said about the OPWL program at Boise State.  I'd like to add to their points that there are different graduate learning options depending on your goals and background.  Since I already have a master's degree in another field and have years of experience creating instructional materials in an educational setting, I decided to pursue their graduate certificate in instructional design.  Of all the programs I looked at, this seemed the most efficient and practical way to develop skills in areas such as storyboarding, scenario-based e-learning, and using authoring programs like Articulate.   I love how the courses provide a lot of practical experience combined with theory on best practices.  For example, the course that covered Articulate Rise and Storyline provided a lot of opportunity to delve into multimedia principles, accessibility, and forward-thinking topics like exploring how we can make e-learning more immersive through audio.     

One more thing that really stands out about this program is how much they care about their students.  I applied to one local program as well, and this other institution couldn't answer questions about when the classes I needed to take would be offered.  On the other hand, Boise State sent me a full schedule to consider the timeframe in which I could complete the degree.  Similarly, there is a great focus on helping students in their career searches by developing their portfolios.

It's been a great experience in Boise State's OPWL program.

Abby  Walden

I highly recommend the Master of Education - Learning Design and Leadership at University of Illinois. Top of the line faculty working with custom LMS that you wont see anywhere else. The program is completely relevant to the ever-changing landscape of ed tech and builds knew pedagogical approaches based off a solid understanding of adult learning theory. It can be completed 100% online as well!