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Master of Science, Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement

Apply today for the Spring 2021 term!  Classes begin January 11, 2021.

In this 100% online program, students will explore best practices in the field of learning design, engage in problem-based learning activities, and develop immediately applicable solutions for today’s evolving classrooms in P-12, higher education, military, healthcare, corporate, and community settings.

Program Objectives

  • To prepare professionals for roles as highly skilled learning specialists capable of developing systems-based learning environments focused on performance improvement.
  • To provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge essential to understanding instructional processes for varied learners in a range of settings.
  • To instill the ethical and professional values essential to work within the field of education, training, and development.
  • To provide students with practical experiences in the development of learning tools and environments.
  • To instill in students the value of lifelong learning and a desire for continuous professional improvement and renewal.


There is a need for updated curricula for preparing educators and professional development specialists due to the rapid development of new learning technologies. Further, the move toward technology-facilitated learning and work environments equates to job growth for instructional designers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that jobs for instructional designers/architects will grow by 11 percent through 2026, much faster than the average rate of growth for all jobs. Continuing advances in technology and medicine mean that health care workers must be taught to operate new software, hardware, and equipment correctly and safely. As many organizations seek to improve employee performance and ensure their skills are up-to-date, training and development become vital areas for investment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment growth for training and development managers will grow 11 percent through 2026. The State of South Carolina also projects approximately 6% growth for instructional designers and training and developers. Additionally, the military is also expanding its online learning infrastructure to train service members around the world. Since 2013, Instructional Designers have made the CNN Money list of the Top 100 Jobs in America.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants from diverse academic, social, and cultural backgrounds committed to learning to design innovative learning environments and engaging in performance improvement are encouraged to apply. Applicants who do not meet a specific requirement (e.g., GPA), but show strength in other requirements will be considered on an individual basis. Admission is not based on any single factor, but on a composite assessment of the application materials.

  • Graduate Application (online) and non-refundable application fee.
  • Submission of an official transcript directly from each regionally accredited college or university from which a degree has been conferred. Applicants are expected to have a 2.5 cumulative undergraduate grade point average.
  • Submission of a detailed personal statement (500 – 1500 words) which informs the faculty about:
    • the applicant’s personal and educational background
    • strengths and weaknesses
    • understanding of and motivation for entering the MS-ISPI program.

Program Requirements

Students in the Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement Program complete eight common core courses, one elective, and a capstone experience for a total of 30 credit hours.

Common Core Courses

  • ISPI-500 Foundations and Principles of Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement
  • ISPI-510 Learning and Cognition
  • ISPI-520 Instructional Systems Design
  • ISPI-540 Principles of Learning Architecture and Environments
  • ISPI-550 Leadership in Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement
  • ISPI-555 Training and Performance Improvement
  • ISPI-560 Performance Improvement, Systems Assessment, and Usability
  • ISPI-565 Product Development and Performance Improvement

Electives (choose one)

  • PMGT-650 Overview of Technical Project Management
  • PMGT-651 Technical Project Planning and Scheduling
  • ISPI-535 Coding and Digital Applications
  • ISPI-545 User Experience and Design Thinking


  • ISPI-570 Capstone in Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement



“A micro-credential in Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement will help educational leaders assess complex instructional problems and identify diverse solutions to improve pedagogical instruction and student outcomes. Those who complete the micro-credential or the entire graduate program will gain a critical edge in our both the PK-12 and corporate world alike. It is more important than ever as schools and businesses move to online and try to navigate a new digital model and environment.”

Diana Cheshire, Ph.D. Professor in the Zucker Family School of Education

Topics of Study (9 hours):

  • Foundations of Instructional Design (ISPI 500)
  • Online Teaching and Learning Environments (ISPI 540)
  • Assessment and Improvement (ISPI 560)



Please contact Tara Hornor for more information.

US News and World Report Best Public College in the SouthFor eight consecutive years (2012-2019) The Citadel has been named the #1 Public College in the South offering up to a master's degree (U.S. News & World Report). The Citadel was also named the #1 College for Veterans in the South.

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