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Program Overview

Learning Design

Learning Design Certificate Program

Effective educators design new information in ways that people can engage with, understand, and use. The Learning Design certificate will help prepare educators, corporate training professionals, online learning designers, librarians, and museum professionals create meaningful and pedagogically sound digital learning experiences. Applicants must possess a graduate degree in order to be considered for this program.

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About the Learning Design Certificate Program

Learning Design Course Schedule

The Learning Design Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

Learning Design Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the Learning Design Faculty page.

Admission for the Learning Design Certificate Program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. Three to five years of professional experience in the related field is recommended but not required.

A list of admission requirements can be found on our Learning Design Admission page.

Learning Design Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our Learning Design Tuition page.

Learning Design Registration Information

Our Learning Design Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.


Find out more about Northwestern's Learning Design Certificate Program

Learning Design Required Courses

To earn a certificate, students must complete MS_IDS 422-DL Intro to Learning Theory, MS_IDS 423-DL Instructional Design, MS_IDS 425-DL Learning Environment Design and one additional MS_IDS course from the list below. In some cases, students who have completed equivalent coursework previously may be allowed to replace the required course with another course in the field.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

This certificate program can only be completed online.

Core Courses:Course Detail
User-Centered Design <> MS_IDS 401-DL

The User-Centered Design course gives students hands-on experience with the latest design frameworks and methodologies that focus on the end user. Students will learn how a user focused design process can be used to solve the most challenging problems facing businesses and organizations today. Students will be introduced to the latest trends in design thinking, the importance of iterative design frameworks, researching user needs, prototyping, collaboration and critical feedback.


View MS_IDS 401-DL Sections
Effective Communication <> MS_IDS 403-DL

When we add ourselves to the professional world--as a writer, an artist, or a technician (or a myriad of other professions), we find ourselves deep in the culture of organizations. We have to learn how to communicate in these environments and with people who often communicate quite differently than we do. In order to be efficient in our communication, we must be aware of our own communication strengths and weaknesses. We consciously and unconsciously are determining the audience we are communicating with, in order to tailor our message for effectiveness. In this day and age, digital communication plays an important and necessary role, as well. In this course, we will review and evaluate the above ideas so that students will learn how to communicate their fundamental ideas productively--from developing to writing to delivering specifications, reports, and presentations. We will examine collaboration, rhetoric, and storytelling in a professional context to assist in meeting our course goals.


View MS_IDS 403-DL Sections
User Research <> MS_IDS 405-DL

Students will learn how to conduct quantitative and qualitative research of user behavior to inform the design, development, and ongoing maintenance of digital assets. The course will give students hands-on experience with the key tools of usability testing, including prototyping, interviewing, site surveys, and site analytics.


View MS_IDS 405-DL Sections
Info and Content Strategy <> MS_IDS 407-DL

This course will explore how to plan and consistently execute content that supports an organization’s goals. Students will learn how to develop a content strategy, conduct a qualitative content audit, develop controlled vocabularies and lexicons, and choose the right medium (text, image, video, social interaction) for their message.


View MS_IDS 407-DL Sections
Data Management Principles <> MS_IDS 409-DL

Database systems are at the core of modern information systems. In this course, students will explore the principles of data management and data extraction. Database design, modeling, and implementation concepts will be reviewed and discussed. Students will learn how the different forms of data such as structured data in SQL databases, and unstructured data in NoSQL database systems are stored and accessed. Students will also learn how to query a database and extract useful information to support the decision making process for information design and strategy. The course has hands-on modules that provide the students with SQL and NoSQL programming skills in order to extract and process data from a database engine and present the information in forms suitable for end-users.


View MS_IDS 409-DL Sections
Info Design and Architecture <> MS_IDS 411-DL

Students will explore how to effectively design, organize, retrieve, and use information. Our goal will be to create structures that support the organization’s content strategy and facilitate user understanding and navigation. Topics will include semantic analysis, content hierarchy, metadata, and search engine optimization. Students will also learn how to analyze, design, and implement service oriented architecture (SOA) solutions.


View MS_IDS 411-DL Sections
Visual Communication <> MS_IDS 413-DL

Digital media rely on imagery and layout to communicate important and complex messages to its users. In this course, students will learn how cognitive science, cartography, human-computer interactions, design, and typography affect the ways that we perceive and interpret visual messages. Students will also learn techniques for identifying good visual design.


View MS_IDS 413-DL Sections
Courses:Course Detail
Intro to Learning Theory <> MS_IDS 422-DL

Effective instructional design begins with an understanding of the learning process. In this course, students will learn behaviorist, cognitive, constructivist, and social learning theories, and their relationship to instructional practices and course design. Factors that influence learning, such as learning styles, motivation, and engagement, are also explored.


View MS_IDS 422-DL Sections
Instructional Design <> MS_IDS 423-DL

Students learn the foundational principles and elements of instructional systems, from analysis through evaluation. They will explore commonly-used instructional design models and learn how to apply them in an education or training environment. Students will practice incorporating sound instructional strategies into the design and development of prototypes in real-world instructional settings.


View MS_IDS 423-DL Sections
Learning Environment Design <> MS_IDS 425-DL

This course is an introduction to the ideas, principles, and techniques used in educational media or systems, focusing on both the theoretical and practical aspects of design. The process of design will be guided by various design frameworks, and informed by current research on the design and study of learning environments. Students will learn how to assess interactive learning models and solutions. They will also learn how various technologies can affect the behavioral, cognitive, and social dimensions of learning.


View MS_IDS 425-DL Sections
Advanced Writing Workshop <> MS_IDS 432-DL

In this graduate advanced writing workshop, students of information design and strategy will explore the use of hybrid and technical craft in writing to communicate their sensory, emotional, and practical knowhow through the use of experimental creative writing assignments and information design writing projects that will prepare them for the marketplace. Students will also study comprehensive texts in hybrid writing and storytelling, and engage in collective discussions of weekly reading topics while producing assignments that evolve from visual and informational experiences which are related to the field. At its heart, this course requires readings, instructions, and practice that give graduate students insight into storytelling and technical writing methods to help awaken present-day content creation and management processes.


View MS_IDS 432-DL Sections
Social Media and Content <> MS_IDS 433-DL

This course will help professional writers effectively implement a social media strategy. It provides a detailed overview of each of the major social networking websites and how consumers and businesses use them. Students will also learn how to effectively identify, select, and share the best and most relevant online content for their audience.


View MS_IDS 433-DL Sections
Persuasion MS_IDS 435-DL

Acts of persuasion influence us in all aspects of our lives. This course will examine the different ways in which we observe and use persuasion in the communication we have with our families and friends, our workplace, and the general public. How effective are we? How are we affected by persuasion? We will explore how we use communication strategically to facilitate persuasion, both in thought and in action. We will look at the foundations and ethics of persuasion, including how we process persuasion, as well as how digital media affects the use of persuasion. In addition, we will explore various mediums and modes of persuasion through a variety of written and creative projects. The course will culminate in an overall assessment of how persuasion impacts us, as individuals and as a society, in a project that reflects influence in the workplace. Students should identify and apply their professional and personal life experiences to the course materials, as well as have a working understanding of communication and writing.


View MS_IDS 435-DL Sections
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