We’ve done the research and created comprehensive guides to online schools for adult education. Continue below and dive into the details on adult education degree programs, tuition and fees, related career outlooks, employable skills and much more.
Nov 17, 2017 | By OnlineColleges Editors
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 might want to consider earning a master's degree in adult education. Whether it involves building on the basics your students have already learned or shoring up oversights in their earlier education, a career in adult education assuredly has the potential to help make the world a better place.
Featured Online Colleges for Adult Education in 2018-19
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 10 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. If a career in adult education is something you're interested in, be sure to consider the colleges featured here.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Southern Association of Colleges
Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
JKW Administration Building, Suite 100, College Station, TX 77843
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.
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.
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
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.
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.
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
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:
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.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
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.
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Administration Building 425, Fayetteville, AR 72701
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.
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
8700 NW River Park Drive, Parkville, MO 64152
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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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
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
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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.
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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.
Leading Adult and Organizational Learning, Park University, http://www.park.edu/programs/organizational-learning.html
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/
Master of Arts in Education - Adult Education, East Carolina University, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/idp/aded/adult_ed.cfm
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-/
Master of Science in Adult Continuing Education: General Option, The University of West Alabama, http://www.uwa.edu/msacegeneralonline.aspx
MS in Adult and Higher Education, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/online/usm-online-ms-adult-and-higher-education
Online Master of Education in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Arkansas, https://online.uark.edu/programs/master-education-adult-lifelong-learning.php
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
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
Adult Education Facts at a Glance, U.S. Department of Education, 2009, https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/AdultEd/aefacts.html
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/
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
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
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
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