Courses for instructional designers have experienced a boom in the past few years, triggering a plethora of educational programs: on campus and online, Master’s, graduate certificates, and more. Whatever your goals, be it upskilling or merely obtaining relevant credentials, you are sure to delve into the theory and practice of instruction adjusted to the Web 3.0 reality, and modern teaching techniques. There are dozens of schools in the US providing web-based Instructional Design (ID) Certification, which helps you get on the right track in the development of engaging e-Learning courses and curriculums. Specific ID programs may vary by duration, cost, number of credits required (usually between 10 and 18), etc. Most programs give you certain flexibility, so you can absorb material at your own pace. After all, it’s e-Learning about e-Learning, so you can’t go wrong!
For your convenience, I’ve compiled a table of the 30 most promising ID certificate programs. Check out the details below.
|Organization||Course name||Credits||Total cost and duration|
|George Mason University
|E-Learning Graduate Certificate||15||Upon request|
|UCI Division of Continuing Education
|E-Learning Instructional Design||15||Upon request|
|Learning Design and Technology Certificate||16||$10,200
|University of Washington
|E-Learning design & development||Upon request||$4,310
|University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
|Instructional Design Certificate Online||12||Upon request|
|University of Massachusetts Boston
|Instructional Technology Design||15||Upon request|
|Oregon State University
|E-Learning Instructional Design and Development||18||$1,755
|University of Georgia
|Graduate Certificate eLearning Design||15||$11,000
|Graduate Certificate in eLearning and Instructional Design||16||Upon request|
|Saint Leo University
Saint Leo, Florida
|Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design||15||Upon request|
|University of Arizona
|Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology||15||Upon request|
|University of California
|Teaching Online Certificate||13||$1,705
|UHM College of Education
|GCERT Learning Design and Technology: Online Learning and Teaching||15||12 months, price upon request|
|University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina||ITS/TF Certificate Program||18||Upon request|
|La Salle University
|Instructional Technology Management||18||Upon request|
|Boise State University
|Workplace Instructional Design||18||$8,100, duration upon request|
|Colorado State University-Global Campus
Greenwood Village, Colorado
|K-12 education technology and instructional design||12||Upon request|
|Florida State University
|Online Instructional Development||15||Upon request|
|The George Washington University
|Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design||Upon request||Upon request|
|Graduate School of Education and Human Development
|Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design||18||Upon request|
|Indiana University Bloomington
|Instructional Systems Technology||15||Upon request|
|University of Wisconsin-Stout
|Online Instructional Design Graduate Certificate||Upon request||$1,305 per course
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology||12||$7,940, duration upon request|
|Georgia State University
|Instructional Design and Technology||12||Upon request|
|Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
|eLearning Developer Certificate||12||Upon request|
|Association for Talent Development
|E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate||Upon request||$1,480, duration upon request|
|American Military University
Charles Town, West Virginia
|Instructional Design and Delivery||18||$4,860
|Drexel University Online
|Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design||27||$24,138
|Saint Joseph’s University
Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
|Certification for Instructional Design and Technology Specialists||Upon request||Upon request|
|University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen, Rio Grande City, South Padre Island, Texas
|E-Learning Graduate Certificate||15||$8,841 in total
As you can see, there is no shortage of web-based ID programs, so how can you make the right choice? Here is a piece of advice below.
Make up your mind: Online graduate certificate or a Master’s
Before you actually go for an ID certificate, it makes sense to weigh the pros and cons of this option against the Master’s degree. In most cases, your online program credits can be transferred to the Master’s, so there is no big risk in starting with the more flexible option. Some schools even leverage e-Learning certification programs as a promotional factor with a view of ‘upselling’ the remaining credits. Needless to say, distance learning technology courses are dramatically cheaper and they give you a taste – or even a sufficient abstract – of the complete degree course. If you like how it’s going, feel free to proceed to the Master’s.
Practice reveals that in most cases ID course attendees seek a deeper understanding of the subject and specific guidelines rather than certification as an end in itself. Given the overall positive feedback on the quality of existing web-based ID programs, instructors are happy to rely on another source of knowledge. If this also helps you get a more fulfilling job, so much the better!
Apparently, a Master’s is more of a ‘brand’; it’s something you can throw into a grant application, a brief resume or a proposal degree and expect to reap more benefits. Many experts believe a Master’s degree unlocks superior career opportunities for instructional designers, especially in academia. Somehow, business is deemed to be more pragmatic on the issue, discarding formal paid studies as optional and giving more weight to tangible skills and experience.
Define your goals and inclinations
Online programs are all different – some of them teach you how to deliver courses in secondary education, some target college education, others have a research slant, still others focus on creating nice-looking and logical courses. Alternative parameters may include business/corporate vs academic, process management vs authoring, etc. Figure out your type of instructional design degree and find the right balance between theory and practice. Administrators, e-Learning strategists, subject matter experts, college teachers – all instructors can discover the program of their dreams with a little digging and asking.
Discern what ID methodology the program builds on
A crucial factor in studying instructional design is the theory behind it. Is this a brick-and-mortar content-driven way of building courses, or an e-Learning 4.0 concept that provides valuable insights into the future? Does this particular design methodology factor in performance and personal pattern assessment, and does it keep the student in mind? Go through the list of courses above and try to figure this out for yourself. Sometimes you can read in between the lines, and sometimes it pays off to ask direct questions or review the faculty’s experience and footprint on the web. After all, these guys must’ve made some courses themselves. Be curious, but don’t get carried away with minor details.
Check out their cloud/software infrastructure
A seemingly irrelevant point, the tech organization of the process may turn into a pitfall once you get started. Does your college provide the necessary infrastructure and software (if necessary), how can you share feedback and interact with the instructor, and how can you evaluate your personal progress? Get these issues straight before jumping on board.
Last but not least: consider the bang for the buck
Program cost might not always be a determining factor, but it does influence your decision-making. Is the quote you were provided all-inclusive? Are there any extra fees associated with the program? Software plugins, books, extra materials that you’d need to acquire on your own? Define your budget and sign up for the best value program.
In my opinion, neither employers nor fellow trainers will judge you by your grades or certificates in e-Learning design and development. It’s the experience, attitude and portfolio that matter. Make sure you read prominent alumni reviews, follow their trajectories, and see if they are more or less on the same scale as your personal roadmap. Is the knowledge obtained from your ID program applicable in the real world? That’s the pivotal question, and the answer is up to you.
Update! I’d like to thank Christy Tucker for pointing out an honest mistake I first made in the posting. I had the impression that most schools didn’t actually label the degree in question as ‘Master’s in instructional design’ or the like. As a matter of fact, they do. You can often come across ‘Master of Science in Instructional Technology’ or ‘Master of Education in Instructional Design’.
Many thanks! Stay tuned for more e-Learning content!