Monday, August 30, 2010

What’s Your Experience? ID Degree or Certificate Program

A lot of people write to me asking for advice on how to break into the ID field or where to go get themselves a fancy graduate ID degree.

As a non-formally schooled ID, I can’t really help with this last question other than some vague direction.  (For part one of the question – well…I’ll come back to that another day).

So – to those of you who do have a degree or a certificate would you be willing to tell us your story? 

What school?  Was it online?  Why did you choose it?  What did you learn?  Did it help you get a job?  How much did it cost?  Was it worth it?  Would you do it again?

Share your thoughts in the comments – or write your own blog post and share the link in the comments.  Feel free to post anonymously if you’d rather.  Professor input on your own programs welcome. 

I just ask for honest input – no commercials or evil program bashing!

The community thanks you in advance…

Who has an ID degree?

If you’re curious, be sure to check out the results of the informal, non-scientific survey I’ve been running on this blog for the last couple of years:  Instructional Designers:  Do You Have a Degree in ID? 

The current stats (with 435 responses) show that 37% of practicing instructional designers have an advanced degree in the field.  You can view the latest results here (I think that link works – but it’s possible you need to be me to log in) or take the survey if you haven’t already.

More Resources

Christy Tucker has a great series on her blog:  Instructional Design Careers


Karl Kapp said...


Let me gently suggest a degree program. Bloomsburg University's Instructional Technology program! It Rocks.

Here's a link explaining why it rocks. Bloomsburg's ID Program Rocks

Available online and in person.

Mike DePalma said...

Hi Cammy, I chose Bloomsburg University's Instruction Technology program ( based on the recommendation of a colleague. A portion of my coursework was online at the time I completed the program, and I believe that you can now complete the entire Corporate track virtually.

The IIT program came highly recommended from my undergrad uni - in fact, my alma mater ran an instructional design Master's program but referred me to Bloomsburg's instead because it was so much better.

What I enjoyed most about the program is the emphasis on the real-world application of learning design. While the theory was certainly a part of the program, it wasn't the major emphasis. The IIT program teaches you how to go out and actually build things. With that said, I did feel that the theory focused strictly on ID canon - ADDIE, Kirkpatrick's 4 Levels, etc. Tell me how ADDIE is supposed to help me develop an ARG or game?

The IIT program is certainly worth it if you are looking for a well-rounded program that teaches you how to execute on learning experience design. As a jumping off point to a PhD? Not as much as a more theoretical program. I would get my IT degree again, and I would also select Bloomsburg and their fantastic faculty. My only regret is not doing an assistantship - would have loved the cost offset instead of more student loans!

Joseph Rene Corbeil said...

I too would like to gently recommend a program, the 100% online M.Ed. in Educational Technology from The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Here are 10 reasons why this degree is worth pursuing:

Learn more at


Unknown said...

I went through Full Sail University's online Master's Degree program Education Media Design and Technology. Totally a sweet program, and several of those who graduated with me found jobs right away, or, like myself, have been able to do consulting.

kcwood said...

I earned my MEd in Instructional Technology (now Instructional Design & Development) at the University of Georgia, At that time there were two tracks, one for business & industry (which was my focus) and the other K-12. I studied under Professor Tom Reeves one of the smartest individuals I have ever met in the area of instructional design.

I was fortunate to be exposed to real world ID with a semester of working with Delta Airlines on a team project. The Studio Experience (16 credits) consists of four courses where online projects are designed and developed using the latest in design and development tools. Some projects were individual efforts and there was a larger group development project. The program has produced many outstanding IDs who work in the corporate world or teach at institutions of higher learning.

The program has changed somewhat since I graduated in 2002, and is an even stronger program according to people who I have kept in touch with. When I graduated I suggested that Project Management be an elective especially for those going into business or government ID environments.

I worked full-time and commuted to Athens, GA from Atlanta for late afternoon and evening courses. It was 2.5 years that were some of the best years of my life. I would do it all over again.

Linda said...

I graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Development in May. It was the smartest thing I did for my career.

I did not have any formal training when I first went into ID and always felt like I was missing something at work.

The program is done half online, half face to face. The first year focuses on theory and the second on designing learning solutions for case studies or a real client.

My favorite part of the program was that it focused on developing online learning environments and using Web 2.0 tools to supplement learning. I found this very helpful as I work in a corporate environment where some of these tools are already available. My final project was designing a mobile learning environment for high school Spanish students.

I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Paulo S. said...


I am currently on the final stages to receive my PhD degree in educational psychology at the University of Arizona. Although this program is not geared toward ID, I took courses and worked on projects that covered the fundamentals of ID. In addition, I do have experience with instruction, media and technology, and a bachelor degree in computer science. My goal is to venture into an ID career; however, even having a very good training, I still have the impression that eventually I will need to invest in a certificate program (at least) just because of the growing demand from employers for a training in ID specifically (that is, the need for the paper). I would like to take advantage of this discussion to ask: am I completely off the mark or will I have a chance without the formal paper in ID? Thanks!

Nicholle Stone said...

I have a MA in Communication, Training, and Technology from the University of Northern Iowa. But I learned most of my ID skills while working with ID professionals at Arthur Andersen. I have now been in the field of web-based instruction and education for over 13 years. As a manager, I have been frustrated at times when trying to find instructional designers with the specific skills that I am looking for: solid instructional design theory and ability to apply learning theories, a portfolio of ID work, knowledge of a variety of instructional strategies and the ability to select an appropriate strategy for the objective(s), assessment skills, project management skills, and enough technical ability to do basic CBT and be able to communicate with multimedia developers effectively. This specific combination of skills is fairly difficult to find.

I was fortunate enough to be asked by the University of Wisconsin-Stout to design and develop an Instructional Design Certificate program ( It is a four course, graduate credit program to prepare graduates to enter the ID field. The 12 credits also can be used toward the MS in Education program. Both the certificate and the MS are completely online and, of course, accredited. As you might guess, the certificate program specifically addresses the aforementioned competencies as well as others.

As someone else noted, I also feel there is a difference between an instructional designer and an instructional technologist. Many programs are ed tech or instructional technology focused and include very little instructional design curriculum. The work teams that I set up ideally have an instructional designer, an instructional technologist or multimedia developer, and a SME. The ID also acts as the project manager and keeps the team on track, within budget, etc.

I hope this is helpful.

Bruce said...

I am working on my final two classes for an eLearning Design Certificate through Rio Salado Community College ( They also offer an Associates Degree in eLearning Design. It's a new offering for the college and is available online.

After these two classes are completed, I still need to perform 240 hours of internship to earn the certificate. As I am still in school and not employed in this field, I can't honestly comment on how well prepared for employment I will be with this certificate. However, it seems like an effective course of instruction, and not ridiculously expensive since it is through a community college. Should be a good compliment to my computer tech degree!

Paul said...

Hi Cammy, just wanted to say that your background image rocks :-)

Lisse said...

I have an M.Ed. in Instructional Design from UMASS Boston. It was entirely a classroom program when I went through, but it is available entirely online nowadays.

They also have an Educational Technology certificate which I went through as well. It think that has morphed into becoming more teacher-focused.

Unknown said...

Hi Cammy,

I am an instructional design student currently enrolled (halfway done) in Walden University's Master's program in IDT. I think it's a great program so far; I learned so much I can't believe it.

My problem is that almost all the job postings require experience (most of them require at least 3 years exp) in ID. Obviously, I don't have that kind of experience. What would you suggest? I have tons of experience in the business world, including program and project managment.

Tony said...

My situation and experience is a lot like Lisa's above: I have a master's in IDT from Ashford University that I completed in 2009, and about a decade of corporate training experience. My goal is work as an ID in a college or university setting.

So it's a semi-transition from the training to ID in an academic setting. Still, I'm keeping my eyes open for ID in the corporate world too, as a stepping stone. Either way, it's tough finding true "entry level" IDT jobs, like Lisa expressed. Most want 3+ years of experience and often also a long list of technical experience. Add in the tough job market in general... and it's brutal out there.

That said, I loved my master's degree experience in IDT at Ashford University; I took a fully online program, and it was a fantastic fit for me. Aced it too - it GAVE me energy, didn't take anyway! I'm very proud of my 4.0 GPA.

Now I just need to figure out exactly which jobs are great entry level ones for an ID - it's been more difficult to decipher than I anticipated.

Tony Medeiros

Cammy Bean said...

Wow -- thanks for all of the input so far on this. Especially enjoying hearing the practical details of your programs.

Paul -- glad you like the background -- it's just a blogger template -- I can't really take any credit for it :)

Karl Kapp said...


Just wanted to add one more thing. Since Mike graduated, we've added an instructional game track that has several classes focused on creating instructional games using techniques that are not related to ADDIE, as the field has changed, so does our program.

Unknown said...

I have an M.Ed. already, but not in ID. I'd like to find a certificate program where I can just focus on adult learning theory and ISD (I can self-teach the computer software like Flash, etc.). Any suggestions?

amature said...

I have an MEd ICT in Education from the University of Manchester, UK. The course was quit good however, it didn’t highlight the career prospect of studying such a course.
I ended up in a secondary classroom. Now, I am looking to change my career to ISD.
I looked at the ISD program offered by UMBC, Maryland (and others) . It had all I wanted. However, the fees, was enough for a mortgage.
I finally found one at the University of Ulster, at North Ireland, ( It is MEd E- learning interactive teaching technology, it is online. I have done my scrutiny on the course and read reviews on the course, it is brilliant, and it does not cost an arm and a leg like the ones in the US. I am looking forward to actually studying the course.

Could someone throw more light on how to show 3years of experience in the field. I am thinking of volunteering during school vacation just to build up a portfolio of work experience in the field added to my experience as a teacher.

Cammy Bean said...

For those of you now facing the dilemma of a degree with no experience, I'd suggest creating an online portfolio of work samples. It could be curriculum maps, scripts, actual courses -- whatever it is that you're looking to do.

Create a few small courses about something that interests you -- download a free trial of Articulate and Captivate and put some samples together.

Find a non-profit that needs some help. LINGOS runs a program/competition to get people to help out building courses for non-profits around the world. Maybe you can try your hand on a real project through them.

Employers might be willing to try you out without work experience if you can prove your skills and creative talent through some actual work samples.

Mary said...

Hi Cammy,
I just finished an 8 month Graduate Instructional Design Certification with the University of Wisconsin/Stout. This degree was done entirely online-which worked out great for me.

Reading through these comments, I must admit I researched many of the courses people have mentioned and picked UW/Stout because of the price approx. $5,000.

Having been involved with distance learning for 16 years now I was impressed with the level of rigor with this Certification and how engaged all my classmates were. The projects were real-life, extremely useful and applicable. Instructors used all types of media [video, audio, Second Life, webinars, phone conferences, blogs & email communications] to work with us….just as we as instructional designers should be doing with our own projects.

I came from academia, did a spin in the corporate world and have been fortunate to find my way back into academia including working on instructional design projects during and since graduating.

I recommend UW/Stout and suggest others have a peek. They also have an eLearning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate Program as well.


Cammy Bean said...

Connie Malamed (elearning coach) is keeping a list of formal instructional design programs:

soantanara said...

I graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Development in May. It was the smartest thing I did for my career.

I did not have any formal training when I first went into ID and always felt like I was missing something at work.

The program is done half online, half face to face. The first year focuses on theory and the second on designing learning solutions for case studies or a real client.

Roxy said...

Hi -Thanks so much for your input, all you ID folks. I am contemplating training in ID, having taught online at the university level since 2003. I just recently worked with a course designer to convert our classes for a new format, and I loved it. My question is- which is preferred- a certificate or a degree? I am leaning towards the certificate since I already have an MFA and a Bachelor's in unrelated fields and need to take all courses online.