10 Best Online Master’s in Adult Education/Learning Grad Schools

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 18 minutes

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Students whose passion and interests lie in helping adults learn may want to consider earning an online master’s in adult education learning. This master’s degree program usually involves the study of theory, methods, and instructional design. It equips them with the competencies essential to succeeding as adult educators.

Combined with actual teaching or training program experience, this master’s program can expand their career options in the field of adult education, allowing them to take up positions in a variety of work settings, including educational human resource development.

Some of the job positions they may pursue include adult basic education professionals, instructional designers, workplace training specialists, and health education specialists.


Fortunately, many colleges and universities in the country offer a master’s in adult education, allowing prospective students and working professionals to enhance their professional portfolios and boost their earning potential in an often rewarding and meaningful field. If you are interested in pursuing a career that lets you administer adult education programs, then this advanced degree is just for you.

Additional Resources:


Learning is a lifelong process, and just as much as children, adult learners continue to pick up new knowledge in a variety of settings & contexts. As such, there is a constant need for professionals who are skilled in the special requirements for facilitating learning among adults.

This invariably requires advanced education, and those planning to launch into this endeavor or seek advancement have to choose the best educational preparation they can get.

We’ve got you covered! Check out our list of graduate schools that offer the best online master’s in adult education, selected based on the following characteristics:

Read our Methodology page for more information on our online graduate program ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Best Online Master’s in Adult Education Learning

best online masters in adult education and learning

Colorado State University

Colorado State University - Online

Fort Collins, Colorado

Master of Education in Adult Education and Training

Catering the needs of working professionals, Colorado State University is serving 33,455 students in 2022. To date, it is offering 187 majors across various disciplines. It tied with San Diego State University for having the highest federal graduation rate in the Mountain West Conference.

Standout Features:

To earn the program, students are required to complete a total of 30 credits. Some of the courses in the rigorous program curriculum include:

Did You Know?

In the past 10 years, Colorado State University has poured its resources into its students, doubling institutionally funded financial aid options. In fact, 60% of CSY students have received a form of financial aid, be it a grant or scholarship.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University - Online

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, Adult Education Concentration

Louisiana State University is dedicated to transforming lives through learning, research, and community engagement. Currently, the university caters to more than 35,000 students. It is known for its diverse and quality academic programs.

In fact, LSU is one of eight universities in the United States that houses a medical school, dental school, veterinary school, law school, and an MBA program. 

Standout Features:

This Master’s in Adult Education program is Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation-accredited. It is also TEACH Grant eligible, which means qualified applicants can meet the requirements for the TEACH grant.

Did You Know?

Louisiana State University aims to be a leading research-extensive university. The LSU Baton Rouge campuses alone received $285 million in grants and contracts in 2022 alone. Students will be able to work with highly acclaimed professors and gain access to unique opportunities and resources to help them achieve lifelong success.

Columbia University

Columbia University - Teachers College

New York, New York

Master of Arts in Adult Learning & Leadership

Considered one of the world’s most important centers for research, Columbia University provides a distinguished learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of scholarly and professional fields. It is one of the many universities in the country that offer online programs designed for working adults.

Standout Features:

In this program, students are allowed to choose between two specializations: Coaching and Leadership. They will need to complete a capstone project. This culminating project is a project-based application to practice.

Did You Know?

With its distinguished history in the discovery of knowledge, Columbia University promotes the highest standards of scholarship, learning, and safety. To date, it boasts 400 new inventions every year. It also includes in its claim to fame the honor of including 86 Nobel Laureates among its decorated alumni.

Ball State University

Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

Master of Arts in Adult & Community Education

Empowering students to pursue fulfilling careers, Ball State University engages adult education graduates in educational, creative, and research endeavors. Since its foundation in 1899, the university has remained committed to providing quality higher education, expanding its reach beyond Indiana through its numerous distance learning programs.

Standout Features:

Students who wish to partake in a double major will only need to take one additional 3-credit course. This will allow them to major in both adult and community education and executive development for public service.

Did You Know?

Ball State University is known for providing an immersive, hands-on learning environment through the guidance and support of outstanding faculty. Students who cannot afford their higher education have plenty of opportunities for financial aid support. In fact, 4 out of 5 students at Ball State University qualify for financial aid.

Eastern Washington University


Cheney, Washington

Master of Education – Adult Education

An ideal place for learning, Eastern Washington University has been fully committed to quality education since its establishment in 1882. The university makes its home within the homelands of the Spokane People and similar tribes.

It is known for featuring a high-quality curriculum that aims to develop the intellectual, personal, cultural, and practical aspects of the lives of students.

Standout Features:  

This online master in adult education program offers affordable, pay-by-the-course tuition rates, regardless of the student’s residence. There is no distinction between in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Did You Know?

Eastern Washington University is dedicated to providing high-impact educational practices. This allowed them to be named one of the country’s Colleges of Distinction. The recognition demonstrates its commitment to offering a unique learning environment and opportunities. Some of its colleges that hold the distinction include Nursing, Engineering, Education, and Business.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

University Park, Pennsylvania

Master of Education – Lifelong Learning & Adult Education

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is a public, land-grant, research university. Its main campus is in University Park, and 23 other campuses are spread throughout the state. It was first established in 1855, eventually being elevated to university status in 1953.

It received the “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” classification and has a total population of almost 90,000 students across all its campuses.

Standout Features:

Penn State’s M.Ed. in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education is nationally recognized for its quality. Penn State also offers full support to its online students with the World Campus Career Services which gives students connections and information that they can use to launch new careers or advance in existing ones.

Did You Know?  

Pennsylvania State University is one of the Public Ivies, a loose grouping of universities generally perceived to provide a level of education equal to that of the Ivy League. Penn State earned this distinction in 2001.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University - Graduate School of Education

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Master of Education in Adult & Continuing Education

Rutgers University is a public, land-grant, research university in the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was established in 1766 as Queen’s College and is one of the 9 Colonial Colleges that were chartered before the United States gained independence from the British.

It currently has four campuses throughout New Jersey, which together host a population of almost 69,000 students. Its New Brunswick campus is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.  

Standout Features:

The program curriculum exposes students to the most current research in the field and practical knowledge, as well as the historical, theoretical, and philosophical underpinnings of adult education. The program curriculum is also designed to develop students’ skills in leadership, research methods, and learning design & assessment.

Did You Know?

Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education offers a wide range of degree programs for all learning environments, from early childhood to adult education. Other master’s degrees on offer include the Ed.M. in Educational Administration and Supervision, and the Ed.M. in Education, Culture, and Society.

University of Denver

University of Denver - University College

Denver, Colorado

Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology, Concentration in Adult Learning and Inclusive Design

The University of Denver is a private research university located in the city of Denver. It was first established in 1864 and was originally located in downtown Denver, making the move to its current campus in the late 1870s.

Founded by Methodists but currently operating as a nonsectarian institution, the University of Denver comprises 11 schools and colleges, with a population of over 13,700 students. It is one of the classified “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

Standout Features:

This program is ideal preparation for a wide range of instructional design settings, whether in higher education, corporate, or government settings. The program is designed to prepare students to harness the latest best practices in developing instructional strategies, as well as conducting appropriate assessment and intervention methods.

Did You Know? 

The University of Denver also offers a Master of Science in Strategic Human Resources with a Concentration in Learning and Development. This program, while touching on similar needs and strategies for adult learners, is more focused on application in organizational settings, and helping achieve employee learning goals that lead to organizational success.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

MS/M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Professional Education

North Carolina State University is a public, land-grant, research university in Raleigh, North Carolina, a part of the University of North Carolina System. It was established in 1887 as a College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (A&M) and eventually became a university in 1965.

At present, NC State is made up of 12 schools and colleges and is the largest university in North and South Carolina with over 37,800 students. It is also classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

Standout Features:

With its choice of two structures (MS or M.Ed.), this program gives students more flexibility in the choice of applicable final output they may want or need, whether they see it necessary to develop a thesis or complete an internship. Either structure/design also has its own unique focus that would better fit individual students’ research interests or professional development goals. 

Did You Know?

North Carolina State University forms part of what is popularly known as the Research Triangle. This is a large metropolitan area in North Carolina that is anchored on three cities that contain three major research universities: NC State in Raleigh, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, and Duke University in Durham.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University - Ecampus

Corvallis, Oregon

Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education

Oregon State University (OSU) is located in the city of Corvallis, Oregon. It was established in 1856 as Corvallis Academy, originally a primary and preparatory community school. It was designated as the state’s land-grant recipient in 1868 and eventually became the Oregon State University in 1961.

With 12 colleges and schools, OSU is the largest university in the state in terms of enrollment, with over 37,000 students. It is also classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

Standout Features:

Oregon State University prides itself on its extensive expertise in the fields of Instructional Design and Technology, which this Ed.M. program focuses on. The program also heavily emphasizes developing equitable learning environments, which it embeds throughout the entirety of its curriculum.

The program’s cohort design also exposes students to a highly collaborative learning environment, with students typically coming from different professional backgrounds. 

Did You Know?

Students interested in exploring the program’s content who may not have decided to commit to the Master’s Degree fully can instead choose to start with OSU’s Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design, which is also offered online.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does adult learning differ from childhood learning?

The learning process for both settings differs in many ways, however, one key aspect is that childhood learning (pedagogy) takes place during a human person’s formative stage and is largely centered on teachers, role models, and guides.

Adult learning (andragogy) tends to be more self-directed, makes use of prior experience and knowledge of the adult learner, and tends to focus on specific bits of knowledge that have practical value and relevance to their personal and professional lives.

What are the common admission requirements for the online Master’s in Adult Education degree?  

Most Master’s in Adult Education programs require interested students to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Sometimes, they may be asked to meet the minimum GPA requirement, usually 3.0. Some universities may not require GRE scores.

Other application materials needed for the admission process include a statement of purpose, an updated resume, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.

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