As an educator of adult learners, you can work with students who are earning their GED, or those who are enrolled in higher education. You may find yourself working in a school, at a university, within a community center, or even at a correctional facility. With a growing population of adult learners in the United States, the demand for compassionate, highly skilled instructors is also skyrocketing. The best way to earn one of these jobs? Consider an online degree in Adult Education and Learning.
What kind of Adult Education degree should you get?
While many organizations will hire an adult educator with only a bachelor’s degree, the highest-paid – and best quality – careers often require a graduate degree. Luckily, many programs in this field are now available online, making them a convenient and affordable option for practically any candidate.
Online degrees allow students to juggle their work, school, and personal commitments without having to sacrifice their sanity.
Can’t decide which type of degree is the best choice for you? If you’re exploring career options in addition to adult education and learning, you should take a look at our ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities. This list will give you a good idea of other universities and programs that might help you meet your professional goals.
How much money do people make with an Adult Education degree?
Salaries vary widely for professionals in this field. The highest paid individuals are those that obtain teaching licensure, as well as those who work in postsecondary educational settings. The private sector also tends to positively influence a candidate’s salary.On average, adult educators earn around $52,100 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the growth for this career is expected to decline slightly within the next few years, candidates who have graduate degrees are well-positioned to apply for any available position. Over 68,000 new jobs will be created by 2026, making this major a smart choice for graduate study.
What can you do with a degree in Adult Education?
Your opportunities are endless if you earn a degree in adult education. While many professionals work to provide the training and knowledge needed for the GED, others work at community colleges or within some aspect of training and development. You could work in a variety of community and educational settings, both within the private and public sector.
Ultimately, your goal as an adult educator will be to facilitate the training and learning of older learners. While your professional specialty might vary – and many universities offer programs with different concentrations to suit this diversity – you can expect to make a difference in the lives of adult learners every single day as a professional in this field.
What are the requirements for a degree in Adult Education?
While some degree programs may require work experience, most don’t, and instead provide students with that hands-on experience while they are enrolled in their graduate studies. Admission generally requires a bachelor’s degree in a related field, as well as a positive attitude toward students and a drive to make a difference in the local community.
While enrolled, you will take a variety of classes in education and training. In addition, you may specialize in certain areas of adult education and learning, such as technology, sociology, curriculum design, or organizational leadership. Depending on your area of interest, you may also take electives that allow you to gain further specialty in topics such as social justice, human resources, or pedagogy.
What are the Most Affordable Adult Education degrees?
The best online degrees are those that combine a rigorous training program with intensive hands-on experience. Distance learning programs are ideal, allowing students to fit education into their hectic lives without having to sacrifice the things that are the most important to them.
When we compiled our rankings, we looked at the overall value and affordability of each school. To do that, we evaluated the tuition and available scholarships and financial aid for every program. We then compared each university’s cost to the rigor of the program, taking into consideration the dedication of the faculty, student services and satisfaction, and career outcomes.
See our rankings methodology page.
Average Net Price: $10,283
With over 50 percent of its student population containing online learners, Troy University is a top choice for an online Master’s in Adult Education and Learning. With an enrollment of nearly 18,000 students on its Troy, AL campus as well as online, this public institution has profound consortia relationships with universities all around the world. It is one of the country’s most military-friendly universities, supporting students both near and far with its hands-on, student-focused programs.
This Master of Science degree is ideal for teachers, trainers, and managers seeking an in-depth look at the theory and practice behind adult education. Three concentrations are available, with students given a choice in specializing in curriculum and instructional design, instructional technology, or leadership studies. This non-certification program harequires 33 total credits, including fast-track studies in:
- Educational Evaluation
- Methods and Strategies for Teaching Adults
- Curriculum Development for Adult Education
- Principles of Instructional Design
This 100 percent online program is offered in an entirely asynchronous format, allowing students the ability to take classes that are delivered in accelerated, eight-week terms. While it does not lead to state licensure, it is incredibly affordable, with average tuition starting at just $12,155 per year. According to U.S. News and World Report, it is one of the top Regional Universities in the South, as well as one of the Top Public Schools in the entire nation.
Western Kentucky University
Average Net Price: $11,409
Located in Bowling Green, KY, Western Kentucky University specializes in online training programs and offers over 90 online degree and certificate programs. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the degree in Adult Education is just one of 125 graduate degree programs. This program offers four concentrations for adult education specialists, with learners given the option between pursuing tracks in generalized studies, training and development, community and technical college, or higher education.
This program is well-structured, giving students experience in the broad principles of adult learning, as well as in specific instructional strategies. The program has 39 total credit-hours. Students will take classes such as:
- Methods of Teaching for Adults
- Program Development for Adults
- History and Philosophy of Adult Education
- Readings or Research in Adult Education
- Directed Study in Adult Education
Western Kentucky is unique in that it makes obtaining a graduate degree both affordable and convenient. All services are offered online, including orientation and proctored exams. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 18:1, this school provides students with one of the best distance learning experiences around. Over 94 percent of students receive financial aid, with tuition starting at just $707 per credit-hour.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Average Net Price: $11,567
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers 39 different online degree programs, enrolling nearly 10,000 students in the digital setting alone. There are 15 master’s degrees in education available, with one of the most popular being the online program in Adult Learning and Development. This program is provided with three concentrations: eLearning, adult and workforce development, and homeland security.
This program is offered in an accelerated format, giving students the opportunity to engage in classes less than eight weeks in many cases. It incorporates teaching technologies that are revolutionary in the field of education, giving students the ability to become proficient at working with computing systems in schools while at the same time completing their own coursework. Students will take classes in topics such as:
- Adult and Workforce Development
- History of Adult Education
- Adult Learning Theory
- Program Development for Adults
- Design of Adult Instruction
This affordable university offers tuition rates that are the same to out-of-state students as they are to Louisiana residents. These programs are rated as some of the best for veterans, according to U.S. News and World Report, because they offer extensive tuition assistance, cooperative agreements, and transfer credits to military and non-military members alike. Tuition starts at just $475 per credit-hour for the first nine credit-hours and is then only an additional $100 per credit-hour after that.
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Average Net Price: $11,789
Texas A&M University – Kingsville was founded as a small public institution in 1925. This intellectually challenging university offers some of the most unique programs and research centers in the country. The Master of Education in Adult Education is integrated with the community and emphasizes the importance of developing community partnerships to further the goal of adult higher learning.
This program is unique in that it requires no internship or thesis experiences, instead mandating only 36 credit-hours of study. A motivated student can earn a degree in less than two years, as the degree includes a number of accelerated eight-week classes. Sample coursework includes:
- Methods of Adult Education
- Adult Learning and Development
- Evaluation and Measurement in Adult Education
- Curriculum and Program Planning in Adult Education
- Instructional Materials for Adult ESL Students
Not only does this university offer exemplary student support services, such as free online tutoring, career workshops, and support, and counseling, it is also highly affordable. Online students pay tuition based on their residency status (with most students paying less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees), and several scholarships are available to eligible students.
Average Net Price: $12,621
Founded in 1820, Indiana University – Bloomington is well known for its Big Ten sports and gorgeous campus but offers an equally vibrant and culturally rich online campus as well. The school has several programs ranking among the top ten in the nation, and its programs in education are no exception. The M.S.Ed. in Adult Education is designed for online students who love to learn and want to make a positive contribution to their local communities.
This degree requires roughly three years of study to complete, with 36 total credit-hours needed for graduation. Students will learn about the ethics, theory, and practices behind adult education while taking classes such as:
- Adult Learning Through the Lifespan
- Adult Education Planning and Development
- Participation Training
- Seminar in Forms and Forces of Adult Education
- Introduction to Distance Education Systems in Adult Education
All courses in this hands-on program are taught asynchronously, making this curriculum ideal for students who are working full-time or juggling other life commitments. A variety of fellowships and travel awards are available to graduate students, as are ample veteran support services for both active-duty and retired military members. Tuition starts at just $10,500 per year for in-state students.
East Carolina University
Average Net Price: $12,817
East Carolina University is one-of-a-kind, offering hundreds of programs to over 29,000 students a year both online and on its Greenville, NC campus. While the university is a top contender among residential campuses, the school also offers dozens of exclusively online programs. The Master of Arts in Education – Adult Education takes around two years to complete and emphasizes the importance of reflecting upon practice, theory, and community involvement.
While this program does not require an internship or thesis, it does encourage students to pursue internships in their own communities to help integrate their learning with their own personal experiences. Each student also completes a portfolio to help them reflect upon and showcase their work, both during and after their studies. Required classes include:
- Development of Adult Education Programs
- The Adult Learner
- Instructional Strategies
- Research Problems in Higher Education
- Organization and Administration of Adult/Continuing Education
With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 18:1, this program is taught by dedicated faculty and staff who are committed to student success. Washington Monthly has ranked East Carolina as the “Best Bang for the Buck” university out of all schools in the southeast, a testament to the flexible nature of the curriculum. Tuition starts at just $826 per credit-hour, with students allowed to satisfy up to 20 percent of their degree requirements with transfer credits.
North Carolina State University
Average Net Price: $13,066
North Carolina State University at Raleigh is a well-respected research, academic, and training institution that is highly regarded by practically every ranking affiliate. As the largest four-year college in the state, students are granted a myriad of choices in their courses, extracurriculars, and services. The Master of Science and Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Professional Education both allow students to develop the skills necessary to serve older learners in a multitude of settings.
Students have the option between a Master of Science or a Master of Education degree. While both programs are similar and contain core classes such as assessment and pedagogy, the Master of Science degree focuses on research with the Master of Education is more hands-on. Regardless, most students will take classes such as:
- Teaching in an Online Environment
- Assessment and Evaluation of Adult Education
- Continuing Education for the Professions
- Instructional Strategies in AHE
This school offers some of the most extensive hands-on learning opportunities to all students, with university graduates ranked among the top 20 most desirable of any school in the nation. Students graduate with lower-than-average debt, enjoying average tuition of just $9,058 a year for in-state students. The university offers generous financial aid, and its graduates are offered some of the highest starting salaries of any public university graduates in the state.
University of West Alabama
Average Net Price: $13,545
The University of West Alabama is located in Livingston, AL, and offers an entirely online degree in Adult Education. Founded in 1835, this small university has a total enrollment of fewer than 4,000 students. Although the university began as a female-only college, it now offers dozens of programs to male and female students alike in classes that contain fewer than 20 students apiece.
This broad-based program provides a fantastic foundation for students seeking a generalized degree in adult education. Students will take classes in areas such as research and development, and can go on to careers in a wide range of fields. The program requires 33 total credit-hours, including coursework in topics such as:
- Advanced Educational Psychology
- Educational Statistics
- Techniques of Educational Research
This hands-on program boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1. While 75 percent of full-time students receive some sort of financial aid, time or financial constrictions are not barriers for most students enrolled at this institution. This degree can be completed in as little as a year, with most individuals paying just $429 per credit-hour.
SUNY Empire State College
Average Net Price: $13,733
Located in Saratoga Springs, NY, SUNY Empire State was founded as a public four-year institution designed specifically to meet the needs of adult learners. The university, founded in 1971, offers over 50 programs of study in a vast range of fields. The Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education is a perfect training program for students interested in becoming educators of older students in the workplace or night school.
This program is incredibly diverse and hands-on, helping students develop the skills necessary to make a difference in their local communities. The program requires 36 credit-hours, 18 of which are allocated solely to elective courses. Each student can take classes such as:
- Rethinking Experience and Learning
- Learning and Development in Contemporary Adulthood
- Strategies for Effective Adult learning
- Approaches to Critical Inquiry and Research
This affordable program is generous with financial aid, granting awards to over 92 percent of its students. The degree’s customizable program options make it an excellent choice for students seeking unique specialties in adult education. With a starting tuition price tag of just $543 per credit-hour, the university is a smart choice for motivated online learners.
Univeristy of Idaho
Average Net Price: $14,787
The University of Idaho, with two campuses in Moscow and Boise, is nationally recognized as a best buy for its quality and value. This campus provides graduate students with extensive research and extension opportunities, both in their local communities and abroad. The university offers an online Master’s in Adult Learning that has a special focus on organizational learning and leadership, and can also be pursued in a hybrid format.
This convenient, 30 credit-hour program is designed to prepare leaders in a range of settings. Students may pursue an optional internship as well as six different elective courses as part of their studies. The entire degree can be completed in as little as 18 months of full-time study, with required classes including studies in:
- Future of Education and Work
- Foundations of Human Resource Development
- Adult and Transformational Learning
- Organizational Development
- Theory, Practice, and Challenges of Leadership
This flexible program is taught by faculty members located at two different university campuses in Moscow and Boise. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 16:1, students receive unparalleled support, with a majority of graduates indicating high satisfaction with their educational experiences. Most students receive financial aid, with tuition starting at just $7,488 for in-state students.