What is a Master's in Instructional Technology Degree?
Master's degrees in instructional technology are designed to prepare students to enter into careers in K-12 public and private school education or corporate training and development. Instructional technology graduates learn the skills to integrate various types of web and multimedia platforms into the learning environment. Professionals in this field work to improve student learning and engagement through the use of digital tools. Graduate degrees in instructional technology are commonly awarded as a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Education (MEd).
Common Undergraduate Degrees for Instructional Technology
Instructional technology master's degree programs generally welcome undergraduate students from all educational backgrounds. Common bachelor's degrees for this field include education, computer science, or human resources. However, students with degrees in the social and physical sciences, math, and the arts will find they have expertise to apply to their studies. In fact, students with an unrelated bachelor's degree may find they can more easily specialize in an area of instructional technology. For example, math majors who integrate digital game-based learning into the mathematics classroom.
Admissions Requirements for Instructional Technology Master's Programs
All students hoping to apply to master's degree programs in instructional technology will generally need to submit an official transcripts proving the student has a bachelor's degree, as well as a completed online application. These additional steps may be required depending on the university:
- Copy of teaching license (only required for licensure programs)
- Curriculum vitae (CV) or resume detailing education and work experience
- 1-3 letters of recommendation from professors or work supervisors
- Personal statement or statement of purpose detailing reasons for pursuing a degree in instructional design and future career plans
International students or those who do not speak English as their first language may also need to provide proof of English proficiency.
Why Should I Get an Instructional Technology Master's Degree?
Individuals interested in the intersection between technology and education might be a good fit for a master's degree in instructional technology. Students hoping to pursue a career in education or training and development with a focus on instructional technology should be technologically savvy and well-versed in basic web applications. They should have an interest in integrating digital tools into the classroom, both through traditional in-person formats and distance learning. Instructional technology professionals are needed throughout K-12 settings as well as in corporate environments making it a flexible option for those looking to work in a variety of workplaces.
How to Choose a Master's in Instructional Technology Program
Students planning to study a master's degree in instructional technology will have a range of options for universities to attend. Narrowing down the list of universities can be daunting but the following considerations may be helpful:
- Accreditation: this formal review process ensures a rigorous standard of academics.
- Program delivery: students may have the option to choose from online, on-campus, or blended learning formats.
- Location: in-state tuition is generally cheaper than attending a university out-of-state.
- Electives: programs may bend toward instructional technology in the K-12 classroom, in a business setting, or combine elements from both.
Master's in Instructional Technology Program Accreditation
There is not typically special programmatic accreditation for instructional technology programs. However, universities offering these programs will be part of an accredited system. For students hoping to pursue a master's in instructional technology, attending an accredited university is important for several reasons.
Accreditation ensures that the university and/or its individual programs have met high academic standards. Universities must undergo a review process in order to be accredited. The quality of faculty teaching, course materials, and resources available to students are all reviewed. Students who attend accredited universities can be sure they enjoy the following benefits:
- Eligibility for federal financial aid (student loans)
- Eligibility for grants and scholarships
- Ability to transfer earned credits to other accredited universities
Universities may be regionally or nationally accredited while programs of study are accredited by specific accrediting bodies within that field.
Instructional Technology Master's Degree Courses
Instructional technology master's degree programs can have classes that lean more toward K-12 education, corporate education and training, or both. The classes aim to teach foundational knowledge in the basics of multimedia learning, theories behind technology and education, and curriculum design. Electives offer students the chance to pursue individual interests. Electives vary by university and can help guide a student's choice of program based on offerings that appeal to them. Some programs may include optional or mandatory internship/field experience opportunities.
Instructional Technology Foundational Courses
Foundational courses in instructional technology cover the introductory topics needed to progress in the field. Students will study the theoretical frameworks that support the use of technology in education and how to apply them to modern classrooms. Learners will also be introduced to the principles of curriculum design and multimedia applications. Some of the courses students may take as a part of a master's in instructional technology include:
- Instructional technology theory
- School law
- Multimedia learning
- Instructional design
Depending on the university, students may have the option to undertake a practicum or internship to gain practical experience in the field. This could be in a school setting, library, or business environment depending on the lean of the program. For some master's degrees, this experiential learning may be required.
Instructional Technology Specialist & Elective Courses
After completing core foundational requirements, students may have the freedom to choose from a selection of elective classes to complete their degree. Elective courses vary widely by university and may even change in a single program based on interest and availability. Some topics students may encounter as elective choices in master's in instructional technology programs include:
- Google and other web applications in the classroom
- Literacy and technology
- Using the internet as a tool
Students may wish to select a few different topics or study classes centering around a common theme to create a specialization.
Licensure & Certification in Instructional Technology
While professionals working in instructional technology in the corporate environment do not generally need to be licensed or certified, some school systems may require licensure. For those working as licensed teachers, the instructional technology master's degree may allow them to add an endorsement to their current license. Students who do not have a bachelor's in education or teaching license, some master's degrees in instructional technology offer an initial licensure option for those needing to be licensed as educators in their state. Licensure requirements vary from state to state so students are encouraged to check with the board of education in the state where they hope to work.
Post-Graduate Options After Master's in Instructional Technology
Students wishing to enter the fields of postsecondary teaching or research within instructional technology will need to first earn a doctoral degree. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Instructional Technology will equip students with the skills they need to be college or university teachers or researchers. PhD programs can typically be completed in 4-6 years. They include classroom theory courses followed by the completion of a dissertation. Dissertations are in-depth, original pieces of research undertaken by students that culminate in a written paper.
What Can I Do with an Instructional Technology Master's Degree?
Instructional technology graduates are well-prepared to enter a variety of fields. Although most people think of the education system as the main source of employment, other industries need individuals with skills in instructional technology. Government entities as well as businesses in a diverse range of sectors need professionals to develop and execute staff training.
Within the education system, there are specializations within instructional design, such as instructional design for e-learning programs. These professionals are needed in K-12 as well as postsecondary education as more colleges and universities offer classes or entire degree programs online. Instructional technology professionals can work in both public or private school settings as well as for educational companies.
Some titles held by graduates of master's in instructional technology programs include:
- Instructional coordinator
- Chief learning officer
- Instructional designer
- Multimedia specialist
- Technology mentor or coach
Job Outlook for a Master's in Instructional Technology
The job outlook for those with a master's in instructional technology is positive due to projected career growth and need for professionals across several fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 6% career growth for instructional designers between 2019-2029. In 2019, the BLS identified 192,900 individuals working as instructional designers in the U.S. By 2029, this number is projected to rise to 204,300 as 11,400 jobs are added to the job market.
Instructional technology graduates working as training and development specialists will see growth within their field of 9% which will add an estimated 28,200 new jobs.
How to Become an Instructional Designer
Instructional designers are in charge of maintaining school curriculum. They assess current curriculum for effectiveness and update out-of-date or ineffective materials and plans. Instructional designers train teachers on how to use new technology in the classroom to improve student engagement. They may mentor teachers and staff as they begin to implement curriculum and technology changes.
Students who would like to become an instructional designer, should have at least a master's degree in education, curriculum and instruction, or instructional technology. Master's degrees in instructional technology are especially useful as more classrooms go digital and incorporate the use of apps and e-learning. Some schools may prefer hiring candidates with teaching experience or training in a specific field such as math or science.
According to May 2020 data provided by the BLS, instructional designers make an annual median salary of $66,970. The highest earners in this field work in government and make $76,780 a year. Teachers in K-12 education earn around $70,270.
How to Become a Training and Development Specialist
Training and development specialists are responsible for creating training materials and resources for the workplace. They identify knowledge gaps by speaking with employees and supervisors in order to tailor training to fit personnel needs. Training and development specialists may also deliver group training programs or work with individual employees. They generally utilize technology to enhance employee education.
Training and development specialists need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Common fields of study include human resources, organizational psychology, instructional design, or instructional technology. A master's degree in instructional technology can teach prospective training and development professionals how to best use technology in their programs.
The BLS estimates that as of May 2020, the annual median salary for training and development specialists was $62,700. The industries with a yearly wage of around $73,690 are the technical services, professional, and scientific sectors. In this field, the earners in the top 10% made more than $107,060 a year.
Master's in Instructional Technology Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources
Funding a graduate education can be challenging but students have options available to them if they cannot pay out-of-pocket. Federal financial aid, grants, and scholarships are three ways students can pay for their tuition. The most popular of these, U.S. federal financial aid, is available to both undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an accredited, degree-granting program in the U.S. and overseas. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for student loans. It can be completed online and involves disclosing financial and personal information.
Grants can come from public or private sources and aim to assist low-income students who have significant financial need. This type of aid does not neet to be repaid at any time.
Similarly, scholarships are also "no strings attached" but are open to all students, regardless of their circumstances. The Robert E. Knight Professional Scholarship awards one $1000 scholarship annually to a graduate student pursuing a degree in instructional technology. Applicants must be a member of Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) or pay membership dues at the time of application and be a full-time educator. Interested students can complete and submit an application online.