Most people assume that students stop learning after college. Wrong! Adult education is one of the fastest growing industries in the educational system. With one of the best Master’s in Adult Education/Learning, you will be privy to the world of higher education, continuing education, and more. This degree is a sure ticket to both boost your career and make a meaningful impact on the lives of many.
What kind of Master’s in Adult Education/Learning should you get?
Rest assured, these are hands down the best programs in the country for Adult Education. You’ll find some variance in the types of degrees offered. Some are Master of Science degrees, while others are Master of Education degrees. These slight variations just indicate a focus in varying themes: research, curriculum development, classroom instruction, or more.
There are benefits to each of these degree titles! It really just depends on where you’re ultimately hoping to take your career. If you’re wanting to prioritize affordability and flexibility, take a look at our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Graduate Colleges.
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Adult Education/Learning?
You’ll find that a career in Adult Education can yield a lucrative future. According to Payscale.com, the average salary for someone with an M.Ed. in Adult Education & Training is around $66k. The Bureau of Labor Statistics brings a more moderate, yet still comfortable, estimation of $52k per year for Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers.
Clearly, it all depends on where you ultimately take your Master’s in Adult Education. University settings will likely pay you more than a job at a community college. However, it’s all about where your passions meet the practicalities of your financial needs.
What can you do with a Master’s in Adult Education/Learning?
The field of Adult Education encompasses a broad range of careers. You will likely be working with non-traditional students, whether that means adults returning to school after a hiatus or older adults looking for continuing education.
You could work as an Adult Literacy teacher, or a High School Equivalency teacher. Or, you could enter the world of higher education and step into an administrative role at a community college. Many of these degrees also prepare you for Human Resource roles in an educational setting. You’ve got options!
What are the requirements for a Master’s in Adult Education/Learning?
Not all of these programs are cookie-cutter versions of each other. You’ll find that their requirements vary. For example, some programs include unique concentrations that let you dig into a particular subject matter. Others include an internship or practicum to help give shape to your learnings. Most programs 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.
The programs tend to last around two years. This varies, of course, with whether or not you’re attending as a full-time or part-time student. As is common with a master’s degree, most of these schools require 30-40 credit-hours, or 10-12 courses in total.
What are the best Master’s in Adult Education/Learning?
If you’re ready to buckle down and earn an advanced degree, you’ve come to the right place. The data team at College Choice has developed a methodology that considers a wide range of pertinent factors. They factor in not only net cost of each program but also data like graduation rates, retention rates, and the early salaries of graduates.
The final list offers you the 5 Best Master’s in Adult Education/Learning. Our facts and figures come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
See our rankings methodology page.
North Carolina State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $13,066
An academic stronghold of the south, North Carolina State University at Raleigh tops our list. This is no surprise given how accomplished the school is in a number of areas. It makes up one corner of the Research Triangle and excels in many fields of research. The largest university in the Carolinas, North Carolina State University at Raleigh enrolls around 34,000 students.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh is first on our list for its Master of Education with a specialization in Adult and Continuing Professional Education. The degree is offered in a hybrid format, meaning you’ll take classes both online and in person. You can also pursue a Master of Science degree, which is a thesis-based program. Here’s a look at some classes:
- Teaching in an Online Environment
- Assessment and Evaluation of Adult Education
- Foundations of Adult and Higher Education
- The Adult Learner
The entire degree program is housed under the Adult and Community Education Program. If you are a full-time student, you’ll be eligible to receive full funding of your education. You can earn this through scholarships, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and more. You’ll also have a chance to work with faculty on research projects.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 96.95
Average Net Price: $11,398
The University of South Florida is a large public university that makes up three campuses in total: USF Main Campus, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Over 50,000 students attend each year. USF ranks in the top 50 in the nation among other universities for its research expenditures.
Delivered through the College of Education, you can look forward to earning an MA in Adult Education at the University of South Florida. Plan on taking on 36 credit-hours in total. This is a non-thesis degree that culminates in a comprehensive exam. Along the way, you’ll take classes such as:
- Methods of Teaching Adults
- International Adult Education
- Program Management in Adult Education
- Adult Learning and Cognitive Styles
This program at the University of South Florida-Main Campus appeals to both students with and without a teaching license. The degree itself is intended for students without a background in education. However, the school also encourages students with an undergraduate degree in education to participate in order to pivot away from the K-12 classroom setting.
Florida International University
College Choice Score: 92.85
Average Net Price: $12,966
One of the states strongest graduate research universities, Florida International University is located in Miami. More than 56,800 students attend annually. Over the years, Florida International University has gained recognition from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and U.S. News & World Report for its status as a “best buy” university.
At Florida International University you’ll earn an MS in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. This is a fantastic way to hone your administrative and outreach skills. The curriculum takes you through 36 credit-hours with the addition of a 3-credit internship. Your schedule might look like this:
- Perspectives on Adults with Disabilities
- Adult Teaching Methods
- Instructional Development and Implementation
- Computer-Based Training
You’ll gain more than just an advanced degree from Florida International University. The curriculum is designed specifically to cover the required content for the American Society Training and Development “Certified Learning Professional” program. This is a great two-in-one option.
James Madison University
College Choice Score: 91.47
Average Net Price: $16,252
Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, James Madison University is a public research university with historical roots. Though it started as a school for women, James Madison University is now home to over 22,500 students. It was recently acknowledged as the #2 public masters-level university in the South by U.S. News & World Report.
James Madison University offers an M.S.Ed. in Adult Education / Human Resource Development. This degree can be completed online or in-person. In addition to the core curriculum, you can specialize in five different areas, including Instructional Design, HR Management, Higher Education, and more. Here’s a look at the curriculum:
- Learning in Adulthood
- Leadership and Facilitation
- Leading Educational Organizations
- Diversity and Ethics in AHRD
Unique to the program at James Madison University, you’ll spend a summer semester studying abroad. This gives you the chance to deepen your skills in language, global awareness, and more. The results speak for themselves. After three months of graduating, past students have shown a 100 percent employment rate.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 90.23
Average Net Price: $25,055
Known as a “Public Ivy,” Pennsylvania State University is a booming institution with over 99,000 students between its many campuses. It was founded in 1855 on the principles of teaching, research, and public service. To this day, Pennsylvania State University guides its curricula accordingly.
You’ll walk away from the program at Pennsylvania State University with an M.Ed. in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education. This curriculum leans into the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to adult education. Over 30 credit-hours, you’ll experience core courses, electives, and a final master’s thesis. Here’s a peek at the class list:
- Perspectives on Adult Learning Theory
- Research and Evaluation in Adult Education
- The Teaching of Adults
One interesting piece that Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus provides is a joint MD/MEd in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education degree. This gives you the chance to pursue a career as a medical doctor, but specialize in some of the following areas: Academic Medicine, Patient Education, Health and Medical Continuing Education.