Earning a Master's in Training & Development Online

Getting a master's in training and development can lead to a career in the workforce development field. On average, employers spend $1,200 per employee on professional training and development, and this figure increases each year. This creates a demand for professionals skilled in instructional design, performance enhancement, and human resource development, making it the perfect time to earn an online training and development degree.

This degree proves ideal for recent bachelor's graduates and business professionals looking to advance their careers and increase earning potential. Below you can learn about typical program requirements and admission expectations, along with information on professional organizations, funding opportunities, and resources.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Training & Development?

Many bachelor's students in fields such as business administration, human resources, or education pursue an online master's in training and development. Additionally, human resources and development professionals often earn a professional certification or a graduate degree to advance their careers and boost their earning potential.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Training & Development?

Pursuing Specialization

Earning an online master's in training and development enables human resources specialists and other business professionals to pursue more specialized roles in workforce development. For example, the degree can allow an HR manager to transition into a training and development manager role. This degree also allows one to branch out into a wider variety of industries. A development worker in finance, for instance, can find a new job in healthcare, government, or education.

Career Advancement Opportunities

A master's in training and development boosts your knowledge, expertise, and credentials, and it can lead to a senior-level position with higher pay and increased responsibility. A master's degree can help you move up in your organization or land an advanced position with another company. Hiring managers and employers often prefer candidates with advanced degrees, and some positions require a master's degree in the field.

Online Learning Technology

As businesses become increasingly globalized, knowledge of the latest communication technologies proves necessary for any training and development professional. Earning a master's degree in the field is a great way to become familiar with cutting-edge learning tools. Taking courses online provides hands-on experience with common web-based learning platforms. Familiarity with these applications can help you become a more effective educator and advance your career.

Prerequisites for Online MBA TD Programs

Prospective master's students should research the admission requirements for getting into the graduate school of their choice. Below, we list some common prerequisites for admission to online master's in training and development programs.

  • Work Experience: Most master's in training and development programs do not require professional experience, and students can enter many of these programs straight from their undergraduate studies. However, many programs review applicants' resumes and award course credits or standardized test waivers to students with significant work experience.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Many graduate training and development programs require exam scores from the GRE, GMAT, or Miller Analogies Test. If your scores are more than 5-10 years old, universities may require you to retake the tests.
  • Coursework: Though most students do not need any prerequisite courses to earn admission, an undergraduate degree in human resources, training and development, or instructional design may provide important foundational knowledge. Most schools require a minimum undergraduate GPA between 2.5 and 3.5.
  • Recommendations: Most programs require applicants to provide letters of recommendation. These letters, typically written by college professors or employers, speak to the applicant's character, academic achievement, professional abilities, and overall preparedness for graduate education.
  • Essays: Some programs require a personal statement or essay for admission. A personal statement may include your qualifications, academic goals, career aspirations, and reasons for choosing the program or school. Some programs request an essay in which students describe how they handled a professional situation.
  • Interviews: Some graduate training and development programs require an interview. During the interview, applicants describe their career goals, their accomplishments, and their thoughts on the field. Online programs may conduct interviews over the phone or through a video conference.
  • International Students: International applicants typically must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to demonstrate proficiency in English.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Training & Development?

Traditional Careers for MBA TD's

Career Stats Description

Human Resources Manager

Median Pay: $110,120

Job Growth: 9%

Training and development is fundamental to an HR manager's role; this position also requires recruiting, monitoring workers' rights, mediating disputes, and connecting employees and employers.

Ideal for: Business- and people-savvy managers who provide objectivity and perspective under pressure.

Training & Development Manager

Median Pay: $108,250

Job Growth: 10%

Ideal for: Leaders who can see the big picture and strategically plan for the long term.

Senior Recruiter

Median Pay: $70,875

Job Growth: 7%

Senior-level recruiters work with upper management to make sure vacant positions fill quickly. They hire employees across multiple departments and consider budgetary constraints when making hiring decisions.

Ideal for: Human resources specialists who can effectively judge candidates and confidently hire for advanced positions.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Pay: $81,390

Job Growth: 27%

These professionals use advanced analytical, modeling, and statistical techniques to solve operational issues. They identify problems in an organization, gather relevant information, and propose possible solutions to managers. This position is office-based, though analysts may travel to observe business operations.

Ideal for: Analysts with superior math and problem-solving skills.

Non-Traditional Careers for MBA TD's

Career Stats Description


Median Pay: $101,560

Job Growth: 22%

Actuaries help businesses avoid and assess financial risk. They use database software and advanced statistics tools to predict the probability of an event and estimate possible financial costs. Actuaries work primarily for financial institutions and insurance companies.

Ideal for: Mathematically capable professionals with computer science experience.

Technical Writer

Median Pay: $70,930

Job Growth: 11%

Sometimes called technical communicators, these professionals convey complex information through instruction manuals, articles, and other technical documentation. They work with engineers and other technical specialists to communicate important product information to consumers, users, and businesses.

Ideal for: Skilled writers versed in the latest technology and software.

Financial Analyst

Median Pay: $84,300

Job Growth: 11%

Financial analysts go by a variety of titles, including securities analyst, investment analyst, and portfolio manager. They study market trends and advise businesses and individuals on where to invest their money. They often work in banks, mutual funds, and insurance companies.

Ideal for: Finance and economics experts with a passion for investing.

Occupational Therapist

Median Pay: $83,200

Job Growth: 24%

Occupational therapists are healthcare specialists who help patients perform day-to-day activities. They may assess a patient's home or workplace and recommend improvements. These therapists prescribe exercises and adaptive technologies to aid recovery and improve daily life.

Ideal for: Compassionate people interested in helping others lead active and fulfilling lives.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Training & Development

The total cost of a master's degree in training and development can vary depending on tuition rates and study timelines. Some universities charge a flat rate per credit so that the program costs the same amount no matter how long it takes to earn the degree. Other colleges charge per semester, giving students an incentive to increase their course load and choose an accelerated path. Financial aid from companies and professional organizations can diminish the cost of a degree.

Tuition Timelines

The list below includes some of the most common study timelines that online master's in training and development students can pursue.

Part-Time Path

Students take 1-2 courses per semester; this allows them to maintain a full-time job and other commitments such as caring for their children.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: North Carolina State University
Total Credits Required: 36
Summary: This program takes 2-3 years to complete, and tuition costs a total of $44,820 for out-of-state students. Students must enroll in at least one course per semester.

Full-Time Path

Students take four courses per semester and earn a degree in 1-2 years. Full-time students take on a heavier load and should consider the total time investment prior to beginning.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: The University of Southern Mississippi
Total Credits Required: 33
Summary: Students finish in around 18 months and pay $12,936 for three semesters of full-time study.

Accelerated Path

Students take extra credits each term and finish faster than typical full-time students. These intensive programs require a full commitment from students.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Northcentral University
Total Credits Required: 30-36
Summary: Master's students in this program earn their degree in one year and three months, paying just over $21,000. They can specialize in corporate wellness or organizational leadership, among other options.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Many graduate students take advantage of scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities to help pay for a degree. The list below includes some scholarships for training and development students.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Training & Development Program

Master's programs in training and development vary from school to school but share key characteristics. Students typically spend 1-3 years working toward their degrees, as these programs generally require 30-36 credits. Some programs include a capstone seminar that explores advanced topics in adult education and employee development, while others require a lengthy research paper or thesis.

Major Milestones

  1. Begin Foundational Coursework - Two years prior to graduation

    The first milestone after admission into a master's in training and development program involves starting introductory coursework in human resources, research methods, and writing.

  2. Begin Advanced Coursework - 12-18 months prior to graduation

    After completing prerequisite courses, students progress to higher-level classes dealing with analytics, strategic planning, and organizational development.

  3. Begin Thesis Research - One year prior to graduation

    Master's students work with a faculty adviser to identify an original research topic, find sources, and develop a research plan.

  4. Internship or Practicum Requirement - 6-12 months prior to graduation

    In their last year, some master's students complete supervised work in training or human resources for credit.

  5. Begin Capstone Course - Four months prior to graduation

    Instead of a thesis, many programs require a capstone course where students apply their advanced knowledge to a business or management scenario.

  6. Thesis Defense - One month prior to graduation

    If the program requires a thesis, students present their research and field questions from a panel of faculty members.


Many master's in training and development degrees offer all coursework online. Below, you can learn about some of the common online courses in graduate training and development programs.

Introduction to Human Resources

Students examine the overall role of human resources management in an organization. They explore the function of HR in different sectors and industries and study the major differences between organizational environments.

Organization Development

This course covers how organizations create programs to increase effectiveness, productivity, profitability, and overall financial health. Students explore how companies identify issues and adjust their strategy, structure, management, and workforce.

Instructional Design

This course prepares students to develop training programs that reflect an organization's primary goals and concerns. The course introduces the basic elements of successful learning programs and discusses both formal and informal education strategies.

Performance Analysis and Measurement

In this course, students learn about various approaches for evaluating employee performance. They learn to how measure success based on qualitative and quantitative information and how to improve performance through professional development and other strategies.

Integrating Learning and Development Technologies

In this course, students learn about emerging training and development technologies. They gain experience with common learning tools and learn to identify the ideal technology for various development scenarios.

Requirements to Practice

While there are no state licensing requirements for training and development, graduate students should consider applying for an industry certification. Earning a certification in training, human resources, or management demonstrates advanced knowledge and expertise to potential employers. Certifications can lead to a raise or promotion.

  • SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP): The Society for Human Resource Management credential proves advanced knowledge and skills in the human resources field. Candidates take a four-hour exam that costs $300 for members and $400 for nonmembers. The 160-question exam includes knowledge-based and situational judgment questions.
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR): The HR Certification Institute awards this credential to entry-level and intermediate-level HR workers. The exam costs $495 and tests candidates' knowledge of five HR topics, including learning and development. More experienced professionals can apply for the senior professional in human resources (SPHR).
  • Certified Performance Technologist (CPT): The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) offers this certification to professionals with at least three years of work experience. Candidates must describe projects they worked on, provide recommendations from clients or employers, and pay a $995 fee. Students receive a 50% discount.
  • Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD): The Association for Talent Development offers this credential to early career training and development professionals. Candidates with training-related college education also need two years of work experience. The two-hour, multiple choice exam costs $400 for members and $600 for nonmembers.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations offer training and development students invaluable resources as they work toward degrees and advance their careers. These organizations support development students and professionals through networking opportunities, job postings, and continuing education programs. The list below includes some of the major professional associations and resources for training and development students.

  • Association for Talent Development: This organization unites professionals such as talent development managers, performance consultants, and instructional designers. It supports training and development workers through research, books, education programs, and annual conferences.
  • International Society for Performance Improvement: This association supports performance improvement professionals in industries like consulting, government, and academia. The organization offers hands-on training workshops, monthly webinars, and local chapter meetings.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: SHRM boasts over 300,000 members from 165 countries. The association advances human resource management by providing information on topics like employment law, diversity practices, and employee development.
  • American Management Association: AMA educates business professionals across industries on a variety of management topics, including training and development. Members gain access to books, seminars, publications, webinars, and other continuing education resources.
  • American Association for Adult and Continuing Education: AAACE supports adult educators by fostering research, promoting best practices, connecting professionals, and advocating for policy. Student and professional members gain access to webinars, publications, and an annual conference.
  • SHRM How-To Guides: These guides teach students and entry-level human resources workers how to fill out certain forms, create job descriptions, develop company policies, and establish performance improvement initiatives.
  • Academy of Human Resources Development: This association of human resources scholars, students, and practitioners supports cutting-edge research in human resource development. Students can access peer-reviewed publications and network with HR leaders.
  • International Journal of Training and Development: This academic journal publishes quantitative and qualitative research on human resource development. Students and training professionals can access this resource to stay up to date on the latest theories in the field.
  • Training Industry: This website features information on training and development topics, including learning technologies, workforce development, and performance management. Through this resource, students can learn about best practices and approaches in the field.
  • Training: This training industry magazine covers issues in management, human resources, and employee development. The 50-year-old publication features a print edition, digital issues, and a weekly newsletter.