Who should pursue a M.S. in Instructional Systems Design (ISD)?

If you (1) have a desire to help people learn and perform better at school or in your organization, (2) want to effectively use technology to improve classroom teaching or organizational learning, or (3) want to be skilled at teaching or training both face-to-face and online, then the Master’s program in Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is for you!

You do not have to be a teacher or hold a degree in education to study ISD. The degree and experience offered by the program will equip you with (1) knowledge about how people learn, (2) skills in designing effective instruction to achieve performance goals, and (3) expertise in a suite of multimedia and e-learning tools to help people learn (e.g., Adobe, Camtasia, and game-based learning applications).

Graduates from the program work in different fields (education, business, industry, military, healthcare) and hold job titles like instructional designer/coordinator, learning experience designer, distance learning/e-learning specialist, curriculum designer, training specialist, educational technologist, and director of educational technology.


Why You Should Enroll

  • Reason 1: You will get your degree from the longest standing ISD program and the best education school in Kentucky, with a wide network of ISD alumni across Kentucky and the nation.
  • Reason 2: You will be mentored by award-winning faculty who represent a multitude of research and practitioner expertise in different ISD fields (K12, higher education, business, government, healthcare, IT)
  • Reason 3: You will have plenty of opportunities to acquire hands-on experience and build your portfolio
  • Reason 4: You will pursue a program that offers flexibility to define and explore your own needs and interests and to progress at your own pace
  • Reason 5: You will interact with peers from a wide variety of backgrounds and build a strong professional network

    Program Details

    Delivery Method: Online

    Credit Hours: 36

    Tuition Cost: For information regarding current program cost, please refer to UK Tuition and Mandatory Fees page.

    Curriculum Guide

    Once admitted to the program, your Master’s journey will involve two (2) key milestones.

    Milestone 1 – ISD coursework

    You should consult with your assigned advisor or the program director Dr. Kun Huang each semester to determine the coursework that works best for you, but the ISD Program of Study serves as your general guide. You will complete three (3) parts of coursework:

    • Core Coursework: You will build a strong foundation in the essentials of ISD – Instructional design, technology, learning theories, evaluation, and data analysis.
    • Coursework Outside of College of Education: You will take advantage of these two courses to explore topics of your personal interests.
    • ISD Electives: You can choose from a wide variety of electives those of interests to you, e.g., technology integration, multimedia and e-learning design, game-based learning, instructional technology leadership

    You can take your own pace to complete the coursework, from one course per semester to studying full time. In completing the Master’s program, you also have the option to concurrently obtain a Graduate Certificate in Distance Education as part of the coursework.

    Milestone 2 – Comprehensive Exam

    In the last semester of your coursework, you will complete a Comprehensive Exam. The exam will be conducted online via Zoom. To your program committee members, you will give a 1-hour presentation that serves as a portfolio showcasing what you have learned and achieved in your program of study. In the presentation, you can demonstrate how you applied ISD knowledge and skills to complete projects, develop products, or accomplish other tasks both inside and outside of the ISD program. Be sure to discuss the relevant theories, principles, design rationale, and instructional strategies behind your projects or products. The committee will use a Comprehensive Exam Rubric to evaluate your performance, and you will be informed of the result at the end of the Zoom meeting.

    While working on the milestones, pay attention to the following important information:

    • UK Academic Calendars: Each semester, follow the dates on the calendars to make sure that you don’t miss important deadlines such as course registration, comprehensive exam scheduling, and degree application.
    • Forms for Master’s Students: On this page under “Students in Master’s/Specialist Programs,” you will find forms that need to be completed during your study, such as “Request for Final Master’s Degree Examination” and “Graduate School Application for Degree” (Login required for both).


    How to Apply

    You can apply for spring, summer, or fall admission to the program. Please note the application deadlines below:

    • Starting spring 2022 – Apply by 12/6/2021
    • Starting summer 2022 – Apply by 4/9/2022

    Application will be considered if you have an undergraduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher. GRE is NOT required. The application is completely online, and requires the following materials:

    • Transcripts
    • A resume
    • A personal statement: Please describe your background, interest in the ISD program, and your goals after graduation
    • Three professional recommendations

    I'm Ready to Apply  


    Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have regarding this program. We can’t wait to hear from you!


    photo of Dr. Ryan Crowley
    Associate Professor, Interim Director of Graduate Studies
    (859) 257-3158
    photo of Dr. Gerry Swan
    Associate Professor
    (859) 257-2340
    photo of Kun Huang
    Instructional Systems Design Program Faculty Chair, Associate Professor
    (859) 257-4661

    Tuition and Fees

    For information regarding current program cost please refer to the UK Tuition and Fees page.

    Refund Policies

    You can find tuition refund policies, deadlines, amounts, and other important information on the UK Student Account Services website.

    Return to Instructional Systems Design Overview