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Instructional Media Design Degree and Training Program Overviews

Students interested in becoming instructional media designers can earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree as well as a graduate certificate. Programs typically focus on online and multimedia technologies used to develop learning programs.

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Essential Information

Instructional media design, also called instructional design and technology, involves the development and implementation of content to fulfill educational needs. Content can include training manuals, books, databases, and multimedia guides. Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in instructional design and technology develop students' research, technical, analysis and implementation skills. Graduate certificate programs are designed to supplement existing skills and knowledge. Programs can sometimes be found online.

Each of these programs might focus on instructional design processes and multimedia development as well as the theories of Internet-based teaching. Master programs require a bachelor's degree and often seek students with experience in developing educational programs. Applicants to doctoral programs must have a master's degree and are expected to have already completed basic coursework in statistics, qualitative research, organizational psychology and technology. Students will need to complete a thesis or dissertation, respectively, to graduate. Graduates of these programs may work in a variety of fields, including academic programming, corporate training, and military administration.


Bachelor's Degree in Instructional Design and Technology

A Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program often combines technical training with courses in instruction and management. Some programs offer a minor in a related field, such as multimedia design or photography. Programs typically require incoming students to have some basic computer knowledge. Those who major in instructional media design or related programs study organizational psychology and hone their technological skills. Students may take the following types of courses:

  • Internet publishing and design
  • Video production
  • Web-based instruction
  • Instructional program evaluation
  • Writing for online media
  • Multimedia development and design

Graduate Certificate Program in Instructional Media Design

Many universities offer graduate certificate and training programs in instructional media design and related fields. These programs enable instructional design professionals to advance careers in education, government, healthcare, or other settings involving instructional design. Some programs are geared specifically toward credentialed teachers, and are offered as substitutes for a graduate degree, allowing a student to obtain training with fewer credit hours and no major research project. These programs may offer instruction in:

  • Website development
  • Creation of teaching tools
  • Learning technologies
  • Online instruction and learning
  • Multimedia production
  • Web program management

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  • General Instructional Media Design

Master's Degree in Instructional Design and Technology

Instructional Design and Technology majors can earn a Master of Science or a Master of Education. Besides having a bachelor's degree, some programs require students to have acceptable GRE scores. Schools may offer curriculum to prepare graduates for careers in fields, such as higher education, military, and corporate. Classes in a graduate degree program emphasize a combination of technological design and learning trends, research and innovation, and educational techniques. Programs often require students to prepare for oral exams. Topics may include:

  • Interactive video
  • Product assessment
  • Instructional system design
  • Instructional design theory
  • Human Performance Technology
  • Internet-based teaching and learning

Ph.D. in Instructional Design

A doctoral program in education with an emphasis in instructional design allows a student to become an expert in fields, such as education administration, performance improvement, or online learning. Doctoral programs emphasize both research and execution of training methods. Some programs are available online but may require periodic residency sessions for personalized instruction and hands-on training. Coursework can include:

  • Educational research methods
  • Qualitative research and statistics
  • Design practicum
  • Instructional media design leadership
  • Project management
  • Corporate training and performance systems

Popular Careers

A master's program in instructional design may offer distinct tracks that depend on students' career goals. Developing curricula for K-12 schools or universities is one professional option; another involves creating training materials for corporate use. A Ph.D. program can lead to research and development positions with corporations and universities. Some examples of job titles include:

  • Multimedia or simulator programmer
  • Military personnel trainer
  • University professor
  • Educational technologist for higher education
  • Director of corporate training
  • Program developer (for educational publishers)

Employment Outlook

Multimedia instructional designers earned a median salary of $55,735 as of January 2016, according to Payscale.com. Salaries vary depending on the level of education obtained, experience, location, and the specific field and position. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) asserts that the related field of instructional coordinators may see 7% growth from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as the national average for all other occupations. During this time, the BLS predicted a 13% increase in job opportunities for college and university professors overall. Postsecondary teachers who specialize in educational topics earned an average of $68,200 per year as of 2015, according to the BLS.

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate, and graduate certificate programs are all available to teach students about the aspects of instructional media design. Each level of education focuses on specific topics preparing graduates for numerous careers.

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