Do you believe that Instructional Designers require a Degree?


I know, you are thinking, another post on this topic…

The argument on whether, ‘Instructional Designers need a degree or not’, has been around for a very long time.

As a Graduate student of Instructional Design and Technology, my vote certainly goes for – Yes, Instructional Designers require a degree.

  • A certification will set apart instructional technology from other technology areas of proficiency.
  • Certification would authorize the competency of skilled instructional designer and gives an identity to our profession.
  • Certification provides a right to new professionals who are committed towards their occupation.
  • Certification will mark towards liability and integrity within any industry.

However, only a few hold a degree. No offense to anybody, It seems that instructional designers are made from all walks of life; a teacher, a technical writer, a flash designer and so on. I may be biased, but I think, my degree would be a waste of money and time if someone could learn what I can do on their own and compete for the same jobs.

The majority of the instructional designers outside USA, do not have the background of Instructional Design; they are either technical writer or faculties who were teaching computer courses in a private institute or just a fresher after their Bachelor degree (from any background). They gain training from the company in which they are appointed as a jr.instructional. After a few years of experience, they would become sr. instructional designer.

Is there any value for education or not?

With technology rapidly changing and improving every day it gets difficult to stick upon a competency. However, a basic instructional design degree should be a requirement to enter this field.

Read more on this issue by Dr. Karl Kapp in his blog –

You might also be interested in this ongoing debate in LinkedIn on this issue –


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.


4 comments on “Do you believe that Instructional Designers require a Degree?

  1. Hi Priya, I am glad that you have found value on your Instructional Design and Technology Degree. I am going through a similar program at a different online university at the moment. I am so delighted to be subscribed to your site via RSS.

    My expectations at first was that I would tinker around with blogs, LMS, PowerPoint techniques, and all the other fancy stuff that technology whizzes are meant to know. The classes I have taken and will take do make use of those tools mentioned, but there are other focuses such as being a leader of influence within a school or school district, learning about learning theories and its application to an online classroom, use of multimedia, research tools, and various ways of implementing distance learning. Having a technical know-how without a degree could mean that a person might not be well-rounded. As your link states, a salesman could be considered an expert and capable of teaching the uses of PowerPoint by simply observing a few examples.

    Love Karl Kapp’s opening picture by the way, good find 🙂

  2. I’ve also heard this argument before. Like you I do agree that anyone wanting to work as an Instructional Designer should get a degree…however not as a requirement or to prove themselves to the world, but more so to give themselves the opportunity to expand their own knowledge and skills-set. I was actually working as an ID when I decided to get my degree. Even though I had been working in the field for several years, I wanted to get a more formalized education in the ID area, and also give myself additional learning and networking opportunities. It’s been a lot of work, but what I’ve learned so far has been extremely invaluable, and I would definitely make the same choice to get the degree again if I had to.

    Our field is one that changes often, especially with technology and its various application towards education and learning. And while I think a degree shouldn’t be a specific requirement, the benefit of actually getting one would be very great, for both the ID and the learners they are designing for.

  3. It is an interesting topic and I feel there is a need for a degree to probably understand the core principles and good practices in the field. But will that get you the job you want? How many companies will hire fresh talent just because you have a degree- in this market?

    • Shilpa, thanks for visiting my blog and raising this arguable question.

      You are absolutely correct that companies may not recruit fresher just considering the fact that they have a degree. It is always a struggle for a few years in the beginning for any fresher for the matter of fact. However, one should build up his/her portfolio by doing internship’s or volunteering for non-profits during their academic period or immediately after that. This will certainly make a difference in their resume when applying for junior positions.

      With all that said, it is a known fact that after all the rough period, I would have gained my Masters with experience under my belt. Having a degree with experience definitely proves that they are better than street smarts. Many employers accept each year of education equivalent to some years of experience. Furthermore, while being in a job, getting training or gaining additional degrees in the same field will always help to achieve higher positions.

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