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

Online master’s in adult education programs offer the same academic quality as on-campus programs. By eliminating the need to commute to campus, they’re also more convenient and affordable, allowing students to maintain a healthy balance between work, family, and school as they increase their earning potential and open up more job opportunities. When looking for an online master’s program in adult education, you should carefully consider all your options to ensure you select the best match for your needs and career goals.

Available concentrations

If you already know what role you would like to have in the adult education field once you graduate, try to find a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in adult education include:

  • Adult Literacy: Prepares students to become reading teachers for adults and focuses on learning how to help others develop English language skills.
  • Human Resource Development: Equips students to become training and development managers for HR departments in various industries.
  • Teaching and Learning with Technology: Reviews how to integrate digital learning strategies and technologies into adult learning environments.

Common degree curriculum

The exact curriculum for your master’s in adult education will depend on which school you attend, whether you pursue a concentration, and which electives you take. Some of the specific topics covered in most programs include:

  • Adult Learning Theory: Explores the key concepts and principles of instructing adults (this area of study is known as andragogy). You’ll examine the motivations of adult learners, standard instructional techniques, and the role of technology in the classroom.
  • Adult Literacy: Reviews how to use a variety of adult literacy instructional models, assess the strengths and weaknesses of adult learners, and determine which teaching model will serve each individual best.
  • Educational Program Planning: Provides graduates with a foundation of knowledge in curriculum design for adult learners.

Certification and license preparation

Certification and licensure requirements for adult education professionals vary from state to state. Depending on where you plan to work, you may need to take additional state exams after earning your master’s degree. Those who plan to teach adult learners English should also consider TESOL certification.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate the faculty and curriculum of postsecondary institutions to ensure they offer students a high-quality educational experience. Also, attending an unaccredited program may prevent you from being able to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Program completion timeframe

Most online adult education master’s programs require between 30 to 40 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students usually earn their degree within two years, while part-time students may need up to five years. If you want to earn your degree as quickly as possible, look for programs with asynchronous courses that allow you to progress at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Adult Education Graduates

While only a bachelor’s degree is typically required for jobs in this field, most occupations related to adult education are expected to see slow or even negative growth over the next decade. With limited job opportunities available, a master’s degree can be a significant advantage — a higher level of education will help you stand out from other candidates and get hired more quickly.

A master’s degree may very well lead to higher pay as well. Generally, workers with a master’s earn an average salary of $1,661 per week, while those with a bachelor’s earn $1,432. Over a year, that’s a difference of nearly $12,000.

To make the most money with this degree, you’ll likely need to find work in the corporate world rather than a school setting. Indeed, most jobs for training and development managers offer six-figure salaries, with the top 10% earning more than $210,470.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Adult Basic and Secondary Education/ESL Teachers These teachers instruct adult learners in basic reading and writing skills. Many teach courses designed to prepare students for the GED and other high school diploma equivalency exams. Others focus on helping adults learn English. $58,590 -13%
Instructional Coordinators Instructional coordinators use educational theories to develop lesson plans, learning materials, and curricula. They may work for K-12 schools, colleges, school districts, or government agencies. $66,490 2%
Career and Technical Education Teachers Career and technical education teachers work at vocational schools, community colleges, and training centers. They teach automotive repair, culinary arts, plumbing, and cosmetology subjects. $61,450 0%
Training and Development Managers Training and development managers combine adult educational theory with managerial principles. Organizations hire them to enhance professional development programs and help employees build essential skills. $120,000 6%

Professional organizations

Membership in a professional organization looks great on your resume, and these organizations also offer valuable networking and educational opportunities. Here are a few notable organizations dedicated to supporting and advancing the field of adult education:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Adult Education Degree

While online programs are usually less expensive than traditional in-person programs, many students still need help paying for their degree. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an excellent first step, as this will determine your eligibility for grants, loans, and other forms of assistance provided by the federal government. You may also be eligible for scholarships from private companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual schools.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

There are so many financing options that it can be challenging to determine what you should do next after submitting your FAFSA. The resources listed below will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

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