Adult education is the specialized study and practice of educating adults for personal and professional development. Depending on your desired position, content area, and learning environment, most adult education teachers need to have some college education and postsecondary training. A doctorate in adult education provides the specialized instruction and training needed to teach and lead diverse student populations. Whether you’re a current or future educator, administrator, or faculty member, the Ph.D. in adult education is a worthwhile investment in your future career.
Why a Doctorate?
The doctoral degree is the pinnacle of academic achievement for adult education. This program is designed for current educators and master’s degree holders who want to take their teaching experience and leadership skills to the next level. During this rigorous program, students will complete advanced courses and conduct many hours of independent, original research in their field of expertise. Upon graduation, Ph.D. holders will have a broad understanding of postsecondary adult instruction as well as the technical skills to lead various education and community groups.
Getting Into a Doctorate Degree Program
The decision to earn a doctorate degree is a big one. Before you can enroll in this upper-level program, you need to make sure you meet the educational requirements listed below:
- Bachelor’s and/or master’s degree from an accredited institution
- Minimum required GPA
- Passing score on the qualifying exam
- Completion of prerequisite courses or work experience
Inside an Adult Education Doctorate Degree Program
Depending on your individual program, course load, and pace, the adult education doctorate degree can take anywhere from two months to two years to complete. Some common courses students can expect to take include: introduction to qualitative research, statistics for educational research, educational research methods, teaching adults, critical thinking in adult education, and classroom assessment in education. Some programs also require students to take specialization courses and electives within their area of expertise.
Most doctorate-level adult education programs include comprehensive examinations and dissertation coursework. Students will conduct independent, original research in their field and present their findings to a committee. To foster academic and professional success, many online PhD programs require students to attend a few weekend-long residencies to network and gain new insights into their field.
What’s Next for Adult Education Doctorate Degree Holders?
Graduates of the Ph.D. in continuing education are qualified to do a number of different jobs in adult learning settings. Doctorate degree holders can hold various faculty and education leadership positions, such as postsecondary teacher, postsecondary education administrator, or school and career counselor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to increase 17% by 2020 because college enrollment is rising. The same goes for postsecondary education administrators and school and career counselors, who are both expected to grow 19% by 2020. In addition to having optimistic job outlooks, all three occupations also have favorable salaries. According to the 2010 BLS report, postsecondary teachers made an average annual salary of $62,050, postsecondary education administrators made $83,710, and school and career counselors made $53,380.