Adult education is the study and practice of teaching adults for professional development and self-enrichment. Adult education classes can take place in workplaces, community colleges, libraries, colleges and universities, and other learning environments. Many adult education teachers have some postsecondary education and training in the field they wish to teach. The master’s degree in adult education gives current and future educators the advanced knowledge and skills needed to teach diverse student populations.
Why a Master’s Degree?
The master’s degree in continuing professional development is an excellent option for teachers and anyone who wants to develop their current practice in order to teach adult learners. At the graduate degree level, students will take advanced courses and conduct independent research in their field. Unlike undergraduate adult education programs, the master’s degree provides a more focused plan of study that is based on your area of expertise. Upon graduation, graduate degree holders will be prepared to take on various educator roles, whether it’s training coordinator, college instructor, or admissions counselor.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree in this evolving field, you need to first make sure you meet the minimum educational requirements defined by your program. Although admissions criteria vary from school to school, most graduate school applicants need to have the following:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Desired score on the GMAT or GRE
- Minimum required GPA
Inside an Adult Education Master’s Degree Program
The master’s degree in adult education can take anywhere from one to two years to complete, depending on your course load and pace. Some common courses students can expect to take include: adult education, processes and methods, adult teaching and learning, instructional design, and multicultural and special populations. Many graduate programs also require students to take electives in their area of expertise.
Toward the end of the program, students will complete a formal thesis or project that details their original research findings. Students may also take a final seminar or capstone course to review what they’ve learned each semester. This is a good time to explore different content areas within adult education and start pursuing educator positions.
What’s Next for Adult Education Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of the adult education master’s degree program are prepared to do a number of interesting jobs, including adult literacy or GED teacher, social and community service manager, and postsecondary teacher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of all three occupations is expected to grow significantly by 2020. Adult literacy and GED teachers could see an employment increase of 15%, social and community service managers may experience a 27% increase, and postsecondary teachers could have a 17% job growth. The growing demand for adult education and social services in America increases the need for these professionals in all communities. In addition to having optimistic job outlooks, all of these occupations also have favorable salaries. According to the 2010 BLS report, adult literacy and GED teachers made an average annual salary of $46,530, social and community service managers made $57,950, and postsecondary teachers made $62,050.
Master’s degree holders are often regarded as strong job candidates because of their advanced knowledge and skills. However, some employers and positions in this field of work require applicants to have a higher degree. The next highest education option for these candidates is to earn a post-master’s certificate in adult education or a doctorate degree in adult education. Completing any post-graduate training, whether a certificate or degree, can help you gain new job opportunities and increase your earning potential.