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Online PhD in Instructional Design For Learning
A PhD in Instructional Design for Learning provides students with a solid foundation in instructional design, cognitive theory, and research to meet the challenges of secondary education. A wide variety of course offerings is designed to give the graduate a strong background in both the theory and practice of the field of instructional design. Online doctoral programs in instructional design for learning focus on the theory and leadership of instructional design, including creating and applying instructional design models, leading the implementation of instructional solutions, leading strategic instructional design initiatives, and conducting and applying instructional design research.

Online PhD in Instructional Design for Learning Requirements

Students pursuing a PhD in instruction design for learning from a top online college should have a passion for meeting the needs of various types of learners through interactive and challenging curriculum design. Strong research, writing, and critical thinking skills are vital to success in doctoral programs for instructional design for learning.

Doctoral students in an online program for instructional design for learning have often earned a master’s degree in a related field prior to application. Some master’s degrees held by instructional design PhD students from the best online colleges include:

  • Master of Arts, Instructional Design
  • Master of Arts, Education
  • Master of Arts, Special Education
  • Master of Arts, Education Leadership

In addition, most instructional design for learning doctoral students from an accredited online institution hold jobs during their studies. Careers that relate to the degree help students attain real-life skills and application of theory learned in their programs. Some positions held by online PhD instructional design for learning students include teachers, curriculum developers, and special education instructors.


An online PhD in instructional design in learning requires 4 years of dedicated study to complete. The first 2 years are spent learning research methodologies, current curriculum issues, and modeling instructional design theories. The final 2 years are spent researching instructional design methods in a particular specialization, developing a dissertation, and defending a thesis.

Course Information

Required coursework for an online PhD degree program in instruction design for learning are derived from the departments of research, education and technology. While students develop an area of particular interest during their dissertation studies, all students must complete required courses to ensure appropriate skills are built on. Required courses can include:

  • Theories of Learning and Instruction: This course focuses on the theoretical models that underlie teaching and learning. Effective teaching strategies that promote student learning will be examined.
  • Advanced Instructional Design: This course provides students with an overview of current and emerging theoretical perspectives as evidenced by instructional design literature and applications.
  • Evaluation and Assessment in Instructional Design: This course focuses on the understanding of the development of formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the pupil during the instructional design process.
  • Leadership for Instructional Design: An advanced course in instructional design leadership designed for optimizing a company or school district’s ability to further the objectives of the institution by creating partnerships with all stakeholders.
  • Ethics and Social Responsibility in Instructional Design: This course focuses on an examination of the ethical considerations of educational practice in contemporary society and in the learning environment.
  • Research Design: This course covers a variety of techniques for gathering data including survey research, field and observational methods, and intensive interviewing. Additional topics will include focus groups, ethnography, and evaluation research.

Specializations and Concentrations

After required courses are completed, students may narrow the focus of their research into a specialization or concentration. This specialization provides the basis for their research and dissertation. Some common specializations for online PhD students in instructional design for learning include:

  • Information Technology in Instructional Design
  • Instructional Design for the Online Institution
  • Instructional Design for the Special Learner
  • Instructional Design for English Language Learners
  • Media Use in Instructional Design
  • Research and Practice in Instructional Design
  • Ethics and Social Responsibility in Instructional Design


Graduates of an online instructional design for learning doctoral program have a wide variety of career opportunities presented to them. The field of instructional design extends far beyond the traditional classroom, and those holding a doctorate in the field are in high demand.

Some career opportunities for online PhD graduates in instructional design include:

  • Instructional Designer, Classroom Curriculum: An instructional designer for the classroom curriculum researches, develops, and evaluates current needs for general education classroom curriculum. Instructional designers earn an average of $83,440 per year. Job growth is expected at an average rate.
  • Instructional Designer, Online Curriculum: Instructional designers for an online curriculum develop and assess courses for online programs. Instructional designers earn an average of $83,440 per year. This position is in high demand, as online education is rapidly expanding.
  • Policy Analyst, Instructional Design Ethics: A policy analyst for ethical instructional design assess and evaluates the social responsibility levels of current and new instruction for all levels of education. Policy analysts earn an average of $92,000 per year. Job growth is expected at an average rate.
  • Professor of Instructional Design: Instructional design professors teach at the secondary and post-secondary levels and teach all areas of instructional design. Professors earn an average of $68,500 per year. Job growth is expected at a higher than average rate, especially for professors with online instructional design experience.
  • Researcher, Instructional Design: Researchers in instructional design work with professors and policy analysts to investigate the effectiveness of current methodologies and strategies. Researchers earn between $55,000 and $65,000 per year. Job growth is expected at a faster than average rage, especially for researchers with online instructional design research background.

A PhD in instructional design for learning from top schools online is in particular demand as the field of education grows and expands. Graduates can pursue a variety of interesting and exciting career opportunities outside or inside of the traditional classroom.