According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 73 percent of adults think of themselves as lifelong learners. Sixty-three percent of those working have enrolled in a course or completed additional training in the 12 months preceding the survey. Adult education is a critical part of today’s society, and those with additional educational and professional experience can be on the forefront of providing these individuals with education at the secondary and postsecondary levels.
Additionally, individuals with graduate degrees in adult learning and training can enter a variety of professions. The median salary for a human resource specialist is $60,350, with the number of jobs projected to grow 7 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some with this degree also go into postsecondary education, a field expected to increase by 10 percent between 2016 and 2026. Other areas include healthcare, training and development, community education, and other human services options. Earning your master’s in adult education opens the door to many possibilities in all of these fields.
Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the Best Online Master’s in Adult Education/Learning, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:
25% – Student Satisfaction
30% – Earning Potential
15% – Retention Data
20% – Affordability
10% – Acceptance Rates
For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.
#15 CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN ADULT LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Starting off the list is Cleveland State University’s Master of Education in Adult Learning and Development. The program is 34 to 35 credits worth of coursework, and recent graduates are employed in a variety of fields, including healthcare, human resources, training and development, higher education, and nonprofits. Students also have the opportunity to do internships at different sites, and some have chosen to intern at Cleveland State itself, the Cleveland Public Library, and Habitat for Humanity. Ultimately, all enrolled in the degree program complete a portfolio. Courses include Adult Education in a Changing Society, the Psychology of the Adult Learner, and Organizing Behavior and Change.
#14 PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN LIFELONG LEARNING AND ADULT EDUCATION
At Pennsylvania State University, students can complete a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education. The degree requires 30 credits of study. There are also possibilities for certificates in Distance Education and Adult Basic Education. For those who also wish to specialize without doing the certificates, there are options for specialized study in both of those areas as well. Pennsylvania State University is also an Act 48-approved provider for educators in the state, so classes can be counted as professional development hours for those who are also certified. Courses include The Teaching of Adults, Language, Literacy, Identity, and Culture in a Global Context, and Introduction to Family Literacy.
#13 TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY AT KINGSVILLE
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN ADULT EDUCATION
Texas A&M University at Kingsville’s Master of Education in Adult Education can be completed in two years. It is ranked #115 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Students must finish 36 credit hours of courses in order to graduate as well as passing a comprehensive exam. This begins with 12 hours of core courses and additional elective courses designed to allow students to specialize. Courses include Methods of Adult Education, Curriculum and Program Planning in Adult Education, and Community Education.
#12 NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA
MASTER OF ARTS IN ADULT LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Northwestern State of Louisiana offers a Master of Arts in Adult Learning and Development. This program also has three concentration areas, which are Adult and Workforce Development, Homeland Security, and e-Learning. It is apt for those who are working with adult learning activities across a variety of settings and can be completed in four semesters and one to two summers. There are 11 courses needed for the 33-credit program, and students can enroll year round in order to finish as quickly as they’d like. In addition to a practicum experience, those enrolled in the program can take courses such as Advanced Instructional Design and Telecommunications for Distance Education and e-Learning, Learning and Leading in Groups and Organizations, and Effective Professional Writing.
#11 GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN ADULT EDUCATION
Georgia Southern University’s Master of Education in Adult Education is a blended program, meaning that it has on-campus and online courses. Students complete 30 credit hours of coursework and can begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer. To be admitted to the program, they do not have to submit GRE scores, making it a good fit for those who do not want to take a standardized test. Students also apply what they’re learning to the workplace through their capstone experience. GSU is ranked #62 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
#10 TROY UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ADULT EDUCATION
Aimed toward those who already facilitate educational experiences for adults, Troy University offers a Master of Science in Adult Education. Students can then choose between concentrations in Curriculum and Instructional Design, Instructional Technology, or Leadership Studies. The 33- to 36-credit program can be completed in a year, and students who have already completed some of the coursework at a different institution can transfer in credits. There is also a thesis option for those interested in finishing a project with in-depth research. Courses include Social Context of Adult Education, Principles of Instructional Design, and Current and Emerging Instructional Technologies.
#9 KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ADULT LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP
Kansas State University provides its Master of Science in Adult Learning and Leadership students a number of ways to customize their degree experience through different electives. These include Women, Education, Leadership, and Work, Reflective Practice in Social Justice Education Capstone, and Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Dynamics in Adult Learning and Leadership. Students also complete a capstone experience through a portfolio that requires them to submit a final reflection essay as well as different projects and assignments from throughout their coursework. In total, the program requires 33 credit hours of eight-week courses, with 15 of those being elective courses. This program is ranked #43 by U.S. News and World Report on its list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
#8 UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ADULT ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING & LEADERSHIP
The University of Idaho has a Master of Science in Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership. The degree is 30 credits, with 21 of those being core credits for the program. Students can decide whether or not they wish to complete a thesis, and those that do also take a class on quantitative research and analysis. Additionally, there is an option to earn a certificate in Human Resource Development. Some of the courses include the Future of Education and Work, Foundations of Human Resource Development, Career Development in Organizations, and Strategies for Facilitating Adult Learning.
#7 UNIVERSITY OF WEST ALABAMA
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ADULT CONTINUING EDUCATION
The University of West Alabama offers students interested in pursuing graduate work in education the opportunity to complete a Master of Science in Adult Continuing Education. This program is one year in length, and it requires 33 credit hours of coursework. Courses are split into eight-week segments, allowing those taking them to finish more classes in a shorter amount of time than a typical semester-long schedule. Nine credit hours of these courses are profession-based classes, and then students take 24 hours of concentration-based classes. For those who have already earned some credit in the field, up to nine credits can be transferred. The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#6 JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION IN ADULT EDUCATION & HUMAN
For its Master of Science in Education in Adult Education and Human Resource Development at James Madison University, students complete 36 to 39 credit hours. With a variety of two- and four-year plans for completion, James Madison University alumni have achieved a 100 percent employment rate within 3 months of graduation. Students can choose to complete a thesis, if they so choose, but all students must compile a professional portfolio in order to graduate. Within a variety of elective courses, those enrolled in the degree program are able to specialize in areas such as leadership and facilitation, technology, evaluation and measurement, human resource management, and higher education.
#5 UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN ADULT AND LIFELONG LEARNING
The University of Arkansas’s Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning does not require students to submit test scores for admission into its 33-credit graduate program. It is also a non-thesis program. It is centered around bolstering those with some experience into instructional and leadership roles working with adults with a variety of educational experiences in both institutional- and community-based settings. Typically, the coursework can be complete in two years. U.S. News and World Report has ranked this program #56 on its list of Best Online Graduate Education programs. Courses include Managing Change in Adult and Lifelong Learning, Technology and Innovation in Adult Learning, and Program Planning.
#4 INDIANA UNIVERSITY-BLOOMINGTON
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION IN ADULT EDUCATION
Known for its strong graduate programs, Indiana University-Bloomington offers a Master of Science in Education in Adult Education. This program not only grows one’s experience working with adult learners but also seeks to educate individuals about their own development. The degree requires 36 credit hours of courses in total, divided between 21 credits of major requirements and 15 of electives. Indiana University-Bloomington was also ranked #46 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education programs list. Courses include Adult Learning through the Lifespan, Strategies for Educational Inquiry, and Participation Training.
#3 EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF ARTS IN EDUCATION – ADULT EDUCATION
Aimed toward educating those with a variety of professional experience, East Carolina University has a 36-credit hour Master of Arts in Education – Adult Education degree. This program gives people with no direct work experience in the field an opportunity to complete an internship, and students choose between a variety of options and fields to compliment their core experience with elective credits. Some of these electives are focused on topics such as community college instruction, human resource development, student affairs, education in healthcare, adult basic education, literacy, and gerontology. The majority of students are part-time, and all choose between a culminating experience of either a thesis or a portfolio. Graduate certificates in Community College Instruction, Education in Healthcare Professions, and Student Affairs in Higher Education are available.
#2 NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY AT RALEIGH
MASTER OF EDUCATION AND MASTER OF SCIENCE WITH A SPECIALIZATION IN
ADULT AND CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
Students at North Carolina State University at Raleigh can choose to complete either a Master of Education or a Master of Science with a specialization in Adult and Continuing Professional Education. The M.Ed. requires only 36 credits while the thesis-based M.S. is 39 credits. Students have the option to complete an internship in either program, and there is a capstone experience. This culminating project encourages students to think critically about all of their coursework, from its foundations to the communication of these ideas and their practical application. U.S. News and World Report has ranked this program 15th on its Best Online Graduate Education Programs List.
#1 TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY AT COLLEGE STATION
COLLEGE STATION, TX
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATIONAL HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
WITH A SPECIALIZATION IN ADULT EDUCATION
Our #1 best online master’s in this field is Texas A&M University at College Station’s Master of Science in Educational Human Resource Development with a specialization in Adult Education. This 37-credit program can be completed entirely online, though students also have ability to take classes on campus. To graduate, students must put together a professional portfolio, which is a valuable experience for demonstrating their knowledge of and competency in the field. Those wishing to pursue this degree can start either in spring or fall. Courses include Organization Development and Performance in Human Resource Development, Theory of Educational Human Resource Development Research, and Adult Education, Globalization, and Social Justice.