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An online master’s in training and development prepares students to work with human resources departments to design and implement corporate training programs. Training and development managers are responsible for educating employees and directing skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs.

Most online graduate degrees in training and development require between 30 to 40 credit hours, which typically takes up to two years for a full-time student to complete. The average cost for a graduate degree was $19,749 for the 2020-2021 school year. Private schools were the most expensive, averaging $26,621 per year, while public schools were the most affordable at approximately $12,394 annually. A graduate degree pays off in the long run, with training and development managers bringing home an annual salary of roughly $120,130.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Training and Development Program

Choose your area of study

As a training and development student, you can choose a master of arts degree (M.A.) or a master of science degree (M.S.). Both are regarded equally in the field but prioritize different aspects of the same area of study. An M.S. degree will focus more on curriculum design’s scientific and technical aspects, while an M.A. will prioritize the humanities and theoretical aspects of adult learning.

Depending on the kind of organization you hope to work for, there are several areas of concentration you can choose from:

  • Business Administration
  • Consulting
  • Human Resources Leadership
  • Health Administration
  • Instructional Design
  • Training Management

Research schools and programs

In your research, it’s crucial to include your personal preferences and career goals alongside other considerations such as program length, cost, and accessibility. For instance, do you prefer to study alone or in groups? Do you like classes that begin and end on a set schedule, or do you enjoy taking classes at your own pace? These kinds of questions will help prioritize your needs and lifestyle.

In addition, pay attention to your school’s accreditation status. Online programs should be held to the same standards as on-campus programs, and accreditation ensures that these standards and ethical considerations have been met. For accreditation information, the U.S. Department of Education lists accrediting agencies and what to look for in your program.

Prepare for tests and applications

Students interested in training and development come from various backgrounds, so each school’s admissions requirements will vary. The best way to prepare for the application process is to contact your school’s admissions team. A counselor can tell you if there are any grade point average thresholds or if you need to take any standardized testing. Some schools offer rolling admissions, but others have strict deadlines. Be sure to search your school’s website and student catalog for additional program requirements as well.

Select your program

As you make your final decisions, take advantage of your school’s student services. Support services for online students are an essential feature of any program. Since you likely can’t visit your campus physically, it’s reassuring to know how accessible assistance will be when you need it.

Similarly, ask your admissions counselor about student groups or online meetups where you can get a feel for the program’s sense of community. Other questions you might want to consider:

  • Are faculty mentorships available?
  • How does the school provide academic and social support?
  • How does the school ensure it is meeting the needs of its students?

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

While you can usually find the per-credit cost for your program online, there are often other student fees that aren’t included in this number. Depending on your program, you may have technology, library, or laboratory fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars. Contacting your school’s financial aid office is the best way to get an accurate estimate of costs.

Most students begin their financial planning by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form will help determine your eligibility for tuition assistance or affordable loans.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Training and Development Programs

Best Online Masters in Training and Development Programs Badge

NC State University

USC Bovard College

Western Carolina University

Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations

Drexel University

Webster University

Clemson University

University of Louisville

Penn State World Campus

University of Georgia

University of St. Francis

Middle Tennessee State University

Tennessee Tech University

Amberton University

Pittsburg State University

Colorado State University

Boise State University

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Lewis University

Purdue University

Roosevelt University

Eastern Illinois University

University of Memphis

Idaho State University

University of Wisconsin at Stout

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

The degrees on this list are focused exclusively on training and development. While all are master’s degrees, some programs award a Master of Science while others award a Master of Arts or Master of Professional Studies.

Each program is accredited by a professional organization such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). These organizations oversee master’s degree programs to ensure they comply with education standards. This accreditation ensures that credits earned are transferable and that degrees are recognized throughout the United States.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Training and Development Program?

Experts in organizational training and development are in high demand and are tasked with delivering effective education that creates positive change in workplace outcomes.

Students in an online master’s in training and development program can expect to take courses in psychology, communication, learning theories, instructional design, and needs assessments. Some technology training may be required, as e-learning has become a standard on-the-job training method. In addition, some programs will require hands-on fieldwork and a final capstone project.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in training and development program

  • Foundations of Instructional Technology. Students are introduced to the foundational theories of instructional strategies and computer-based learning tools.
  • Instructional Design. Students examine instructional design methods and learn how to develop interventions using analysis, design, and evaluation. The course covers a variety of learning environments and instructional strategies. Students also study the art and science of communication.
  • Educational Leadership. Students explore the theories and practices of leadership, specifically within the framework of educational programs and institutions. Students will examine leadership theories, psychology, organizational change, and conflict resolution.
  • Principles and Practices of Adult Learning. Students apply their skills in adult learning to create effective training programs and learning environments. Students evaluate internal and external conditions that affect learning and strategies that increase instructional effectiveness.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Training and Development?

Career outlook

An online master’s degree in training and development equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to design, implement, and manage effective training programs that enhance employee performance and contribute to organizational success. Organizations recognize the importance of investing in employee training and development to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of training and development managers is projected to grow by six percent in the next decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations. BLS data indicates that training and development managers earn a median salary of $120,000 annually.

Career paths

Graduates with an online master’s degree in training and development have a wide range of career paths to explore. The skills acquired during their education make them valuable assets to organizations in various sectors. Furthermore, as businesses increasingly embrace online and remote work environments, there is a growing demand for professionals who can design and deliver effective virtual training programs. This trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making online training and development expertise highly relevant.

Here are some common career paths for individuals with a master’s degree in training and development:

  • Instructional designer — creates effective learning materials, such as training manuals and multimedia presentations, to engage learners and achieve specific objectives
  • Human resources manager — oversees an organization’s HR functions, including recruitment, training, and talent development
  • Change management specialist — helps organizations navigate transitions and transformations effectively
  • Corporate trainer — delivers training programs to employees within organizations
  • Talent development manager — identifies and nurtures the skills and potential of employees to support organizational growth

Training and Development Manager

Earning Potential: $63,770-$195,810 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in training and development or related field

A training and development manager designs, implements, and oversees training programs within an organization. They assess the training needs of employees or departments and develop tailored training curricula to enhance skills and performance. These professionals collaborate with subject matter experts to create engaging content and may use various instructional methods, including e-learning and workshops. They also evaluate training program effectiveness, gather feedback, and make improvements as needed. Additionally, training and development managers stay updated on industry trends and best practices to ensure that employees receive relevant and effective training.

Organizational Development Consultant

Earning Potential: $57,110-$151,780 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in training and development, organizational development, or related field

An organizational development consultant enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of businesses and institutions. They analyze an organization’s structure, processes, and culture to identify areas requiring improvement. Organizational development consultants design and implement strategies for leadership development and employee engagement. They work closely with management to facilitate transitions and optimize workflow. These professionals use diagnostic tools such as surveys and assessments to measure progress and success. They aim to create healthier, more productive work environments that align with an organization’s goals and values.

E-Learning Specialist

Earning Potential: $50,390-$119,720 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in training and development, instructional design, or related field

An e-learning specialist creates and delivers online educational content and training programs. They design engaging and interactive e-learning modules, courses, and materials using various digital tools and platforms. E-learning specialists may incorporate multimedia elements and gamification techniques to enhance learning experiences. They ensure that online training is accessible and user-friendly. These specialists often provide technical support to learners and collaborate with subject matter experts to develop relevant content. E-learning specialists help promote remote and self-paced learning, making education and training accessible to a broader audience in diverse industries.

Online Master’s in Training and Development Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in training and development degree program?

Speak to your admissions counselor about your educational goals and personal experience. They can advise about transfer credits, application fee waivers, and what materials you need to apply to your program.

Typical graduate admissions will require the following documents:

  • Official transcripts. It can take some time to retrieve official transcripts from your undergraduate institution, so include this in your planning.
  • Letters of recommendation. Colleges often ask for two or three letters from former academic advisors attesting to your discipline and scholarship.
  • GRE scores. While not every school will ask for these, you may be asked for them if you apply for any scholarships or grants.
  • Application essay or letter of intent. This essay is a good way for colleges to assess your writing and communication skills while also understanding your commitment.

How much does an online master’s in training and development degree cost?

Most graduate schools charge a lower per-credit fee for in-state students. Non-residents can sometimes pay more than double the in-state rate. For instance, North Carolina State University charges about $553 per credit for residents and $1,663 for non-residents. However, some colleges have a smaller gap, such as Oakland University, which charges residents $872 per credit and non-residents $1,027. Generally, a student can expect to pay at least $20,000 in tuition for an online master’s in training and development degree.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in training and development degree?

Most online master’s in training and development degrees require between 30 and 40 credits or roughly 10 to 13 classes. Full-time students can finish the program in one to two years, but many students opt for part-time attendance, especially if they remain employed while they go to school.

Part-time students will likely need three to five years to complete their degree. Depending on the program, there may be opportunities to finish more quickly with transfer credits or an accelerated program that allows students to take more credits simultaneously.

Is an online master’s degree in training and development worth it?

This degree can open doors to leadership roles in training and development, human resources, or organizational improvement. If you aspire to manage training programs or lead organizational change initiatives, the advanced knowledge and skills gained through this master’s degree can be highly valuable.

Although multiple factors, such as location and job responsibilities, impact the salary range for jobs in this field, the average pay rates are high for training and development professionals. According to, a training and development manager makes a median salary of between $117,777 and $153,925, with those at the top of the field earning even more.

Online programs can be an excellent choice for many learners. Those who are already working will appreciate the flexibility of online programs that offer asynchronous courses, available at your convenience. Earning your degree online also demonstrates to potential employers that you are self-motivated and possess good time management skills.