Best Instructional Design courses

What is an instructional design course?

Instructional design is the process of creating learning materials and experiences with the intention that the “learner” will then be able to acquire and apply the knowledge embedded in the said design.

The discipline of instructional design starts from the point where you assess the needs of your target audience, develop the materials, and evaluate the effectiveness of your work.

Instructional design covers the creation of instructional manuals, online courses, video tutorials, simulations, and many more. Instructional designers are then the “architect” of said instructional designs and work with primarily 3 components i.e. tools, people, and organization involved with hopes of creating effective materials.

(A) Free Online Instructional Design Courses

Here we list down some of the best free online instructional design courses you can take advantage of.

01. Introduction to Instructional Systems Design

Course Link: Introduction to instructional systems design’s Introduction to Instructional Systems Design is a free online course that’s meant to teach you all the important aspects of learning objectives and theories that will influence your designing process.

You will first learn about the ADDIE model or Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. You will then study the different ISD models and then Gagne’s Nine Events. This is one great course should you want to learn the fundamentals of how to design and develop instructional materials for different courses. This is a 3 to 4-hour free course.

02. Instructional Design Video Series (YouTube by Ray Pastore PH.D.)

What better way to learn fast and free? YouTube! Ray Pastore has one great set of videos that can teach you the things that you’d need for your journey as an instructional designer.

Ray Pastore is an associate professor from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and this free course includes 32 videos spanning 4.5 hours. And this series involves a wide array of instructional design topics, you’ll learn instructional design analysis and objectives, ADDIE as well as Gange’s 9 events, and all about instructional design certificates and careers (and lots more).

03. Instructional Design Foundations and Applications (University of Illinois)

Course Link:

Want to test the waters before pursuing a career in ID? Then this course is the right one for you. This is a 4-week course that is meant to teach you the major concepts involved in this field.

You will be introduced to the theoretical and conceptual foundations of ID plus the analysis aspect of its systems for you to create innovative solutions to performance problems later on within organizations.

You will also learn about concepts that are covered within the ID MasterTrack certificate. This course will take 13 hours to complete.

04. Become an Instructional Designer (Linkedin Learning)

Course Link:

Well, somewhat free as you will get a chance to learn their course with a one-month free trial but you’ll need to pay $29.99 per month to access it after that.

The material is 11 courses in length and 14 hours in total. Because it is prepared by LinkedIn then you will learn instructional design from the industry’s best. It’s one of the easiest courses to learn on our list and you’ll get a badge of completion after.

The certificate focuses on corporate business settings as well as practical techniques. Some of the things that you’ll learn from this course is the Neuroscience of learning and adult learners, different ID models, analysis/storyboarding, learning objectives, creating video training, working with SMEs or subject matter experts, and measuring the effectiveness of learning.

(B) Paid Online Instructional Design Courses

01. Instructional Design (Udemy)

This is a 3 part instructional design course in Udemy.

At $199 per part (with huge discounts) this lecture runs for 6.5 hours with 28 segments. It’s mentored by Jason Teteak the CEO and founder of “Rule the Room Train the Trainer” and veers away from the standard theories and models learning method but rather focuses on practical and immediately useable techniques in the field of instructional design.

02. Instructional Design and Technology MicroMasters (edX)

Priced at $796 and runs for 32 weeks this is one of the most comprehensive Instructional design courses you can find and avail of. Trust us, it’s one worthy investment.

The program will have four courses including Learning Theory, Instructional Design Models, Digital Media, New Tools & Technology, and lastly, a Course Evaluation & Capstone Project. The courses are taught by top-notch professors in the field from the University of Maryland College.

03. Introduction to Instructional Design (Harvard)

This is a college-level course offered by one of the most prestigious universities in the world will be worth that investment. Spanning 15 weeks at costing $1700 you’ll learn how to be a lifelong learner and how that’s going to be super useful in the field of instructional design.

Related Post: best instructional design books

You’ll learn theories, frameworks, content expertise, project planning, communication, writing, and technology and then applying all of these to your ID projects. In this course, you’ll understand how empathy plays a role in this massive field. This is perfect for those who want to work on academic projects or for those building one solid portfolio.

Others worth mentioning:

·         Instructional Design for ELearning: Designing Successful ELearning Courses by Marina Arshavskiy

·         Introduction to Instructional Design: Online Course Creation: Develop your skills to become an Instructional Designer and create e-learning that engages learners by John Hinchliffe

·         Instructional Design Mastery Series @ Online Learning Consortium

·         Principles of Instructional Design: A Roadmap for Creating Engaging eLearning Content @ CourseArc

·         IDOL Courses Academy’s Instructional Design Program

(C) Instructional Design Bachelor’s Degrees

Here are some of the best Instructional Design Bachelor’s Degree programs that you may consider.

01. Ashford University (Bachelor of Arts in Instructional Design)

This program is geared towards preparing you to make designs for varied learners. You’ll learn eLearning design principles as well as how they can be applied to educational instruction, tool applications, eLearning technologies, and of course, the educational trend with research analysis.


02. California State University Chico (Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology)

The program includes writing for online or electronic media, design/development of instructional programs as well as products, digital imaging & audio media. This also covers video editing or production), eLearning performance analysis, as well as Instructional Technology theory plus practical application.


03. Post University (Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology)

Learners for this course will know how to develop varied training modules as well as eLearning courses. The curriculum includes writing, computing, communications, instructional design, eLearning processes, ethics, instructional delivery methods, computer graphics, application design, and lastly, visual literacy.

04. Texas A&M University Commerce (Bachelor of Science Degree in Instructional Training and Design)

This course is best for instructional content developers, facilitators, and teachers in both the private & corporate sectors. This is a 122-hour semester program and enrollees will learn how to effectively deliver, design, as well as implement courses plus eLearning modules.


Others worth considering:

·         The University of Arizona South (Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Educational Technology)

·         The University of Southern Mississippi (Bachelor of Science in Instructional Technology and Design)

·         Walden University (Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology)

·         Western Illinois University (Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology)

(D) Higher-Education Certificates and MicroMasters

Here are some MicroMasters programs that you can check.

01. MOOCs’ Instructional Design and Technology MicroMasters

One of the best courses to take if you want to inspire and educate learners through the help of technology.


02. University of Illinois’ Instructional Design MasterTrack™ Certificate

Learn how to do an in-depth analysis to identify your learner’s objectives. Learn strategies on how to use cutting edge technology to create innovative instructional design materials.

03. University System of Maryland’s MicroMasters® Program in Instructional Design and Technology

Four courses in 8 months. Learn theories and models of ID, digital media, new tools, and technology. Be enriched and get ready for a lifelong journey.

Here are some Instructional Design certificate programs that you can take.

·         Boise State University (Workplace eLearning and Performance Support)

·         Boise State University (Workplace Instructional Design)

·         Colorado State University – Global Campus (Organizational Training and Instructional Design Graduate Certificate of Completion)

·         Florida State University (Certificate in Online Instructional Development)

·         George Mason University (E-Learning Graduate Certificate)

·         George Washington University  (E-Learning Graduate Certificate)

·         George Washington University (Instructional Design Graduate Certificate)

·         George Washington University (Training and Educational Technology Graduate Certificate)

·         Indiana University (Instructional Systems Technology Certificate)

·         Jones International University (e-Learning Technology and Design: Instructional Design ibstpi®)

·         Kaplan University (Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design for Organizations)

·         La Salle University (Instructional Technology Management Certificate)

·         North Carolina State University (Graduate Certificate in E-Learning)

·         Rio Salado College (eLearning Design Specialist Certificate)

·         The University of Arizona South (Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology)

·         University of California, Irvine (eLearning Instructional Design Certificate)

·         University of Wisconsin Stout (Online Instructional Design Certificate)

·         Walden University (Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology)

(E) Instructional Design Master’s Programs

Here are some of the best Master’s programs in the country for instruction design.

·         Boise State University (Online Master of Science Degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning)

·         California State University, Fullerton (Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology)

·         Capella University (Master's in Instructional Design for Online Learning Specialization)

·         Franklin University (Master of Science in Instructional Design and Performance Technology)

·         Harrisburg University (Master of Science in Learning Technologies)

·         James Madison University (Master of Education degree with a concentration in Educational Technology)

·         Purdue University (Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology)

·         University of Arkansas (Master of Education in Educational Technology)

·         University of Massachusetts (Master of Education in Instructional Design)

·         University of North Dakota (Master's Degree in Instructional Design & Technology)

·         Virginia Tech (Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology)

·         Walden University (M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology)

·         Western Governors University (M.Ed. in Instructional Design)

·         Western Oregon University (Master of Science in Education: Information Technology)


What degree do you need for instructional design?

You don’t need to have a specific degree to be an instructional designer however a bachelor’s degree will be helpful. Educators, instructors, and teachers are more inclined to be instructional designers for they are already within a similar field or at least purpose and function.
But really, as an instructional designer your learning never stops as you need to keep up with the demand of any of the organizations or people that you will be working with. This is quite a progressive field and that you need to evolve as you go to be very effective yourself.

How can I learn instructional design?

Instructional design is not like being a doctor or lawyer that you may really benefit from enrolling in a university to be good at your practice. Think of instructional design as a skillset for freelancing.
There are a lot of ways to learn and develop your skills to be one effective instructional designer. Go for online courses that are also most likely built using the instructional design process.

What skills do you need to be an instructional designer?

As expected, there are certain technical and non-technical skills that you need to be one effective instructional designer. We say this because one might think that for your instructional design material to be effective then you bombard it with information in hopes that your target market will get it that way.
But a good instructional designer knows that there’s more to it than just filling up a course with so-called knowledge. We also need to make sure that there are other factors involved and that the design should involve a deeper knowledge of your target market.

Are instructional designers in demand?

Instructional design has been known as the hottest job in the field of higher education for the last two decades. In the US alone the demand for an instructional designer has exploded and on an upwards trend.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that even with the vast amounts of degrees and certificates offered for instructional design it still couldn’t keep up with the demand.

How do I start a career in instructional design?

Here are simple but mind you not so easy steps to make for you to become an instructional designer. But with the right guidance (courses, degrees, education, etc.), perseverance, and passion you can become one in no time.
The first thing you have to do is to make sure to learn the various theories as well as the technical skills involved in this field. Then, once you think you’re ready, make sure to build a strong portfolio, and lastly, strengthen your network.

Do instructional designers work from home?

Yes, due to the nature of the job instructional designers can easily work from home. Well, most are freelancers or contractors but even those who are regular employees for a company will not have a hard time transitioning to a home-based setup.
Most instructional designers do eLearning materials in the first place and that involves converting fact to face learning materials to online courses. So working from home is of course a huge possibility.

How do I become a certified instructional designer?

We’ve listed a bunch of free and paid instructional design courses with certificates above and you just need to enroll in one of them to be a certified instructional designer.

Is instructional design a good career?

Instructional design is not just good but a lucrative career choice if you’d give it all you got. Given the possibility of working as a freelance or contractor, once you’ve built your portfolio and widen your network, there’s just no stopping you from earning the big bucks.
Based on, the average salary of instructional designers in the US at more or less $60000. That doesn’t mean that you can’t earn more should you work really hard to achieve your goals in this field.

Can teachers be instructional designers?

Teachers are perhaps the best set of people that can work as instructional designers. Given that the nature of this profession is to teach, mentors, teachers, and educators already have quite the necessary tools and experience to excel at this job.
They may even be doing it already and not know it in school or their online courses.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top