Master’s in adult education full program guide

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Introduction to a master’s in adult education

If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they often give a very definite reply. Typically, boys want to be firemen, policemen, astronauts, or something that involves a big noisy vehicle and an impressive uniform. Girls may elect future careers as ballerinas, teachers, or veterinarians for themselves. Yet many factors will influence whether this childhood decision comes to fruition in adulthood. Some of these factors, like poor school grades, emotional immaturity, poverty, and family disruptions can result in young adults deciding to enter the workforce directly after high school.

Often career inspiration happens years after leaving high school. Regardless of the reasons for the delay in deciding to proceed to college education, adult education is an expanding sector that can address the needs of these older learners.

If you are inspired to teach at a community college, work in a government agency, or help students learn English -there are many different rewarding career opportunities following the completion of a 2-year master’s degree in adult education.

What do I need to apply?

To be considered for a master’s in adult education you need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of a 2.75-3.0 GPA in a related field from an accredited university. The higher the GPA the more competitive your application will be.

Universities may also require GRE scores, academic references, a goal statement, and a resume. The GRE is an assessment exam that tests students on their verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and writing skills. A passing GRE score shows the admissions department you have the skills required for graduate coursework.

A goal statement indicates your aspirations and what you can contribute to the program. Some programs may ask for a resume or CV because they require professional experience relevant to the program.

Online, hybrid, or on campus


Since its invention in 1992, the internet has become an online network for entertainment, innovation, and education. Over the past decade, online education platforms have made education increasingly accessible to users. In 2020, the number of online courses skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the discovery that many students prefer the flexibility of online learning to traditional on-campus programs



Some universities offer hybrid courses. These classes combine traditional face-to-face learning with an online element. This could mean your class has live online lectures with coursework being submitted online.

Does my university need to be accredited?

Accreditation is an essential part of higher education. Accreditation agencies evaluate universities, colleges, and programs to ensure a recognized standard of quality is being met. Accreditation is the guarantee that your education is adequate to continue on to further studies or to join the workforce.

What will I learn?

Adult learning theory

This course will cover the broad topic of adult education from historical, legal, social, political, and economic perspectives. You will focus on learning theories, adult learner needs, and the important mark adult educators leave on a community.

Instructional strategies for adult learners

Innovative teaching methods are necessary for educating adult learners. You will learn teaching strategies, how to engage adult learners, enhance support systems for learning, and implement appropriate assessment techniques.

Developing programs for adult learners

This course will focus on the organization, development, and implementation of adult programs. You will analyze adult education programs, learn the planning process, and understand delivery methods needed to address adult learner needs.

Language and literacy

In this course, you will learn about issues related to cultural and linguistic diversity, reading and writing practices in the classroom, and how to integrate innovative teaching techniques to enhance student literacy.

Master’s thesis or project

A thesis is a scholarly paper that is a summary of what you have learned during your master’s program. This gives students the opportunity to prove their professional knowledge in their field. After its completion, many colleges require you to defend your thesis in front of a panel of experts.

Program concentrations

Higher education

Individuals who plan to work in leadership roles in higher education may be interested in this concentration. You will recognize and assess contemporary issues in higher education, strengthen faculty roles, improve administrative practices, and implement strategies to improve curriculum and instruction.

Organizational learning

This concentration can help to strengthen management skills, enhance your understanding of organizational design and dynamics, and teach you strategies that will help organizations adapt to the changing market and new challenges. This is a good fit for someone who wants to work in a supervisory or management position in business.

Instructional technology

As technology advances it is becoming an essential learning tool in the education system. A concentration in instructional technology will enhance classroom teaching strategies and educate you on how to incorporate technology in the classroom. This concentration is perfect for those who want to work as an instructional designer or training specialist in education, corporate, or government settings.

Cost of the degree

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the total cost of a 2-year master’s degree is roughly $32,870.

Financial aid

Although the cost of a master’s program can be intimidating, there are financial aid opportunities available to those who qualify. One of the most popular financial aid options is Federal Aid. This is a federal grant given to students who qualify. A free application, FASFA, is filled out online outlining your financial situation. You should hear back from the department within a few weeks. If federal grants aren’t enough, there are also loans and scholarships available to students who meet the requirements.

Scholarships are another popular option and appeal the many kinds of students. There are scholarships based on your area of study, where you live, and who you are.

Career options

GED teachers design and teach lessons to students to help them meet their academic goal of passing the GED. This can incorporate evaluating students and adapting teaching techniques, assessing strengths and weaknesses, monitoring academic progress, and encouraging good study habits.


In 2020, the average salary for a GED diploma teacher was $55,350.

Although it is common to have a doctoral degree to teach at the postsecondary level, many community colleges will accept teachers with master’s degrees. Community college professors teach the material, plan lectures, grade papers, and collaborate with colleagues on course curriculum.


The average salary in 2020 for a community college professor was $53,768.

A TESOL or ESL teacher is responsible for conducting lessons based on ESL methods. They also conduct student strength and weakness assessments and use this information to maximize the opportunities for individual students to learn. Finally, they maintain standardized guidelines and communicate student achievement and needs to the principal.


The average salary in 2020 for an ESL or TESOL teacher was noted as $50,103.

Continuing education

Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)

This degree applies research to real-world settings which can be essential for working professionals. It focuses on existing problems in education and takes steps to solve them by investigating methodologies.

Doctorate in higher education

This doctoral degree is for students who want to work as senior administrators, policy-makers, teachers, or researchers. This program will focus on administration policy and analysis, the historical and philosophical foundations of higher education, and organizational change.

Doctorate of philosophy in education (Ph.D.)

This is a research-based degree that focuses on qualitative and quantitative research. You can gain experience analyzing existing theories and developing new theories that can prepare you for research, administrative, or leadership roles.

American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

Since 1920 this association has been working to serve as a national information resource, create networking opportunities, encourage commitment to the community college movement, and career development opportunities.

American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)

This association provides leadership for the field of adult learning by growing opportunities for adult development and learning, creating networking opportunities, promoting standards to adult education, and fostering research.