Why This Matters


    Positions requiring complex skills are increasing in the U.S. — leading to an under-educated workforce in need of adult training.


    According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, approximately 32 million adults could benefit from adult literacy courses.


    Educators who plan, coordinate and teach skills- and knowledge-enhancement training to adults working in corporations and other organizations earn a median salary of $113K each year.

Our Research

Our chosen programs include those which lead to a master’s of art in education or a master’s 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 programs are accredited by a regional accreditation agency. Some of these include the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Accreditation is a rigorous periodic review that ensures the high 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.

  • 69 hours to write this article
  • 152 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 361 education programs we compared

The Top 22 Master’s in Adult Education / Learning Degree Programs

Best Master's in Adult Education / Learning Degree Programs
loader Image

What You Should Know About This Degree

There are several career paths open to you with a master’s degree in adult education. One area of specialization is in adult literacy and basic skills. You may be working with individuals who did not finish high school or those who have immigrated to the U.S., teaching reading and other subjects to help them to better negotiate life in this country.

Another career track is in workforce development. Here, you will be teaching specialized skills — often technological in nature — to those who want to increase their ability to do their jobs well, or to earn promotions in their field. To do this, you may be teaching at the community college level, or you might be hired by a company to teach employees a new necessary skill.

Certification and licensing to become an adult educator varies from state to state. You may need to be certified as a teacher in your state — find out by checking the website of your state’s Board of Education. Professional organizations such as the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education may also offer specific credentials to augment your skill set.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Adult Education programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Each program has its own eligibility requirements, so check the website for any institution you’re interested in. In general, you will need a baccalaureate (bachelor) degree from an accredited college or university. Some programs may require you to have an undergraduate degree in education or a related field. You may also need to have a minimum GPA, usually 2.5 or 3.0.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online classes are presented in one of two ways: synchronous courses meet at a specific time, and you’ll need to be online and attending at that time. Asynchronous courses are pre-recorded, and you can attend at a time that’s convenient for you. There may also be some flexibility in assignment deadlines as well.

Don’t hesitate to contact an admissions counselor if you have questions, even if you’re not sure a particular program is right for you. Counselors know their programs well, and can advise you on the specifics and get you started on your application and financial aid application if it’s a good fit for you.

Financing your graduate education may be a primary concern for you. Most institutions offer need- and merit-based scholarships. You may also want to explore the possibility of financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans from your place of employment and any professional organizations to which you belong.