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Programs in adult education/learning equip students with the skills to become adept educators and facilitators in adult learning environments. Graduates are prepared for roles such as adult education instructors, corporate trainers, curriculum developers, and educational consultants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for training and development managers is $120,000 a year, depending on factors like experience and location.

Typically, the program takes around 18 months to two years to complete on a full-time basis.

The average tuition for master’s degree programs varies widely, ranging from $12,000 to $30,000 per year. Additional expenses may include textbooks, technology fees, and living expenses for on-campus programs, although online programs may offer cost savings in terms of commuting and housing expenses.

How to Choose a Master’s in Adult Education/Learning Program

Choose your area of study

Selecting the right area of study is crucial as it sets the foundation for your career path. Consider your interests, career goals, and the specific aspects of adult education you’re passionate about. Options may include adult learning theory, instructional design, program evaluation, or workforce development. Researching the various specializations within adult education will help you narrow down your focus and choose a program that aligns with your professional aspirations.

Research schools and programs

Researching schools and programs allows you to find the best fit for your educational and career goals. Look for accredited institutions with reputable adult education programs. Consider factors such as faculty expertise, curriculum, available resources, and opportunities for practical experience. Explore program formats, including online, hybrid, or traditional on-campus options, to determine which best suits your needs and preferences. Avoid programs from schools that have not been accredited by a national or regional accrediting organization.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparing for tests and applications ensures a smooth and successful admission process. Review program requirements, including standardized tests like the GRE or GMAT, and prepare accordingly. Gather application materials such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a compelling personal statement that highlights your passion for adult education and relevant experience. Pay close attention to application deadlines and follow instructions carefully to submit a strong application package.

Select your program

When selecting the right program for your needs, consider factors such as program reputation, faculty expertise, curriculum flexibility, and opportunities for hands-on experience or internships. Evaluate program outcomes, including graduation rates and job placement statistics, to gauge the program’s effectiveness. Additionally, consider factors such as scheduling options, location, and cost to ensure the program aligns with your lifestyle and financial situation.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Determining how to pay for your degree requires carefully considering your financial resources and options. Your first step is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Explore financial aid opportunities such as scholarships, grants, and fellowships offered by the institution or external organizations. Investigate tuition reimbursement programs through your employer or consider part-time employment while studying. Additionally, research student loan options and carefully evaluate repayment plans and interest rates. By planning ahead and exploring all available avenues, you can make informed decisions to finance your master’s degree in adult education.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Adult Education/Learning Degree Programs

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North Carolina State University

University of South Florida

Florida International University

James Madison University

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

Our chosen programs include those leading to a Master of Art in adult education or a Master of Education with a focus on adult education. Some of these programs are primarily in-person, with courses held in real-time on campus. Others are online only, and a few feature hybrid options with both online and on-campus elements.

All of the schools featured in this guide are approved by a regional accrediting agency, such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Accreditation is a rigorous periodic review that ensures the quality of the curriculum as well as the professors who teach it.We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Adult Education/Learning Program?

A master’s in adult education/learning program offers comprehensive training to prepare individuals for diverse roles in adult education, training, and development. Prospective students can expect to gain a deep understanding of adult learning theories, instructional design principles, program evaluation techniques, and emerging trends in the field. The curriculum typically covers topics such as curriculum development, assessment and evaluation, instructional technology, and adult development and learning.

The program duration varies depending on enrollment status (full-time or part-time) and program structure (traditional on-campus or online). On average, full-time students can complete the program in one and a half to two years, while part-time students may take longer to graduate. Some programs may offer accelerated options or allow for flexible scheduling to accommodate working professionals.

In addition to coursework, students may have opportunities for practical experiences such as internships, fieldwork, or research projects. Some programs may require students to complete in-person residencies or participate in supervised teaching practicums to gain hands-on experience in adult education settings.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in adult education/learning program

  • Adult Learning Theories. This course explores the theories and principles of adult learning, including transformative learning, experiential learning, and self-directed learning. Students examine how these theories apply to different adult learning contexts and gain insights into designing effective instructional strategies for adult learners.
  • Program Development and Evaluation. Students learn about the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating educational programs for adult learners. Topics may include needs assessment, curriculum development, implementation strategies, and methods for assessing program effectiveness. Students learn how to design and evaluate programs that meet the diverse needs of adult learners in different settings.
  • Instructional Design for Adult Learning. In this course, students learn how to design effective instructional materials and activities using various instructional technologies and multimedia tools. Emphasis is placed on learner-centered approaches and strategies for promoting active learning and engagement among adult learners.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Adult Education. Students explore topics such as cultural competence, social justice, and inclusive teaching practices, learning how to create inclusive learning environments that respect and accommodate the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and needs of adult learners.
  • Adult Development and Lifelong Learning. This course explores theories of adult development and the factors that influence learning and development across the lifespan. Topics include cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional development in adulthood and its implications for adult education practice. Students examine how theories of adult development inform instructional design, teaching strategies, and support services for adult learners.

Master’s in Adult Education/Learning Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in adult education/learning degree program?

Prospective students typically need to submit an application form, transcripts from previous academic institutions, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose outlining their academic and professional goals, and possibly standardized test scores such as the GRE or GMAT. Some programs may also require a resume or CV. It’s crucial to review the specific admission requirements of each program and communicate with an admissions counselor to ensure all necessary materials are submitted accurately and on time. Discussing program specifics with an admissions counselor can provide valuable insights into the application process and program fit.

How much does a master's in adult education/learning degree cost?

The cost of a master’s degree in adult education/learning varies widely depending on factors such as the institution, program format (online or in-person), and residency status. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition for such programs ranges from $12,000 to $30,000 per year. In general, private institutions are pricier than public or land-grant schools. Additional expenses like textbooks, technology fees, and transportation should also be considered. Online programs may offer more flexibility but could have technology or online learning platform fees.

How long does it take to earn a master's in adult education/learning degree?

A master’s in adult education/learning typically takes 18 months to two years of full-time study to complete, requiring around 30 to 36 credits. However, completion time can vary based on factors like program format and enrollment status. Online programs often offer more flexibility, allowing students to study at their own pace and potentially accelerate their progress. Part-time enrollment can extend the program length, typically requiring two to three years for completion. Additionally, the number of required credits varies by program, affecting completion time.