Why This Matters


    While many individuals with a master’s in adult education go on to work in academic settings like colleges, this is a versatile degree with opportunities in business, non-profits, healthcare, government, and more.


    Training and development specialists are in high demand in a variety of industries to train new employees and provide continuing education to current workers. Almost 29,000 new jobs are expected by 2028.


    College enrollment is expected to increase within the next decade. Therefore, colleges will need more administrators and curriculum coordinators. A master’s in adult education is excellent preparation for these types of roles.

Our Research

For this list, we concentrated on master’s degrees in adult education/learning. Students can earn a variety of different degrees in this field, including a Master of Education (M.Ed), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Arts (MA). Each type of degree has a slightly different approach and requirements, so compare programs to find the one that best suits your needs.

To ensure flexibility for working students, we primarily reviewed programs that can be completed online. Some programs are also available on-campus or can be completed through a combination of in-person and online classes.

All of the listed programs are offered by regionally accredited institutions, which guarantees that they meet high standards of quality postsecondary education. A number of programs also have programmatic accreditation through accrediting bodies like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Once we compiled our list, our team evaluated each program on the basis of its cost, flexibility, course offerings, outcomes, reputation, and faculty. We then gave each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 53 hours to write this article
  • 171 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 398 education programs we compared

The Top 41 Online Master’s in Adult Education Programs

Best Online Master's in Adult Education Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

A master’s in adult education is a versatile degree that can help you enter or advance in a variety of industries. However, since there is no singular career path for this degree, students who are interested in an adult education master’s program should carefully consider their career goals.

For example, students who want to work in higher education administration can also consider a master’s in higher education or a master’s in education administration. Likewise, those who are interested in pursuing training and leadership roles within the workplace may want to explore a master’s in human resources or a master’s in organizational leadership. Whatever degree you choose, now is the time to investigate all of your options.

While the job outlook for most adult education-related occupations is good, the specific job of adult literacy and high school diploma equivalency teacher is expected to experience an employment decline in the next few years. As high school graduation rates have increased, fewer individuals are seeking equivalency diplomas, cutting down on the need for educators who specifically teach adult learners.

When considering return on investment, students should also be aware that the pay difference between a bachelor’s-level adult educator and a master’s-level adult educator is negligible, although exact salaries do vary based on position and industry.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Adult Education/Learning programs:

  • Does this program have the specialization I want? Because adult education is such a diverse field, there are many opportunities for specialization in areas including literacy, ESL, curriculum design, and instructional technology. If there is a particular topic you want to focus on, seek out programs that will give you the opportunity to do so.
  • Are there any in-person requirements? Even if programs are advertised as online, there may be in-person components for experiential learning such as internships. Students may also be required to visit campus for seminars or residencies. Before committing to a program, be sure you’re aware of any in-person requirements so that you can accommodate them in your budget and schedule.

Take note of schools’ application deadlines and the materials you will have to submit during the admissions process. Staying organized and submitting application materials well ahead of deadlines will help your admissions process go as smoothly as possible.

Now is also the time to start thinking about how you will fund your graduate degree. Research financial aid options including loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.