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Master’s Degree Programs in Adult Education Overview

Majors Overview December 3, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in adult education and their coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and licensure choices.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Adult Education

Schools offering adult education graduate programs typically award a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Education (M.Ed.). In some schools, students are allowed to opt for a specialty, such as English as a second language (ESL), administration, or vocational education. Though online learning options might be available, participation in practicum experiences or internships is often required. A supervised teaching period has to find completion by students who aspire for a teaching license before they are allowed to apply.

Program graduates from the adult education master’s degree program can seek careers as GED or adult literacy teachers. Schools offer various types of master’s degree programs in teaching fields related to adult education, including administration, special education, and curriculum. A Ph.D. or graduate certificate in Adult Education may also be available to students. Schools also offer related programs such as:

•Master of Education (M.Ed.) Programs in Administration and Supervision
•Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Special Education
•Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Science Education
•Graduate Certificate Programs in Adult Education
•Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Education – Adult and Postsecondary Education
•Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Curriculum and Instruction

Master’s Programs in Adult Education

Enrollees in master’s degree programs in adult education are trained to teach adults from different backgrounds, aiming to enhance the existing knowledge of the students while arming them with new skills. They are also taught concepts in various learning formats and styles, in addition to classroom management and lesson planning. Master’s students are also taught to assist adult learners with learning job-specific duties or developing professional skills. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree.


Program coursework often covers research skills that students can employ in preparing a research project or thesis. Students may also have to participate in internships. While the nature of specialization could determine actual coursework, common coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Adult education program design
•Adult program evaluation
•Instructional methods for adult learners
•Continuing education for professionals
•Adult teaching strategies

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, an average job growth rate of nine percent has been predicted for adult literacy and GED teachers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The growth is expected to be driven by persistent immigration, with an especially high demand for professionals who teach ESL. In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $48,590, with over $82,490 earned on average by the top 10% (BLS).

Continuing Education and Licensure Choices

Licensure is compulsory for adult literacy and GED teachers in government-funded schools in many states. They may obtain the license in secondary, elementary or adult education, in keeping with the requirements of the respective state. Common requirements include the completion of a teacher-training program, in addition to holding a bachelor’s degree (BLS). Those keen on research careers may earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Adult Education; Ph.D. programs could lead to careers in academia or research.

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