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Instructional Design for Online Learning Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Education

School of Education

Step Up as a Leader in Instructional Design

Effect change as a leader in instructional design with Capella’s online PhD in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning degree. Expand your expertise in managing instructional design challenges in both traditional and online settings in educational institutions, corporations, health care, and more.

Curriculum focuses on instructional design theory and leadership, including creating and applying instructional design models, leading the implementation of solutions and strategic instructional design initiatives, and conducting and applying instructional design research. 

At a Glance

  • Online & In Person
  • 6 Core Courses
  • 8 Specialization Courses
  • 3 Elective Courses
  • 3 Residencies
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation

Classes Start January 7th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 Application Fee (waived w/promo WINTER)

What You’ll Learn

Learn & Apply Best Practices

Contribute to the enrichment of instructional design and development, the broader scholarly community, and society through research.

Implement Theory

Lead instructional design organizations and work groups.

Bridge Theory & Action

Implement learnings to lead development of new strategic instructional design initiatives.

Adhere to Ethics

Cultivate ethical behavior in the organization and broader community.

Our Unique Doctoral Structure

Our PhD in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will help guide you every step of the way.

Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Instructional Design Skills

Curriculum is based on principles set by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi®).

Focus on Your Goals Early

In your first course, you’ll create a professional development plan that can help you stay on track throughout your program.

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$730 per credit, 92 total quarter credits, 16 max transfer credits

Get the Details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to Save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer Credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. 


Grants are federal education funds that never need to be paid back. 

Federal Work Study

This program provides part-time jobs to reduce your loan debt amounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more.

Accredited & Respected

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Sample Courses

Our PhD in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning balances instructional design with the psychology of learning and technology. Curriculum emphasizes research and leadership in instructional design, and development and implementation of educational interventions. The program includes dissertation research seminars which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
ED7504 Leadership for Instructional Design
ED7496 Advanced Instructional Design
ED8829 Research in Instructional Design and Development
ED5803 Processes of Instructional Design

Move Forward in Your Career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our instructional design for online learning doctoral degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Assistant dean for distributed learning
  • Assistant or associate professor
  • Director of distance and continuing education
  • Director of e-learning
  • Director of education and development
  • Director of instructional design
  • Director of technology-assisted learning
  • Distance education specialist
  • Faculty development specialist
  • Full-time or adjunct faculty
  • Manager of computer-assisted instruction

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Adult education program
  • Community college
  • Continuing education program
  • Corporation
  • Educational consulting firm
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Health care industry
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Military education
  • P-12 education
  • Vocational school

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other Programs to Explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals. 

Ready for the Next Step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.