If you are someone who has a passion for education, then you know how important it is never to stop learning. A degree in adult education is the perfect way to help make sure that you can help to make that happen. Because the cost of college has continued to climb, many people are going to school later in their lives. Also, technology, which drives innovation in almost every corner of the professional world, is always advancing. This creates a growing need for more education to keep a competitive edge in the job market. There are a lot of things that can lead to someone going to school for the first time or going back to school as an adult, and with a degree in adult education, you can help students of all ages get the education that they deserve.
Adult education degrees are typically available at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The most common adult education degrees are at the master’s level, so that is what we have chosen to focus on in this ranking. A master’s in adult education is a good choice because the programs are more prevalent, so there are a lot of different options whether you want a Master of Science, Master of Arts, or a Master of Education. Graduate degrees are also more customizable, generally speaking. Bachelor’s degrees will introduce you to key concepts in adult education, but a masters-level program will be one that you can really dig deeper into specific areas and carve out a specialty with a concentration track or electives.
The highest paid jobs in adult education typically require a master’s degree for you to be qualified, too. Adult education degrees cover a range of different things like how to design curricula for adult learners, the psychology of adult learning, organizational leadership, instruction technologies, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in this particular field will grow at a rate of 7% between the years 2014 and 2024. This is closely aligned with the national average. The median salary in this field is $53,630 per year, also according to the BLS.
Online Adult Education Degrees
Teaching programs are prevalent in an online format because many people who want to further their education in teaching or education, in general, are actively working as teachers. Many professionals spend their academic year instructing students, so it may be challenging to juggle both roles at once. Online programs alleviate those woes because they are often presented in an asynchronous format so that you can get online whenever. Even those programs that are synchronous, though they seem less flexible on the surface, are designed to easily fit into the typical work schedule of a teacher or school administrator.
There are a lot of additional benefits to earning your masters in adult education online. You are not limited to what the colleges and universities in your area have to offer. You are eligible for scholarships and financial aid, and may even be able to receive tuition reimbursement depending on the policies in your district or organization. Some programs may require you to have a certain number of practice hours, but you can earn them on the job. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to meet the licensure requirements in your state and that programs offered in another state may not meet those requirements. You may not need any work experience, but if you’d like to be a teacher, getting your certification is your responsibility.
Even if you don’t want to be a teacher, there are a lot of opportunities for you if you choose to earn an online adult education degree. You could work at the district level, or you could help design educational programs and materials for adults. You could work at a college or university as a director of continuing education.
There are also jobs completely removed from education. You could also find a career in the public sector or a government agency or work at the corporate level, designing training materials and programs. Depending on the degree you choose to pursue, there are a lot of different career opportunities that will open up for you. Now all that’s left is for you to find the right program for you. We wanted to help you to do that, so we created a ranking of the best online adult education degrees offered nationwide. All of the degree programs featured are master’s programs that are focused on adult learning, adult education, leadership, and continuing education. The breakdown of how they were ranked is below.
We have created a ranking of the Top 15 Best Online Adult Education Degrees so you can take the next step towards the education career you want. We decided to focus on masters-level programs that are directly designed for adult education. We excluded programs like masters in curriculum design or education administration with concentrations in adult education. These are true adult education programs online. Whether you want to be a teacher or pursue a different professional path with your degree, you’re bound to find some impressive schools in this article. There are three key things we looked for during the school selection process:
- We made sure the school was based in the United States.
- We made sure the school was properly accredited.
- We made sure the school operated with a not-for-profit model.
Once we gathered a list of all of the schools that met the above criteria that offered at least one online master’s degree in adult education, we scored them in three areas.
- Freshman Retention Rate shows how many students returned after their first year. Weight: 33.3%
- Graduation Rate shows how many students graduated in the allotted time frame for their degree.Weight: 33.3%
- Affordability was calculated based on how much the students pay, on average, after all financial aid.Weight: 33.3%
Each area could be worth a maximum of 100 points and those numbered were added together to get the final score. Schools are presented in ascending order based on the final score they received.* The Freshman Retention Rate and Graduation Rate were collected from the National Center for Education Statistics and the cost information was gathered from Niche.
All other school and program information were collected from the schools’ individual websites.
*If any number of schools were tied based on their score, they were presented in alphabetical order.
1North Carolina State University at Raleigh
NC State offers the majority of its degree programs online, with over 100 to choose from and multiple delivery formats, including, of course, an adult education degree. Online classes at this university are delivered through the schools’ own online course management website called WolfWare, and they are primarily asynchronous. Synchronous courses are offered too, but typically as part of NCSU’s hybrid degree tracks. Students aren’t usually required to attend campus, even for proctored exams. Instead, you can take them at an approved location that is more convenient for you. Online classes are taught by the same faculty as the traditional equivalents, and distance students still have access to a wide range of student support services.
Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Professional Education
The Master of Education degree in Adult and Community College Education offered at North Carolina State University offers a total of three specializations, which are Adult and Continuing Professional Education, Community College Teaching, and Health Professions Education. This is a program that accepts students from any academic background as long as they have earned their bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You can submit applications year-round and students are formally admitted three times per year in the summer and fall.
This online degree in adult education requires 36 credits to complete. There are only six required courses which serve to orient you with adult education, instructional strategies, professional education, and other vital concepts. Even though you get to designate your specialization, you will still have the opportunity to pick the courses within that area of study, making this a very individualized option. You will have to complete a research project as well.
2Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington offers approximately 125 different online degree programs through IU Online. The online programs at this school offer competitively low tuition rates, exceptional flexibility, and a host of student resources that help you to succeed as a Hoosier no matter where you are. The IU School of Education is the top school of education in the state of Indiana, according to U.S. News & World Report. The publication has also ranked it among the top 20 public schools of education nationwide and in the top 30 overall. It was also ranked among the top 20 in seven specific academic areas. The online classes in the online adult education degree are taught by world-class faculty and offered in a convenient asynchronous format.
Master Of Science In Education in Adult Education
IU Bloomington is a highly-respected university, so it’s easy to see how the Master Of Science In Education in Adult Education offered is one of the best adult education degrees in the country. This particular degree has a practitioner-centric curriculum that is perfect for those of you who want to go on to a career in corporate training, professional education, or adult education. There are 36 credits required to complete the program, and it is described as being as much as 99% online. That 1% comes in the form of one three-day residency course, D521 Participation Training.
This is a comprehensive program that covers adult education theory, adult learning through the lifespan, adult education planning and development, distance education systems, and more. The curriculum is designed to give you a career-ready and industry-relevant skillset that will prepare you for success. One thing that some students may not like about this option is that the majority of the classes are predetermined. You will be able to select two electives, but the remaining requirements are already laid out.
Rutgers University offers a small selection of high-quality distance-based degrees. The online degree in adult education is provided through the Graduate School of Education. It is consistently ranked as one of the top graduate schools of education in the country by a host of publications both big and small. It has also received rewards and recognition from the state of New Jersey and other organizations throughout its long history. The majority of the online programs available at Rutgers are offered in both fully-online and blended modes of delivery. Students who would like to participate in some traditional components are free to do so, but you can still earn your degree on your own terms from anywhere.
Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education
Rutgers’ online Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education is a terrific degree program for anyone who wants to explore the mind of the adult learner in-depth and discover how to most effectively serve them regardless of whether that is in a corporate, educational, healthcare, or community-based setting. This is a 30-credit program that offers flat-rate tuition to online students regardless of residency. Currently, because of the way that classes are offered, it is not possible to pursue this degree full-time.
The required courses account for 21 of the credits needed. You will take classes like Learning and Teaching for Adults in Global Contexts, Creating and Sustaining a Learning Organization, and Organizational Leadership and Change Management, among others. The remainder of the program will be electives. There are optional areas of specialization in Adult ESL and Literacy Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, and Human Resources Development. What makes this adult education degree stand out is that it offers specialization options catered to the professional environment you’d like to be.
4Michigan State University
Michigan State University has been ranked as one of the top 100 best universities in the world by Times Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report for the past several years. It is also recognized as one of the best schools in the country by over ten publications and organizations in several different areas. MSU’s commitment to providing academic opportunities across state lines undoubtedly plays a role in its reputation. The online degree in adult education is just one of the hundreds of high-quality programs of study available. Degrees are offered in hybrid and entirely-online formats. Most of the classes allow you to sign in anytime and work around your schedule, but you will still have access to the same dedicated faculty that traditional students do.
Master of Arts in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education
This online adult education degree program is offered 100% online and has been recognized as fifth in America in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best online master’s degrees in education. Another key feature that distinguishes this program is that it offers rolling admissions. You can choose to enroll full-time or part-time, leading you to complete your degree in two or three years, respectively. This is a 30-credit program made up of ten courses. The curriculum is very customizable and is most appropriate for those who would like to work in postsecondary education at a college, public agency, or even the private sector. This may not be as well-suited for those who want to work in adult education outside of an academic setting.
There are two required courses, Inquiry in Postsecondary Education and Proseminar in Adult and Higher Education. You will choose three classes from a selection of eight that will round out the core of the program. Classes are offered in teaching, administration, budgeting, program evaluation, and more. Half of the necessary credits will come from electives you choose. Three have to be within the program, and two are completely free, allowing you to work with an advisor to determine what subjects will benefit you the most. This degree culminates in a final project which can be submitted online.
5Pennsylvania State University
The online degree in adult education along with nearly 200 other degrees are offered at Pennsylvania State University through what it calls the Penn State World Campus. Penn State treats its online education initiative as its own campus, which allows students a unique academic experience. This university has been a pioneer of distance-based degrees since it offered correspondence courses all the way back in 1892. Penn State World Campus was one of the first institutions of its kind to open, and it has been in operation for more than twenty years.
Online courses are all presented through Canvas, but they are academically equivalent to traditional courses and are taught by the same faculty, who are not only experienced in distance education but are also experts in their respective fields. Online students at PSU have access to academic advisors, career counselors, the research library, tech support, and more. All of the online programs are designed to cater to working adults and provide career-focused education that is built on the latest industry trends.
Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education
This 100%-online adult education degree is a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education. You can opt for a general track or choose a concentration in Adult Basic Education and Literacy or Global Online and Distance Education. Whether you’d like to work in curriculum development, instructional design, program planning, evaluation, or even go on to become a teacher, this program of study has flexible options for you to maximize your education and be more effective as a professional. It is flexible in other ways as well; classes are asynchronous while remaining collaborative and rigorous.
Unlike several other programs in adult education, this one generously accepts as much as ten transfer credits. There are four core courses for all tracks which cover the foundations of adult education, teaching adults, and more. If you choose the general track, the rest of the classes you will take are all electives that you can choose. Each of the concentrations has 12 additional credits of core requirements, and then six elective credits that you can select from a more limited list that is relevant to your area of specialization. You can choose to study part-time or full-time; students that study at a more aggressive pace by taking 12 credits or more per semester will have the opportunity to pay a flat rate for the entire program instead of per-credit assessed tuition.
Auburn University’s College of Education offers more online graduate programs than any of the other academic divisions at the university. From early childhood education to adult education, and several specialties in between. The College of Education is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and has received significant praise from a handful of ranking publications for both its on-campus and online degrees. The online degrees are offered in partnership with Auburn Online. Online students are eligible for scholarships, financial aid, and more. All of the online classes are provided asynchronously, and any required internships and practicum can be completed wherever you live, with approval.
Master of Education in Adult Education
Auburn University’s Master of Education in Adult Education is an exceptional opportunity for anyone who wants to earn a highly individualized adult education program. This degree will open you up to career opportunities in corporate training, colleges and universities, community leadership, and more. You are not required to have any academic background in education as long as you have completed a bachelor’s degree, and you can enter the program in the spring, summer, or fall.
You will need to complete a minimum of 30 credits. Six of those credits will come from an internship and a practicum course. From there, you can choose the rest of the courses you will take from a list of over thirty different courses. There are countless different topics that you can explore, allowing you to create the academic background you need to climb the career ladder. Examples include learning styles in adult education, workforce education, teaching methods, program planning, learning resources, and more.
7The University of Tennessee Knoxville
The University of Tennessee Knoxville has been consistently expanding its online learning opportunities as it tries to grow into one of the top-ranked universities in America. The university offers a range of courses and programs; some of them are synchronous, and some are asynchronous. Online students have the benefit of paying fewer fees while still being eligible for scholarships and financial aid. All of UTK’s online classes are identical to those that take place on campus, just made more accessible through platforms like Canvas, Zoom, and more. The online education degrees are provided by the university’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.
Master of Science in Educational Psychology: Adult Education Concentration
The University of Tennessee Knoxville has the honor of being the only Master of Science in Educational Psychology program featured in this ranking of the best online degrees in adult education. There are two concentrations available, and those are in Adult Education and Applied Educational Psychology. We’ve chosen to focus on the Adult Education concentration. This degree requires 36 credits in total and will not require a thesis. The curriculum surrounds ideas in adult learning that will help you to understand how adults learn, what motivates learning, how to design effective programs, and more.
This is an interesting and in-depth adult education degree that you can earn entirely online. All twelve of the classes you will have to take are predetermined, though. There are no electives, and you must take the classes in a set order and at the pace set by the university. If you cannot stick to the schedule, the university will not admit you to the program. All of the classes are synchronously delivered in the evenings. While some students may miss the flexibility that comes with other degree options, this carefully-created plan of study was designed for working adults and will be able to fit into many work schedules.
8East Carolina University
East Carolina University provides both undergraduate and graduate degree programs online and offers exemplary support for students to go back to school. ECU understands that many of its students have full-time careers, families, and may even be defending our country overseas. In light of that, classes are offered in flexible asynchronous formats. Many programs will offer multiple start dates, up to five times a year. Online students will have access to student support resources as well as technical support, and they are eligible for scholarships and financial aid.
Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education
ECU’s online adult education degree is a Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education. Students are not required to select a concentration, but there are concentrations offered in Human Resource Development, Community College Instruction, and Adult Literacy. You will need to complete at least 36 credits in order to graduate. The curriculum is designed to shape you into an effective leader for adult learning programs, whether that is in an academic or corporate setting.
The required courses include Introduction to Adult and Community Education, The Adult Learner, Development of Adult Education Programs, Organization and Administration of Adult Education, Instructional Strategies in Adult Education, and an educational research course of your choice. The rest of your credits will either come from electives in the concentration you select or, you may work with your advisor to create the best plan for your needs. There are no on-campus requirements for this program, and any proctored exams can be taken at an approved location near you.
9Oregon State University
Oregon State University has ranked among the top ten in the nation for online programs for the past five years, according to U.S. News & World Report. OSU’s eCampus has some of the most extensive offerings out of all universities, including more than 110 fields of study and over a thousand courses offered online. All of the extensive options available through the eCampus are designed with the same dedicated faculty as the campus-based alternatives. Classes are delivered in multiple formats and have multiple start dates throughout the year. Online students have a lot of opportunities at OSU; you will be eligible for financial aid and scholarships, you can take proctored exams and even participate in internships locally, and you may have the option to participate in study abroad opportunities.
Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education
Oregon State University offers a more intensive online degree in adult education. The Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education requires 45 quarter credits, which is equivalent to a 30-credit program. Classes are eleven weeks long, and there are four quarters per calendar year. Students have the unique opportunity to benefit from a highly-collaborative cohort model while still enjoying the flexibility of fully-online and asynchronous instruction. Students are admitted to the program every fall and can complete their degree in just two years.
OSU’s adult education degree is the only one in America that is dedicated to e-learning or distance education. The curriculum, which is completely prescribed, is guided by the Academy of Human Resource Development Standards. You will take 36 credits worth of core courses, complete an internship, and then create an applied research project. There are no electives; instead, you individualize your experience through your internship and research. This is an affordable in-depth program that will provide you with the skills essential to creating effective digital learning experiences for adults.
10University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas delivers online programs through U of A Online. This university is a premier example of an online college, for online adult education degrees and more. There are programs offered at every academic level in a range of in-demand areas of study. All of the programs are designed by the academic departments housed at the school’s main campus to ensure that you’re getting the same engaging and in-depth education as a traditional student no matter where you are. This university is one of the top-ranked in the country, and the fully-online flexible delivery options allow you to earn the education you deserve without sacrifices. Online students pay the same discounted tuition rate that Arkansas residents pay as well.
Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning
U.S. News & World Report ranked the online graduate programs in education offered by the University of Arkansas among the top in the nation. The Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning is a non-thesis program that consists of 33 total credits. This is not only one of the best online adult education degrees, but it is also one of the most affordable. The cost per credit is less than $500 regardless of residency. You can complete this degree entirely online, and it doesn’t require the GRE or GMAT for admission.
The curriculum requires one research course and five adult education core courses. The core courses cover multiple topics in adult education as well as curriculum development, instructional strategies, and organization and administration. Out of the 33 required credits, 12 of them will come from electives that you choose, and the final three will come from a capstone project. Something that makes this online adult education degree stand out is that the University of Arkansas has the additional option for students of this program to pursue Adult Education Licensure concurrently.
11Kansas State University
Kansas State University provides a wide selection of online degree programs that were created by the same distinguished faculty as the on-campus programs it offers. The online degree programs hold the same accreditation and are held to the same standard, so they will help you to expand your knowledge and equip you with career-relevant skills in your field. K-State has received national recognition for its innovation in online education. Online students are eligible for scholarships and financial aid, pay affordable tuition rates, have access to extensive students services, and more. You may even be able to accelerate your graduation thanks to condensed eight-week courses, transfer credits, and the ability to take up to 21 credits per semester.
Master of Science in Adult Learning and Leadership
Innovation in education is incredibly important, and Kansas State University’s online adult education program was designed with that in mind. This university offers a Master of Science in Adult Learning and Leadership that is very open-ended. The curriculum is very broad so that students are not boxed into a particular set of careers. Instead, you can earn a comprehensive and affordable education and carve out your own career path. There are 33 credits required to earn this degree.
All of the classes you will take are just eight weeks long and delivered asynchronously. There are six required courses that all students must take and then you will have the opportunity to select 15 credits of electives. K-State has an impressive selection of nearly 30 electives to choose from so you can customize your degree plan. You could also opt to earn a graduate certificate in Adult Learning, Leadership Dynamics, or Social Justice to satisfy your elective requirements.
12Ball State University
Ball State University has received national recognition from a multitude of sources for offering great academic programs both online and on campus. Ball State Online has been awarded for innovation and excellence; it was also the first institution to receive Learner Support Program Certification from Quality Matters. This certification was awarded because Ball State Online offers critical student services and support. Online students at this university have access to technical support, tutoring, peer mentoring, career planning, and so much more. All of the classes are delivered asynchronously, and there are flexible scheduling options.
Master of Arts in Adult and Community Education
Ball State University offers a Master of Arts in Adult and Community Education 100% online. This online adult education degree puts a strong emphasis on community education, and it is one of a select few in the country that does. You can take your classes entirely online, or you can choose a blended format if you’re near campus. Something unique about this program is that online students are allowed to substitute core courses that aren’t offered online for ones that are. No other university we’ve featured provides this kind of flexibility. Core courses make up the majority of this 30-credit program.
The core explores topics that will introduce you to the foundations of adult education community education, program planning, teaching strategies, and more. The rest of the classes you take are up to you. You can choose what course you take to fulfill the research requirement, and then you can select three electives. You can pick classes that suit your interests, or you can choose three classes from a particular area to create a minor. Students of this program also have another unique opportunity. If you wish to complete one extra course for a total of 33 credits, you can graduate with a double major in Adult and Community Education and Executive Development for Public Service.
13University of Idaho
The University of Idaho has a significantly more limited selection of online degrees than many other universities, but it certainly isn’t lacking in quality. All of the online classes available are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no set log in times. Students that live near campus can choose to take their classes on campus any time as an online student, but the majority of programs can be completed without a single visit to the university. Scholarships, financial aid, library services, academic advising, and more will be available to you if you choose to earn your adult education degree online at the University of Idaho.
Master of Science in Adult, Organizational Learning and Leadership
The University of Idaho is home to a Master of Science in Adult, Organizational Learning and Leadership. This program has been designed to give students a deep understanding of organizational development theory, as well as the ability to think strategically, lead change in organizations, become strong leaders, and apply transformative learning principles. There are 30 credits in this program, and the majority of them come from the program core; however, this is another adult education degree program that offers a broad core curriculum.
You can build on the topics covered in the core with electives relevant to your career aspirations in order to customize your degree. Another way you can customize this program is by choosing the thesis or non-thesis option, both of which can be done online. The thesis option will require 39 credits. One of the stand out features of the University of Idaho’s adult education program is that it features an exceptionally generous transfer policy that allows you to bring in as many as 12 credits.
14Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University allows students the opportunity to bring the Sunshine State to them with their selection of over 40 online degrees. FAU provides students with world-class education according to their own schedules. All of the courses are available 100% online and can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. The university also offers competitive tuition rates and student support services that have garnered it multiple awards.
Master of Education in Adult and Community Education Leadership
Florida Atlantic University’s online Master of Education in Adult and Community Education Leadership program is an accessible, flexible, and comprehensive adult education degree. The primary focus of the curriculum is on sustainability. You will take classes like Sustainability Leadership for ACE Entrepreneurs & Change Agents; Assessment, Planning & Sustainability with Geospatial Technologies and; Grant Writing & Program Management for ACE & Non-profit Organizations along with more traditional adult education classes. You’ll need 36 or 39 credits to graduate depending on your circumstances.
The curriculum is broken down into four parts. First, there is the Sustainability Core outlined above. There is also a Leadership Foundation, Professional Foundation, and Educational Foundation. These components equip you with leadership skills, practical skills you’ll use in your career, and research skills in the context of education, respectively. There are no electives. Students take a prescribed set of courses. This does decrease the individualization aspect that many seek in a degree program. However, the classes you’ll take will give you a diverse skill set that can be applied across a multitude of careers.
Seattle University is a relatively small Jesuit university that offers just a handful of online programs. This university offers students full-time and part-time options for completing their degree online. Classes may be synchronous or asynchronous depending on the program you take and the courses you select. For instance, the online adult education degree that Seattle U has been featured for allows students to choose whether they’d like to take their classes synchronously or asynchronously. Other programs are not guaranteed to be structured in this manner. The online programs at Seattle U are affordable and have been designed by dedicated faculty to be engaging and congruent with industry trends.
Master of Education in Adult Education and Training
Seattle University offers an online Master of Education in Adult Education and Training as well as a Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education and Training. Both of the programs require 45 credits to complete. The MAED program requires students to complete a graduate project whereas the MED allows students to take an additional elective instead. Otherwise, the programs are identical. Students can choose to specialize their degree in Adult Basic Skills or Human Resources Development. This program admits students once annually in the fall.
The curriculum is broken down into multiple parts. There is the College of Education Core and the Adult Education and Training Core components that will introduce students to educational research, adult learning, program evaluation, instructional method and design, and more. Next, there are the Adult Education and Training Electives and Additional Electives. Students must take a minimum of 12 elective credits in the major. The classes you pick will be selected in conjunction with your advisor to ensure that they are what’s right for you. Diverse topics are available such as counseling theories, instructional leadership, lifespan career development, and more. Students can even choose to complete an internship for elective credit.
What is Adult Education?
Adult education seems like a fairly straightforward term because it does mean educational programs that are designed for adults; however, it is broader than it seems. Adult education doesn’t just refer to academic education. Adult education is a diverse field that could include workforce training, continuing education, college and university programs, distance education programs, and more.
Some adult education programs focus on basic skills for adults. Community colleges, non-profit organizations, and public agencies run classes for adults that might help them obtain necessary skills in reading, math, ESOL, business, and more. GED or other high school equivalents could also fall into this category.
Academic programs are a given. Many degree programs are catered towards adult learners that want to advance their careers, change professions, or are required to participate in continuing education to maintain licensure in their field. Colleges and universities often offer continuing education and professional development programs which do not culminate in any degree or certification. Instead, they are designed to fulfill continuing education requirements for specific fields. Any of these examples can be online or on campus.
Adult education degrees can also lead to jobs in the corporate world, providing training, developing training programs or materials, and more. So, while adult education is a very basic term, it is simply the tip of the iceberg. Some careers in academic administration, community education program development, corporate training, human resources, and more require candidates to have a degree in adult education.
What Degree Do I Need to Teach Adults?
Like we just covered, adult education is a lot broader than many people presume when they are first exploring the field. If you would like to work in an adult education enrichment program, at a community college or night school, or teach adults in any capacity in the public or private sector, you will need to have an education.
Because adult education options are so widely varied, the degree you need is going to vary as well. Also, every state will have different requirements when it comes to teaching adults. Usually, if you want to teach adult education in the capacity outlined above, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in your field. For instance, if you want to teach adult literacy courses, you will need some kind of degree in literacy, teaching reading, or a related area. Higher-level positions, like administrative positions or program coordination positions, will require at least a master’s degree.
If you want to teach adults at a traditional institution of higher education, you will also need at least a master’s degree. There may also be additional requirements imposed by the state where you live or would like to work.
Can I Teach At a College With a Master’s Degree?
This is a complicated question, but the most basic answer is yes, you can teach at a college or university with a master’s degree. With that said, there may be some limitations. Most teachers at that level hold doctorate degrees and a doctorate may be required depending on your field, the college, the state you live in, and the particular class you’d like to teach.
Many instructors that work at community colleges or junior colleges are only required to hold a masters-level degree in their field. Many online classes could also be taught by those that hold a master’s degree. This is something that will truly depend on where you are trying to get your job. Candidates with more advanced education are going to be more competitive in the job market.
If you’d like to teach at a four-year college or university, you may need a doctorate degree. Until recently, some areas of study could easily be taught by those who hold a master’s degree. Your academic background and the expertise that comes with working in the field you’d like to teach can go a long way, but the demand for more highly specialized degrees is growing.
The bottom line is that you can teach at a college with a master’s degree but, you will likely have more opportunities to do so if you go on to earn a doctorate.
Can I Get a Teaching Degree Completely Online?
Online education has been booming since it was invented almost 25 years ago, and there are thousands of online degree programs available now. Teaching degrees are widely available online. The cost of education is continuously climbing along with the demand for more advanced education, and that is driving many people back to college in a different way. Online programs offer working adults a more affordable and convenient way to earn a degree. As more people become interested, colleges and schools are striving to adapt to meet their needs. Online teaching degrees are no different.
Continuing education for teachers is essential if they’d like to continue to grow in their career, but they are working throughout the academic year. Online teaching degrees provide an excellent answer for that because they allow teachers to complete their classes without disrupting the lessons they are already responsible for. Many of these programs are available entirely online, in various scheduling options, with multiple modes of delivery. So, yes, you can absolutely earn your teaching degree entirely online.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you live in one state and the university providing your online teaching degree is in another, you may have to complete additional requirements to obtain or maintain your teaching licensure.
Is a Teaching Certificate the Same as a Teaching License?
No, they are not. Some places use the terms interchangeably in a way that may be confusing. Here is what each of them means.
Teaching Certificate: A teaching certificate is a certificate that is awarded upon completion of an academic program. As an example, teachers could complete a certificate program in Special Education or ESOL Teaching. This means that they have completed an academic program and display proficiency in these areas.
Teaching Certification: Teaching certification is a term that is used interchangeably with the term “teaching licensure.”
Teaching License/Teaching Licensure: Teaching licensure is the most appropriate term for a teaching license/teaching certification. Every state has a minimum set of requirements a person must go through to obtain this license, and without it, you are not likely to be able to teach anywhere. A teaching license is what permits you to provide instruction to students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.