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Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, MS, PhD

Specialization(s): Instructional Development for Training and Education (MS)
Department: Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department
College: Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

About This Degree

ITLS is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on understanding teaching and learning as they occur in school, online, in the workplace, at home, and in the community. It also addresses the design of environments with the potential to facilitate learning and development more effectively. Additionally, students can focus on the use of emerging technologies and their potential to work as a support for learning or to promote change in learning.

Students with bachelor’s degrees in any area can earn a graduate degree in ITLS, and it is particularly beneficial to those with backgrounds in graphic arts, business administration, management information systems, computer science, technical writing, and more. Students focus on the core areas of theory and design and learn to use design skills and other technologies in a variety of business areas, customized to specific career goals.


The goal of the MS program is to prepare individuals for careers in instructional design and development in business, industry, government, and education. Positions range from highly design-oriented jobs requiring extensive instructional development skills to product development-oriented jobs requiring skills in media production.

This program prepares people to handle a variety of possible positions. Graduates can use these skills in preparing educational materials for visitors at nature centers, historical sites, and other places that aim to educate the public. They can also design distance-learning classrooms and use the skills learned in their graduate program in the field of education.


The PhD is geared toward students interested in pursuing research careers and for those interested in working as faculty or in other positions within a higher education environment. While coursework overlaps with the MS, there is a much stronger research focus for PhD students.


A specialization is not required.

  • Instructional Development for Training and Education (MS): This specialization deals with performance systems, project management, and courses in design tools, such as Dreamweaver, Flash, other Adobe programs, and more.


  • MS - Logan Campus
  • PhD - Logan Campus

Distance Education

The instructional technology and learning sciences degree (MS) without a specialization is available online through USU-Online.

Those with PhDs typically pursue careers in academia. Those with master’s degrees may work in the private sector, academia, work for themselves, or work directly or indirectly for the government, including both K-12 and military settings. Depending on their interests, students may decide to focus on administration and project management, on design work, or on development-oriented efforts. Graduates gain the technical skills and theoretical knowledge to succeed in a wide variety of fields and with companies and organizations across the spectrum. The following list demonstrates the depth and variety of career paths available.

  • Faculty support at an academic institution
  • Traditional classroom teacher (with additional education and licensure)
  • Entrepreneur (instructional design firm, etc.)
  • In-house corporate trainer
  • Instructional designer (In-house corporation, military, etc.)
  • Corporate chief educator
  • Government sub-contractor for the military
  • Human resources (it is recommended that students take electives in the school of business)
  • Chief learning officer
  • Designer for informal learning environments (museums, nature facilities, etc.) 
  • Videographer
  • Project manager
  • Webmaster
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Technical writer
  • E-learning specialist (distance learning, digital classroom designer, etc.)
  • Educational or curriculum software consultant
  • Independent consultant (contracting jobs from organizations)
  • Graphic designer
  • Information systems programmer
  • Simulation and games design specialist
  • Mobile app developer

Admissions Requirements

Students are welcome from any undergraduate background.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on in the GRE or MAT (GRE only for PhD)
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admissions Deadlines

The department has the following deadlines:

Doctoral degree:

  • Fall semester – January 31

Master's degree:

  • Fall semester – April 1

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MS by pursuing the Plan A option where they complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

Financial Assistance

Graduate assistantships are available through the department, both through department funds and faculty grants. The availability of these assistantships varies from year to year; check with the department for more information.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, tuition awards, and travel support. Additionally, students may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through qualifying assistantships.

Program Requirements

Click here to see course requirements for the Master of Science.

Click here to see course requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy.

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must take both written and oral comprehensive examinations. The written examination ensures that students have a broad understanding of instructional technology and the depth of knowledge in their chosen fields required for PhD work. The written examination must be passed before the oral examination is attempted. These must be taken after all coursework is completed, but before the student proposes their dissertation.


Launa Julander
Staff Assistant
Office: EDUC 215
Phone: (435) 797-2694
Email: launa.julander@usu.edu


Brian Belland, PhD, Purdue University
Assistant Professor
Area: Scaffolding, problem-based learning, psychometrics, STEM education, service learning, technology integration
Office: EDUC 207
Phone: (435) 797-2535
Email: brian.belland@usu.edu

Anne Diekema, PhD, Syracuse University
Assistant Professor
Area: Digital libraries, information retrieval, information organization, and human information behavior
Office: EDUC 209
Phone: (435) 797-2697
Email: anne.diekema@usu.edu

Sheri Haderlie, PhD, Utah State University
Senior Lecturer, Outreach Program Manager/Advisor
Area: Distance education
Office: EDUC 227
Phone: (435) 797-7003
Email: sheri.haderlie@usu.edu

Yanghee Kim, PhD, Florida State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Pedagogical agents, teacher education, instructional design, learning theory, intelligent tutoring systems, human/computer interaction
Office: EDUC 211
Phone: (435) 797-2653
Email: yanghee.kim@usu.edu

Victor Lee, PhD, Northwestern University
Assistant Professor
Area: Visual representations, curriculum design, cognitive science, everyday and intuitive reasoning, conceptual change
Office: EDUC 227
Phone: (435)797-7562
Email: victor.lee@usu.edu

Mimi Recker, PhD, University of California – Berkeley
Department Head, Professor
Area: Cognitive modeling, interactive learning
Office: EDUC 215
Phone: (435) 797-2692
Email: mimi.recker@usu.edu

Andy Walker, PhD, Utah State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Problem-based learning, collaborative information filtering, situated cognition
Office: EDUC 201
Phone: (435) 797-2614
Email: andy.walker@usu.edu

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Instructional Technology Student Association: ITSA is dedicated to students in the department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. Our mission is to create a positive atmosphere wherein professional excellence and moral principles coexist.

Labs, Centers, Research

ITLS Computer Laboratories: The ITLS Department provides two computer labs for its students and instructors. The computer labs are used as classrooms, but when a class is not scheduled, it is an open lab to ITLS students only. Labs are equipped with a wide variety of specialty software and programs, providing students with access to the tools they use in their coursework, such as the latest version Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Pro, and more. Students have access to both Macs and PCs.

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