How To Choose The Right Instructional Design PhD Program

How to Choose the Right Instructional Design PhD Program
Summary: If you're interested in Instructional Design at the University level, or if you want to expand your instructional design knowledge base even further, then you may want to consider an instructional design PhD program. These programs are ideally suited for those who have prior experience in the educational sector and want to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Instructional Design technologies, theories, and models. In this guide I'll highlight some Universities that you may want to consider, but first I'll share some tips that will help you choose the right instructional design PhD program for you.

Which Instructional Design PhD Program Is Right For You?

You’ve spent years earning your Instructional Design degrees and now it’s time to search for the PhD program that will offer you the opportunity to pursue a high-level career in the world of online education. But how do you find the best Instructional Design PhD Degree that offers you the benefits and outcomes you’re looking for? Below you’ll find a variety of tips that can help you choose the ideal for you Instructional Design PhD program.

Crucial Factors To Consider

Here are some key factors that you have to consider in order to find the instructional Design PhD Program that is an ideal fit for you and your educational and professional needs:

  1. Faculty
    Is the staff experienced and knowledgeable about the principles and theories of Instructional Design, particularly as they apply in higher educational or research settings? Do the faculty members have favorable reviews online, or have these been published by reputable sites or papers? Will you be able to communicate directly with the staff?
  2. University Ranking
    Is the University accredited? What are the reviews for the University and its ID program? Do they offer the specialty that you are looking for?
  3. Cost
    What is the cost of the PhD program? Is it worth the investment? Will you have to pay out of pocket for learning materials? What are the financing options offered (i.e scholarships)?
  4. Curriculum
    • What is required in order to gain admittance into the program? How many credit hours must be completed before receiving your doctorate degree? Do they include a dissertation as part of the curriculum? Does the University offer you the chance to transfer your credits to another program?
    • Are there real-life experiences offered, such as internships or group collaboration scenarios? Will the course be offered online, or will there be classes that you will need to attend in person?
    • What are the primary objectives of the program, and what subjects will the courses explore? Which delivery methods are utilized? What ID theories or models are used throughout the course?

Finding The Best Instructional Design PhD Degree: 6 Selection Criteria

These tips can help you to find the best Instructional Design PhD program that broadens your understanding of eLearning methodologies and technologies. Whether you are pursuing a career in Instructional Design research or as a Director of Education at an online university, earning a PhD opens up a wealth of opportunities in the eLearning industry.

Research The Program's Structure

As PhD programs offer a more advanced and in depth education, they often involve a number of different components. Residencies, thesis or dissertations and end-of-term exams are just a few of the most common curriculum elements you should expect. However, every program has different requirements. As such, you should speak with the admissions coordinator to find out about the program’s structure, as well as how the online courses are delivered.  Will you be receiving your instruction primarily through virtual lectures and online videos, or are there a number of live online classes you will be expected to attend? You need to ensure that the structure of the eLearning course is in-line with your preferred learning style, and that it won’t conflict with other commitments of yours. For instance, if you work full-time and have a busy schedule, you may want to opt for an asynchronous eLearning program that requires very little face-to-face instruction or internships.

Inquire About The Residency Requirements

Although Online Instructional Design PhD programs are supposed to be held at a distance, certain online Instructional Design PhD programs may also require that you complete a residency, which involves face-to-face classes that are held periodically. While some may ask you to attend in-person classes once every semester, others can make it mandatory to come in every month. This can be a major consideration when choosing the best online Instructional Design PhD program for you, especially if you don’t live near the university’s physical location. Therefore, you should inquire about the residency requirements, where the events are held, how often, and if there are any alternatives ways to skip them, such as online chats or virtual classroom sessions. In addition to the program’s residency requirements, you may also want to look into their internship opportunities. Verify whether you will get the chance to gain real world experience by interning, how long the internship will be and where it will be held.

Verify Whether There Is A Thesis Component To The Program

Most of the Instructional Design PhD programs have a thesis or dissertation component. If the program you have in mind does require a thesis, find out what exactly it consists of and how it will be reviewed. Given that a thesis or dissertation is often a prerequisite for graduating, you will probably want to ask about the thesis requirements up front so that you can prepare in time.

Look Up Reviews And Online References For Faculty Members

Most candidates who are pursuing their Instructional Design PhD degrees will look up reviews and ratings for the academic institution under consideration, but searching for references about faculty members can offer a great deal of insight into your search. Find out if they have been published in any notable journals or magazines, and whether they have any areas of expertise that may be in-line with your career objectives. See if there are reviews about them left by past program participants in order to determine if they can offer you the experience and guidance to help you achieve your academic goals.

Seek Out Accredited Schools

When employers are looking at your resume, a PhD earned from an accredited school will typically carry more weight than one that is not. Choosing an accredited school also ensures that you are more likely to get a high quality education that meets all academic standards. There are three different types of accreditation: regional, national and specialized. If you are unsure about whether an academic institution on your list is accredited, ask the admissions coordinator or do some online research to check if the university is listed on any accreditation databases.

Determine Whether The Program Aligns With Your Desired Career Outcomes

The education you will be receiving during the PhD program must have practical, real world application, or else it really doesn’t hold any value. As such, it’s important to find a program that is going to prepare you for your desired career path. Regardless of whether you want eventually become a Dean of distance education at a prestigious university or a VP of eLearning for K-12 programs, the program you choose should provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your goal.

To get the best possible education, ensure that every aspect of the program offers you the experience you need to achieve your career outcome. The faculty members, online curriculum and eLearning course structure are all pivotal to not only receiving your PhD degree, but also landing the job that you’ve always wanted. After all, you’ve worked so hard to take your Instructional Design education to the highest level and enrolling in a program that prepares you for real world challenges and situations, can help to ensure your future success.

12 Instructional Design Doctorate Programs to Consider

There are a variety of Universities that offer Ph.D. programs in the field of Instructional Design. Here are just a few Universities that you may want to take into consideration during your search (listed in alphabetical order):

Capella University – Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning

It equips students with the knowledge and experience to become leaders in the Instructional Design field. Studies involve the creation and implementation of ID models and theories, developing ID initiatives, and conducting ID research and analysis.

Curry School of Education (University of Virginia) – Ph.D. in Education-Instructional Technology

Program focuses on technology leadership in educational settings, ID game development and applications, web convergence, and interactive development. The course requires 76 credit hours, which is spread out over four years of instruction.

Idaho State University – Ph.D. in Instructional Design

This ID Ph.D. Program focuses on instructional design, research, analysis, or ID evaluation. Students are required to complete 12 credits of Core Professional Studies, 30 credits of ID Specialty Studies, 15 credits of research and statistics, and the remaining 10 credits involve the dissertation. The course generally takes 3 years to complete for part-time students and roughly 2 years for full-time students. Note: the start of the next cohort is postponed until summer 2015.

Indiana University Bloomington - Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology

This Ph.D. program consists of 90 credit hours and includes the following required courses: doctoral core (early research experience, doctoral readings, and doctoral seminar), inquiry, educational foundations, electives, and dissertation, just to name a few.

Keiser University - Doctor of Philosophy degree in Instructional Design and Technology

Focuses on the evaluation and application of ID practices and training development, integration of current technologies in educational settings, and exploration of how emerging technologies will benefit the educational sector. Courses include: ID theory, leading technology innovation, curriculum design, current issues in ID technology, and analysis and design of technology.

Old Dominion University - Instructional Design and Technology Ph.D.

It offers students an in depth understanding of cognitive theory, ID principles, and ID research. The program consists of core courses, research-based courses, ID concentration courses, and a dissertation. This program offers a number of specialties, including: Instructional Design, Instructional Message Design, Distance Education, and Human Performance Technology.

Penn State University - Ph.D. in Learning, Design, and Technology

This Instructional Design doctorate prepares students for careers as professors or research specialists. Students learn how to utilize learning processes to develop an effective learning strategy, evaluate learning materials, apply ID skills in a variety of educational settings, and demonstrate leadership and communication skills.

Purdue University - Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology

This program requires 60 credit hours once the master's degree has been completed. Courses include: ID technology and learning design, learning systems design, educational research, and learning theories and Instructional Design.

Syracuse University - Doctorate in Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation

This program offers two areas of emphasis- Academic Research or Professional Studies. Academic Research prepares students for a career in research universities, while the Professional Studies emphasis focuses on leadership skills, applied projects, and methodological ID training.

The University of Southern Mississippi – Ph.D. with a major in Instructional Technology and Design

It focuses on instructional design systems and their applications in theoretical and/or research-based settings. Students will be taught how to evaluate technologies and core content, to ensure that the needs of the learner have been met and that the instructional program is in-line with current objectives. The program entails 60 graduate semester hours and the completion of a doctorate exam.

University of Wyoming – Ph.D in Education (Instructional Technology)

This Ph.D. prepares students for academic research and teaching positions in higher education. Courses include among others: design/development of instructional systems, interactive learning systems, and instructional telecommunications. The courses are offered in a combination of face-to-face and online formats.

Virginia Tech – Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology

This Ph.D. program prepares students for careers in the field of higher education and educational research. Courses include: Instructional Technology, Educational applications of microcomputers, ID principles, Instructional technology policy issues, and Instructional technology tools and methods.

Further Reading: Instructional Design Career Resources

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  • How to Choose the Right Instructional Design PhD Program
    If you're interested in Instructional Design at the University level, or if you want to expand your instructional design knowledge base even further, then you may want to consider an instructional design PhD program. These programs are ideally suited for those who have prior experience in the educational sector and want to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Instructional Design technologies, theories, and models. In this guide I'll highlight some Universities that you may want to consider, but first I'll share some tips that will help you choose the right instructional design PhD program for you.


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