Adult Education Degree

Adult education is not a field that is often discussed when people are reviewing teaching options. However, education is often a lifelong pursuit which means that adult educators are needed just as much as teachers of children.

Adult education has been a formalized form of education for many years, but popularity of the field is growing as more and more individuals seek training outside of basic education. Classes can range from basic skills classes for individuals over 18 to specialized corporate trainings for CEOs.

Gaining a degree in adult education and training requires a minimum of a Master's degree in the field. However, these degrees are readily available for those willing to put in the hours to gain the certification. Read on to find out what would be expected at each level.

An adult education and training degree can lead to educational roles as an adult education teacher, a corporate trainer, a workshop instructor, a community college instructor, an EMS educator, an athletics coach, and many more.

An adult education degree can help you further your career as one who prepares, plans, and administers a wide range of training to adults in post-secondary, corporate, K-12, or community settings.

Master's Degree in Adult Education and Training

How Do I Know If a Master's Degree in Adult Education and Training is Right for Me?

In order to gain a Master's Degree in Adult Education and Training, there are a few tests and prerequisites that must be addressed.


Many University Master's programs require candidates to submit GRE exam scores. The exam should have been taking within 5 years of enrolling into an Master's program. Some schools have cutoff scores that must be matched or exceeded.

Depending on the particular field of accreditation, a Praxis exam with state standard scores may be required prior to graduation.


If taking a full class load of 9 to 12 hours, a Master's degree can be completed in 2 to 3 years or 4-6 semesters. As with most educational areas, adult education and training degrees can and should be accredited through CAEP/NCATE/TEAC.


The cost of a Master's level degree can vary greatly from one college/university to another. However, a Master's is likely to range in cost from 20 to 50 thousand dollars total, including fees.

Those that choose a Master's Degree in Adult Education and Training can have a choice of careers in various areas. Some may choose to teach community outreach programs while others may teach EMS courses or offer corporate retreats for professionals in groups. The career path you choose will likely require this Master's Degree, but specialization will vary depending on your personal goals.

What Type of Courses Will I Need for a Master's Degree in Adult Education and Training?

The following are examples of some courses that you may need to take for this degree.

Nonprofit Management

This class will help with those choosing to work in a nonprofit setting. Someone taking this type of class may work in an adult community center or even a senior center.

Higher Education Instruction

Classes in higher education instruction offer the basics of how to teach adults, typically in the post-secondary setting. This class may focus on pedagogy along with teaching and learning methods rather than a specific subject.

Director of Religious Education

Depending on your career path and the college you attend, adult education and training classes may include classes on how to be a leader in a religious school setting or a religion based organization. This would be an elective class for those choosing to go into a religious based field.

Potential Course Topics and Research Interests in Adult Education Master's Programs

Many colleges and universities continue to expand their offerings for students working toward a master's degree in adult education. With the flexibility of part-time, online, or full-time study, these master's programs are held to the rigorous educational standards that the teaching profession demands. Programs do vary from school to school, as does each graduate student's scope of research interest, but studies will include:

  • Foundational theory regarding adult education as a distinct field of study, and as a framework through which to examine further pedagogical concepts and practices
  • How to foster collaborative and learner-directed inquiry as it applies to adult education
  • A comparative component discussing how adults learn as compared to younger students
  • The ESL adult learner and differentiating between language acquisition and instruction
  • How to create effective programming and assessment for adult learners with special learning requirements and diagnoses
  • Success criteria for developing and implementing effective curricula for adult learners, focusing around learner engagement
  • Success criteria for developing and implementing effective assessment and evaluative methods for adult learners
  • Addressing issues, existing practices and best practices in the adult learning environment
  • Facilitating meaningful communication between adult learner and adult educator
  • How to incorporate useful pedagogical strategies as an adult learner and graduate student as learned throughout the graduate program
  • Developing techniques of research and inquiry; using said techniques to create knowledge and further research in the field of adult education
  • Enable graduate students to apply emerging evaluative skills to areas of current research and scholarship
  • Engage in analysis of complex issues and formulate a strategy to empower the adult learner based on existing principles and techniques
  • Develop and support a sustained and original written argument or thesis
  • Criteria on applying research to a graduate student's practical and original practice in the classroom
  • Deployment of professional initiative, as well as responsibility and accountability in professional practice
  • Hone decision-making rubrics as they apply to complex situations
  • Reinforce the need for self-governance and continuing professional development
  • Underscore ethics in study and practice; students will appreciate research conduct
  • How to apply knowledge gained to particular situations, students and issues
  • Communicate ideas, problems and solutions regarding research and practice in a compelling, concise and accurate manner
  • Become increasingly aware of limits of self-knowledge as it applies to both theory and practice in the classroom

Online Master's Degree in Adult Education

Choosing to complete your Master's degree online is a viable option for many looking to further their education. Many colleges and universities offer online options so students can remain at work, with their families, and at home for the majority of the advanced degree experience. Online programs often allow a more flexible schedule.

Flexible Schedule

As more and more students choose online programs, it seems one of the biggest appeals is the flexible schedule. In many cases, online students are those who have taken some time away from school. During their time away, they may have accumulated more work and family responsibilities. These responsibilities limit ones's time and ability to attend traditional classes on a college campus. Online degree programs don't require students to dramatically alter their daily schedule. Students can complete their school work whenever it fits into their schedules - that can be on a lunch break at work or late in the evening after putting the kids to bed.

Opportunity and Accessibility

Since physical attendance is most often not required for online degree programs, students have a wider range of schools to choose from. Degree candidates will not be limited to schools nearby and will not need to worry about relocating and housing. Online education gives opportunities for all kinds of students to earn a degree - students who may otherwise not have been able to due to location, scheduling restrictions, or physical ability. To earn an online degree, two main things will be needed: a reliable computer and good internet connection.

Fast Completion

A common upside we here about earning an online degree is the fast completion. In many cases, students can earn a degree faster in an online setting than they would have been able to at a traditional college campus. With an accelerated online degree program, keep in mind that the courses may be more rigorous. Always review the requirements and make sure an online school is accredited before signing on.

Example of a School's Master's Degree Program

Seattle University

Master of Arts in Education - Adult Education and Training

Program Overview: A Master's degree in adult education and training (AEDT) prepares professionals to support adult learners in a variety of settings, from workforce to workplace.

Required Courses: Courses will vary based on which specialization is chosen. The three specializations offered from this school are: Adult Basic Education, Human Resource Development, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A post Master's alternative certification is also available in Community College Teaching.

Admission Requirements: A completed application received by the deadline for your program of choice is necessary and can be completed online. An application fee is also required. Official transcripts of the final two years of the Bachelor's degree as well as any Master's classes must be submitted as well as any previously attended non-graded classes. Official results from the GRE, GMAT, or MAT are required. There are additional requirements for international students and some specific programs.

Tuition: Each credit hour for Adult Education and Training is $610 with additional fees each semester for each student. Fees range from $300 to $2,000 dollars depending on your specific enrollment status.

Program Website

Doctorate Degree in Adult Education

How Do I Know If a Doctorate in Adult Education is Right for Me?

A Doctorate degree usually requires proof of a Bachelor's and/or Master's degree, reference letters, and a statement of purpose.

One of the major benefits of earning a degree in Adult Education is the number of options available for career pathways. Depending on the path you choose you could find yourself running a community center for 40 to 50 thousand a year (depending on area), or leading corporate retreats for 100 thousand a year. Job availability will vary from place to place as will duties for each job. The key is finding the area you wish to work in and a specialized degree in that forum.


The average length to acquire a Doctorate is about 4 years of 8 semesters if attending full time. However, if starting with just a Bachelor's degree, the time can be extended up to two years.

Ph.D and Ed. D in Adult Education

There are two forms of Adult Education Doctorates. A Ed.D. is a Doctorate of Education and will focus more on research methods courses and working with adults in postsecondary or classroom settings. A Ph.D. in Adult Education will also have research classes, but usually offers a wider range of options as far as employment in fields outside of education.

School Accreditation

It is highly important to find a college or university that is accredited for the field you are choosing. A college that is not accredited could lead to a degree that is invalid for future employment.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for a Doctoral degree through FAFSA for those that qualify. However, this will leave the borrower with loans after graduation. There are also a few other options such as grants, college scholarships, and internships offered through various organizations. These often have tight deadlines and varying requirements that must be met.

What Type of Courses Will I Need to Take for a Doctorate in Adult Education?

The objective of any Adult Education program is to prepare you for a career in working with and educating adults. Some programs will focus on the corporate world while others focus more on working with those that may be attending community college. A Doctorate in Adult Education will prepare you to step into the leadership role.

Adult Teaching and Learning

This class will prepare the student to teach an adult population. Adults think, reason, and learn differently than children and these strategies are shared in this class.

Distance Education

With the growing number of online courses available, those that work in adult education need to know and understand how to teach online for the adult distance learners that may quickly become part of their career.

Literacy for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations

For those teaching adults learning English (or any second language) there are a number of strategies that may need to be employed. These adults will need to learn the new language quickly, but accurately in a real life environment. This class will help prepare you to do accomplish this task.

Potential Course Topics and Research Interests in Adult Education Doctorate Programs

Historically, very select admittance rates have made it difficult for candidates interested in adult education to enter a Ph.D or D.Ed program for their speciality. With more colleges and universities offering part-time or online programming in addition to traditional full-time admittance, the field's expanded offerings allow candidates seeking their doctorate degree to find the right program for their goals and lifestyle Programs do vary from school to school, as does each candidate's scope of interest, and whether candidates are interested in a research based career path (Ph.D) or wish to deepen the technical or administrative aspects of their career (D.Ed) candidates, but studies within the field of adult education include:

  • Foundational theory regarding adult education as a distinct field of study
  • Adult education as a perspective or framework through which to examine further pedagogical concepts and practices
  • Focus on adult education theory and best practice from diverse and international contexts
  • Examination of how intercultural influences and contexts may impact lifelong learning processes
  • Analysis of the relationship between adult learners' language, literacy, identity and culture and how it may affect pedagogy
  • The role of women as educational activists and gatekeepers
  • Literacy from a human rights context
  • The origin, historical development, methodological assumptions and models, and the practice of research in adult education
  • Analysis of adult education outside North America, including international agency involvement
  • Examination of the concept of ‘lifelong learning'; candidates will analyze issues and problems in context
  • Examination of policy development and actors in ‘lifelong learning', with the intent of establishing appropriate institutional structures
  • Comparison of educational mobility and late stage remediation in adult learners
  • How ethnicity and cultural identity affect and influence education in adult learners
  • Planning educational techniques in developing nations
  • Analysis of national education policies
  • Creation of dissertation with proper understanding of academic rigor and structure; using established techniques to create knowledge and further research in the field of adult education
  • Enable doctoral candidates to apply developing evaluative skills to areas of current research and scholarship as they fall within the curricula and a
  • Analyze complex systemic and situational issues, thereby creating a strategy to empower the adult learner in the classroom
  • Criteria on applying research to a doctoral candidate's practical and original practice in the classroom
  • Refinement of academic ethics and initiative in academics and research
  • Refinement of responsibility and accountability in professional practice
  • Refinement of qualities of self-governance and continuing professional development
  • How to apply knowledge gained to particular situations, students and issues
  • Communicate ideas, problems and solutions regarding research and practice in a compelling, concise and accurate manner
  • Continually develop awareness of limits of self-knowledge as it applies to both theory and practice in the classroom

Online Doctorate in Adult Education

Getting a Doctorate degree online can be a wonderfully time saving option as far as not having to commute. This allows more time for work and family as the majority of the coursework is completed through a computer. Fees will still apply, but the money saved by not having to travel to a physical campus may make up for the difference.

Flexible Schedule

Online schooling has become a very reputable and popular way to earn a degree. It seems as though one of the greatest appeals is the flexible schedule. Many doctorate candidates have a full time job and cannot afford to fall off their working schedule. Since commuting and physical attendance will most likely not be required, students will not be required to dramatically alter their daily schedule. Online students have the luxury of completing their school assignments whenever and wherever. This truly opens up many opportunities for students who otherwise would not have been able to commit to a class schedule.

Variety of Programs

Traditionally, students choose a school based on their ability to commute to campus. In other cases, students relocate to get close to the school. However, many people who wish to earn a doctorate degree do not live near a college campus and do not have the ability to relocate. With online schooling, students will not be forced to pick a degree program based on one's proximity to the campus. With that said, students have a wider variety of options to choose from. This alone broadens your chance to earn a degree. When researching different programs, make sure to ask about accreditation. Any program you choose should be accredited.

Example of a School's Doctoral Program

Columbia University, Teachers College

Ed.D in Adult Education

Program Overview: This program emphasizes transformative learning and development for adult and organizational change in a variety of settings. This program is designed to prepare educational leaders for a future as an adult education provider.

Required Courses: A total of 51 hours (points) are required for a Doctorate at this university. Some classes are a few weeks long while others are a full semester. The first year requires workshops, research seminars, and some basic classes in Adult Education. The second year requires classes in conflict resolution, organizational learning, and advanced research among others. The final year is a capstone course with face to face learning communities in a three week session.

Admission Requirements: An online degree application must be completed with an uploaded statement of purpose, resume, two letters of recommendation, transcripts from your previous academic institutions, and supplemental materials as needed by specific areas. Some programs require writing samples, extra letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores such as the GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS. The final step is the submission of the full application with the application fee.

Tuition: Tuition is the same for in or out of state students in a graduate program, $1,398 per credit hour for all students.

Program Website

Career Pathways with a Degree in Adult Education

An adult education degree can open a world of opportunities in a variety of settings. Some areas will offer more opportunity than others.

College Professor

A college professor will be responsible for creating a syllabus, implementing learning objectives, and meeting students either online or face to face in a college type environment. Some professors may be strictly online and communicate digitally, but others may serve in an actual brick and mortar classroom. As more people begin to further their education, this is a growing field. College professors average about 100,000 a year depending on the subject area. Read our College Professor career page to learn more about this career pathway.

Learning Specialist

A learning specialist works with small groups of people to enhance skills. Those working with adults often work in the corporate world to help people learn to be more productive and enhance the work environment. Learning specialists can be highly specialized so some areas are seeing more growth than others. However, a learning specialist that works with multiple companies or organizations can average about 60,000 yearly or more.

Adult Basic Education Instructor

An adult basic education instructor may find themselves working in a variety of settings dependent upon what is being taught. For example, a physical therapist who is trained to educate adults may work in a hospital for close to 100 thousand a year and one who teaches medical coding may work in an office for 60,000 yearly. This area is stable as different forms of adult education are needed each year.

Adult Education Schools By State

Select from the state list below to find colleges that offer a degree in adult education. School programs, and if available, corresponding degree levels and total estimated degrees granted each year are listed. The schools listed are taken from reports provided by IPEDS for CIP Code(s): 13.1201.


SchoolProgram Details

Troy University

University Avenue,Troy, AL
Phone: (334) 670-3100
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr

University of West Alabama

Station One,Livingston, AL
Phone: (205) 652-3400
  • Online Degree Options
  • 100-200 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

Argosy University-Phoenix Online Division

2233 West Dunlap Avenue,Phoenix, AZ
Phone: (602) 216-2600


SchoolProgram Details

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

2801 S University Ave,Little Rock, AR
Phone: (501) 569-3000

University of Arkansas

Administration Bldg 425,Fayetteville, AR
Phone: (479) 575-2000
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

University of Connecticut

352 Mansfield Road,Storrs, CT
Phone: (860) 486-2000


SchoolProgram Details

Florida International University

11200 S. W. 8 Street,Miami, FL
Phone: (305) 348-2000
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr

University of South Florida

4202 East Fowler Ave,Tampa, FL
Phone: (813) 974-2011


SchoolProgram Details

Armstrong State University

11935 Abercorn St,Savannah, GA
Phone: (912) 344-2576

University of Georgia

Administration Building,Athens, GA
Phone: (706) 542-3000
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

University of Idaho

875 Perimeter Drive,Moscow, ID
Phone: (888) 884-3246


SchoolProgram Details

Argosy University-Chicago

225 N. Michigan Ave, Ste 1300,Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 777-7600

National Louis University

122 S Michigan Ave,Chicago, IL
Phone: (800) 443-5522


SchoolProgram Details

Ball State University

2000 University Ave,Muncie, IN
Phone: (765) 289-1241

Indiana University-Bloomington

107 South Indiana Ave.,Bloomington, IN
Phone: (812) 855-4848
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

Drake University

2507 University Avenue,Des Moines, IA
Phone: (515) 271-2011


SchoolProgram Details

Kansas State University

Anderson Hall,Manhattan, KS
Phone: (785) 532-6011


SchoolProgram Details

Morehead State University

University Blvd,Morehead, KY
Phone: (606) 783-2000

University of Louisville

2301 S 3rd St,Louisville, KY
Phone: (502) 852-5555

Western Kentucky University

1906 College Heights Blvd,Bowling Green, KY
Phone: (270) 745-0111
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

Louisiana State University

156 Thomas Boyd Hall,Baton Rouge, LA
Phone: (225) 578-3202
  • Online Degree Options
  • 25-50 Grads/Yr

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

University Parkway,Natchitoches, LA
Phone: (318) 357-6011


SchoolProgram Details

University of Southern Maine

96 Falmouth St,Portland, ME
Phone: (207) 780-4141


SchoolProgram Details

Capella University

225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor,Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (888) 227-3552

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

100 Church Street SE,Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 625-5000

Walden University

100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900,Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (866) 492-5336


SchoolProgram Details

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

4505 S Maryland Pky,Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (702) 895-3011

New York

SchoolProgram Details

SUNY Buffalo State

1300 Elmwood Ave,Buffalo, NY
Phone: (716) 878-4000

Teachers College at Columbia University

525 W 120th St,New York, NY
Phone: (212) 678-3000


SchoolProgram Details

Cleveland State University

2121 Euclid Avenue,Cleveland, OH
Phone: (216) 687-2000

Muskingum University

163 Stormont Street,New Concord, OH
Phone: (740) 826-8211


SchoolProgram Details

University of Central Oklahoma

100 N University Dr,Edmond, OK
Phone: (405) 974-2000

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

660 Parrington Oval,Norman, OK
Phone: (405) 325-0311


SchoolProgram Details

Oregon State University

1500 S.W. Jefferson,Corvallis, OR
Phone: (541) 737-0123


SchoolProgram Details

Holy Family University

9801 Frankford Avenue,Philadelphia, PA
Phone: (215) 637-7700

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus

1011 South Dr 201 Sutton Hall,Indiana, PA
Phone: (724) 357-2100
  • Online Degree Options
  • 25-50 Grads/Yr

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

201 Old Main,University Park, PA
Phone: (814) 865-4700

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Harrisburg

777 West Harrisburg Pike,Middletown, PA
Phone: (717) 948-6250

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

128 Outreach Building,University Park, PA
Phone: (814) 865-5403


SchoolProgram Details

Tusculum College

60 Shiloh Road,Greeneville, TN
Phone: (423) 636-7300


SchoolProgram Details

Midwestern State University

3410 Taft Blvd,Wichita Falls, TX
Phone: (940) 397-4000
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr

Texas A & M University-College Station

805 Rudder Tower,College Station, TX
Phone: (979) 845-3211
  • Online Degree Options
  • 50-100 Grads/Yr

Texas A & M University-Commerce

2600 South Neal,Commerce, TX
Phone: (888) 868-2682

Texas A & M University-Kingsville

955 University Blvd,Kingsville, TX
Phone: (361) 593-2111

Texas A & M University-Texarkana

7101 University Avenue,Texarkana, TX
Phone: (903) 223-3000

Texas State University

601 University Dr,San Marcos, TX
Phone: (512) 245-2111

The University of Texas at San Antonio

One UTSA Circle,San Antonio, TX
Phone: (210) 458-4011

University of Houston-Victoria

3007 N. Ben Wilson,Victoria, TX
Phone: (877) 970-4848
  • Online Degree Options
  • 1-25 Grads/Yr


SchoolProgram Details

James Madison University

800 South Main Street,Harrisonburg, VA
Phone: (540) 568-6211

Regent University

1000 Regent University Dr,Virginia Beach, VA
Phone: (757) 352-4127

Virginia Commonwealth University

910 W Franklin St,Richmond, VA
Phone: (804) 828-0100


SchoolProgram Details

Argosy University-Seattle

2601-A Elliott Avenue,Seattle, WA
Phone: (206) 283-4500

Eastern Washington University

526 5th Street,Cheney, WA
Phone: (509) 359-6200

Seattle University

900 Broadway,Seattle, WA
Phone: (206) 296-6000

Western Washington University

516 High Street,Bellingham, WA
Phone: (360) 650-3000


SchoolProgram Details

Alverno College

3400 S 43rd St,Milwaukee, WI
Phone: (414) 382-6000

University of Wisconsin-Madison

500 Lincoln Dr,Madison, WI
Phone: (608) 262-1234