5 Best Master’s Programs in Adult Education and Learning in 2021

Grad School Hub’s 5 Best Master’s Programs in Adult Education and Learning features one of the fastest growing industries in society today.

Whether it’s in the classroom or workplace, adults are everywhere – who knew? Adult educators empower, inspire, and teach other adults advanced skills they’ll need to succeed.

Students who earn a degree in adult education go on to work as employee relation specialists, e-learning specialists, or community organization administrators. If teaching in the classroom is your end goal, you can always find a job as a high school equivalency educator, or an adult literacy teacher.

Accredited Online College Programs

The 5 Best Master’s in Adult Education and Learning for 2021

  1. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Indiana, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education through two unlikely sources: IUP's Department of Adult and Community Education and the Department of Communications Media.

    While students have the option to complete their entire two-year degree online, residential IUP students have access to a radio station, graphics lab, and animation studio on campus. Required courses include The Adult Learner, Issues in Distance Education, Program Planning in ACE, and Community-Based Education. Students also choose between completing a thesis or non-thesis option.

    • Graduation rate: 53.3%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: More than 140 programs
    • City location: Indiana, PA 
    • Admission requirements: Transcripts, letters of recommendation, Goal statement, 
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): No GRE or MAT scores required
    • Contact: https://www.iup.edu/page.aspx?id=42867
    • Website
  2. James Madison University
    Location

    Harrisonburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    James Madison University's Department of Learning, Technology and Leadership Education is now home to a comprehensive MS in Adult Education & Human Resource Development. JMU's unique degree program can be completed either online or through classroom instruction.

    Required courses include Diversity and Ethics, Learning Theories and Practice, Learning in Adulthood, and Organizational Behavior. Students may choose between completing a research paper or a thesis project. Students of JMU's MS program have a 100 percent rate of employment within three months after graduation and boast an average annual salary of $60,000.

    • Graduation rate: 82%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: More than 130
    • City location: Harrisonburg, VA 
    • Admission requirements: Online application, transcripts, GPA 2.75 or higher, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, resume
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): GRE is not required
    • Contact: AHRD@jmu.edu
    • Website
  3. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Florida International is a public research university offering an MS in Adult Education and Human Resource Development through it's Department of Leadership and Professional Studies. Prospective students can apply during the fall, spring, and summer semesters and unlike many other graduate programs, the GRE is not required for admission.

    Students who graduate from FIU will meet the requirements for Florida's certified program in Adult Education Administration after completing a minimum of 36 credit hours. Required courses include Adult Teaching Methods, Perspectives on Adults with Disabilities, Instructional Analysis and Design, and Computer Based Training. FIU is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top public schools in the U.S.

    • Graduation rate: 72.3% 
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: More than 190 degree programs
    • City location: Miami, Florida 
    • Admission requirements: 3.0 GPA in upper-division coursework, applicant statement, two letters of recommendation, and a resume
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): GRE not required
    • Contact: Tonette S. Rocco
    • Website
  4. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of South Florida offers students an MA in Adult Education through a 36-credit program offering 600-level courses such as The Adult Learner, Methods of Teaching Adults, and Adult Learning and Cognitive Styles.

    USF's Adult Education program is intended for students who hold a non-education BA and who wish to work in health care delivery, business and industry, professional associations, or other non-school based working environments.

    • Graduation rate: 69.4%
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: 180 undergraduate majors and degree programs 
    • City location: Tampa, Florida
    • Admission requirements: 3.0 GPA (some flexibility), statement of purpose, resume or vita, three letters of recommendation
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): GRE not required
    • Contact: http://www.grad.usf.edu/majors
    • Website 
  5. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Carolina State University's College of Education offers an MA of Education in addition to an MS with a specialization in Adult and Continuing Professional Education. NCSU's MS degree is a thesis-based program completed residentially, online, or both. Required courses include The Adult Learner, Instructional Strategies, and Teaching in an Online Environment.

    NCSU is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 32nd Top Public University in the United States in addition to ranking among the Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Value Schools, and Most Innovative Schools in the Country.

    • Graduation rate: 77.2% 
    • School status (public/private): Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$ 
    • Number of programs offered: More than 300
    • City location: Raleigh, NC 
    • Admission requirements: Submit transcripts, personal statement, CV/Resume, and education history through NCSU application portal
    • Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): GRE scores are currently waived
    • Contact: Susan Barcinas, Ed. D. 
    • Website

  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.































    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Have Questions About Adult Education and Learning? We Have Answers.

  • What careers can you pursue with a master’s in adult education and learning?

    A degree in this field prepares you for a variety of employment opportunities. You’ll learn to create curriculum, implement it online or in-person, and effectively communicate with students, who are also adults. This degree can lead to adult education classroom roles or human resources jobs like human resources director, a role in which you’ll be offering required and optional training to employees to build up the workforce at your company.

  • What types of classes do you take to earn a master’s in adult education and learning?

    The curriculum for a master’s in adult education and learning will include classes to help you understand what adult learners bring to a classroom environment, as well as classes on pedagogy, technology in the education world, and how to create excellent instructional design and program planning.

  • How should I pick the best adult education and learning program for me?

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In general, you’ll want to consider the costs of the program — in-state tuition can help cut down on the costs — and you’ll also want to think about whether you prefer full-time or part-time coursework.

    You may also want to decide whether you want a digital learning focus or a more traditional focus and whether you have a particular field of training you want to pursue, since some programs may have specialized healthcare training classes or outdoor education classes.


Still Looking for the Right Fit? Explore Similar Programs.

Most Affordable Master’s in Early Childhood Education Most Affordable Master’s in Educational Leadership Most Affordable Master’s in Higher Education

Laura Leavitt picture

Laura Leavitt

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Laura Leavitt is a writer and teacher in Ohio who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. She has written for Business Insider, The Billfold, The Financial Diet, and more.

Fact-checked by

Angelica Leicht picture

Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is an editor for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

Additional Resources

See All Posts
How Long does it take to Complete an Online Master’s in Education?

How Long does it take to Complete an Online Master’s in Education?

April 15, 2021   |   Staff

If you would like to further your career by earning a Master's in Education online, it is important that you make a detailed plan first. The M.Ed. program is designed...

5 Benefits of Completing a Master in Education Program

5 Benefits of Completing a Master in Education Program

August 4, 2020   |   Staff

In most cases, teachers in the United States aren't required to get their Master's degree in education. However, an advanced degree does have its benefits regardless of what your major...

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.