What is a Master's in Adult Education?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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A master's in adult education is an advanced degree that allows for a career in the field of education for adult students. This broad field covers many different potential careers, including teaching, counseling, and administrative positions. Getting a master's in adult education can allow for more job choices and better opportunities for career advancement. This degree may be achieved through a traditional university program, or through online or distance learning courses.

Since it is a graduate degree, a master's in education requires some prior college-level study. A bachelor's degree is a common program requirement, though it usually does not need to be in an education-related field. Depending on the program, a valid teaching certificate may or may not also be required.

The areas covered by a master's in adult education program are geared toward preparing students to spend their careers working with other adults. This unique perspective allows for very different training than teaching programs geared toward students that want to focus on child or youth education. People interested in adult education may want to specialize in giving corporate or industrial training courses, becoming college or graduate professors, serving as principles or deans of adult education institutions, or teaching continuing or professional education courses. Many master's degree programs for adult education allow students to tailor their curriculum toward the specialty areas that interest them.


There are many different programs offered that result in a master's in adult education. Traditional university programs tend to last two to three years, online programs and teaching certification programs may be sometimes be completed in fewer than two years. The length of the program may also depend on the type of degree sought; getting a master's of teaching degree results in a teaching certificate, and may be a much shorter program than a master of arts (MA) or master of sciences (MS) in adult education. Which type of degree to pursue may depend on career goals: those who wish to teach may want a master's in teaching, while those interested in administration, public policy, educational research, or counseling may prefer an MA or MS in adult education.

A distance learning or online program may be a good choice for students with family responsibilities or full-time careers. These programs may result in a master's in adult education, but allow a more flexible schedule than a traditional university program. Distance and online programs may also be less expensive than university courses, but may also present less opportunities for scholarships and grants.



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