Online Master’s in Adult Education 2021

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Adult educators help adult learners gain foundational math and literacy skills. Specialists in this area also work with adults studying for high school equivalency exams. Adult education jobs require excellent communication skills, patience, and adaptability.

A master’s in adult education prepares students for careers in schools and community-based organizations. Graduates may serve as adult educators in a secondary school or as basic education teachers in a local nonprofit.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), adult education specialists earn median annual salaries of $55,350. Salaries in this field vary depending on job type and location. Adult educators may work full time or part time. The BLS projects about 5,300 job openings in adult education each year between 2019-2029.

Online Master’s In Adult Education Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Georgia Athens, GA
2 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
3 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
4 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
5 Morehead State University Morehead, KY
6 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
7 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
8 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
9 SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo, NY
10 Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO

FAQ's Surrounding Master's in Adult Education Learning Programs


  • What degree do I need to teach adults?

    Most adult education jobs require a bachelor’s degree. A master’s in adult education benefits those who seek more specialized roles.


  • What is the highest degree you can get for teaching?

    Many schools offer a doctorate in education. Students may pursue a Ph.D. or Ed.D. depending on their career goals.


  • What are the different kinds of degrees in education?

    Colleges offer education degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Most education jobs only require a bachelor’s degree.


  • How many years is a degree in education?

    An adult education master’s degree typically takes two years to complete. Some schools feature accelerated programs that take less time.


Why Get a Degree in Adult Education?

Adult education specialists serve in essential roles within local communities. They improve literacy, help individuals learn English, and provide support for adult learners to gain a diploma. Adult education master’s degrees prepare graduates to contribute to community development in meaningful ways.

Many schools offer affordable options for students wanting to pursue a career in adult education. Some adult education programs offer part-time or accelerated curricula, allowing working professionals to earn their degrees on their own terms. Students may choose to enroll in an online adult education program. Online degrees provide maximum value to enrollees who may already work in education.

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How Much Does an Adult Education Degree Cost?



The cost of a master’s in adult education varies depending on school type, location, and program length. Public schools usually cost less than private institutions. Schools in urban areas may charge higher tuition rates than institutions in rural areas. Students could pay less for an accelerated adult education program.

An online master’s in adult education remains an affordable option for many students. Online programs tend to charge less than in-person degrees. Lower operating costs translate into better value for learners. Some state schools feature in-state tuition rates for online students even if they live in a different state.

Although students may pay distance education fees, an online program offers much flexibility. Enrollees who work may benefit from the individualized instruction of an online degree. Some online programs offer accelerated schedules, decreasing the time to degree and saving students money. Programs that accept transfer credits for work or other nonclassroom experiences also help students reduce their expenses.

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How Much Do Adult Education Majors Make?

Salaries for adult education jobs vary by job type, location, and responsibility level. The median annual salary for adult educators hovers around $55,000, according to the BLS. Managerial roles that oversee other educators may feature higher salaries. Part-time work as an adult tutor typically pays less than average.

Adult educators working full time in secondary schools or government organizations earn more than those in the nonprofit sector. A typical adult educator at a high school may earn about $60,000. Adult education majors can expect to find higher paying jobs in states like California, Oregon, and New Jersey.

Certifications provide learners with more career opportunities. Certification in English as a second language (ESL) or special education garners educators more than adult basic education instructors. A candidate’s education level also impacts earning potential. Graduates with a master’s in adult education can command higher salaries than bachelor’s degree-holders.

Courses in Adult Education



Adult education programs feature core courses on adult learning, instructional design, and educational theory. Students may also take specialized courses on ESL instruction and workforce development.

Courses in an adult education master’s degree explore both the theory and practice of adult education. Students learn how to plan curricula and create appropriate assessments. They also study research methods and educational policy. Many adult education programs require students to complete a practicum or internship. These experiences provide learners with hands-on skills that they can apply to their careers.

The list below highlights three common adult education courses.

The course introduces the social and psychological factors that affect adult learners. Enrollees study concepts related to adult development and lifelong learning. The class covers some of the major adult education theories. Students investigate basic strategies for engaging adult learners.

Participants learn how to design training and instruction for adult learners. The course focuses on creating learning objectives, program outcomes, and instructional activities that motivate adults. Learners explore assessment models, organizational planning, and promotion for adult training programs.

The class serves as a capstone for adult education majors. Students apply the skills that they learn in the classroom to a real-world project. The course includes supervised practice in educational planning, teaching, and program development for adult learners. Enrollees may work with a local school or organization on an adult training program.

Certifications and Licensure for Adult Education



Most states require adult educators to acquire a teaching license. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most include a bachelor’s degree, student-teaching experience, and an exam. Specialized fields such as ESL instruction may require additional certifications. The list below describes three certifications for adult educators.

Basic Teaching License


Adult education specialists typically hold basic state teaching licenses. These require the completion of a bachelor’s degree in education, a background check, an exam, and supervised teaching experience. After three years of full-time teaching, educators may choose to pursue the national board certification.

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Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certification


Adult educators wanting to specialize in ESL instruction may pursue the TESOL certification. This program provides educators with essential skills for teaching English to both children and adults. Certification requirements include bachelor’s- or master’s-level coursework in ESL education and an exam.

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Workforce Development Certification


The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals sponsors a certification program for adult educators focusing on workforce development and training. The certification requires a combination of education and work experience in five competency areas, including grant writing and career advising.

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Scholarships for Adult Education



Students enrolled in adult education programs qualify for several scholarships. These opportunities support adult education majors at all levels. Many learners seek state and federal financial aid to help fund their education. Individual schools may offer scholarships and grants for qualified students. The list below highlights three adult education scholarships.


  • Get Educated Distance Learning Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: GetEducated.com sponsors two annual scholarships for students attending any accredited online program, including adult education programs. Applicants must submit an online application, a 500-word essay, transcripts, and FAFSA information.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • Ruth Crymes TESOL Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: The TESOL International Association funds an annual fellowship for graduate students in TESOL or second language studies. Application requirements include a short essay, a description of the applicant’s graduate project, and a recommendation letter.

    Amount: $1,500

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  • Leon Bradley Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The American Association of School Personnel Administrators sponsors two scholarships for minority students majoring in education. The award assists students during their supervised student-teaching year.

    Amount: $3,500

    Explore Here


Online Master’s In Adult Education Programs 2021



See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of the oldest colleges in the United States, the University of Georgia administers a growing suite of top-ranked online programs. The M.Ed. in learning, leadership, and organization development prepares leaders and scholars able to guide teams, individuals, and organizations. Mid-career professionals from all disciplines enroll in this master's in adult education. Students learn how to put theory into practice to build sustainable organizations.

    The 33-credit curriculum consists of online coursework and an applied project. Learners examine topics such as adult learning, change management, and group-problem-solving. Degree-seekers learn how to design and implement interventions to develop students and organizations. Participants enjoy regular interaction with peers and faculty with no required on-campus visits.

    Students may transfer up to six credits into the M.Ed. UGA charges an affordable flat rate tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and GRE scores, with waivers available.

  2. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Indiana University-Bloomington oversees a robust virtual college offering about 170 degrees. The M.S.Ed. in adult education continues the school's tradition of rigorous academics and affordability. The 36-credit program enrolls educators who want to work with nontraditional learners. The curriculum explores theories, models, and research methods that educators use to design and implement successful adult education programs.

    Coursework covers core subjects including adult learning through the lifespan, adult education planning and development, and distance education systems in adult education. Degree-seekers use 15 elective credits to customize the master's in adult education to meet their career goals.

    One course, participation training, requires a three-day residency on the IU campus. Students complete the rest of the program online without interrupting their careers. IU offers affordable tuition with a modest tuition increase for out-of-state learners. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, minimum 2.7 GPA, and no GRE scores.

  3. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana manages the state's largest online college. The fully online MA in adult learning and development enrolls people who provide or manage adult learning in diverse settings. The 33-semester-hour program comprises a core and one of three concentrations: e-learning, homeland security, or adult and workforce development.

    All students complete core courses exploring adult learning theories, program development, and best practices in adult instruction. A research course explores how practitioners use data to inform their decision-making. Students use 12 semester hours to complete a concentration. A practicum allows participants to apply their learning in a classroom or other site.

    Certified Louisiana teachers who meet other eligibility requirements can take specific courses for Louisiana certification as an adult education instructor. With summer school, enrollees can complete the master's in adult education in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and GRE scores.

  4. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At NC State, students choose from 100 online programs in a college known for innovation and preeminent research. The 36-credit M.Ed. in adult and community college education enrolls new and experienced educators from diverse backgrounds. Students complete online specializations in adult and continuing professional education, community college teaching, or health professions education.

    The master's in adult education's core curriculum examines adult learners, teaching in online environments, and adult and higher education instructional strategies. One course explores the teacher's role in providing continuing professional education. Students use 12 credits to complete their chosen specialization. The health professions education option dives into U.S. healthcare delivery, and factors that influence health professions education.

    The degree's research component develops participants proficient in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. During the capstone course, enrollees identify and address a research problem. Admission requires a bachelor's in any major and no entrance exam.

  5. Morehead State University
    Location

    Morehead, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Kentucky, Morehead State University offers a fully online MA in adult and higher education. The 30-credit degree teaches educators how to plan and implement programs for adult learners. The core curriculum explores higher education, adult education, and research methods in higher education.

    Degree-seekers use nine elective credits to build competencies in areas including higher education facilities management or curriculum development and evaluation. Alternatively, they may tailor the master's in adult education by choosing one of seven nine-credit concentrations. Options include business training and development, community college, and student life.

    All participants can use elective credit to complete an internship appropriate to their specialization. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, two years of relevant experience, and GRE or MAT scores.

  6. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Carolina's leader in distance education, East Carolina University offers 100 online programs. The MA in adult education develops educators who can effectively design, implement, and evaluate adult education programs. Most of the MA's enrollees complete the degree part time. The 36-semester-hour program requires no on-campus commitments.

    The degree's core curriculum explores subjects including adult learners, adult education instructional strategies, and adult education program development. A research component teaches educators how to conduct and use research in their practice. Participants use nine elective credits to specialize in areas such as educational gerontology, college teaching, and educational program evaluation. Students can also use elective credits to pursue an internship in adult education.

    All students in the adult education master's degree complete a portfolio detailing their reflections, competencies, and accomplishments. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a writing sample, and GRE or MAT scores.

  7. University of Arkansas
    Location

    Fayetteville, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas enrolls about 27,000 students in 210 academic programs. Learners complete the fully online M.Ed. in adult and lifelong learning in about two years. The 33-credit degree develops scholars and practitioners for instructional and leadership roles. The curriculum teaches how to assess, design, and implement adult education programs. Students may choose to pursue adult education licensure.

    The core curriculum explores adult education perspectives, curriculum development, and adult education instructional strategies and assessment. All enrollees complete a research component focused on research methods in education or statistics in education and health professions.

    The master's in adult education requires a culminating applied project in lieu of a thesis. Students may accelerate degree completion by transferring at least six credits. Distance learners pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and no GRE or MAT scores.

  8. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
    Location

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of the nation's leading research institutions, Rutgers University offers a 30-credit M.Ed. in adult and continuing education. The program trains educators who can help nontraditional learners maximize their potential. Participants work in diverse settings, reflected in the program's four specializations: higher education, education technology, adult ESL and literacy education, and human resources development.

    The core curriculum explores adult and continuing education, adult training design, and organizational leadership and change management. Each specialization comprises nine credits. Graduates leave the program with a keen understanding of adult learners' needs, and how to create programs for sustained learning.

    Students can begin earning the master's in adult education with certificates that count toward the 30 credits. Rutgers offers both fully online and hybrid formats. Competitive tuition rates make this an affordable adult education master's degree. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and no GRE scores for learners with at least a 3.0 GPA.

  9. SUNY Buffalo State
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of the nation's leading research institutions, Rutgers University offers a 30-credit M.Ed. in adult and continuing education. The program trains educators who can help nontraditional learners maximize their potential. Participants work in diverse settings, reflected in the program's four specializations: higher education, education technology, adult ESL and literacy education, and human resources development.

    The core curriculum explores adult and continuing education, adult training design, and organizational leadership and change management. Each specialization comprises nine credits. Graduates leave the program with a keen understanding of adult learners' needs, and how to create programs for sustained learning.

    Students can begin earning the master's in adult education with certificates that count toward the 30 credits. Rutgers offers both fully online and hybrid formats. Competitive tuition rates make this an affordable adult education master's degree. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and no GRE scores for learners with at least a 3.0 GPA.

  10. Colorado State University-Fort Collins
    Location

    Fort Collins, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Colorado State University offers programs on campus in Fort Collins and online. The M.Ed. in education and human resource studies offers an adult education and training specialization. The 30-credit curriculum prepares graduates to work with nontraditional learners in settings including ESL instruction, athletics coaching, or corporate training. The curriculum's project-based assignments give students real-world training they can readily apply.

    The adult education master's degree explores adult education and training, adult teaching and learning, and instructional design. Participants learn how to produce research and analyze the results. Learners can use elective credits to pursue specialized training. Courses include program development, adult education experiential learning, and teaching and learning at a distance.

    CSU's flat tuition rate includes student services such as free Microsoft Office. Admission requires a bachelor's with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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