Master’s in Training and Development Program Guide

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Employees who can develop instructional materials and lead training sessions for organizations are in high demand. Training and development professionals assess the training needs of their organizations, develop training materials, and conduct and evaluate training sessions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), training and development specialists earn an average of $60,360 per year. A master's degree in training and development can help you advance your career and even become a training and development manager. These managers are responsible for the content of training programs and oversee the work of specialists and instructors. They earn an average annual salary of $108,250.

What are the best training and development programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

#1 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
#2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#3 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
#4 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
#5 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
#6 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
#7 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS
#8 Southern Wesleyan University Central, SC
#9 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
#10 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, CA

Should I Get a Master's in Training and Development?

A master's degree in training and development may be for you if you enjoy working as an educator and want to use new technologies and teaching best practices to affect positive change in the workplace. This degree will teach you about organizational change theory, adult learner qualities, and instructional design.

The average cost of a master's degree in training and development is $27,000 for tuition, a calculation which doesn't include course materials like textbooks, school fees, or travel expenses.

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If you plan to enroll in a master's program immediately after college, the structure of a full-time, on-campus program will feel familiar to you. If you have been in the professional world for a few years, a part-time or online program will allow you to schedule courses around your work obligations. While you attend classes, you have the opportunity to network with other aspiring and experienced professionals in the field. While most training and development jobs require a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer a master's degree, so pursuing graduate study can give you a competitive edge.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Training and Development?

Graduates with a master's in training and development work in almost every industry. School systems employ them to conduct professional development sessions for teachers and other school staff or to help teachers integrate technology into their lessons. They work as human resource professionals in businesses and nonprofits to train employees, customers, and volunteers. They sometimes assist content specialists like academics or scientists to put their courses or informational materials online. Regardless of where they work, these professionals understand how to teach adult learners and demonstrate excellent leadership, team-building, and organizational skills.

Career Development Specialist

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These specialists assist people with finding appropriate careers. They administer assessment tests and place clients in training programs for their desired occupations. Employers generally prefer a master's degree when hiring for this position.

Median Annual Salary: $40,429*

Training Coordinator

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Training coordinators manage the creation and delivery of training and professional development programs. They assess organizational needs, create instructional modules, and conduct training sessions.

Median Annual Salary: $48,416*

Curriculum Developer

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Curriculum developers are usually licensed teachers or administrators with graduate degrees and teaching experience. They work for school systems, designing course materials for content areas. They ensure that teachers can access necessary resources and that the lessons they teach meet state and district standards.

Median Annual Salary: $59,780*

Training and Development Manager

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These managers oversee training and development specialists, instructors, and instructional designers. They work for businesses, nonprofits, or government agencies to ensure employees are adequately trained and that training materials meet an organization's talent development goals.

Median Annual Salary: $73,881*

Human Resources Director

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These directors manage human resources departments, which are responsible for hiring and training new employees and providing ongoing training to all employees. They oversee the work of training and development specialists and may be responsible for selecting and creating training materials. Employers typically prefer a master's degree when hiring for this position.

Median Annual Salary: $86,049*

Source: PayScale

How to Choose a Master's Program in Training and Development

Find programs flexible enough for your needs. Many programs, especially alongside career obligations. Some online programs require students to attend some classes or brief residency periods on campus, so research such requirements thoroughly. On-campus programs, which work well for students who prefer the structure of in-person courses, allow students to develop closer working relationships with peers and faculty, which can develop beneficial professional networks that reach beyond the classroom.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Training and Development

Programmatic accreditation comes from career-specific agencies who verify that a program's curriculum prepares its students professionally. You may find a master's degree in training and development that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Some master's programs may be housed within human resources departments, in which case they may be accredited by the Society for Human Resource Management, which maintains a directory of human resources programs that align with its curriculum guidelines. Not all master's degrees in training and development boast programmatic accreditation, so look for schools with regional accreditation to ensure that the institution meets standards for academic excellence.

Popular Online Master's in Training and Development Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Master's in Training and Development Program Admissions

All master's program applications expect you to demonstrate that you are well-prepared for graduate-level work. Thus, you must provide transcripts, meet GPA requirements, and send GRE test scores. More competitive programs may require additional supporting evidence, like letters of recommendation, work experience, your resume or portfolio, or a personal statement. Applying to multiple schools, including a mix of safety and reach schools, bolsters your chances of acceptance.


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    Bachelor's degree=

    Graduate school applications require a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Training and development master's degrees typically do not require specific coursework or majors.
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    Minimum GPA:

    A typical minimum GPA is 3.0. You may be able to offset a lower GPA with professional experience or letters of recommendation that attest to your ability to handle graduate-level work.

Admission Materials

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    Graduate schools offer online applications where you can upload all required materials. This process may take several hours.
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    Graduate degree programs typically require official transcripts from all schools you previously attended. You will need to request these transcripts from each school, and each request is usually accompanied by a fee.
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    Letters of Recommendation:

    You should request letters of recommendation from at least three former professors or supervisors who know your work well. Ask them well in advance of the application deadline to allow them time to write on your behalf.
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    Test Scores:

    Most master's degree programs require you to take the GRE. Programs typically don't list minimum scores but do provide information about average scores from previously accepted students.
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    Application Fee:

    These fees typically range from $40 to $100. Some schools waive application fees for applicants with demonstrated financial need.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Training and Development?

Master's programs in training and development differ by school. Some are degrees that emphasize the educational aspect, focusing on instructional methods for adult learners. Others use a human resources approach, paying particular attention to talent development within organizations. Beyond such emphases, you should also consider what career services a school offers; schools with internship placements, resume workshops, and mock interviews are often beneficial for students without workplace experience.

Courses in a Master's in Training and Development Program

Depending on the school you select, the specific training and development courses offered may vary. All programs seek to prepare you to assess organizational training needs, select and create appropriate training materials, and deliver trainings designed for adult learners. See sample courses below.

Organizational Change

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This course introduces the multidisciplinary study of how organizations change their structures, processes, and cultures. Students learn about affecting change through adult education and talent development. Course content prepares students to work with managers to assess training needs and set training goals.

The Adult Learner

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This course outlines the characteristics of adult learners. Participants learn to apply educational theories and methods to the design and delivery of instruction. Topics include techniques for maximizing engagement, motivation, collaboration, and team-building among adults in the workplace.

Instructional Design

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Students learn instructional design theory about needs assessment, the design of instructional materials for the workplace, and program evaluation. They study the impact of technology on the design and implementation of instructional modules.

Needs Assessment

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Students study business strategies for determining training needs and developing workforces. The course enables students to create plans to address workplace shortcomings through ongoing training.

Integrating Technology

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This course explores the appropriate use of technology for the creation and implementation of effective instructional programs. Students explore current technologies and learn to select those that best support learning and organizational goals.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Training and Development?

Most master's in training and development programs require about 36 credit hours and take two to three years to complete part time. If you take two classes each semester, including during summer terms, you can finish in two years. Students whose schedules prohibit them from taking more than one class per term can expect to graduate in three to four years. If enrolled full time, you may be able to complete your degree in one year.

How Much Is a Master's in Training and Development?

The average cost of a master's degree in training and development is $27,000 for tuition, a calculation which doesn't include course materials like textbooks, school fees, or travel expenses. Generally speaking, in-state, public schools are more affordable than out-of-state or private schools, though some online schools offer resident tuition regardless of students' home states. Students working full time should investigate whether their workplace offers tuition reimbursement.

Certifications and Licenses for Master's in Training and Development Graduates

Association for Talent Development Certification

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ATD offers certification as an associate professional in talent development for early-career professionals and a certified professional in learning and development certification for experienced professionals. These certifications give training professionals a competitive advantage in the job market.

HR Certification Institute Certification

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HRCI offers eight certifications for human resources professionals based on country of employment and experience level. Applicants must meet educational and experience requirements before taking a certification exam. Master's degree holders may take the exam with less work experience than bachelor's graduates. HRCI requires recertification every three years.

Society for Human Resource Management Certification

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SHRM offers two certifications for human resources professionals based on experience level. Master's degree holders may apply for certification with fewer years of experience than those without a graduate degree. Exams test both technical knowledge and real-world behavioral competencies.

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.

Professional Organizations

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. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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