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Have a passion for continued education? Inspire adults both in and out of the classroom. Here are the best online master's in adult education!
While many believe that learning stops outside of the classroom, we know that’s just not the case! In fact, adult education is one of the fastest growing industries. From working with adults in a classroom setting to teaching adults in the workplace, there are so many opportunities for continued education. With a degree in adult education and learning, you’ll have the power to continue to inspire and engage with the leaders of today.
What kind of master’s in adult education/learning should you get?
Now that you’ve decided to pursue a degree in adult education/learning, it can be overwhelming to figure out what kind of degree is best! Rest assured, we’ve made selecting a program easy for you! You’ll find some of the below programs offer master's of science and master of art degrees, while others offer master's of education degrees. These slight variations indicate a focus in course subject areas; from research and curriculum development to classroom instruction and more.
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How much money do people make with a master’s in adult education/learning?
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for someone with an M.Ed. in adult education and training is around $66,000 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates $52,000 per year for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers.
Of course, your salary will also depend on the city and environment in which you work. You can go on to do a variety of jobs with a master’s in adult education/learning which will influence your pay.
What can you do with a master’s in adult education/learning?
You may assume that a degree in education means you’ll be working in a school. That’s not the case here! With a master’s in adult education/learning, you can work in a variety of fields! In fact, many graduates go on to work as employee relation specialists, e-Learning specialists, or community organization administrators. Of course, if the classroom is your end goal, you could always work as an Adult Literacy teacher, or as a High School Equivalency teacher. You’ve got plenty of options with this degree!
What are the requirements for a master’s in adult education/learning?
Not all of the below programs are cookie-cutter versions of each other. In fact, you’ll see plenty variations. From unique concentrations and internship opportunities to comprehensive practicums and capstone projects, you can pick the program that best suits your career goals. Most programs will assume you already have a teaching license, but that’s not the case for all. Take a look at the fine print to make sure you’re qualified!
What are the best master’s in adult education/learning?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 best online master's in adult education/learning with you and your needs in mind. Here’s how we did it:
First, we located the best programs in the country by taking an objective look at the best schools in the country as measured by reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we looked at the bottom line - how much does it cost?
We combined these factors to reach our College Choice Score, which determined where each school fits into the big scheme of things. The end result is a list of schools that not only represent the best adult education degrees you can get and a good return on investment, but also one that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!
See our rankings methodology page.
North Carolina State University
Founded in 1887, NC State is a land, sea, and space grant institution located in Raleigh, NC. Home to mascots Mr. and Mrs. Wuf, as well as over 34,000 students, it is the largest four-year college in the state of North Carolina. NC State now offers both an online MS and M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Professional Education.
This program is designed for teaching professionals who wish to have a meaningful impact on adult learners. Required courses may include:
- Instructional Strategies in AHE
- Teaching in an Online Environment
- Assessment and Evaluation of Adult Education
- Foundations of Adult, Higher and Human Res Education
Those students pursuing a Master of Education will have to choose between completing research and an internship, or a capstone project. The Master of Science program requires all graduate students to complete a thesis. Students in either program can take all classes completely online or through a mix of both online and in-person.
NC State is repeatedly ranked among the most affordable universities in the country. Additionally, the university is ranked among the Top 100 National Universities in America by U.S. News & World Report. With 12 colleges offering a variety of degree options, it’s not surprising so many choose NC State for their continued studies.
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
Located in College Station, TX, this public research university is the second-largest in the United States based on enrollment. From the Dwight Look College of Engineering to the Mays Business School, Texas A&M offers a variety of unique degree options. Now, through the university’s College of Education & Human Development, students can pursue an online MS degree in Educational Human Resource Development with a specialization in Adult Education.
This 37-credit program prepares students to teach adult learners in a classroom, in the workplace, and beyond. Required courses may include:
- Methods of Teaching Adults
- Program Development in Adult Education
- Adult Education, Globalization, and Social Justice
- Evaluation Models in Human Resource Development
- Organization Development and Performance in Human Resource Development
Additionally, students in this program may choose to take electives in a variety of subject areas. From health to public service administration, you can tailor your degree to fit your professional pursuits.
Texas A&M University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation. In fact, U.S. News and World Report has ranked the university among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The university also earned the twenty-fifth spot for Top Public Schools. The university also has a campus in Qatar.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
State College, PA
Penn State World Campus or “Penn State Online” is the online campus of Pennsylvania State University. The World Campus launched in 1998 and has been gaining ground ever since. Now, with nearly 18,000 enrolled students, Penn State Online offers more than 125 degree and certificate programs. Students can now pursue an online Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education.
Students in this online program will be required to complete 30 credits. Graduate courses in this program may include:
- The Teaching of Adults
- Perspectives on Adult Learning
- Teaching Math and Numeracy to Adults
- Historical and Social Issues in Adult Education
- Language, Literacy, Identity, and Culture in a Global Context
Graduate students may choose between two tracks, including: Adult Basic Education and Literacy Option, and the Global Online and Distance Education Option. Both options require the same amount of credit-hours. The tuition per credit is just over $880. The World Campus also offers a variety of scholarship and financial aid packages for eligible students.
Pennsylvania State University–World Campus tied for eighth in the ranking for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The online university is also ranked seventh among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report.
James Madison University
James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, VA, is a public research university that was established in 1908. Just two hours south of Washington D.C., James Madison currently offers over 120 degree programs (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral). The school’s motto is “Knowledge is Liberty” and over 21,000 students embrace that adage every day. Now, students can pursue an online Master’s in Adult Education/Human Resource Development.
Whether you’re looking to become a training manager, workforce educator, or curriculum developer, this JMU program may be perfect for you. Required courses may include:
- Learning in Adulthood
- Leadership and Facilitation
- Principles of Instructional Design
- Design and Development of Digital Media
- Research Methods and Inquiry in Adult Education/Human Resource Development
Graduates in this program may also choose from a variety of concentrations, including: AHRD Program Evaluation and Measurement, Higher Education, Human Resource Management, Instructional Design, and Leadership and Facilitation.
U.S. News & World Report ranked JMU seventh on its list of Best Universities in the South. The school also ranked fourth for Best Undergraduate Teaching Programs. Students can choose from nearly 70 majors and also from a variety of study abroad programs, including semester studies opportunities in Belgium, China, Italy, the UK, Spain, and many more!
This public research university located in Bloomington, IN is the tenth-largest United States public university by enrollment. With nearly 50,000 students, this university is abuzz with energy and hard-working innovators. Interested in learning how to create engaging educational programs for adults? If so, check out Indiana University’s 36-credit online Master’s in Adult Education, offered through the School of Education.
Students in this program are both natural learners and teachers. If you want to further your education to help others, this may be the perfect program for you. Required courses may include:
- Strategies for Educational Inquiry
- Adult Learning through the Lifespan
- Adult Education Planning and Development
- Seminar in Forms and Forces of Adult Education
- Introduction to Distance Education Systems in Adult Education
Though this program is completely online, students can expect the same quality of education they would receive on campus. Taught by the same experienced faculty, classes in this program are all-encompassing, engaging, and challenging.
Indiana University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation. In fact, U.S. News and World Report has included Indiana University on its rankings of Best Colleges for Veterans, Top Public Schools, and Best Value Schools. The university was also ranked among the Top 50 Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
University of Arkansas
This public land-grant, doctoral research university is located in the city of Fayetteville, AR. It’s the largest university in the state of Arkansas, boasting an enrollment of over 27,500 students. Interested in learning more about the latest adult teaching methodologies? Now, students can earn an online Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning. This 33-credit-hour non-thesis program can be completed in as little as two years!
Graduate applicants do not need to submit a GRE or MAT to be considered for this program. Once enrolled, required courses may include:
- Perspectives in Adult Education
- Curriculum Development in ABE and ASE
- Technology and Innovation in Adult Learning
- Managing Change in Adult and Lifelong Learning
- Instructional Strategies and Assessment in Adult Education
All graduates in this program will be required to complete research as well as a capstone project. Though this program is completely online, students can expect the same quality of education they would receive on campus.
The University of Arkansas has been ranked among the Best National Universities, Best Value Schools, and Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report. The university was also ranked among the Best Colleges for Veterans as well as among the Best Online Graduate Education programs in the nation.
Located in Greenville, NC, East Carolina University was founded in 1907 and is now home to nearly 30,000 students. ECU offers students over 80 undergraduate degrees and more than 70 master’s programs, including those in the fields of business and education, through its 12 colleges and schools. Now, students can earn an online Master of Education in Adult Education.
Offered through East Carolina’s College of Education, this 36-credit program can be completed entirely online. Required courses may include:
- The Adult Learner
- Research Problems in Higher Education
- Development of Adult Education Programs
- Introduction to Adult & Community College
- Organization & Administration of Adult/Continuing Education
Additionally, graduate students may pursue a thesis option. If you opt out of the thesis program, you’ll have to submit a cumulative portfolio to earn your degree.
The folks at East Carolina University are always on the cutting edge. In fact, ECU’s College of Education now offers a program through which educators can earn their doctorate in educational leadership online in just three years, including dissertation. The flexibility to earn a degree like that is unparalleled in today’s world! Plus, ECU has some notable alumni, including actress Sandra Bullock, and Vince and Linda McMahon, the founders of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Founded in 1891, this Jesuit Catholic university is home to over 7,000 students and beloved mascot Rudy the Redhawk. With eight schools and colleges, Seattle University offers more than 120 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Now, interested students can pursue an online Master’s degree in Adult Education and Training.
This 45-credit program is offered through Seattle’s College of Education and can be completed in just two years. Students may choose to focus on either human resource development or adult basic skills. Required courses may include:
- Philosophy of Education
- Course Design for Adult Learners
- Instructional Methods for Adult Learners
- Second Language Acquisition: Theories and Issues
- Human Resources: Training, Education, and Development
Prospective students may apply for either the Master of Arts or Master of Education program. Both require graduate students to complete 45 credits, a comprehensive exam, and an optional internship. However, the Master of Arts also requires a graduate project.
The cost per credit of this program is approximately $630. Seattle University offers a variety of scholarship and financial aid packages for eligible students. Additionally, the university is consistently ranked among the Top 10 Universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report. Seattle University has also been included in The Princeton Review‘s Best Colleges guide.
University of West Alabama
Located in the small city of Livingston, AL, this public university was originally founded in 1835 as a church-supported school for young women. Now, the university is home to nearly 5,000 students, along with beloved mascot Luie the Tiger. If you’re interested in an affordable teaching program, the University of West Alabama may be perfect for you. Check out the university’s online MS in Adult Continuing Education.
This non-certification program is offered completely online. Perfect for those hoping to advance their careers, the MS in Adult Continuing Education requires 33-credit hours. Your course schedule may include:
- Educational Statistics
- Advanced Educational Psychology
- Techniques of Educational Research
Most graduate students complete this degree in just one year. Each course lasts eight weeks and every student has access to a personal success coach along the way. Plus, UWA may accept up to nine hours for matching courses at the graduate level.
The online tuition rate at the University of West Alabama is approximately $430 per credit-hour. More than 80 percent of UWA students receive some type of financial aid assistance. The University of West Alabama is often cited as having one of the most reasonable tuition rates along with a high return on investment.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Located in the small city of Natchitoches, LA, this public university is home to mascot Vic the Demon along with 9,000 students. Interested in teaching? U.S. News and World Report has ranked Northwestern State University of Louisiana among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. In fact, the university offers an affordable online Master of Arts in Adult Learning and Development.
Offered through the university’s Department of Teaching, Leadership, and Counseling, this
33-hour MA degree offers students three areas of concentration, including:
- Adult and Workforce Development
- Homeland Security
Though this program is completely online, students will not sacrifice the quality of their degree. For NSU online students, the graduate tuition rate is $475 per credit-hour, up to nine hours. After the nine-hour mark is hit, the cost is just $100 per credit-hour.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana is consistently ranked among the country’s Most Affordable Online Colleges. Financial aid and scholarships are also available for those taking online courses. Northwestern offers courses in 8-week sessions during the fall and spring. During the summer, courses are offered in four and eight week sessions, providing ultimate flexibility and convenience for adult learners.
Located in Moscow, ID, the University of Idaho is home to nearly 12,000 students. For a school that was founded in the late 1800’s, the University of Idaho has since evolved to meet the demands of our tech-crazed society. In fact, many of the university’s degree programs are now offered in an online format. Check out the university’s MS in Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership.
This program is ideal for working professionals in need of a flexible degree program. Required courses may include:
- Future of Education and Work
- Career Development in Organizations
- Foundations of Human Resource Development
- Theory, Practice, and Challenges of Leadership
- Adult Learners: Foundations and Characteristics
Graduate students may also choose between a thesis and a non-thesis option. The thesis option requires 12 credits with advisor approval. Whether you wish to become a compliance manager, labor relations specialist, or something related, this program will help you get there.
The University of Idaho is often ranked among the top universities in the nation. In fact, U.S. News and World Report included the university on their rankings of Best National Universities, Top Public Schools, and Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
Home to mascot Willie the Wildcat, Kansas State is a public research university that was founded in February 1863. Located in Manhattan (not to be confused with the city of 8 million in New York), Kansas State is home to nearly 25,000 students. With more than 60 master’s degree programs, the university is a hub of research activity and innovation. Now, graduate students can pursue an Adult Learning and Leadership Master’s Degree.
Offered through the university’s College of Education, this 33-credit program is offered entirely online. Required courses may include:
- Characteristics of the Adult Learner
- Critical and Social Issues in Adult Learning
- Program Planning in Adult Learning and Leadership
- Adult Learning and Motivation
- Research Methods in Education
All graduate students will complete a portfolio as they advance in this degree program. The portfolio is due during the final semester and is required to complete the final examination.
Kansas State University is often ranked among the top universities in the nation. In fact, U.S. News and World Report included the university on their rankings of Best National Universities, Best Value Schools, and Best Online Graduate Education Programs. It’s no wonder so many choose Kansas State for their advanced degrees.
Georgia Southern University
Located in Statesboro, GA this public university was originally founded in 1906 as a land grant college. Formerly known as Armstrong State University, Georgia Southern University is now home to over 18,000 students. Popular areas of study among students include business, engineering, and psychology. Interested in education? Check out GSU’s affordable Master of Education in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning.
Offered through GSU’s Department of Secondary, Adult, and Physical Education, this program is offered partially online. Students will take 10 required courses, totaling 30 semester hours. Required courses may include:
- Online Learning Environment
- Psychology of the Adult Learner
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- History and Theory of Adult Education
- Global Perspectives of Adult Literacy in the 21st Century
Additionally, all graduate students must complete a capstone project to earn their degree. You will be well-prepared to become an educational leader in your field and community upon graduating.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Georgia Southern among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs as well as the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. This university is consistently ranked among the most affordable in the nation as well. For those interested, Georgia Southern also offers an Adult Education Graduate Certificate program.
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY
Founded in 1906, Western Kentucky University is a public university based in Bowling Green, KY. It’s home to over 20,000 students total, and about 18,000 of those are undergraduates. If you’re interested in earning a flexible and affordable online degree, Western Kentucky may be perfect for you. Students can now earn an online Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education.
This 30- to 39-hour online master’s degree program requires no GRE or GMAT for prospective students to apply. Required courses may include:
- Methods for Teaching Adults
- Program Development for Adults
- Readings or Research in Adult Education
- History and Philosophy of Adult Education
Graduate students may also choose from one of three concentration areas which include: Community and Technical College Concentration, Higher Education Concentration, and Training and Development Concentration. Of course, you may also choose the general concentration as well.
Financial aid and scholarships are available at Western Kentucky University, including Merit Scholarships, Tuition Incentive Programs, Departmental Scholarships, and Alumni Grants. In fact, 90 percent students who applied for financial aid in recent years received an award offer. Veterans and active duty military personnel, along with their families, may be eligible for further tuition savings.
Located in Troy, AL, this university was founded in 1887 and is now home to over 18,000 students. Troy University continues to remain on the cutting-edge and now offers many of its degrees online. In fact, students can now pursue a Master of Science in Adult Education entirely online. Online students have access to the same world-class faculty and support at Troy’s online campus as they would in person.
This MS program is offered through Troy University’s College of Education. Students can choose whether or not they’d like to pursue a thesis option. Required courses may include:
- Foundations of Adult Education
- Social Context of Adult Education
- Adult Learning and Development
- Research Methodology
Additionally, students may choose from one of the following areas of concentration: Curriculum and Instructional Design, Instructional Technology, and Leadership in Workforce Development.
Troy University is often listed as a top provider of online education. In fact, U.S. News and World Report placed Troy among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The university’s online programs are offered through the Canvas Learning Management System. This tool allows students to work at any hour–day or night–and also incorporates technologies such as satellite, television, and microwave systems to deliver high-caliber instruction.