The recent growth of distance education, also known as eLearning, has led to a growing demand for distance education professionals at corporations, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Distance learning degrees prepare you to lead distance education programs in both the public and private sectors. If you would like to work at the intersection of technology and education, learn more about what it takes to get a doctoral or master’s degree in distance education.
Overview of Distance Learning Education Degrees
Degrees in distance education are typically offered at the graduate level. You could pursue a Master of Science (MS), Master of Education (Med), Education Specialist (EdS), Doctor of Education (EdD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
Graduate programs will require you to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field, as well as provide standardized test scores. A master’s degree in distance learning typically takes two years to complete, whereas education specialist degrees are usually 30 to 40 credits beyond the master’s degree. Doctoral degrees can take from three to five years to finish and may require the completion of a master’s degree prior to admittance.
Most distance education master’s degree programs are designed for working adults. The coursework can be done online, allowing adult students to complete their studies without interrupting their current careers. Whether you are already working in the field of distance education and would like to further your current career or you would like to transition into the distance education field, a master’s degree program in distance learning can help you achieve your objectives.
Curriculum for Distance Education Master’s Degree Programs
Rather than training for a career as an online teacher at a high school or university, the goal of graduate degree programs in distance education is to teach you how to educate managers, leaders, and teachers in online instruction. There are several different areas of distance learning that you can specialize in, such as distance education technology, distance education curriculum, distance education teaching and training, and distance education policy and management, among others.
Courses that students in distance education master’s degree programs may be required to take include the following:
- Foundations of distance education & learning
- Technology in distance education
- Learner support in distance education & training
- Online learning & development in the workplace
- Training & learning with multimedia
- Leadership in distance education & eLearning
- Emerging technology trends & issues in distance education
Graduates of distance education programs are typically prepared to work as leaders, managers or team members in distance education programs. They are equipped to develop strategic goals for distance education within an organization, as well as design and implement support services for distance education programs. Skills that you may develop in a distance education program include strategic action planning, business development, organizational management, information technology, and leadership abilities.
Careers Opportunities in Distance Education
Types of Jobs
Distance education graduates work in traditional teaching settings at colleges and universities, as well as corporate training environments. Jobs in distance education include that of instructional coordinator, academic director of online programs, and training and development specialist. Instructional coordinators and academic directors of online programs are typically involved in designing and overseeing the implementation of curriculum in school settings, whereas training and development specialists are involved in creating and implementing programs in the workplace.
Employment Outlook and Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of instructional coordinators is expected to grow 13% from 2012 to 2022, which is about as fast as average. Although there will be a need for instructional coordinators in the education field, hiring will often depend on state and government budgets. The employment of training and development specialists should grow at a faster than average rate of 15% in the coming decade, as organizations continue to grow and introduce online technologies into their training programs. In 2013, instructional coordinators earned a median annual salary of $60,610, and training and development specialists earned $56,850.
Earning a Master’s Degree in Distance Learning
Distance education is a rapidly developing and expanding field. Distance learning was originally designed for people who could not attend traditional schools, enabling them to overcome the barriers of time and space. Today, students of all ages can pursue distance education courses and study a wide variety of subjects in an array of settings. Start working towards a master’s degree in distance education if you would like to build a career in this burgeoning field.