Degrees in Training and Performance Improvement: Program Overviews

Oct 13, 2019

Degree programs in training and performance improvement teach students ways to review school or business training needs, research alternate methodologies and implement new programs. Most programs are found at the master's and doctoral levels.

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Essential Information

Students in a graduate degree program for training and performance improvement learn the skills and techniques necessary to effectively present educational material in a variety of settings and industries. Master's degree programs in training and performance improvement can include a Master of Science in Applied Technology and a Master of Educational Technology. Doctoral programs can be found in the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) format.

Programs typically include research and applied/practical applications. Independent research, residency and internships are commonly required at the doctoral level. These programs are available online, on-campus or as a hybrid.

Prerequisites for the 2-year master's programs include having a bachelor's degree and possible prerequisite coursework. Doctoral programs typically take two to four years of study, with additional time for the dissertation. Programs may require a master's in a related field as well as certified transcripts, GRE scores, formal letters of application, letters of intent, essays and references. Documented experience and samples of professional or scholarly writing may also be required prior to admission.

Master's Degrees in Training and Performance Improvement

Available master's degree programs in training and performance improvement in science-related disciplines include the Master of Science in Applied Technology and Performance and Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology. The Master of Science in Administration in Human Performance Technology is also available. Education-related master's degrees in this field include the Master of Educational Technology and Master of Education in Educational Leadership in Education and Training Management. Required courses in training and performance improvement cover research, practical application and results reporting. Elective courses allow students to concentrate in specific areas such as business, technology or education. The following courses are usually available:

  • Educational pedagogy for adults
  • Assessing performance and modeling training needs
  • Instructional technology for distance delivery
  • Strategic use of multimedia in education
  • Learning technologies in corporate environments
  • Contemporary leadership challenges

Doctoral Degrees in Training and Performance Improvement

After obtaining a master's degree, students may choose to get either a Ph.D. or Ed.D in training and performance improvement. Although the degree programs are similar, there are notable differences between the focus of the programs. Ph.D. programs concentrate on developing students' research abilities and theoretical knowledge. Ed.D. programs develop graduates' practical knowledge for teaching.

Available doctoral degree programs in training and performance improvement include a Ph.D. in Applied Technology and Performance, a Ph.D. in Performance Technology and a Ph.D. in Education with Instruction Technology Specialization. Students who are interested in getting an education doctorate in this field may want to explore an Ed.D. in Applied Technology and Performance, an Ed.D. in Performance Technology or an Ed.D. in Education with Instruction Technology Specialization. Ph.D. and Ed.D programs have many classes in common. However, classes in research methods and statistics are more specific to the Ph.D. program, while Ed.D. classes apply practical education techniques. Classes may include:

  • History of educational pedagogy
  • Assessing performance and training needs
  • Designing effective educational solutions
  • Advanced principles of educational design
  • Techniques for effective cross-cultural education
  • Research seminar

Popular Careers

Possible career options for Ph.D. and Ed.D. graduates include:

  • Continuing education specialists
  • College and university professors
  • Program designers
  • Business training analysts and strategists
  • Educational consultants

If graduates decide to work professionally instead of pursuing a doctoral degree, they usually work as:

  • Instructors and trainers
  • Performance consultants
  • Instructional designers
  • Human resource specialists
  • Operational and project managers

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment and salary data for the related careers of training and development manager, instructional coordinator and human resources specialist ( During the 2018-2028 decade, employment growth is expected to be 8% for training and development managers, 6% for instructional coordinators and 5% for human resources specialists. The median annual wage in May 2018 was $111,340 for training and development managers, $64,450 for instructional coordinators and $60,870 for training and development specialists (a type of human resources specialist), according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

After completing their master's program students may pursue a doctoral degree. Graduate certificates in training and development, human performance improvement, workplace technology and human performance technology also exist.

Ph.D. and Ed.D. graduates also have the option to obtain graduate-level certificates to keep their skills current. These certificates are usually similar to those for students with master's degrees, but may specify a master's degree and additional professional experience as prerequisites. The certificate in performance improvement management is an example.

Individuals who are interested in training and performance improvement programs may enroll in a variety of degree programs including a Master of Science in Applied Technology and a Master of Educational Technology.

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