Doctor of Professional Studies - Instructional Design Leadership
Credit Hours
Max Transfer Credit
Class Type
Next Start Date
Aug 15, 2022
Years To Complete
Finish in as few as 3 years
Cost Per Credit

Elevate learning experiences with a doctorate in instructional design

Learning and development is a $165 billion annual industry, giving instructional design professionals much more prominence as both leaders and educators. Consistent, focused, professional development under the watchful eye of learning executives and consultants is leading to the creation of advanced cultures of inspiration and deeper senior leadership competencies. In the classroom, learning and development instructors are helping advance the way learning professionals research, understand and apply concepts and theories to the real world.

Program Availability

On Site

No-Fear Dissertation

Finish faster with a jumpstart to your dissertation.

3-Year Completion

Finish your DPS faster -- including one year for your dissertation.

Finish Faster

Transfer up to 24 hours of previously earned credit.

Personalized Program

Customize your program with a variety of electives.

100% Online Classes

Earn your degree around your schedule.

Relevant Curriculum

Become a leader in instructional design.

Program Overview

Innovate professional development. Transform learning and performance.

As an industry, learning and development is burgeoning. In fact, with more than $165 billion (not to mention thousands upon thousands of work hours) spent annually, learning and development is taking its rightful place within organizational hierarchies.

As a result, instructional design professionals are becoming more in demand at both leadership and educational levels.

Learning executives and consultants, for example, are being asked to bring more focus and cohesiveness to organizational development needs; to facilitate and exponentially expand knowledge transfer; to further develop senior leadership competencies; and to create advanced cultures of inspiration.

Learning, design and technology educators, too, are being asked to do more, including advancing research, understanding and application of discovery, learning and engagement.

Hone your expertise at a renowned intersection of theory and practice

When it comes to curriculum design and development we practice what we teach. Through the scholarship and leadership of our faculty, Franklin’s International Institution for Innovative Instruction has built a reputation for solving real-world learning challenges in both academic and professional settings. From government entities and K-12 schools to higher education and industry-leading organizations, our partners around the world reap the benefits of the applied knowledge of our faculty – and you will too.  

The Institute also houses our School of Education in which our faculty of teaching and learning experts collaborate with cooperating teachers at nearly 200 partner schools mentor aspiring K-12 teachers. 

Learn from the best

As a student in the DPS program, you’ll benefit from our faculty members who are scholars, leaders and distinguished researchers in their fields. With knowledge that spans traditional and corporate learning, you will find them to be invaluable partners and mentors on your doctoral journey. 

  • Dr. Yi Yang, DPS program chair, is a Fulbright scholar with research interests that include quality of online education; effectiveness of online teaching and learning and game-based learning. 
  • Dr. Matt Barclay is the recipient of several research grants. His research interests include instructional design, elearning, authentic learning, and human performance improvement. 
  • Dr. Joel Gardner, assistant dean of instructional design, is a Fulbright Specialist. His research interests include instructional theory and first principles of instruction. 
  • Dr. Natalya Koehler is an instructional design faculty with expertise in mixed methods research. Her research interests include online STEM education and interactive multimedia. 

Become a learning leader who leads  

Because people are inherently an organization’s most valuable asset, employers are continuing to demand more from their human capital investment. Forces such as global competition, developments in technology, greater job specialization, and a rise in knowledge-based industries have driven the need for a more educated workforce.

From verbal and written competencies, to technical and technological abilities, to advanced interpersonal aptitude, employers need leaders who can envision, direct and provide the kind of human capital development that aligns with company goals, transforms corporate culture and moves an organization forward.

Such leadership doesn’t come readily or routinely – instead, it requires proficiencies of the highest level. That’s why Franklin University is the first and only nonprofit institute of higher education to offer a professionally oriented doctoral degree in instructional design and leadership. Our terminal degree can prepare you to make smart, relevant connections between classroom learnings and real-world development effectiveness.

A practitioner-oriented education like Franklin’s differs from a research-based degree. Whereas a Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. in instructional design focuses on substantive advancement of theoretical research within a discipline, an applied doctorate degree like Franklin University’s transfer-friendly Doctor of Professional Studies in Instructional Design Leadership (DPS-Instructional Design Leadership), focuses on knowledge expansion within the discipline combined with knowledge application in the real-world setting.

Make a difference

Our instructional design doctorate program reinforces the core technical aspects of quality research, yet also equips you with such sought-after skills as leadership, communication, instructional design and training. Franklin’s applied doctorate is a practical degree that enables both subject mastery and field application. That means you’ll be prepared to apply doctoral-level research and problem solving to complex, real-world challenges.

Franklin’s applied Doctor of Professional Studies in Instructional Design Leadership is a program designed to help you:

  • Apply research in order to impact business performance
  • Design and develop advanced curricula and instructional products
  • Assess and refine your own leadership competencies
  • Differentiate yourself as a top performer or educator

Create innovative learning environments

Through our DPS program, you’ll focus on progressive and advanced approaches for designing effective, transformative learning and instruction. You’ll also examine applicable frameworks and implementation strategies for such learning environments as e-learning, blended and hybrid learning, mobile learning, game-based learning, and informal and social learning. Then, in light of the training needs of an organization, you’ll determine if, why, how and when to employ one or more of these frameworks and strategies.

Lead and manage at a strategic level

It’s been said that knowledge is power. Assuming that’s true, then organizational success can be attributed to the collective knowledge within that organization. How and where organizational knowledge is found, used and stored, however, can make or break the organization’s ability to advance, perform, thrive or transform. For this reason, Franklin’s DPS program equips you with the skills necessary to lead and manage learning at a very strategic level. You’ll not only learn how to identify and meet ever-evolving learning needs, you’ll do so within the context of the organization’s strategic goals.

Understand and assess trends & technology

Theories come and go, and technology seems to change every nanosecond. The challenge, then, isn’t just in keeping up, but also in how to determine which (if any) emerging principles, perspectives and products are worthy of adopting. With Franklin’s DPS in instructional design leadership, you’ll learn how to evaluate theories, models and frameworks, as well as strategically and tactically incorporate designs, processes and technologies for instruction and learning throughout an organization.

Get 360-degree support

We’ve taken a comprehensive and systematic approach to our online doctoral program, which includes team-based curriculum development, doctorally qualified faculty, and student-centered activities designed for the working adult. You’ll receive robust academic support from a variety of resources, including a graduate advisor, faculty advisor, personal librarian and peers, as well as the Student Learning Center staff and your Dissertation Committee members. You’ll also enjoy a cohesive and robust graduate culture and cohort. Together, our practice-minded faculty and your fellow students will support, mentor, encourage and keep you accountable to the program – and to yourself. At Franklin, you’re never alone on your doctoral journey.

Transfer up to 24 credit hours

Want to complete your terminal degree in less than three years? Franklin grants up to 24 hours of prior-learning credit for previous doctoral work. We honor your prior learning and make it easier to get credit for what you already know. Transfer credit can help you earn your applied doctorate degree faster, as well as reduce your overall tuition expenses.

Succeed with our unique dissertation structure

If there’s such a thing as a no-fear dissertation process, Franklin’s has it. We’ve intentionally designed a dissertation structure to help you complete your dissertation step-by-step, beginning with your enrollment in the program. We’ve also built-in faculty mentoring and guidance, and peer-to-peer support so you’re never left to “figure it out” on your own.

Throughout the DPS program, you’ll develop important research skills and the necessary writing prowess to publish a dissertation or dissertation in practice as a capstone project to your studies. Your dissertation will showcase your ability to identify a topic of interest within the workplace, develop a proposed solution to a problem, and test your hypotheses in the real world.

Read more >


DPS Student

"During a professional visit to Columbus, I had the opportunity to tour the Institute where Franklin has been designing and developing online programs for more than 20 years. The experience was so impressive that it prompted me to consider the DPS program."

Curriculum & Course Descriptions

58 Semester Hours
Research Core
GRAD 888 - Introduction to Doctoral Studies (1)

The doctoral colloquium is designed to build a community and ensure that learners have the support, motivation and guidance necessary to succeed in their doctoral programs. This first colloquia will also provide students with an overview of the doctoral program expectations, coursework sequence, doctoral student support services, as well as comprehensive exam and dissertation requirements. The first colloquium is designed to establish a learning community and graduate culture for the doctoral students at Franklin University. The doctoral colloquium will be held at the University's main campus in facilities that provide appropriate online interaction for out-of-state and international students.

ENG 800 - Doctoral Writing & Research (3)

In this course, students prepare to be active participants in advanced professional and academic discourse communities by practicing the writing and research strategies associated with their chosen field of study. By calling attention to the conventions of research writing, the course provides students the analytical tools that will help them join ongoing scholarly conversations. Students will analyze and compose a variety of academic writing genres as they develop a literature review over the course of the term. They will also develop their presentation, peer review, proofing, and reflection skills in alignment with the standards of advanced academic study.

MTHD 803 - Intro to Quantitative Methods & Design (2)

Through this course, students will gain an overview of quantitative research designs and methods. The course starts with successful completion of the CITI training - the protection of human research participants, to move on to an introduction of quantitative sampling designs, data collection approaches, experimental versus non-experimental designs, and data analysis. Students will engage in practical hands-on experience with formulating a research question or hypotheses, discussing important ethical issues, designing sampling methods, collecting data, and analyzing data. They will learn how to examine validity and reliability issues and will be introduced to available software for conducting quantitative design. At the end of this course, students will be introduced to the research proposal to get a start on the guidelines required for their dissertation proposal.

MTHD 804 - Intro to Qualitative Methods & Design (2)

Through this course, students will gain an overview of qualitative research designs and methods. The course starts with an introduction to qualitative approaches. Students will become familiar with the narrative approach, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case studies. This course will introduce students to some of the critical works in qualitative research methods and design and give an overview of the historical progression of the field. Students will gain hands-on experience with observations, qualitative data collection, and qualitative sampling design. They will also get some introduction in qualitative data analysis, validity, reliability, and researchers' bias in qualitative work. At the end of this course, students will be introduced to the research proposal to get a start on the guidelines required for their dissertation proposal.

MATH 807 - Introduction to Statistics (2)

This course will introduce the concepts of descriptive statistics and probability distributions. Topics will include basic statistical terminology, statistical graphs, numerical summaries of data, probability concepts and distributions, and sampling distributions. The course is designed to allow students integrate statistical software of choice with the aforementioned concepts and to provide opportunities to interpret resulting outputs.

MATH 810 - Applied Statistics (3)

Applications of statistical techniques and methods will be explored, including fundamental statistical tests for central values, variances and categorical variables; regression analysis and general linear model. The emphasis will be on selecting and applying the appropriate statistical techniques as well as interpretation and reporting of results with the use of a major statistical software. The course is also designed to provide numerous opportunities to critique statistical techniques commonly used in empirical research articles.

MTHD 820 - Advanced Quantitative Research & Design (3)

This is an advanced course in statistics that covers complex analyses used in education and data-driven decision making. The course is designed to broaden and deepen student understanding of advanced statistics in multivariate techniques. The emphasis of the course is on practical application of concepts learnt. To this end, the course is developed to balance theory and application and provides numerous opportunities for application to practical problems. Students will also complete their second colloquia.

OR MTHD 822 - Advanced Qualitative Research & Design (3)

The advanced qualitative research course builds on the knowledge and skills students acquire in GRAD 805. This course leads students on an in depth treatment of qualitative research methodology, exploring its theoretical underpinnings and associated methods for design, data collection, interpretation, and reporting of results. Ethics are emphasized for each stage of research. This course will guide students to develop the methodology and data analysis for their dissertation proposal and research. Students will also complete their second colloquia if they had not enrolled in GRAD 820.

OR MTHD 824 - Advanced Mixed Methods Research & Design (3)

Through this course, students will familiarize with mixed-methods research and design. They will gain knowledge on the four different types of mixed-methods: triangulation design, embedded design, explanatory design, and exploratory design. Students will learn how to conceptualize their own study in terms of these different design types. They will gain hands-on experience on how to formulate a research question fitted for a mixed-methods design, collect some data, and analyze it. They will discuss and learn about challenges and advantages of mixed-methods designs. At the end of this course students will be able to work on their dissertation proposal.

Major Area Required

At least 5 of the following courses:

EDUC 802 - Teaching in Higher Education (4)

The course will study the teaching and learning philosophies, methods, and techniques in higher education. Topics will cover learning theories, instructional design models, instructional strategies, and evaluation of student performance. By the end of this course, students will develop their own teaching philosophy along with an instructional unit demonstrating their mastery of learning theories and instructional design models, selection of proper learning technologies in designing the instruction, and incorporation of appropriate instructional and assessment methods. In addition, students will also explore faulty careers in higher education.

OR IDL 800 - Strategic Examination of Trends & Technology (4)

Leaders of instruction and learning must stay abreast of continual changes in technology and leverage them to ensure the competitiveness and health of their organization. However, not all technologies and emerging processes are worth adopting. In this course, students will examine pedagogical trends and emerging technologies. Students will learn how to evaluate theories and incorporate designs, processes, and technologies in strategic and tactical decisions for instruction and learning in the organization.

OR IDL 810 - Innovative Learning Environment Design (4)

In this course, students will be exposed to new and innovative approaches for designing effective learning and instruction. This course will equip students with knowledge of applicable frameworks and strategies for implementation at the organizational level. Students will review learning environments such as e-learning, blended and hybrid learning, mobile learning, game-based learning, and informal and social learning, to determine the appropriate learning environment based on the learning and training needs of an organization.

OR IDL 820 - Strategic Assessment & Decision Making (4)

Today's researchers, leaders and managers in the instructional design field must be able to use data to make decisions, as well as to influence others in their organizations. In this course, students will learn how to apply relevant tools, techniques, theories, and principles of strategic assessment and decision-making to address the learning and performance needs to continuous improvement for learning problems or a learning organization.

OR IDL 830 - Organizational Learning & Knowledge Management (4)

Learning and knowledge management is crucial to the success of organizations. In this course, students will go beyond the design of learning environments and acquire skills to lead and manage the learning organization at a strategic level. Students will be able to recognize and meet the evolving learning needs of an organization within the framework of the organization's strategic goals. Multicultural awareness and how to lead multi-functional and cross-cultural instructional design teams and projects will also be addressed in this course.

OR IDL 840 - Instructional Design Consulting (4)

Instructional design leaders often work in a consulting role with both internal and external clients and stakeholders. In this course, students will gain consulting skills in instructional design. Major topics of the course include: applying doctoral-level research strategies to analyze and evaluate learning and performance problems; communicating effectively with stakeholders; applying consulting strategies and skills; and creating a consulting professional development plan.

Major Electives

12 credits from levels 800-899 in the following subjects: ACCT, EDUC, HIM, HCM, HRM, MGMT, MKTG.

Dissertation/Dissertation in Practice Requirements
DISS 9000 - Comprehensive Exam (1)

This course is designed for students to prepare for, take and complete their comprehensive exam. Remedial strategies and actions will also be provided for students who do not successfully pass their comprehensive exam on the first attempt, with the opportunity for a retake during the six weeks of the course if the student chooses to do so.

At least 8 credits from the following courses:

DISS 9100 - Dissertation (1-4)

In consultation with the Dissertation Chair and Committee Members, the doctoral candidate will design and conduct research to complete the aims identified in their research prospectus, proposal and IRB application or as subsequently modified in line with recommendations from the Chair and Committee Members. This course may be repeated as necessary to earn sufficient credit or to finalize the Dissertation to fulfill requirements to earn the doctorate.

DISS 9200 - Dissertation in Practice (1-4)

In consultation with the Dissertation in Practice (DiP) Chair and Committee members, the doctoral candidate will design and conduct research to complete the aims identified in their research prospectus, proposal and IRB application or as subsequently modified in line with recommendations from the DiP Chair and Committee members. This course may be repeated as necessary to earn sufficient credit or to finalize the DiP to fulfill requirements to earn the doctorate.

DISS 9400 - Defense of Dissertation (1)

Doctoral candidates will finalize all aspects of the Dissertation/Dissertation in Practice and make an oral defense of their design, methods and findings.

Optional Focus Areas

Students may complete 8 credit hours of a focus area to count within the Major Elective requirement.


8 credits from the following subjects: ACCT


8 credits from the following subjects: EDUC


8 credits from the following subjects: HIM


8 credits from the following subjects: HCM


8 credits from the following subjects: HRM


8 credits from the following subjects: MGMT


8 credits from the following subjects: MKTG


8 credits from the following subjects: MTHD


8 credits from the following subjects: PUAD

Microcredentials Align with Job Essentials

In today’s dynamic work environments, adaptive professionals thrive. A microcredential - either as a stand-alone course or integrated into your degree program - is a short, skill-specific recognition that enables you to demonstrate your competency in a distinct area. Like Franklin’s degree programs, microcredentials are aligned with market and industry demand to ensure what you learn can be put to use right away. Microcredentials are easily shared via digital badges and can be stacked to create a unique portfolio of in-demand skills.


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Program Details

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Career Opportunities


Professors primarily plan curriculum, conduct original research, and teach and test students, helping expand their knowledge within a particular subject matter or discipline.

Adjunct Faculty

Adjunct Faculty are contingent or contractual instructors who plan lectures, teach specific courses within a field of study, assess learning outcomes and advise students.


Consultants are paid experts who assess a particular problem, challenge or opportunity and provide strategic recommendations for action.

Chief Learning Officer

Chief Learning Officers create, implement and oversee learning management strategies and initiatives and align them with human capital development.

Chief Academic Officer

Chief Academic Officers are responsible for providing leadership, vision and strategic direction for educational curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Director of Training and Development

Directors of Training and Development lead, implement, manage and oversee learning and development programs.

Training Manager

Training Managers assess training needs, define training requirements, devise programs and oversee implementation.

Lead or Senior Instructional Designer

Lead or Senior Instructional Designers assess training needs, establish learning objectives and collaborate with subject matter experts in the creation of training materials and products.

Director of Learning & Performance

Directors of Learning & Performance assess training needs and gaps, drive development strategies and manage training initiatives.

Direction of Talent Management

Directors of Talent Management assess learning paths and develop training materials, tools and resources to support transformative performance management.

Employment Outlook


From 2021-2031, jobs in Instructional Design Leadership are expected to increase by 9%

All Occupations

200,602 jobs
218,001 jobs

Source information provided by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI).

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