July 17, 2018

Recommended graduate programs in e-learning


All these programs can be taken fully online. Some of them allow you to take and pay for individual courses, building up to either a certificate or a full masters degree.

Master programs (all online unless otherwise stated)

University of British Columbia, Canada: Masters in Educational Technology (fully online). Interestingly, as part of a project on one of the courses in the UBC MET program, four students have produced an up-to-date (2010) list of Canadian competitors to the MET program, with a comparative chart, some of which are NOT included in the list below, because I am not familiar myself with the programs.

Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC offers a Master in Learning and technology (hybrid model)

University of Edinburgh, UK: M.Sc. in e-learning www.education.ed.ac.uk/e-learning/

University of Hull, UK: M.Ed in E-learning www.hull.ac.uk

University of Colorado at Denver: Masters in e-Learning design and implementation

Pepperdine University: Masters in of Arts in Learning Technologies. This program is 85% online, the rest requiring attendance at the Malibu campus, California.

University of Maryland University College/Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg Masters in Distance Education This award-winning program has a technology specialization.

Athabasca University, Canada: Master in Distance Education. This fully distance program has been re-designed in recent years, and now contains a very strong technology component, with excellent faculty

Open University, UK MA in Online and Distance Education Covers the theory and practice of online and distance education; open to students from countries all over the world.

Concordia University Chicago MA in Educational Technology. This is a blended learning program, combining online learning with periodic classroom instruction. Note that this is a completely different university from Concordia University, Montreal

University of Sydney Master of Learning Science & Technology program (MLS&T) is a research-informed program designed and taught by international team of leaders in the learning sciences, offering both Professional and Research streams. The Professional Stream is designed for those who want to advance their careers in e-learning. The Research Stream can act as a bridge for PhD studies and is designed for students who are hoping to pursue a career as an education or learning-sciences researcher. University of Sydney is the oldest and most prestigious of the Australian state universities.

The University of Northern Iowa offers an M.A. in Instructional Technology aimed primarily at k-12 teachers. There is no differential tuition for international students, at just over $400 per unit.

The Anna Maria College in Massachusetts offers an online Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology. Anna Maria College is a Catholic college regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The University of Texas at Brownsville offers a Master of Education in Educational Technology designed ‘to prepare persons in the K-12, higher education, corporate, and military settings to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for the classrooms of tomorrow’. It includes electives from other UofTexas campuses. The four required courses in the online Master Technology Teacher certificate program fit directly into the online M.Ed. in Educational Technology degree.

Purdue University, Indiana, offers an Online Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology. This online program will give you the base knowledge and skills to design, develop, implement, and evaluate multimedia instructional materials. Students will also learn how to apply instructional design theories to industries outside of the educational field.

St. Mary’s University of Minnesota offers a Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology, focused mainly on k-12 education.

Certificates and diplomas (you will need to check with the programs whether residence is required)

Vancouver Island University offers a two year, fully online Graduate diploma in Online Learning and Teaching which ladders successful graduates into VIU’s Masters of Education (Leadership) degree with an additional 10 credits of project work.

The University of Calgary offers a Certificate in e-Learning

The University of Manitoba offers a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Studies: Emerging Technologies for Learning (ETL).

Royal Roads University in Victoria BC offers a graduate Certificate in Learning and Technology.

University of Washington Certificate in e-Learning Design and Development, available fully online from a prestigious state university in the USA.

The University of New Mexico and the Open University of Catalonia offers a Joint Certificate in e-Learning, Design and Development. Although a certificate and not a degree, this has excellent faculty teaching the program.

Seneca College, Ontario, offers Design and Delivery of Online Learning, for a Recognition of Achievement

Drexel University, Philadelphia offers an online Post-Graduate Certificate in Neuroscience, Learning and Online Instruction, drawing on Drexels’  experience in both neurocience research and its use of online learning in nursing education.

Most of these programs require a bachelors’ degree (not necessarily in education) from a ‘recognised’ university, and a high standard of English (high school graduation, or a TEOFL score of 500+).

Kapil Bhatia has compiled a list of 25 additional graduate programmes in e-learning, education technology and ICT in education from top universities in UK, US and Australia. Most of the programmes in the list are also offered in distance learning/purely online/blended form.

Doctoral programs

The University of Lancaster, UK, offers a structured, part-time Doctoral Programme in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning leading to a PhD. This innovative program combines a limited number of face-to-face residential meetings with considerable ‘online’ learning and is available to anyone in the world wishing to develop their e-learning research and practice. This is a nationally accredited public doctoral research university.

The University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is offering a Doctor of Education (EdD) in educational technology, a thesis-based degree intended to prepare scholars for careers in research, teaching, and leadership. The program includes web-based and face-to-face courses. This is a provincially accredited public doctoral research university.

Northcentral University offers a fully online Ph.D. in e-learning, based on an excellent professional curriculum on e-learning. Northcentral University s a private, for-profit, accredited university based in Prescott Valley, Arizona. It was established in 1996. Under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Northcentral is classified as a Doctoral Research University (DRU) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) research centre, the eLearn Centre, offers a Doctoral Programme in Education and Information and Communication Technologies (e-learning). Within its research, the centre offers three main lines of study:

  1. Learning processes mediated by information and communication technologies
  2. Organization, management and policies in the area of e-learning
  3. Educational uses of technological developments for e-learning.

Further details on the the Doctoral Programme in Education and ICT (e-learning) are available here. Applications can be filled out and submited online here.

You could also try: Online PhD Degree programs for more programs, but caveat emptor – many of these are for-profit institutions and I can’t guarantee the quality.

For courses in Spanish:

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Spain Máster internacional de e-learningThis program is currently accredited in Spain. However, UOC is also offering a European Certificate for Course Design and Teaching in E-learning in English, in collaboration with the Institute of Education, University of London and the University of Florence, Italy, worth 20 European credits. The program is based on the Master’s Degree in E-learning, and the aim is for the certificate to be integrated with the masters degree to become a  European Master’s Degree recognized throughout Europe.

Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico Maestría en Tecnologías para el Aprendizaje
This program is nationally accredited in Mexico, and is now well established..

Universidad Tecnológia Metropolitana de Santiago (UTEM), Chile Magíster en Educación a Distancia
This has a strong technology component, international faculty, and students from several South American countries

Doing a Ph.D. in e-learning

I am often asked about what institutions offer a Ph.D. in e-learning entirely by distance. Very few! Indeed, the idea of a doing a Ph.D. in e-learning  by distance is based on a number of misconceptions. For instance, there are very few Ph.D. programs anywhere specifically in e-learning (Northcentral – see above – is an exception) and hardly any universities offer Ph.D.s at a distance (the Open University of Catalonia does, on the Information Society, and Athabasca University starts its D.Ed. in Distance Education in August 2008 – with 12 students. University of Lancaster, UK, and University of Calgary offer online programs, but still require a limited number of face-to-face meetings). But don’t give up. There are ways.

Your best bet is to try a good local university with a Faculty of Education or something similar. The trick is to find a local supervisor willing to accept your proposed area of research. Try to find someone in the local Faculty of Education with an interest in e-learning and try to negotiate a research topic of mutual interest. This is really the hardest and most important part. Getting the right supervisor is absolutely essential. However, there are many more potential students than faculty interested in e-learning.

Your admission to a program will depend on your prior qualifications – usually at least a masters degree in education or a related area – and your particular area of interest as defined by your intended research topic. In other words, try to find a suitable local supervisor and topic  BEFORE formally applying for admission. Depending on the university, you may not need additional courses if you already have a suitable masters degree, although you may be required by your supervisor to do some specific graduate courses, such as research methods or educational theory, if these are important to your topic and you have not studied them before.

If you find a willing and sympathetic local faculty member with an interest in e-learning but worried they don’t have the right expertise to supervise your particular interest, suggest a committee with an external supervisor (anywhere in the world) who really has the expertise and who may be willing to share the supervision with your local supervisor. Again, though, your chances of getting an external supervisor is much higher if that person already knows you or is aware of your work. Again, good e-learning professors are already likely to have a full supervision load, so it is not easy. (Whether good or not, my load is currently full!)

This means that even before applying for a Ph.D., you need to do some homework. Identify a topic with some degree of flexibility, have in mind an internal and an external supervisor, and show that you have done the necessary courses such as research methods, educational theory, etc., that will prepare you for a Ph.D. (or are willing to do them first).

Nearly all universities require ‘residency’, i.e. a physical presence on campus, for a Ph.D., but in reality the need for you to be there can be strictly limited. Most of your study can be done in your own locality. However, you will need to meet (in person or by phone) with at least your supervisor on a reasonably regular basis, and you should try to make meetings where other research students are discussing their work, or push for an online discussion forum for research students within the program.

Lastly, be sure you know why you want to do a Ph.D. There are only three good reasons:

  • because you want to teach about e-learning in a university;
  • because you want to do full-time research in e-learning when you have finished;
  • or (the best) you have a burning question you want to investigate.

If you cannot give a strong  ‘yes’ to at least one of those reasons, don’t do it. A Ph.D. is an expensive, time-consuming, and very frustrating waste of your time, otherwise.

See also:

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