Adult educators need to be able to draw from their own experiences as mature learners to apply a different approach to instruction. As they grow, they will blend theoretical approaches with practical teaching tools. If you have a passion for teaching and a desire to serve a nontraditional population of students, a degree in Adult Education could be a smart choice for you.
What kind of adult education degree should you get?
If you have ever considered getting a degree in Adult Education, you likely already have the motivation and drive necessary to succeed. As an adult learner yourself, however, it can be tough to find the time to fit in the rigors of a college degree program while you’re already working or trying to juggle the demands of your life outside of work and school.
Plus, a college degree can be expensive. Luckily, many online degrees in Adult Education are flexible, allowing you to choose your own courses and major and to complete your studies after hours. An online degree removes many of the expenses of a college education as well, such as housing and transportation, making it easier than ever to earn a degree.
Not convinced Adult Education is the right major for you? Consider our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Colleges to get a more thorough overview of all the options available to you.
How much money do people make with an adult education degree?
Average salaries vary for graduates with adult education degrees, but in general, you’ll earn an average wage of around $59,820 per year. This salary may be paid out hourly or on a salaried basis, and can fluctuate depending on the hours and times of day that you work. In addition, the setting in which you work can impact your overall pay. For example, individuals who work at elementary and secondary schools tend to earn the highest salaries.
The best job prospects for individuals with adult education degrees are for workers who are able to work flexible hours. If you are willing and able to work evenings and weekends, you will likely be highly successful at finding a long-term position.
What can you do with a degree in adult education?
As an educator of adults, you will work with nontraditional students to help them advance their education. You could work for a community college, a public school, a prison, or even a community-based organization. You might instruct adults in basic skills, like reading or writing, or help them earn their high school equivalency diplomas.
When you earn a degree in adult education, you open yourself up to a world of opportunities. Depending on your personality and career goals, you can help students in a number of settings and at varying education levels. No matter where you choose to work, your daily tasks will consist of planning and teaching lessons, adapting teaching methods to suit students’ strengths and weaknesses, and assessing and monitoring your students for continued progress toward their goals.
What are the requirements for a degree in adult education?
While the requirements for jobs in adult education vary depending on where you choose to work, most states will require you to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in any subject. As a result, many of the schools reviewed involve general studies in a liberal arts curriculum. You may also choose a degree that focuses on topics such as organizational leadership, business, or human resources to help you better learn how to work with students from diverse backgrounds.
You will likely choose a major that interests you most, and then add in specific coursework tailored toward education. Later on, you may also be required to obtain a master’s degree or a certificate in specialty teaching areas, such as teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).
Many degree programs can prepare you for a career in adult education. These programs are generally tailored toward adult learners themselves, making you more marketable in a range of areas to better suit your career goals.
What are the best adult education degrees?
The best adult education degrees will vary depending on your specific career goals. However, any program you decide on should be regionally accredited and offer a good return on investment. By finding a school that has high student satisfaction ratings (as determined by the average freshman retention rate), you can also rest assured that you are enrolling in a program that is of high quality and overall value.
You should look for a school that offers affordable tuition and flexible payment options. Many of the schools we have ranked here offer financial aid such as grants and scholarships, making it easier than ever for you to earn a degree on your own time.
See our rankings methodology page.
Average Net Price: $7,971
Program Website: https://www.iue.edu/online/programs/generalstudies.php
Indiana University, with an enrollment of just over 3,200 undergraduate students, offers over 60 programs, many of which are also offered online. This school was one of the first colleges to develop a training program in Adult Education, having established this high-quality program in 1946. Available online since 1998, this degree is a flexible option for students who plan to become teachers, administrators, or academic advisors.
The Adult Education program at Indiana University can be completed entirely online and serves as an excellent pathway for students who plan on earning a Master of Science in Education. In this program, you will learn the core concepts behind instructional planning, as well as the context of American adult education. Students can choose from concentrations in Arts and Humanities, Natural Science and Mathematics, or Social and Behavioral Science as they pursue required classes such as:
- Intro to Computers and Computing
- Communication and Culture
- First Year Seminar
The student support services offered online through Indiana University are second to none. The school offers superior placement and counseling services, and is also incredibly affordable. The school offers credit for past experience and extensive financial aid. In fact, the school awards nearly $23 million in financial aid every year. Graduates find a high return on investment with this degree, joining an alumni network of over 10,000 past students around the globe.
Bluefield State College
Average Net Price: $8,604
Program Website: https://bluefieldstate.edu/academics/degrees/regents-ba-degree
Bluefield State College is a small, public university located in Bluefield, West Virginia. With an undergraduate enrollment of less than 1,400 students, this school has a vibrant distance learning community. The unique online program in Adult Education at Bluefield requires students to select no major or minor, allowing them instead to earn an “interest” in an area of specification, like Criminal Justice or Psychology. This degree is an excellent option for students who are as of yet undecided about their future career paths in adult education.
Bluefield’s program in Adult Education allows students to earn credit in a variety of ways, from completion of college-level courses at accredited colleges, completion of College Level Examination Program tests, faculty recommendations, and portfolio evaluation. This flexible program allows students to customize their coursework, taking 120 credit hours in broadly categorized General Education electives such as:
- Natural Science
- Social Science
- Computer Applications
- Mathematical Applications
Bluefield prides itself on offering career-focused and affordable education programs to a nontraditional population of learners. As a result, many of its students are from first-generation, low-income, or otherwise unique backgrounds. The school is rated by one of the Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, offering significant financial aid and financing opportunities. The school has a number of merit scholarships specifically tailored for online students, and with an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 13:1, the quality of this school’s programs simply cannot be overlooked.
Central Christian College of Kansas
Average Net Price: $8,986
Program Website: https://myonline.centralchristian.edu/programs/bachelor/bachelor-organizational-leadership
Central Christian College is a rural college with big-city opportunities. With an enrollment of fewer than 900 students, this evangelical Christian college focuses on educating students via a real-world curriculum with a Christian worldview. Each program’s curriculum is built around the Fit Four Model, which includes the dimensions of Fit Bodies, Fit Hearts, Fit Souls, and Fit Minds. As a result, each program is incredibly well-rounded to educate the entire student – and not just check off boxes. The program in Organizational Leadership is no exception to this standard.
The online Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership at Central Christian College prepares students to become leaders in education. The degree is highly customizable, preparing graduates to go on to a variety of high-paying careers. Each class lasts only six weeks, allowing students to make rapid progress on their career goals. Sample coursework includes topics such as:
- Theories in Leadership
- Principles of Management
- Organizational Behavior and Leadership
Because the Adult Education degree at Central Christian College is offered entirely online, it allows students to complete their coursework whenever it is convenient. Students may transfer in previous college credits, allowing them to earn their degrees quickly. There are multiple start dates throughout the year and no transcript or application evaluation fees. With affordable tuition and high average earnings upon graduation, this school is a top choice as a high-quality degree program.
University of Michigan-Flint
Average Net Price: $10,906
Program Website: https://www.umflint.edu/bas/bachelor-applied-science
The University of Michigan-Flint is a large public institution that was founded in 1956. Offering the intimacy and hands-on approach experienced at a small school, with all of the career-advancing opportunities of a major research institution, this school offers over 100 undergraduate majors and concentrations. The Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in Education at Flint is designed for students who have already completed an Associate of Applied Science and are looking to make a career change into education or other fields.
Upon enrollment, each student is granted access to a personalized advisor who can help him or her make the right choices toward meeting custom career goals. This program offers multiple disciplines, allowing students to take courses from related areas as they pursue their degrees. Students working toward a specialty in Education may choose to take coursework in topics such as:
- Social Work
This school offers small class sizes, averaging a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The quality of education is high here, with a 2014 Student Satisfaction Survey demonstrating that overall student satisfaction was significantly higher than the national average. One of the Top Public Schools according to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Michigan-Flint is also affordable. In-state tuition starts at less than $12,000 per year, and with a range of financial aid opportunities available, the university offers a degree program that doesn’t have to break the bank.
Average Net Price: $12,146
Program Website: https://www.troy.edu/catalogs/1819undergraduate/html/14U-coe.html#OccupationalEducationProgram
Troy University is a public institution founded in 1887. This large university has an enrollment of over 14,00 students, but its size doesn’t stop it from providing top-notch programs to its students. Widely regarded as Alabama’s “international” university, the school combines “high tech and high touch” experiences to provide students with a career-focused education. The Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies is one such program, allowing students to create degrees that are customized to meet their specific needs.
Earning a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Troy University is the first step toward creating a customized career plan. This program is designed for students who have trouble nailing down just one area of study, and allows them build a degree plan that will help them fulfill a variety of roles in Adult Education. The program requires 120 credit hours, and while a core set of general studies classes are required, the rest of the course load is rounded off with unrestricted electives such as:
- Basic Statistics
- Individual Differences and the World of Work
- Vocational Assessment
- Research Methods
The school is ranked among the best, named on Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast” list for fourteen consecutive years. This accolade is a testament to the school’s affordability and award-winning academic opportunities. Troy offers generous financial aid and tuition payment options. Many of its programs have been rated as “Best Buys,” meaning students pay lower tuition and graduate with less debt than graduates from competing schools. Tuition starts at just $338 per credit hour – an absolute bargain.
Tennessee Wesleyan University
Average Net Price: $12,557
Program Website: https://www.tnwesleyan.edu/academics/online-adult-programs/business-management/
Founded in 1857, Tennessee Wesleyan offers a number of high-quality undergraduate programs. This school offers multiple online, on-campus, and hybrid programs suited for both traditional and nontraditional students. Tennessee Wesleyan offers two degrees in Adult Education, allowing students to choose between Management Excellence and Professional Leadership in Criminal Justice. These flexible, accelerated degree programs allow you to take classes that fit your own schedule in a manner that is convenient, affordable, and interactive.
Regardless of the exact program in which you choose to enroll at Tennessee Wesleyan, you can rest assured that you will receive a personally tailored approach to education. Every student is connected to a personal admissions advisor and counselor to help them meet their needs as adult learners. Sample coursework might include classes and additional concentrations such as:
- Management Information Systems
Tennessee Wesleyan is unique in that it offers the opportunity for adult learners to finish their degrees in just 16 months. To be eligible, students must be at least 23 years of age with three years of work experience and 60 semester hours at another university. The university offers low tuition and extensive financial aid. Ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Value School, the university offers an exclusive blend of service learning, mentoring, tutoring, and instruction at world-class quality and rock-bottom prices.
Granite State College
Average Net Price: $12,905
Program Website: https://www.granite.edu/degree-programs/bachelors-degrees/applied-studies-education-and-training/
Granite State College, located in Concord, New Hampshire, is top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report for its online bachelor’s degrees. This regionally accredited school offers affordable tuition and dozens of online programs of study. The Bachelor of Science in Applied Studies-Education and Training is available fully online with select on-campus courses. This program has a population of nearly 84 percent transfer students and helps students make the most of their past experiences.
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Studies – Education and Training at Granite State is designed for individuals who plan to use their skills and training to educate other adults. Graduates go onto rewarding careers as Facility Educators, Education Resources Specialists, and Training and Development Consultants after taking a range of courses such as:
- Teaching and Learning in Adulthood
- The Learning Workplace
- Program Development and Learning
- Instructional Design and Interactive Learning
Because this degree can apply to a range of professions and career outcomes, students can enter into different fields. All courses are taught by faculty who are subject-matter experts and who share their real-world experience to help students meet their career goals. Joining a proud alumni network of over 65,000 students around the globe, Granite State students benefit from academic coaching, flexible scheduling, and superior career services and networking opportunities.
Arkansas State University
Average Net Price: $13,420
Program Website: https://degree.astate.edu/articles/undergraduate-studies/emphasis-options-with-an-online-bachelor-of-general-studies-program.aspx
A public institution founded in 1909, Arkansas State offers over 160 different degree programs. Offering superior support for students, including a unique Structured Learning Assistance program that grants additional academic support for challenging classes, this school is one of the most student-focused of its kind. Arkansas State offers an online Bachelor of General Studies with multiple emphasis areas available. This degree allows working adults or those with other scheduling difficulties to complete an online degree program in just about any field of study.
The General Studies degree program at Arkansas State allows students to choose electives from multiple disciplines. By choosing a customizable emphasis area, students can tailor their studies toward adult education in a variety of specialties. The program includes emphasis areas in topics such as:
- Health and Physical Education
By offering a more generalized degree, Arkansas State gives students the opportunity to advance in their current careers or pursue graduate study that is personally tailored toward their career goals. Students can gain expert-level instruction in a variety of subjects without having to sacrifice their other commitments and obligations. This program is highly customizable and affordable, starting at just $8,478 per year for instate students. Financial aid opportunities are available, including scholarships, grants, and military discounts.
Fresno Pacific University
Average Net Price: $14,235
Program Website: https://www.fresno.edu/programs-majors/degree-completion/business-administration-organizational-leadership
A private university located in Fresno, California, Fresno Pacific was founded in 1944 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 3,000 students. In addition to a vibrant campus scene, Fresno Pacific also has an extensive online campus. Offering dozens of programs that are tailored toward individuals seeking careers in adult education, the university also offers a workplace-centered Business Administration: Organizational Leadership degree.
The Business Administration: Organizational Leadership degree teaches students how to work with others, giving them skills in increasing participation, improving performance, and developing skillful presentation styles. The program focuses on diversity appreciation and strategic decision making, with sample coursework including subjects such as:
- Principles of Management
- Ethics and Values in Organizations
- Diversity in the Workplace
- Dynamics of Group Behavior
- Leadership and Change
This degree is offered both online and on-campus, with each dividing students into cohorts of 12 to 22 adults. Courses are taught by experienced university faculty as they complete assignments that have real-world applicability. Coursework is innovative and tailored toward students with diverse backgrounds, and tuition is highly affordable. Ranked as one of the Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report, Fresno Pacific offers excellent academic programs at a low cost to students.
Average Net Price: $24,250
Program Website: http://online.belhaven.edu/interdisciplinary-studies-online.htm
With a total undergraduate enrollment of just 2,485 students, Belhaven is a small school in a big-city setting. As a Christian liberal arts college, the school focuses on preparing students for positions of leadership in a variety of diverse roles. To meet this goal, Belhaven offers an exemplary Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies that is available entirely online.
This degree allows students to pursue a customized general studies degree program that includes valuable courses. Each student must complete a final paper that ties together all of their coursework and proves their coursework was relevant to their career path. Requiring 42 hours of coursework from two to four different areas of concentration, this degree prepares students for work in dozens of specialties and teaching areas. Sample classes include:
- Introduction to Online Education
- Business Communication
- Justice and Society
- Organizational Behavior
Ranked as a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report, as well as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans, Belhaven offers an affordable degree that can be customized to meet any career path. Class sizes both online and on-campus are small, averaging just an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Tuition starts at a low rate, coming in at less than $26,000. The average scholarship or grant award is a whopping $13,71, meaning students can graduate on-time and with very little debt compared to their peers at other institutions.