Masters of Adult Education FYI


Adult education is the process of educating and teaching adult learners through the workplace or various schools and universities. Some of these institutions may include community colleges, lifelong learning centers and others. Adult education is distinct from vocational education, which is usually training that occurs at the workplace to improve job skills.

Adult education programs often will provide one-on-one tutoring, and also to small groups of adults for those who are at the 6th grade level or under. Many libraries, nonprofits and school districts sponsor and administer such programs. It is common for adult education programs to get funds from unemployment and welfare departments at the state level. The adult program offers education to the recipients of state benefits. This helps the adult learners to obtain education and work skills so that they can be fully employable.

There is a higher demand from employers today regarding the qualifications and education of their hires. As such, there is more demand for qualified adult education professionals in adult learning centers. With a master’s in adult education, you will enhance your understanding of the very unique needs of adult learners and how they learn most effectively.

Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth in the area of adult education is expected to increase by 15% from 2008-2018. Also, median hourly wages for adult education teachers is $22.25 as of 2008. Teachers on the higher end of the pay scale can earn close to $40 per hour. Learn more about a host of related careers in education.

Jobs & Careers

Adult education teachers teach adults and other out-of-school young people how to read, speak English and perform mathematical tasks more effectively. The instruction that you give your students generally will fall into three areas:

  • Adult Basic Education (ABE)
  • Adult Secondary Education (ASE)
  • General Education Development (GDE)

ABE teachers will provide the basic courses in math, history, reading, languages, writing, science and so forth. ASE and GED teachers will teach the knowledge and skills that are needed to pass the GED exam. The GED consists of five tests in science, social studies, math, writing and reading.

Online Programs

There are many online master’s programs available in adult education. All of them focus of teaching you how to best train and interact with today’s adult learners. You will be able to choose a number of electives so that you can focus on specific adult learner subjects, or on a broad perspective of all adult education topics. Good online programs include: Penn State and Colorado State. View a complete list of online masters in education programs.


It is becoming more common for adult education teachers to be required to have a master’s degree. Some of the courses that you may be required to take for your master’s in adult education include:

  • Individuals and adult education
  • Management of adult education programs
  • Instructional design and analysis
  • Adult teaching methods
  • Computer based training
  • Teaching to adults with disabilities
  • Instructional development

You will focus your studies on effective techniques for training adult learners in an adult learning setting. You will learn about the theories of adult learning, diverse learning needs, trends in adult education, e-learning, and coaching and mentoring.

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree and to have at least two years of teaching experience to apply for this master’s program. A valid teacher’s certificate is required. The program typically consists of approximately 30 credit hours and is completed in 2 years.

Grants & Scholarships

  • The Angeline E. Anderson Scholarship Fund -Established in 1990 at George Washington University by a gift from Angeline E. Anderson, B.A.1941, M.A.1944, to assist outstanding future classroom teachers. Ms. Anderson, the recipient of a scholarship to attend GW, enjoyed a career that included university and secondary school teaching and counseling. The scholarship in her name perpetuates her devotion to assisting students who can improve the quality of classroom teaching. The Fund is used to support full-time or part-time students in financial need who plan teaching careers in U.S. schools.
  • Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers -The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest on their FFEL and/or Direct Loan program loans.