Best Online Master’s in Training and Development Programs
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Online master's programs in training and development integrate courses in teaching and business acumen. Students in these programs of study can develop advanced skills in curriculum design, instruction, and program evaluation. Graduates with these advanced business degrees often land roles in which they train fellow employees or business clients.
Traditional, on-campus master's programs traditionally take two years to complete. Students usually complete online programs more quickly. However, they may need to study more intensively. According to EducationData.org, the average cost of an education master's degree was around $55,200 in October 2021. However, costs vary widely by program and school.
Professionals with a master's in training and development often qualify for diverse career opportunities in nonprofit, governmental, and for-profit organizations.
Newer professionals may work as training and development specialists or instructional coordinators — positions that enjoy above-average job growth projections of 10%-11%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salaries for these jobs were $62,700 and $66,970, respectively, in May 2020.
Experienced professionals with master's degrees in training and development can qualify for high-paying senior roles. According to the BLS, for example, training and development managers earned a median annual salary of $115,640 in May 2020.
The page below highlights some of the top online schools for training and development. Read on to learn more about training and development program curricula, requirements, and career paths.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Training and Development Program?
Online graduate study in training and development best suits self-disciplined professionals who enjoy planning and improving educational programs and systems. Most master's programs require students to complete around 30-36 credits, depending on prior coursework.
Core courses focus on adult learning theory and practice, training and development approaches, and research methods. This degree program can help learners build skills in curriculum development, instructional design, and educational technology.
Most online master's in training and development programs offer curriculum concentrations such as business administration, human resources management, and instructional design. Training and development programs typically include fieldwork and a capstone research project in the student's area of interest.
Traditional master's degrees usually take four full-time semesters to finish, but online learners may opt for accelerated or part-time programs with varying timelines. Many working professionals enroll part-time so that they can maintain their jobs and income while advancing their education.
MS programs in training and development tend to focus on technical applications, while MA programs often prioritize more general training. Learners planning to work in schools may opt for a master's in education degree with a concentration in training and development.
See below for a sampling of common online master's in training and development courses. Keep in mind that concentrations and course offerings vary widely by school and program.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
Popular Online Training Development Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Training and Development Program?
Adult Learning and Development
This foundational course provides an overview of adult learning theories, models, and applications. Discussion topics may include adult learning motivation and processes in various learning contexts.
Integrating Technology into Training
Essential in this age of online learning, courses in integrating technology into training build essential technology skills for training program design and delivery. Participants learn how to assess training goals and select suitable technologies.
Needs Assessment and Task Analysis
Most online master's in training and development programs include a version of this course, in which enrollees learn how to determine industry and business needs. Participants learn how to assess and document performance issues and design training programs that address these issues.
Training and Development Methods and Techniques
In this class, enrollees explore common techniques and methods for modeling occupational training programs. This core course prepares enrollees to design and evaluate instructional methodologies and programs.
Adult Learning Research
This course surveys relevant scholarly literature and research methods from education and adult learning fields. Participants learn how to critically evaluate qualitative and quantitative methods. This course may serve as a prerequisite or component of a student's capstone research project.
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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Training and Development Program?
Like on-campus programs, competitive online master's in training and development programs typically seek candidates with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. Some programs only accept candidates with business or education bachelor's degrees.
Online and on-campus programs typically feature similar graduate school admission requirements. See below for descriptions of these common application features. Keep in mind that a few schools may require interviews or additional writing samples. Some schools waive standardized test scores.
Most undergraduate programs use application systems such as the Common App, which allow students to apply to many schools at once. However, graduate schools usually each have their own application. Yet, some state universities in Texas, New York, and California feature general application systems for graduate students.
Applications usually ask about education and professional history. Many applications include short-answer questions about the student's interest in a given school, study path, or career.
Many graduate programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores. Most master's in training and development applicants must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GRE measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and writing.
Some programs accept the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the standardized business school entrance exam. Not all schools require GRE or GMAT test scores.
Letters of Recommendation
Graduate schools look for students with proven records of academic excellence. Many online master's in training and development programs require applicants to submit 2-3 recommendation letters written by the applicant's current or former professors.
About two months before the application due date, the applicant should find willing recommenders and provide their contact information on the application form. The school then sends recommendation forms directly to recommenders to fill out and return.
Resume and Work Experience
Many graduate school applicants possess relevant professional experience that can enhance their candidacy for admission. Graduate schools usually ask applicants to submit a resume or curriculum vita that outlines current and prior work experience, achievements, and extracurricular activities.
Most universities require application essays. These essays give the admissions team a sense of the applicant's writing abilities. Application essay prompts usually ask applicants to communicate their values, interests, and reasons for applying. In these essays, prospective students often discuss specific academic and career goals.
Graduate schools expect applicants to submit official copies of all current and prior college transcripts. Applicants usually must fill out a transcript request form through the registrar's offices at their former schools. These schools then send an official sealed and signed transcript directly to the applicants' prospective schools.
Some prior graduate-level business or education credits may transfer toward an online master's degree in training and development.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Training and Development Degree?
An online master's degree in training and development can help professionals advance their careers and earn higher salaries — all at their convenience, from the comfort of home. This degree program may help students build specialized skills and advanced knowledge that can prove useful in private and public sector careers.
Some graduates develop, coordinate, or manage instruction and curricula at schools. Other training and development master's-holders oversee adult education programs at nonprofit organizations or employee training programs at for-profit companies.
According to the BLS, training and development specialists and instructional coordinators made above-average median annual salaries in May 2020. Earning a master's degree may help experienced professionals earn promotions or land higher-paying senior-level jobs. Training and development managers and human resources managers both earned six-figure median annual salaries in May 2020.
The BLS projects healthy growth for instructional coordinator and training and development specialist, and training and development manager positions between 2020 and 2030.
Training and development master's graduates should consider many career options. Learn more about possible careers in teaching, human resources, and business fields.
Training and Development Specialists
These specialists create and implement training programs that enhance employee skills and performance. This career may involve curriculum design, including creating online learning modules and training manuals. These specialists may also provide instruction or supervision of instructors. Training and development specialists sometimes perform administrative duties such as scheduling, coordinating, and cost monitoring, as well.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,700
These coordinators design, administer, and assess curricula and teaching standards. Usually employed by schools, instructional coordinators also may train and mentor teachers. Sometimes known as curriculum specialists, these professionals often evaluate and select curricular materials and standards. This job also typically involves creating procedures for implementing curricula.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $66,970
Learning and Development Consultants
These professionals offer strategic guidance on learning initiatives. Learning and development consultants spend their days problem-solving and managing complex projects, sometimes for multiple clients simultaneously. These professionals work to ensure the integrity and ethics of educational systems. Learning and development consultants evaluate current practices and recommend new procedures and policies.
Average Annual Salary (November 2021): $80,100
Human Resources Managers
HR managers oversee various administrative functions at organizations, including staffing and talent management. These professionals supervise HR departments and contribute to strategic planning. HR managers also act as intermediaries between executives and employees and craft company policies around sensitive issues like workplace harassment.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $121,220
Training and Development Managers
These high-level professionals supervise staff training and align instruction with organizational goals. Training and development managers may research, create, and evaluate various training materials and programs. These professionals also update training programs and manage training budgets.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $115,640
Training and Development Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Some research-oriented master's degree-holders may continue their education. Many schools offer doctoral programs in adult education and training or curriculum and instruction. Doctoral degrees can qualify graduates to become researchers and college professors, often in business or education departments.
Some training and development master's graduates pursue professional certifications such as Certified Professional in Training Management or Certified Professional in Talent Development. Graduates may also consider pursuing certificates and careers in in-demand fields such as human resources.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Training and Development Program?
According to EducationData.org, the average cost of a master's degree was $66,340 in 2021 in the U.S. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that private institutions cost far more on average to attend than public institutions. Out-of-state students at public institutions usually pay far more than their in-state peers, as well. Some schools allow distance learners to pay in-state tuition rates, even when attending from another state.
Take time to compare program costs carefully, since prices and quality vary widely. Students should also consider the true cost of a program by calculating the price of tuition, fees, room and board, books, and other hidden expenses.
Some online master's in training and development programs permit asynchronous participation, which means that enrollees can listen to lectures and contribute to discussions at any time of day or night. Many programs also accommodate working students by allowing part-time enrollment. Meanwhile, learners with more time to study may choose accelerated programs that allow them to earn their degrees more quickly.
Participants who thrive on live interaction with other people may prefer synchronous online programs in which everyone attends their virtual classroom session simultaneously.
Online learners can apply to top schools wherever they wish, regardless of geographical concerns. However, some distance learners apply to online programs at nearby schools. Being close to campus can be helpful for networking purposes.
Some online master's in training and development programs also require brief on-campus residencies. Local students have an easier and less expensive time fulfilling these demands. Consider such requirements when choosing which schools to apply to.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation approves certain agencies to evaluate academic rigor and certify education quality at colleges and universities. Schools that meet standards set by one of the designated seven regional accrediting agencies enjoy more prestige than nationally accredited schools.
Take the time to learn about accreditation before choosing prospective schools, since accreditation status can affect financial aid and future credit transfers. Top master's in training and development programs also typically possess programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Some schools offer special support for distance learners. These services often include online tutoring or mentorship. Most schools also offer online academic advising and career services for distance learners.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Training and Development Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Training and Development Programs
Is a master's in training and development worth it?
Graduate school costs and benefits differ by program, school, and field. Master's degrees can pay for themselves eventually by increasing graduates' salary potential. According to PayScale, the average annual base salary for MS in training and development graduates was $67,000 in October 2021.
This degree program can help trainers, teachers, and administrators build useful skills for various types of organizations. Many training and development master's graduates work in HR departments. Corporations usually pay training and development managers and human resources managers well.
What can I do with a master's in training and development?
This advanced degree can open many career doors across all sectors. Graduates may work as training program designers or school-based instructors. They can also find secure, high-paying jobs at government agencies or in the military.
Master's degree-holders may also qualify for nonprofit leadership roles such as social and community services managers. Training and development master's degree programs can also prepare students for further study in doctoral programs. These learners often go on to become college professors or researchers.
Are training and development majors in demand?
As training and development specialists retire, space opens for new professionals with cutting-edge knowledge and skills. Recent years also have seen a significant boost in remote, online employment and education.
For these reasons, many organizations currently need or soon will need professionals with training and development expertise to put together online and in-person programs and materials for staff or clients. The BLS projects training development specialist and training and development manager roles will grow 11% over the next decade. Various HR-related careers also enjoy robust growth outlooks.
How much money can I make with a master's in training and development?
Salaries for training and development professionals vary considerably based on field, credentials, and employer. According to the BLS, instructional coordinators earned a median annual salary of $66,970 in May 2020. Training and development specialists earned $62,700 during the same period.
Graduates with additional professional experience may qualify for managerial roles that pay higher wages. For instance, according to the BLS, the top 10% of training and development specialists earned a median annual salary of over $107,060 in May 2020.
Managers in this field tend to make the highest salaries. Social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of $69,600 in May 2020. The highest-paid 10% of these professionals earned a median annual salary of more than $115,800.
Training and development managers and human resources managers earn higher salaries, as well. The BLS reports that these professionals earned median annual salaries of $115,640 and $121,220 in May 2020, respectively. Top earners in these roles can make over $200,000 per year.
Resources for Graduate Training and Development Students
Association for Educational Communications and Technology
AECT serves educational technology professionals. It provides resources like academic journals and runs an annual conference. Graduate students may participate in its graduate student assembly. To improve education, AECT disseminates research findings and advises policymakers.
American Educational Research Association
This national research society aims to improve education through scholarly research. It conducts research projects, publishes books, holds an annual meeting, advocates and analyzes public policy, and offers professional development. AERA provides graduate students with several leadership and networking opportunities, including a graduate student council.
International Society for Performance Improvement
ISPI hosts a variety of networking and professional development opportunities, including an annual conference, symposiums, institutes, workshops, and webinars. Its online career center lists human resources job postings and allows members to post to their resume database. ISPI offers professional certification and training program accreditation.
Center for Instructional Design and Training
While this center's primary purpose is to offer instructional design services to organizations, it also serves the larger instructional design community, hosting a job bank, a directory of schools that offer degrees in the field, a calendar of workshops, and an encyclopedia of instructional design terms on its website.
Training and development professionals can access networking and professional development opportunities like conferences, workshops, and webinars through professional organizations. These associations often provide resources like publications and research briefs. Graduate students and job seekers can use professional organizations to connect with mentors, internships, and employment opportunities.
Association for Talent Development
ATD serves professionals engaged in workplace education and talent development. Its professional development opportunities include conferences, self-paced online courses, and online or face-to-face skills certifications. ATD also hosts a job bank, a media library of videos, webcasts, and podcasts, and a degree directory.
Quality Matters Instructional Designers Association
QM IDA is a special interest group of Quality Matters, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of online courses. QM IDA offers professional development, networking and mentoring opportunities, and information about research and best practices for instructional designers. It hosts a job board and eLearning marketplace.
Society for Human Resource Management
This large human resources society represents 300,000 members worldwide. It leads advocacy efforts at state and national levels. SHRM offers HR professionals many resources, including articles, workplace tools, and legal updates. The organization also provides professional certification and online learning opportunities.
International Association for Human Resource Information Management
This association for human resource information management professionals provides continuing education through conferences, journals, and webinars. It offers professional certification and facilitates networking through its online community. It also runs a nonprofit foundation that promotes research and offers scholarships.
National Human Resources Association
This nonprofit seeks to support human resource professionals throughout their careers by providing networking and professional development opportunities. Live meetings, conferences, and seminars provide face-to-face learning opportunities, while webcasts and podcasts offer flexibility for digital learners.