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Online Colleges for Adult Education

While the old saying might be, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," neither dogs nor people have to stop learning as they get older. That's what this entire site is about, after all! If you have a knack for teaching and a passion for helping more mature learners, you should consider earning a master's degree in adult education in order to break into this influential field. Whether it is building on the basics your students have already learned or shoring up oversights in their earlier education, you can be certain that a career in adult education will help to make the world a better place.

Best Online Colleges for Adult Education

We don't have to tell you how important it is for prospective students -- adult education or otherwise -- to select a school that provides a quality education. Below, we have compiled a list of ten noteworthy online colleges for adult education, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our unique methodology (more details at the bottom of this page). If a career in adult education sounds like a fit for you, be sure to check out the colleges featured here.

1

East Carolina University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,580
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
42.46%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
56
School Type
4-year

East Carolina University offers an online master's degree in adult education that focuses on an in-depth study of the theory, history and philosophy of educating adults. In addition to mastering certain instructional strategies, students are expected to develop, organize and implement their own adult learning programs. Graduates of the program are awarded a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree.

The fact that this master's degree program can be completed entirely online helped it stand out from the crowd. The school also shows a marked commitment to their students, boasting the third-highest graduation rate of all ten schools featured on this list.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

East 5th Street,
Greenville, NC 27858
2

University of Houston-Victoria

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,762
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
23
School Type
4-year

The Master of Education program in adult and higher education at the University of Houston-Victoria is an excellent way for educators to further their professional development. This program takes an interesting approach to adult education, combining courses for both adult education and higher education administration in order to expose students to a wide variety of settings in the education field. There are three tracks available for the curriculum:

  • Adult Education
  • Higher Education
  • Discipline

The University of Houston-Victoria awarded the third-highest percentage of adult education degrees to graduates in 2015 as compared to degrees in other fields, out of all of the schools listed here, attesting to the quality of their program and to the interest in it. This master's degree can also be completed entirely online, which certainly makes this school worthy of being featured on this list.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

3007 N. Ben Wilson,
Victoria, TX 77901
3

Texas A&M University-College Station

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,837
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
7.56%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
School Type
4-year

Hopeful educators who attend Texas A&M University-College Station can earn a Master of Science (MS) in educational human resource development with the specialization of "adult education." Though the degree's name may sound like something out of a sci-fi television show, the program is solidly focused on exploring education in the present day.

Curriculum development; adult learning methods; and techniques for teaching adult learners in community centers, workplace situations or colleges and universities are just a few of the topics covered in the program's courses. In total, this master's program consists of 37 credit hours, or ten required courses and three elective courses.

With the No.1 highest graduation rate of all ten schools featured on this list, Texas A&M University-College Station clearly encourages the development of their students.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

JKW Administration Building, Suite 100,
College Station, TX 77843
4

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,476
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
73.33%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
46
School Type
4-year

Northwestern State University of Louisiana's Master of Arts in adult learning and development provides students with a contemporary look at the issues surrounding the adult learning environment. Relying heavily on technology, this online master's program offers three different adult learning concentrations:

  • Adult and Workforce Development: Intended for those looking to work as training managers and designers; community education directors; facilitators in informal learning settings; or with undereducated adults in school, community college, or institutional settings.
  • e-Learning: Built for those who are interested in educational computing systems within schools, colleges, or industries.
  • Homeland Security: Designed for those who desire to craft large-scale training and simulation scenarios used to prepare for crises in law enforcement or municipal management.

In our study, Northwestern State University of Louisiana stands out for its accessibility. Even though the program results in a master's degree, the school seems intent on providing access to higher education to students from all backgrounds. With a 2015 admissions rate of 84%, the university ranks third in this category among the schools mentioned here.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

University Parkway,
Natchitoches, LA 71497
5

University of Idaho

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,020
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
28.90%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
24
School Type
4-year

Students considering online colleges for adult education should not discount the University of Idaho. The school offers a master's degree program in "adult organizational learning and leadership" (AOLL), perfect for those looking to increase their knowledge or further their career in adult education. Students enrolled in the program can also earn a professional certificate in human resource development. Graduates of the program may wish to continue their studies by pursuing the school's doctoral degree in AOLL.

Earning solid marks across all of our metrics was reason enough to feature the University of Idaho of this list. The university ranks fifth out of the schools listed for admission rate, showing the school strives to be accessible to students from all backgrounds, and fourth in graduation rate. Its real charm point is the percentage of degrees the school awarded in adult education for 2015, however, where it ranked No.2 out of the ten on this list.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Location:

875 Perimeter Drive,
Moscow, ID 83844
6

University of West Alabama

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,734
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
53.17%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
21
School Type
4-year

Offering a Master of Science in adult continuing education, the University of West Alabama prepares students to teach adults in a variety of learning environments. While the degree does not on its own meet the requirements for a teaching certificate in the state, this program is a great fit for students seeking work in corporate training environments, especially those who already have their teaching credential.

In terms of the percentage of adult education degrees awarded, the University of West Alabama leads all other schools on our list by a wide margin. At 17.3% of the total degrees awarded by the school in 2015, it's clear that the university and its students both see the adult education program as an important piece of their educational puzzle. The school also earns high marks for accessibility, ranking fourth in admissions rates among this list.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

Station One,
Livingston, AL 35470
7

University of Southern Maine

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,796
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
36.09%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
11
School Type
4-year

The University of Southern Maine's Master of Science in adult and higher education prepares adult educators for careers in public education, non-profits, and in corporate training centers. The flexible learning environment is perfect for those with prior work or family commitments. Students can complete their studies on a full- or part-time basis. Courses focus on techniques to facilitate adult learning, online adult education marketing, and methodologies to evaluate adult learning.

Exceptional marks for accessibility helped land the University of Southern Maine on this list. In 2015, the university admitted the second highest percentage of its applicants out of all ten of our featured schools. The program is also available entirely online, offering both synchronous and asynchronous learning options.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Location:

96 Falmouth St.,
Portland, ME 04103
8

Troy University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,924
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
49.67%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
27
School Type
4-year

The Master of Science in adult education program at Troy University strives to prepare graduates for a multitude of careers in the adult education field. While enrolled in the program, students are exposed to different methods for advising and instructing adult learners in a variety of settings. Graduate students can select one of three degree tracks with concentrations in:

  • Instructional Technology
  • Leadership Studies
  • Curriculum and Instructional Design

Please note that some concentrations require students to complete a thesis prior to graduation.

Troy University seeks to provide accessible and affordable college degrees to students in Alabama and across the globe. Their admissions rate seems to support this mission: the university ranks first among our list in admissions rate, coming in with a 91.9% admission rate in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Location:

University Avenue,
Troy, AL 36082
9

University of Arkansas

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,522
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
27.80%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
11
School Type
4-year

The University of Arkansas offers an online master's degree program in adult education, perfect for any student seeking the flexibility of online learning. This program's mission is to teach its students how to facilitate adult literacy and education in postsecondary, non-profit, military, corporate and community settings. Graduates of the program should be able to design their own adult learning programs, recognize the needs of adult learners, and effectively assess their progress, and can pursue a license to teach adult learners enrolled in state-approved adult literacy and education programs.

In our study, the University of Arkansas scored high marks for their graduation rate, ranking second among the schools profiled here. It also stands out for sheer number of online adult education programs, between the various levels of degrees and certificates it offers between its three concentrations.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

Administration Building 425,
Fayetteville, AR 72701
10

Park University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,470
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
71.26%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
School Type
4-year

Ending our list with a bang, we have Park University, whose M.Ed. in leading adult and organizational learning program keeps its eyes fixed firmly on the future. Diversity and excitement are keywords at Park, where students of the program are encouraged to use their design and educational technology skills to create new and effective learning solutions. Improving learning culture, organization and effectiveness are all goals of this M.Ed. program.

Students can complete their master's degree from Park University online, and from the look of things, many do, as the university scored fifth out of the ten schools featured here in our graduation metric. Graduates of the program may lead training and other educational efforts in healthcare organizations, military and government settings, institutions of higher learning and corporate offices.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

8700 NW River Park Drive,
Parkville, MO 64152

Degree Overview: Adult Education

Adult learners need preparation for the workforce; the development of advanced skills; and, perhaps, an education that takes special circumstances -- such as health, family or language barriers -- into account. For teachers, an online degree program in adult education can provide an understanding of how to address these needs and offer effective instruction. Following is an overview of what these programs usually entail.

Online Adult Education Courses

Usually, adult education is taught at the master's degree level, to those who have already acquired an understanding of teaching through a bachelor's degree program and who have already earned some hands-on career experience.

Colleges offering online adult education degree programs emphasize adult education in a variety of settings, such as remedial, continuing education or job-skills training programs. Usually, coursework will prepare students to work with adult learners from a variety of cultures, such as those in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, or those with learning disabilities. Typical courses may include:

  • The adult learner
  • Instructional strategies in adult education
  • Research in adult and higher education
  • Program development in adult education
  • Diversity in adult education
  • Self-directed learning

Additionally, students likely will be required to complete a research thesis paper; a residency or internship to put their learning into practice; or even a portfolio documenting their progress throughout their degree program.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

There are a number of skills that future adult educators are likely to use in their careers, and which online programs in adult education can provide ample opportunity to refine. Some particularly relevant examples are:

  • Communication skills: The ability to communicate effectively with adult learners about their goals and where they're struggling is the key to success in this field. Communication is a two-way street: it's important for a teacher to be able to instruct their students, yes, but it's equally important for a teacher to be able to listen to their students and understand their perspective of the instruction they are receiving.
  • Cultural sensitivity: Educators of adult learners can cross paths with students from many different walks of life. Adult education courses can provide a solid foundation about how to understand and respect these backgrounds and the concerns associated with them.
  • Patience: It can be frustrating to work with adult learners who continually struggle with material, but it can be just as frustrating for those adult learners to be the one struggling. Learning more about what your students might be going through in adult education courses can provide helpful context for learning to be patient with them.
  • Resourcefulness: While one teaching method may work for one adult learner, it may not work for the next. Adult educators should develop the ability to constantly seek new approaches and come at problems in new ways in order to reach their students.

Finally, completing an adult education program, in and of itself, can be a great way to show future educators what works and what doesn't in terms of adult learning. An online program, in particular, offers a unique and fascinating perspective on teaching: taking such a program may offer great insights into how to incorporate technological tools into instruction.

Adult Education Career Outlook

Adult Education Instructor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$55,140
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
20,100
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
7.1
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
Adult education instructors spend their days working with adults to help them improve their reading, writing and English speaking skills. Though they create lesson plans, adult education instructors must be able to adapt lesson plans to accommodate each student's capabilities. They must be flexible, therefore, since not all students in adult literacy education programs are at the same education level. Educators also are responsible for monitoring and assessing student's progress, and they also help students develop good study habits.
Adult education instructor careers can be extremely rewarding for people who enjoy helping others.
Education Administrator
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$84,400
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
12,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
Education administrators, including public school principals, assistant principals and private school directors, typically lead the efforts of teachers and school faculty. They provide managerial guidance and support and make sure the day-to-day functions of the school run efficiently.
School administrators need to be highly detailed, organized, and committed to their school or district so they can implement short- and long-term plans and initiatives. Education administrators may establish class schedules, counsel students, evaluate teacher performance, meet with parents to discuss student progress, or manage school budgets. Those in this career should be able to nimbly leap from one task to the next with short notice. Most principals and other senior administrators have master's degrees in education administration.
Sources and Methodologies

Methodology To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. Adult, Organizational Learning and Leadership, University of Idaho, http://www.uidaho.edu/ed/lc/academics/aoll
  2. EHRD Masters Online, Adult Education Specialization, Texas A&M University-College Station, http://eahr.tamu.edu/ehrd-masters-online-adult-education-specialization
  3. Leading Adult and Organizational Learning, Park University, http://www.park.edu/programs/organizational-learning.html
  4. Master of Arts in Adult Learning and Development, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, https://www.nsula.edu/ensu/online-programs/master-of-arts-in-adult-learning/
  5. Master of Arts in Education - Adult Education, East Carolina University, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/idp/aded/adult_ed.cfm
  6. Master of Education Program in Adult and Higher Education, University of Houston-Victoria, http://www.uhv.edu/catalog/academic-units/educationhealth-professions-and-human-development/med-program-in-adult-and-higher-education-/
  7. Master of Science in Adult Continuing Education: General Option, The University of West Alabama, http://www.uwa.edu/msacegeneralonline.aspx
  8. MS in Adult and Higher Education, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/online/usm-online-ms-adult-and-higher-education
  9. Online Degrees - Adult Education, Troy University, http://online.troy.edu/index.html
  10. Online Master of Education in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Arkansas, https://online.uark.edu/programs/master-education-adult-lifelong-learning.php
  11. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm
  12. Elementary, Middle School and High School Principals, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm
  13. Adult Education Facts at a Glance, U.S. Department of Education, 2009, https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/AdultEd/aefacts.html
  14. Adult Education Track Degree Plan, University of Houston-Victoria, accessed Sept. 27, 2017, https://www.uhv.edu/education/graduate-degrees/adult-and-higher-education/adult-education/degree-plan/
  15. Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016-17 Edition, 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm
  16. EHRD Program with an Emphasis in Adult Education, Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development, Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development, accessed Sept. 27, 2017, http://eahr.tamu.edu/node/514
  17. Major: Adult and Continuing Education, College Board, Big Future, accessed Sept. 27, 2017, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/education-education-specific-levels-methods-adult-continuing-education
  18. Master of Arts in Education - Adult Education, East Carolina University, accessed Sept. 27, 2017, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/idp/aded/adult_ed.cfm
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Sources and Methodologies