What are the Best Online Instructional Design Courses? — 23 Best Courses

Due to the pandemic and the continued expansion of online learning programs across all industry sectors and educational institutions, instructional designers are in high demand. Payscale says that you can make an average of $63,525 in the United States with a low of $45,000 to a high of $82,000 per year. If you want to become an instructional designer, you can take courses online to get a certificate and take university instructional design courses to get a degree.

Watch this video to learn how to become an instructional designer, even if you do not have an advanced degree.

Here are my reviews of the best instructional design courses organized in two categories of 1) online instructional design courses to get a certificate followed by; 2) online university instructional design certificate and degree programs.

Best Instructional Design Courses:

1.e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age →

2.Instructional Design Foundations and Applications →

3.Instructional Design for eLearning →

4.Instructional Design for Learning and Development →

5.Instructional Design Pro (Part 1): No Beginners Allowed! →

6.Instructional Design Pro (Part 2): No Beginners Allowed! →

7.Instructional Design Pro (Part 3): No Beginners Allowed! →

8.Introduction to Instructional Design: Online Course Creation →

9.Instructional Design: Reduce Frustration in eLearning →

10.Instructional Design and Learning Theories →

1.E-Learning Instructional Design →

2.Learning Design and Technology →

3.eLearning Instructional Design →

4.eLearning Technologies →

5.eLearning →

6.Instructional Design →

7.Instructional Design and Delivery →

8.Instructional Design and Technology →

9.Instruction Design →

10.Instructional Design and Technology →

11.Instructional Design (University of Arizona) →

12.Instructional Design (WGU) →

13.eLearning and Instructional Design →

These reviews will help you decide which courses/programs are the best choices for your career development.

Online Instructional Design Courses

These online instructional design courses will give you a course certificate upon completion. These courses are offered on the Coursea and Udemy online instructional system. Some of them were created by universities.

1. e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age →

e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age

Price: $49 for the full course with a certificate, audit for free with access to all materials except graded items.

Duration: 19 work-study hours over four weeks.

Course Description: This course is offered by the University of Illinois through the Coursera system. It covers seven transformational new learning modalities which include:

  • Ubiquitous Learning
  • Active Knowledge Making
  • Multi-modal Meaning
  • Recursive Feedback
  • Collaborative Intelligence
  • Meta-cognition
  • Differentiated Learning

Subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

You will learn:

  • Digital Information Flows
  • Workplace Communication Tools
  • New Learning Technologies
  • Technological Implementations
  • A demonstration of these Modalities in Action

What certificate you will get: A certificate in e-Learning Ecologies.

User Feedback:

“This course is excellent. It helped me learn the up-to-date information and practices that I needed for my work.” Louis R.

Best for: People interested in the future of education, including those studying to become teachers, educators, workplace trainers, and community leaders.

2. Instructional Design Foundations and Applications →

Instructional Design Foundations and Applications

Price: $79 for the full course with a certificate, audit for free with access to all materials except graded items.

Duration: 13 work-study hours to complete over a four week period.

Course Description: The University of Illinois offers this course through the Coursera system. It introduces students to the basic concepts and theoretical foundations used in instructional design. It teaches the tools used to create an innovative instructional solution for performance problems found in many organizations. This course is the introductory one for the series of courses leading to an Instructional Design MasterTrack Certificate.

You will learn:

  • How to describe the major concepts of instructional design systems.
  • Major learning and instructional theories.
  • Instructional design processes.
  • Instructional design models.
  • Analysis activities used in instructional design.

What certificate you will get: A certificate in Instructional Design Foundations and Applications.

User Feedback:

“This subject is interesting, and this course covers the theoretical basis of instructional design very well with a focus on the initial stages and analysis.” Karen B.

Best for: Those who are just starting to learn about instructional design.

3. Instructional Design for eLearning →

Instructional Design for eLearning

Price: $94.99 (on sale $13.99)

Duration: 34 lectures with a total of about five hours of instruction.

Course Description: This course covers the methods, skills, and useful techniques to develop effective online learning courses. It provides a strong foundation for those interested in instructional development.

You will learn:

  • The basic elements of instructional design.
  • Current theory, methods, principles, and techniques used in online learning.
  • How to create interactive eLearning activities that meet your students’ needs.
  • How to increase eLearning effectiveness and decrease cost.
  • How to analyze, develop, implement, and evaluate online courses.
  • How to use data collection methods to conduct a needs analysis for a new course.
  • How to develop effective tools used for assessment.
  • How to manage eLearning projects.

What certificate you will get: You will get a certificate in Instructional Design for eLearning.

User Feedback:

“The course was terrific! I especially enjoyed learning about the resources and styles of various eLearning design elements.” Dharmasellan G.

Best for: This course is suitable for any instructional designer at any level of experience who concentrates on creating eLearning programs developed for the workplace.

4. Instructional Design for Learning and Development →

Instructional Design for Learning and Development

Price: $59.99 (on sale $11.99)

Duration: This course contains 56 lectures for a total of about two hours of instruction.

Course Description: This short course is designed to give anyone interested in learning and development an overview of instructional design and how to create meaningful online courses.

You will learn:

  • What is Pedagogy and how people learn in different ways.
  • How to immerse a student in learning.
  • Tips on dealing with subject matter experts.
  • How to quantify learning styles.
  • Includes access to hundreds of free graphics to use for course design.

What certificate you will get: A certificate in Instructional Design for Learning and Development.

User Feedback:

“This course helped me to have insights about a better-structured way of doing course development and inclusion of content.” Siddharth M.

Best for: This course is for beginners with no previous experience in instructional design who want to learn how to create online courses.

5. Instructional Design Pro (Part 1): No Beginners Allowed! →

Instructional Design Pro (Part 1): No Beginners Allowed

Price: $124.99 (on sale $15.99)

Duration: 28 lectures for a total of six hours and 25 minutes of instruction.

Course Description: This course is the first part of a three-part course. It teaches a skilled instructional designer how to use a step-by-step plan to turn a curriculum into engaging eLearning experiences.

You will learn:

  • How to identify with your audience.
  • How to understand what they do.
  • How to organize the eLearning experience for them.
  • How to determine what to teach.
  • How to build the initial class structure.

What certificate you will get: Each course in this series has a certificate for the coursework. If you take all three courses in this series, you will get certified as an Instructional Design Pro.

User Feedback:

“This course gave me the insights, knowledge, and skills that I needed to excel in my new role as an instructional designer with the confidence I needed to implement these new skills and to build an online curriculum to teach others.” Lorielle O.

Best for: This course is for curriculum designers, trainers, team leaders, teachers, educators, founders, and CEOs who already have some experience with instructional design and want to take their skills to a much higher level.

6. Instructional Design Pro (Part 2): No Beginners Allowed! →

Instructional Design Pro (Part 2): No Beginners Allowed!

Price: $124.99 (on sale $15.99)

Duration: 31 lectures with a total of about seven hours of instruction.

Course Description: This course is about curriculum teaching design. It is the second part of a three-part series about how to create a faster curriculum design that is meaningful for students.

You will learn:

  • How to determine why students want to learn.
  • How to research teaching strategies.
  • How to research teaching tools.
  • How to select teaching tools and strategies.
  • How to engage students.
  • How to proof a new class structure.

What certificate you will get: Each course in this series has a certificate for the coursework. If you take all three courses in this series, you will get certified as an Instructional Design Pro.

User Feedback:

“I was impressed with the amount of helpful information in this course and the enthusiasm of the instructor.” Boubaker B.

Best for: This is the second part of a three-part series and requires students to take the first part before taking this course.

7. Instructional Design Pro (Part 3): No Beginners Allowed! →

Instructional Design Pro (Part 3): No Beginners Allowed!

Price: $129.99 (on sale $17.99)

Duration: 26 lectures for a total of six hours and 19 minutes of instruction.

Course Description: This is the third part of a three-part series of courses in instructional design. This course focuses on curriculum production, which is the practical application of the skills learned in the series’s previous two courses.

You will learn:

  • How to create facilitator guides.
  • How to create in-class activities and how to make assessments.
  • How to create student workbooks and hand-outs.
  • How to create a slideshow.
  • How to create surveys for course evaluation.
  • How to make marketing materials.
  • How to use instructional design for engaging learning.

What certificate you will get: Each course in this series has a certificate for the coursework. If you take all three courses in this series, you will get certified as an Instructional Design Pro.

User Feedback:

“After taking these three courses and getting my Instructional Design Pro certificate, I feel that I can explain to managers how to improve training programs for more engagement and better outcomes.” Kathy M.

Best for: This is the third part of a course series, and students who complete this coursework get a certificate as an Instructional Design Pro.

8. Introduction to Instructional Design: Online Course Creation →

Introduction to Instructional Design: Online Course Creation

Price: $79.99 (on sale $13.99)

Duration: 59 lectures for a total of one hour and 24 minutes of instruction.

Course Description: This short course is designed for those who want a well-rounded overview of instructional design and learn how to effectively create meaningful online educational experiences. This course includes lectures, resources, and practical assignments. It includes a guide on how to obtain hundreds of free resources for use in course development.

You will learn:

  • How to identify different learning styles and what is Pedagogy.
  • Which authoring tool is best for meeting your lesson plan requirements.
  • How to immerse students in eLearning experiences.
  • How to obtain ongoing support for program development.
  • Practical steps to take to secure freelance projects to work on.
  • Tips on how to deal with experts.
  • Where to find hundreds of free images to use for courses.

What certificate you will get: You will get a certificate in the Introduction to Instructional Design.

User Feedback:

“This course was easy to understand, and the free resources provided are excellent.” Nancy W.

Best for: Anyone who wants to create meaningful online educational courses no matter what level of previous experience they have.

9. Instructional Design: Reduce Frustration in eLearning →

Instructional Design: Reduce Frustration in eLearning

Price: $29.99 (on sale $11.99)

Duration: 16 lectures for a total of 39 minutes of instruction.

Course Description: The course shows strategies that teachers can use to quickly build online courses in ways that save time. It gives educators resources that make online instructional design easier to implement.

You will learn:

  • How to find and create templates for online courses.
  • How to set-up courses to minimize technical challenges.
  • Where to find thousands of open source (free to use) educational materials that meet state educational standards.
  • How to improve a Wi-Fi connection in live classes for interactive student experiences.
  • How to choose technology that aligns with educational objectives.

What certificate you will get: A certificate in Instructional Design for eLearning.

User Feedback:

“This course saved me! I stayed up late every night trying to find appropriate online resources. I couldn’t believe that there were this many freely available already-planned activities on the Internet. Thank goodness I found this course.” Amy S.

Best for: Teachers with no experience building online courses/activities who want to get up-to-speed fast and learn about shortcuts from an expert.

10. Instructional Design and Learning Theories →

Instructional Design and Learning Theories

Price: $19.99 (on sale $11.99)

Duration: 27 lectures for about two hours of total instruction.

Course Description: This course in instructional design covers the most important learning theories. It explains the ways to work with the scientific principles of education theory when designing online learning experiences.

You will learn:

  • The basics of learning theories.
  • How to apply teaching strategies based on learning theories.
  • How to use learning theories in course development.
  • Understanding the use of contemporary technologies.
  • Scientific principles that apply to eLearning.

What certificate you will get: You will get a certificate in Instructional Design and Learning Theories.

User Feedback:

“Nice course. Easy to make the link from theory to practical uses.” Verah A.

Best for: Teachers and educators as well as aspiring instructional designers.

Instructional Design University Courses

These online instructional design programs are offered by universities.

1. E-Learning Instructional Design →

E-Learning Instructional Design

Price: $4,085

Duration: Nine to 18 months.

Program Description: This program is offered by UCI’s Division of Continuing Education. It covers the methods, skills, and techniques necessary to align eLearning strategies with business agendas to achieve an organization’s strategic goals and business objectives.

You will learn:

  • The differences between traditional and online learning.
  • How to build and deploy an online lesson plan that incorporates innovative eLearning technology.
  • How to analyze the cost of implementing online instructional courses.
  • How to select the best authoring tools.
  • Current learning theories that use the principles of traditional ADDIE methods and more contemporary models to make prototypes rapidly.
  • To work with the knowledge, creativity, and skills needed to excel in instructional design for eLearning courses.

What certificate you will get: A certificate in Instructional Design is given to a student who successfully passes six courses (15 credit units).

User Feedback:

“This certificate program is extremely beneficial to my career. I made valuable connections with instructors and other students throughout my program coursework.” Kimberly G.

Best for: Instructional designers who want to advance in their careers and others seeking a career change or a job in instructional design.

2. Learning Design and Technology →

Learning Design and Technology

Price: $11,600

Duration: One and one-half years or up to three years (part time).

Program Description: This four-course graduate certificate program offered by the Harvard Extension School includes the following courses:

  • Introduction to Learning Design,
  • Technology for Education,
  • One elective course,
  • One application and skills course.

You will learn:

  • Foundational instructional design theories.
  • Frameworks and applications used to build learning experiences for digital platforms.
  • Project planning.
  • How to acquire content expertise.
  • Communication and writing skills.
  • To understand current technology, program methods, and interactive solutions.
  • Specialized knowledge in the focused areas of web development, programming, and content management systems.

What certificate you will get: Students who successfully pass all coursework will receive a Learning Design and Technology graduate certificate.

User Feedback:

“This certificate comes from Harvard. Need I say more?” Barbara E.

Best for: Those who want to get certified by Harvard as an instructional designer to improve their career opportunities.

3. eLearning Instructional Design →

eLearning Instructional Design

Price: $4,720

Duration: Five to eight months.

Program Description: This certificate program is offered by the University of Washington’s department of Professional & Continuing Education. It is a four-course program that includes:

  • Designing eLearning Environments,
  • Developing & Managing eLearning,
  • eLearning Assessment & Evaluation,
  • eLearning Practicum.

You will learn:

  • Methods of how select the best technology for a project.
  • How to structure a course.
  • How to evaluate delivery formats for budgetary constraints and performance features.
  • How to repurpose existing content for online interactivity.
  • The key concepts for quantitative and qualitative evaluation and project assessment.
  • Standard and emerging tools and technological solutions.

What certificate you will get: Students who successfully complete and pass all the coursework, get a Certificate in eLearning Instructional Design.

User Feedback:

“I learned so much in this certificate program that ends with a practicum, which is a hands-on project.” Shelly R.

Best for: Professionals who design eLearning content and educators or trainers who wish to enter this field.

4. eLearning Technologies →

eLearning Technologies

Price: $12,600

Duration: Most students complete the coursework in 12 months.

Program Description: This Masters certificate offered by the George Mason University is the equivalent of about one-half of a full Masters program. It requires completing 15 credit hours and then there are only 17 additional credit hours necessary to get a full Masters degree. This program requires four courses, which are:

  • Innovations in eLearning,
  • Instructional Design,
  • Business of Learning Design and Technologies,
  • One elective course.

You will learn:

  • Instructional design and eLearning practices.
  • How to utilize current and emerging technologies.
  • eLearning solutions for business, government and non-profits.
  • The best practices for instructional design.
  • Project management.

What certificate you will get: Students who graduate receive an eLearning Technologies Graduate Certificate.

User Feedback:

“I liked the idea that all the coursework for this degree certificate apply to the full Masters program, which I may continue to take later.” John F.

Best for: Individuals who desire to improve their eLearning skills.

5. eLearning →

eLearning

Price: $5,499.96

Duration: 12 months.

Program Description: This 12-credit program from the University of Texas is designed for students interested in working as eLearning professionals for schools, businesses, and government agencies. This program has four courses, which are:

  • Instructional Design,
  • Multimedia/Hypermedia,
  • Theory and Practices of eLearning,
  • One elective course.

You will learn:

  • How to systematically develop online instructional programs.
  • Theoretical and practical issues.
  • How instructional systems are designed.
  • Instructional design models.
  • How to use interactive media.

What diploma you will get: A graduate certificate in eLearning.

User Feedback:

“Excellent program that is a good value for the cost of the tuition.” George B.

Best for: Students who want to learn how to develop coursework solutions for eLearning programs.

6. Instructional Design →

Instructional Design

Price: $27,189

Duration: Two years.

Program Description: This online graduate program is offered by Drexel University. The course curriculum is the following:

  • The Learning Sciences,
  • Designing Virtual Communities,
  • Foundations of Game-Based Learning,
  • Instructional Design Methods,
  • Instructional Design: Project Management,
  • Instructional Design: Special Topics,
  • Learning with Social Media and Mobiles,
  • Teaching and Learning Issues in eLearning,
  • Learning Technologies & Disabilities.

You will learn:

  • How to design an instructional development project.
  • How to design virtual communities.
  • How to create technology-enhanced instructional courses.
  • How to use learning environments, methods, tools, and strategies.
  • How to develop and manage instructional materials.

What diploma you will get: A Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design

User Feedback:

“This program is the equivalent of getting a Masters degree, and I really got a lot out of the courses.” Henri A.

Best for: This is a highly flexible online program that fits in with a professional career.

7. Instructional Design and Delivery →

Instructional Design and Delivery

Price: $5,130 (military discount is $4,500)

Duration: One year.

Program Description: This online certificate program is offered by the American Military University, which requires completing 18 credits and taking these courses:

  • Interpersonal Communications,
  • Classroom ManagementAdult Learning Theory,
  • Curriculum Design,
  • Measurement and Evaluation,
  • Learning and Cognition.

You will learn:

  • Effective communication strategies.
  • How to design adult learning curriculum.
  • Classroom management.
  • Adult-learning theory.
  • How to design instructional assessments.

What diploma you will get: An undergraduate Certificate in Instructional Design and Delivery.

User Feedback:

“Being able to get a military discount made it easier for me to pay the tuition.” Maj. Toto W.

Best for: Undergraduate students interested in instructional design.

8. Instructional Design and Technology →

Instructional Design and Technology

Price: $45,324 ($14,328 Georgia residents)

Duration: One and one-half years.

Program Description: This online program offered by Georgia State University is a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology, which requires completing 36 semester units. There are two courses of professional studies, nine courses for the degree, and one internship course.

You will learn:

  • How to develop instructional materials
  • How to understand the learners’ goals.
  • How to use assessment instruments.
  • How to use advanced software tools for curriculum design.

What diploma you will get: M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology.

User Feedback:

“I really enjoyed learning through this online program that uses the best practices in the coursework to teach instructional design.” Adam J.

Best for: Those with an undergraduate degree seeking a Masters in instructional design.

9. Instruction Design →

Instruction Design

Price: $5,592

Duration: Nine months.

Program Description: This online program is for a graduate certificate offered by the University of Wisconsin. It requires completing four courses, which are:

  • Trends and Issues in Instructional Design,
  • Instructional Strategies and Assessment Methods,
  • Designing Computer-Based Training,
  • Project Management for Instructional Development.

You will learn:

  • To design effective instructional materials.
  • To create online activities.
  • To use computer-based training tools.
  • To evaluate program effectiveness.
  • To manage the design process.
  • What diploma you will get: An Instructional Design Certificate.

User Feedback:

“I was able to complete this program while working and got a raise after I received my certificate.” Olle S.

Best for: Professionals seeking a career as an instructional designer.

10. Instructional Design and Technology →

Instructional Design and Technology

Price: $10,980

Duration: One year.

Program Description: This online program offered by Walden University requires completing 12 credits, which are:

  • Learning Theories and Instruction,
  • Instructional Design,
  • Advanced Instructional Design,
  • Multimedia Design and Development 1.

You will learn:

  • How to use the newest technologies for instructional design strategies.
  • How to produce and deliver content.
  • How to create training programs.

What certificate you will get: A Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology.

User Feedback:

“With Walden University online programs, I was able to learn at my own pace.” Jim L.

Best for: Undergraduate students starting graduate studies.

11. Instructional Design (University of Arizona) →

Instructional Design (University of Arizona)

Price: $30,745

Duration: Four years.

Program Description: This online certificate program from the University of Arizona consists of thirteen, three-credit courses, which are:

  • Issues in Education,
  • Principles of Instructional Design,
  • Instructional Design for eLearning,
  • Design Concepts & Application for Online Learning,
  • Evaluation of eLearning,
  • Collaboration in the Virtual Classroom,
  • Emerging Issues in Educational Technology,
  • Assessment of Student Learning,
  • Adult Learning & Instruction,
  • Advanced Instructional Design,
  • Project Management for Instructional Design,
  • College of Education Capstone,
  • Learning & the Brain.

You will learn:

  • To design instructional and training curriculum.
  • To manage collaborative processes.
  • To handle ethical and legal issues.
  • To make assessments and analyze training programs.
  • Theories of learning and technological applications.

What diploma you will get: A Bachelor of Arts in Instructional Design.

User Feedback:

“I wanted to be a teacher that specializes in online learning systems, and this was the perfect degree program for me to take.” Annabelle G.

Best for: Those seeking an undergraduate degree in information technology.

12. Instructional Design (WGU) →

Instructional Design (WGU)

Price: $13,540 (if coursework is completed in four terms).

Duration: 24 months.

Program Description: This program from WGU online university requires completing 13 courses, which are:

  • Foundations of Instructional Design,
  • Instructional Design Analysis,
  • Issues in Instructional Design,
  • Instructional Design Production,
  • Issues in Measurement and Evaluation,
  • Evaluation Methodology and Instrumentation,
  • Evaluation Process and Recommendation,
  • Foundations of Measurement and Evaluation,
  • Research Foundations,
  • Research Questions and Literature Review,
  • Research Design and Analysis,
  • Research Proposals,
  • MED, Instructional Design Capstone.

You will learn:

  • How to create curriculum that engages students.
  • Curriculum development skills.
  • How to understand different learning styles.
  • The basics of learning theories.
  • The best practices for developing instructional programs.

What diploma you will get: A Master of Education in Instructional Design.

User Feedback:

“I found the WGU’s online programs exceptionally well-designed.” Sam S.

Best for: Those who have an undergraduate degree in a related field.

13. eLearning and Instructional Design →

eLearning and Instructional Design

Price: $27,900

Duration: One and one-half to two years.

Program Description: This Northeastern University online program requires completing 11 courses for 45 units total, which are:

  • Education as an Advanced Field of Study,
  • Culture, Equity, Power, and Influence,
  • How People Learn,
  • Models for Learning Design,
  • Technology as a Medium for Learning,
  • Competencies, Assessment, and Learning Analytics,
  • eLearning Design as a Collaborative Profession,
  • Capstone plus three courses from electives.

You will learn:

  • How to plan for learning design.
  • How to develop interactive learning experiences.
  • How to engage students.
  • How to use learning theories with practical applications.
  • Next-generation mobile and online learning.

What diploma you will get: Master of Education in eLearning and Instructional Design.

User Feedback:

“I felt like this program surpasses all others in quality learning.” Gail D.

Best for: Those who want to continue with graduate work after earning an undergraduate degree.

Ready to get started?

Are you excited to get started with advancing your career by taking instructional design courses? You may also want to check out my reviews of the best web development courses, the best IBM courses, and how to become a Salesforce consultant if you are still exploring your options and thinking about which direction to take for your career. All of these pathways are very rewarding. By taking an online course or two, you will quickly learn if a specific area of training is something you wish to continue to pursue.

My Digital Path Team/ author of the article

Members of our team have more than 25 combined years of experience in IT. They have been educators, held various positions in the IT industry, and enjoy helping students learn more about this exciting field.

Some of our team members do not have a university degree because they are self-taught. They just wanted to learn how to code, which is possible by taking certificate programs instead.

Any courses and university programs that we review already meet our high qualifications to be included in our evaluation programs so that students can have confidence in selecting from the reviewed courses and programs which are most appropriate for their career advancement.

My Digital Path
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