Pursuing an online masters in adult education is a strategic and efficient way to expand your studies and advance your career goals in this field.
A masters program allows you to develop your expertise in a specialty area, and earning a graduate degree in education can help you qualify for more opportunities in the field.
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Whether you want to study for your masters online, in-person, part-time, or full-time, there are various options available that cater to your learning needs and preferences.
Online Masters in Adult Education Programs
A masters degree in adult education allows you to further investigate the field of adult learning. Programs can equip educators to instruct adults in a variety of areas, such as:
- GED preparation
- English as a second language (ESL) studies
- Professional development
- Vocational training
Adult education programs are also structured to prepare graduates for careers at literacy centers, healthcare facilities, and community colleges. Many of these programs can be taken at your own pace. A general masters in adult education program consists of 30 to 40 credit hours. You can opt to enroll full-time or part-time, depending on your schedule and responsibilities.
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Online courses in adult education offer even more flexibility since they allow you to work on assignments without the constraints of attending an in-person class. Whichever type of program you decide to sign up for, you can expect to study courses that are specialized to your areas of interest and designed to enhance skills in adult education.
Common course topics include adult literacy, introduction to distance education, program planning for adult education, history and philosophy of adult education, and strategic communication.
For teachers wishing to work with secondary-school-aged students, many universities also offer online master’s in secondary education programs.
Common Online Adult Education Master’s Concentrations
If you decide to pursue an online master’s in adult education, you might want to consider a concentration that will better enhance your educational journey and career goals. Common concentration options include:
- Adult Basic Education and Literacy. A concentration in adult basic education (ABE) helps prepare you to teach adult learners basic subjects, such as reading, math, writing, and language development.
- Educational Technology. This concentration can help you develop the skills and principles required to implement educational technology in a variety of classroom settings and capacities.
- Global Online and Distance Education. This concentration covers key concepts of learning theories and instructional frameworks for effectively teaching online programs.
- Higher Education. A concentration in higher education can help prepare you for leading instruction in a college or university setting.
- Human Resources Development. This concentration focuses on training you how to lead and direct the development of individual and organizational performance in a classroom or industry.
Choosing a concentration can allow you to develop specialized skills in your specific area of interest.
Adult Education Careers & Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career paths for individuals with a master’s in adult education have a range of specializations and median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Human Resources Managers||$126,230|
|Training and Development Managers||$120,130|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators — Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$98,180|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators — Junior Colleges||$94,120|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers — Elementary and Secondary Schools||$62,420|
|Career and Technical Education Teachers||$61,160|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers — Junior Colleges||$50,540|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers — Other Schools and Instruction||$50,530|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers — Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$48,930|
While some careers may require additional criteria to be met, a masters in adult education can be a solid foundation to help you qualify for a variety of opportunities. The careers you can qualify for will depend on a number of factors, such as your chosen concentration, your work experience, and your location.
Adult Education Master’s Curriculum & Courses
Classes taught in an adult education masters program aim to equip students with the skills they need to be effective educators both inside and outside of the classroom. Common courses taught in an adult education master’s curriculum can include the following:
- Adult Literacy: This course implements strategies for understanding and expanding on skills in reading, writing, and structural analysis and how it relates to adult learning.
- Introduction to Distance Education: This course provides insight into the evolution of distance learning in education and how its procedures and policies can be properly utilized in a variety of settings.
- Program Planning for Adult Education: This course covers how to plan and prepare programs catered for a specific division within adult education.
- History and Philosophy of Adult Education: This course presents the historical and philosophical foundations of adult education and how it has developed in our present day.
- Strategic Communication: This course explores how to research and present information effectively to audiences in adult education.
- Instructional Design: This course focuses on the application of instructional design principles to the development of instruction.
- Learning Analytics Concepts and Techniques: This course teaches you how to utilize educational data collected from technology-enhanced learning environments.
- Classroom Literacy Assessment and Instruction: This course focuses on the assessment of classroom instruction and how to properly engage students and promote their educational development.
- Adult Education: This course articulates the foundations and the current situation of adult education as a field of study and practice.
- Introduction to Research Methods: This course covers how to review, develop, and produce research.
While some schools may offer specialized courses to best fit certain concentrations, most of these listed courses are commonly taught in masters in adult education programs.
While some institutions may have additional requirements, here are some common admissions criteria for a masters in adult learning degree:
- GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Application fee
- Official transcripts from all postsecondary schools attended
A growing number of schools no longer require GRE or GMAT scores for graduate admissions, but it depends on the institutions to which you’re applying. Being proactive and researching admissions requirements for the program you’re interested in can help make the process go more smoothly.
To ensure you are receiving a quality education, it is important to research programs that are accredited and have met the criteria established for postsecondary institutions.
By choosing a regionally accredited program, you can experience robust coursework offered by skilled professors. Many schools do not fully accept transfer credits from non-accredited programs, so taking the time to find an accredited institution can be beneficial.
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Accredited institutions also have a better chance of receiving various types of financial aid that can benefit students as they continue their college education.
Adult Education Licensure and Certifications
The process of earning a license or certificate varies from state to state. The typical requirements for basic teaching licensure include a bachelor’s degree, student-teaching experience, and an exam.
Any additional requirements for certification will be contingent upon the specific program you’re studying. For example, ESL teachers may need to take an ESL-based exam in order to earn the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification for their field.
Meanwhile, adult educators who want to specialize in workforce development and training may pursue the Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) credential.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Financial aid is available to graduate students who qualify. Different types of financial aid include federal and state aid, private loans, scholarships, grants, and payment plans. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to discover your eligibility for government aid.
Some institutions offer scholarships customized to their school or program. It could be beneficial to research any additional financial aid opportunities available for each school you’re considering. Over the course of your program, financial aid can be impacted by the number of credit hours taken, final grades earned, and even course withdrawals.
If you have questions about your financial aid status, you can contact your institution’s financial aid office for further assistance.
Adult Education Professional Organizations
Getting connected with a professional organization in adult education may benefit your studies and overall experience in the field of adult education. Below is a list of professional organizations that you can consider joining as you continue your masters in adult education:
- American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)
- National Association of State Directors of Adult Education (NASDAE)
- Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE)
As a member in a professional organization, you can network with departments and individuals who are dedicated to adult education. You may also come across resources and opportunities that can advance your training or career goals.
What Degree Do I Need to Teach Adults?
Adult educators typically hold at least a bachelors degree in education. Some institutions, such as community colleges, require educators to hold a master’s degree in an educational field. In order to teach adults in a formal setting, many students pursue general education degrees, such as the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Education (MEd).
Other degrees are more specialized and cater to a particular career in adult education or administration. These include the Master of Science in Education (MSEd) and the Master of Arts in Education (MAEd). Many master’s degrees offer concentrations or certifications that can be obtained during the program in order to boost skills and expertise in a certain field.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Adult Education?
Earning an online master’s in adult education degree can help prepare you for many opportunities in the field, depending on your concentration. Some graduates aspire to teach adults in a traditional classroom setting as a college professor or ESL teacher.
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Others implement their teaching skills in a more corporate setting, navigating administrative careers as human resource specialists, education administrators, or instructional coordinators. Whichever path you choose, earning a master’s in adult education can help you develop expertise and specialized skill sets in your chosen area of interest.
Also, though, it’s often the case that an Ed.S. is worth it for professionals needing more specialized education beyond a masters degree.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree in Adult Education Online?
The time it takes to complete a master’s degree in adult education can vary from student to student. The average time it takes a student to complete a master’s degree is around 2 years. If it’s a 36 credit hour program with no thesis required, it may be completed in 1 year with full-time, year-round enrollment. A thesis will add some additional time to completion, as will attending only part-time.
Earning a master’s in adult education degree online can often provide you with the most flexibility as you strive to earn your degree as timely as possible. Online degrees in education tend to provide flexible part-time options as well as accelerated course options.
Is a Masters in Adult Education Degree Worth It?
Yes, a masters in adult education degree is worth it for many professionals. Expanding on your education by pursuing a master’s degree can advance your current skill set and enhance your career options. Jobs related to adult education are steadily growing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training, education, and library occupations are expected to see 10% job growth over the next ten years. Some of this anticipated growth is due to the need for organizations to stay on top of training in order to meet standards in student and administrative achievement.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Adult Education Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Capella University offers a Master of Science in Higher Education. The program is offered online and requires students to complete 11 classes and a final capstone project to graduate. Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.3 and submit copies of their official transcripts and government-issued photo id.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
City University of Seattle offers an online program for a Master’s in Adult Education and Instructional Design. To graduate, students must obtain 36 credit hours, including six dedicated to a final capstone project. Those interested in the program must submit an online application through the school’s website and official transcripts from an undergraduate degree.
CityU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Colorado State University offers an online Masters in Adult Education and Training program. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Additional materials may be needed if the applicant’s GPA is under 3.0.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Eastern Washington University offers an online program for a Master of Education in Adult Education. Students must complete 49 credit hours and 120 internship hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and submit copies of their official transcripts from all previously attended postsecondary institutes.
Eastern Washington University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Indiana University—Bloomington offers a Master of Science in Education with a focus in Adult Education. The online program requires students to complete 36 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher and submit two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE test scores.
Indiana University – Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
James Madison University offers a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. Students must complete 15 classes over the course of 2 or 4 years. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 and submit a personal statement and two letters of recommendation.
James Madison University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
North Carolina State University offers both a Master of Science and a Master of Education in Adult Education. Students must complete 36 to 39 credit hours depending on the degree. Those interested in the program must submit an online application. The program offers rolling admissions, which means they accept students year-round.
North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Pennsylvania State University offers a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Those interested in the program must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant program. To apply, applicants must submit official transcripts, three references, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Rutgers University offers a Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education. The program offers four specializations: Adult ESL and Literacy Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education Teaching, and Human Resources Development. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit a personal statement, official transcripts, and 3 letters of recommendation.
Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Texas A&M University offers a Master of Science in Educational Human Resources Development with an emphasis in Adult Education. Students must complete 37 credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must submit official transcripts, three references, and a personal statement.
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Master’s Degree in Adult Education Online
Continuing your education by pursuing a master in adult education online can let you develop many sought-after skills and allow you to grow and advance in your goals as an adult educator.
You may want to consider researching financial aid opportunities and connecting with professional organizations so you can reap those unique benefits during your educational journey.
With many accredited programs to choose from, you can search for the masters program in adult education that works best for your schedule and aspirations. Why not start exploring accredited universities today?