If you want to really nail down the best credentials to launch or enhance your career as an eLearning professional, you’ll want to get either a graduate certificate or master’s degree in instructional design and technology. Not all of the programs out there with those words in their titles have as much of a focus on eLearning as you want, and there are some other things to keep in mind when choosing a program. The focus in this article will specifically be on certificate programs.

eLearning Career Guide #5: Graduate Certificates

Because there are many more options when it comes to graduate programs for instructional design certificates, you should be choosy and have lots of criteria to evaluate any potential programs. Look for a good match along these criteria:

  1. The topics covered. Examine the curriculum carefully and make sure the topics you’re most interested in are covered.
  2. Delivery method. How do you want this learning to occur? Classroom? Online? Blended? Look at all the different tools and resources that will be at your disposal.
  3. The ultimate goal. If you have a specific career goal in mind, whether that be eLearning design, development, teaching, corporate training development or whatever, make sure the programs matches what you’re looking for.
  4. The school of thought. At this juncture of your education, you may have a particular learning theory that resonates with you, such as the behaviorist approach or the cognitive approach among others. Make sure the program matches your preferred theoretical approach.
  5. Real-world projects. You want to come out of any program with a solid portfolio of eLearning materials, so make sure the program offers plenty of opportunities for hands-on project development.

With those criteria in mind, here are few programs to consider, and I’m only listing a sampling here that specifically have eLearning in their titles:

Boise State University Graduate Certificate in Workplace E-Learning and Performance Support. “WELPS is designed for individuals who wish to develop skills in developing and managing e-learning and performance support in the workplace. This program emphasizes the competencies required to design, develop, and manage workplace e-learning and performance support systems.” It is a 16-credit program.

Drexel University Online Graduate Certificate in E-Learning Leadership. “Building on Drexel University’s success in developing large-scale, high quality e-learning programs and the research of Drexel’s School of Education, Drexel offers the Graduate Certificate in E-Learning Leadership, which is designed to meet the needs of today’s working professionals across many fields.” The program consists of six 3-credit courses that can be completed in 12 months.

George Mason University E-Learning Graduate Certificate. “The e-Learning Graduate Certificate Program (15 credits) provides specialized knowledge in instructional design and e-Learning practices that utilize current and emerging technologies to meet education and training goals in schools, communities, government agencies, and corporate settings. Individuals seeking to enhance their e-Learning skill set grounded in instructional design best practices are encouraged to apply.” This is a totally online program.

George Washington University E-Learning Graduate Certificate. “This Certificate prepares students to apply the theories, principles, models, tools, and techniques associated with E-Learning while integrating professional experiences and applying course assignments to current professional activities. Graduates will be prepared to design effective instruction for a distance learning environments, evaluate critical issues in distance education, and develop multimedia distance education materials.” This is also an online program, requiring a minimum of six courses.

Jones International University Certificate in e-Learning Technology and Design: Instructional Design ibstpi® “Prepares you to improve your instructional design practice by learning about the International Board Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi®) for instructional design standards and by applying these standards to your practice within learning communities.”

University of California Irvine E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program. “This program includes topics on the methodology, skills, and techniques necessary for aligning e-learning strategies with business strategies.” If you’ve read many of my previous articles on this website, then you already know how I’ve highlighted the importance of linking eLearning to business goals, so it sounds like this program is very good for that.

There are many more programs out there than the six I’ve listed here, so be sure to do your own homework to research all the options before making this important decision to give your eLearning career the boost you’re looking for. The next article in this series is eLearning Career Guide #6: Graduate Degrees.

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