What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Adult Education Program?

The highest-paid jobs in the field of adult education and learning require a master’s degree, so many individuals are pursuing this path to advance their careers. Online distance learning programs are convenient, affordable and let individuals maintain a healthy balance between work, family and school as they increase their earning potential and open up more job opportunities. When browsing for master’s programs in adult education/learning, it’s important to consider all the options to find a program that’s right for you.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Adult Education

Adult Literacy Prepares students to become reading teachers for adults and focuses on learning how to develop English language skills in adults. Adult literacy teacher, ELL teacher
Human Resource Development Equips students to become organizational trainers and development managers for HR departments in various industries. Training and development managers
Teaching and Learning with Technology Provides students with how to integrate eLearning strategies and technologies into adult learning environments. Technology teacher in adult education

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Adult Education

While it’s true that no two programs are the same, the types of courses and overall adult education curriculum you’ll progress through depends on your chosen school and area of concentration. Different schools may offer different concentration areas, and this will affect your coursework as well. In general, though, you can expect to take some or all of these core adult education courses:

Adult Learning Theory Explores concepts and key principles in the processes of instructing adults, or what’s called andragogy, as well as practical applications and expected outcomes from teaching adults. In courses like this, you’ll likely examine the motivations of adult learners, common instructional tactics and the role of technology for adult learners.
Adult Literacy Discover how to use a variety of instructional models commonly used in adult literacy education and how these methods are implemented. You’ll also likely learn how to assess the strengths and weaknesses of adult learners and determine which teaching model serves them best.
Educational Program Planning Provides a foundation of knowledge in curriculum design for adult learners. It typically covers several approaches to program planning and course design.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Adult Education?

The overall length of your master’s in adult education and learning program is going to vary by school and program type, so keep this in mind when choosing where to apply.

Most online adult education master’s programs can be completed in 30 to 40 credit hours. Depending on the type of program, there is much variation as to their duration. Some programs may only last for a few months, but others may require several years of study. Several factors influence the length of a master’s degree in adult education program, including lesson delivery format, practicum components and pacing.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Adult Education Prepares For

Certifications and licenses for adult education vary widely from state to state, so be sure to check with the state you plan to teach in if there are any special requirements you might need to fulfill. Depending on your program, you may earn one of these certifications.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification This 140-hour certificate program is designed for those who are interested in teaching English as a second language to adult learners. Participants in this program can choose their area of concentration: adult or childhood/adolescent education. This certificate program builds upon the foundations of adult learning theory and applies them to foreign language instruction.
Teaching Certificate The requirements of earning a teaching certificate vary widely from state to state. Depending on your location, you may need to take additional state exams. A teaching certificate is necessary for most positions in adult education, including a GED course instructor or corporate trainer.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Adult Education

When researching online master’s programs, it’s very important to focus your search on accredited programs. But what does accreditation mean?

Accreditation is a process that educational agencies use to ensure that individual schools are meeting minimum standards of quality for academics and ethics. Schools that have online master’s in adult education programs can be either regionally or nationally accredited, depending on the agency.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) maintains a database of accredited programs and institutions. You can search their extensive database by the school you’re interested in to find out whether they are accredited.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Adult Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Earning an online master’s degree in adult education can open up a host of new job opportunities. If you enjoy helping colleagues succeed at work or enjoy planning processes, an online master’s in adult education can help advance your career.

While entry-level jobs in adult education can usually be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, for acquiring higher-paying jobs and to make yourself qualified for a broader range of professions, an online master’s degree is a smart path to choose.

Expected Salary

In addition to qualifying for additional job opportunities, a master’s degree in adult education can help boost your salary. Below is a list of popular careers individuals choose after earning their master’s in adult education along with the expected median annual salary.

Geographical location also plays a role when it comes to salary projections. Below are some of the top paying states for training and development managers. People who work in this role typically plan, direct and coordinate programs that are designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees.

Career Opportunities

Your master’s degree in adult learning qualifies you for many jobs in different types of workplaces and professional environments.

Adult Literacy/High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher These teachers instruct adult learners in basic reading and writing skills. Many also teach courses created to prepare adult students for the GED and other high school diploma equivalency exams. While many programs may hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree, most schools prefer to hire instructors with advanced credentials. $52,100 per year -5%
Instructional Coordinators Instructional coordinators work on an institutional or school district-wide basis and use educational learning theories to develop lesson plans, instructional materials and curricula and help ensure that educational standards are being met. They can work at elementary and middle schools, high schools, colleges, professional schools, within educational support services, or in state and local governments. $63,750 per year 11%
Career and Technical Education Teachers Career and Technical Education often work at vocational schools, community colleges and training centers. They provide career-based instruction to adult learners so they can develop skills that help them get a job in their chosen field. Common courses may include automotive repair, culinary arts, electrical engineering, plumbing and cosmetology. Depending on the industry, these instructors often have to hold several certifications in addition to a state teaching license. $55,240 per year 4%
Foreign Language and Literature Teachers These teachers teach languages and literature courses in languages other than English to postsecondary and adult learners. They can work at colleges, private educational facilities, religious institutions and community centers. This includes teachers of American Sign Language, those primarily engaged in classroom teaching and those who perform a combination of teaching and research. $80,410 per year N/A
Training and Development Managers For those who enjoy working in a corporate environment, this position may be ideal. Training and development managers typically combine adult educational theory with managerial principles. They’re typically hired by organizations to help plan and coordinate employee educational programs and enhance professional development sessions by helping employees build essential skills. $108,250 per year 10%

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization in the field of adult learning and education can help you advance your career and contribute towards your academic and professional success. Listing memberships to these types of organizations looks great on your professional resume, and it typically comes with opportunities for professional development, conferences and job assistance. Here are a few organizations dedicated to supporting and advancing the field of adult education.

American Association for Adult and Continuing Education: This organization is committed to developing leadership among adult educators, and it extends a host of benefits to its members, including voting privileges, discounts on conference registration fees, networking opportunities, exclusive webinars and online community features.

National Association of State Directors of Adult Education: Members of the NASDAE (Formerly NAEPDC) benefit from access to this organization’s research database, which is vast and includes a wealth of information. It contains hundreds of handbooks, training manuals, certification programs and lesson plan outlines, among other resources.

Correctional Education Association: For teachers who instruct adult learners in a correctional environment, this organization supports them. Membership provides access to an open educational database, free teaching resources and opportunities to participate in leadership events and annual conferences.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Adult Education

While online degrees are often less expensive overall, many students still require financial aid to help them pay for their degree. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is a good first step. This provides you with access to information about grants, scholarships and other forms of financial aid provided by the federal government.

Other options include private grants and scholarships that may be available from private companies, nonprofit organizations or from individual schools. Be sure to check out any available resources available at the schools you’re applying to as well as these listed below.



Scholarships Details
Get Educated Online College Scholarship Award: $1,000

Deadline: October and March

Eligibility: U.S. Citizen attending an accredited online degree program located in the U.S. with a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Dr. Jessie Reppy Memorial Scholarship Award: $2,500

Deadline: March

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in an accredited master’s program with a focus in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Must reside in New Jersey, attend an in-state university, maintain a GPA of 3.0.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.