Adult education can be a fulfilling field, and earning a Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education can help you maximize your potential within it. The American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)  has found that lifelong learning contributes to human fulfillment and positive social change. Helping people acquire and advance their knowledge, skills, and values throughout adulthood can help them lead satisfying, productive lives.
It’s also a job that’s in demand, with private, public, federal and state organizations continually seeking effective ways to further employee skills and knowledge.  There are many other factors that drive adults back to education, though. One powerful example is the motivation to earn more, with current reports reflecting low average earnings for the population of more than 60% of adults who lack higher education. 
By 2018, it’s estimated that 63% of all U.S. jobs will require education beyond a high school diploma, which would leave 88 million adults in the U.S. lacking what’s becoming an increasing job requirement.  Additionally, English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers are increasingly needed to help advance the growing number of U.S. migrant workers. By 2030, it’s projected that up to one in every five workers will be an immigrant.  This means that the need for adult educators will continue to grow.
Adult education comes in many forms. Whether you’re looking to serve the community teaching basic adult life skills, adults without a high school diploma as a tutor for the GED, foreign language speakers teaching English as a second language, or staff members working within a corporate role providing continuing professional development, an M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education can prepare you to make an impact on adult learners.
You should choose your M.Ed. in Adult Education program based on the curriculum, specializations, and/or opportunities it offers, aligning coursework with your professional goals. As licensure and certification varies by state, you should ensure your chosen program enables you to go on to teach in your selected state and in your prospective field of employment. Usually, universities will be accredited on a state-by-state basis.
Faculty can be another draw — consider who teaches the courses, their standing in the industry and field of research, and what wisdom and experience they can offer you throughout your studies.
Another great way to assess the compatibility of the program with your lifestyle is its delivery method. There is a range of traditional, online, and blended learning options available.
Does your prospective school offer professional connections between your courses and the working world? This could help you network more effectively and gain knowledge from those who have been successful in the field. Also consider whether your school offers internships and careers services. A successful internship or placement can help your CV stand apart from your competition.
Quite often your school or program will boast a reputation or official ranking in the field and offer a range of success stories based on real-life previous students. Check these out prior to enrolling.
An adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teacher instructs adults in basic skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking English and earns an average of $50,280 per year. This sector is projected to see a career growth rate of 7% between 2014 and 2024. 
You can qualify for teaching jobs in basic adult education and literacy with a bachelor’s degree; however, holding a master’s degree is a good option for individuals with experience in another field looking to transition into adult education.
Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and vocational subjects beyond the high school level, earning, on average, $72,470 per year.  This field usually requires a master’s degree. Earning your master’s degree also puts you in a better position for increased pay. Additionally, postsecondary education as a sector is projected to grow more quickly — at a rate of 13% — which is faster than the national average between 2014 and 2024.
English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching jobs pay an average of $40,184 annually, with the highest paid earning over $60,000. A master’s degree can help qualify for higher-paid roles. One of the major draws of ESL is its compatibility with travel. If you want to see the world and earn simultaneously, this is a good opportunity. Career progression is possible in this role, with ESL Teachers who ascend to academic director roles receiving an average salary of $59,000. 
Based on a survey of several online programs, core courses commonly found in M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education programs include:
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.
The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.
You may find that Master of Education programs differ slightly depending on the type of degree: Master of Science or Master of Arts. Here’s how they vary:
A Master of Education (M.Ed.) program is specifically tailored to people looking for a career in education. It may be suitable for those who are already educators but who wish to specialize in a specific area (in this case, adult education).
A Master of Science degree typically features a strong research component.
A Master of Arts degree is typically taught through lectures and seminars and includes a dissertation at the end. This degree type is best-suited for those who hope to be teachers rather than administrators.
The major adult education industry associations are:
The Adult Basic Education license is a teaching license that enables you to teach adults in public school community education programs in eligible states. There are three ways to become licensed to teach adults:
A person with a degree in English as a Second Language (ESL) can teach in adult ESL programs, but they will not be licensed. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the preferred certification for teaching ESL in U.S. public schools. 
A Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education (M.Ed. ACE) degree program focuses on the adult educator practice and is designed to prepare you with the theoretical and practical skills to improve performance in the classroom or adult learning setting. You can gain a deep understanding of the challenges adult learners face and study the techniques to overcome common hurdles and apply them to enable effective learning.
While students cannot guarantee career success with a graduate degree, an M.Ed. ACE aims to help you prepare adult students for growth and development. A M.Ed. ACE can also help you learn to disseminate information to other adult learners in a variety of ways.
The program length and credits needed varies by college or university. On average you’ll need to complete 30-36 credits, taking approximately a year and a half to two years to complete depending on how many credits per term you take.
According to BLS.gov, jobs in education are projected to grow 8% from 2014-2024 . Adult education job opportunities are also not limited to education-based organizations. Colleges and universities are an obvious choice for adult learning, but there are also opportunities within government organizations and corporate industries that offer specialized training and onboarding positions.
No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
Many M.Ed. ACE programs offer concentrations or specializations, while others are more general. Of those that offer concentrations or specializations, some of the more popular are:
Some online M.Ed. ACE programs are 100% online, while others are more of a hybrid model. Hybrid programs may require two to three campus visits throughout the length of the program. Students should ensure they have a full understanding of these requirements and determine if they will have the flexibility and funding required for campus visits prior to applying to their program of choice.
No, a bachelor’s in education or adult education is not a requirement to apply to an M.Ed. ACE program. Students who have completed an undergraduate degree in an area related to their aspiring field of graduate study may benefit from the core knowledge acquired during that study.
A minimum GPA of 2.75 is generally what online M.Ed. ACE programs are looking for in their applicants. However, universities look at a number of factors when determining an applicant’s eligibility. Applicants with a lower GPA should not be discouraged from inquiring about a program they are interested in. The program’s enrollment team can aid applicants with ways to strengthen the rest of their application.
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
Depending on your course load and familiarity with the subject or topic, most M.Ed. ACE students typically spend anywhere from 10-20 hours studying each week per course.
This will vary by university, but most programs stipulate you must enroll in two courses per semester. Be sure to discuss the course load requirements with your advisor prior to applying to ensure the program meets your schedule requirements.
An adult education program focuses on a combination of theory and practice. The objective is to learn the various ways in which adults learn. You can learn how to design, develop, and manage adult and continuing education programs.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
M.Ed. ACE tuition varies greatly from university to university. The average cost of tuition was found to be between $15,000 and $35,000.
Yes. There could be additional course fees, similar to a service fee. There also is the additional cost of books, often not included in tuition.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office is the largest provider of student financial aid in the country. To find out whether you are eligible to apply for federal student aid for your M.Ed. ACE, visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website here.
Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.
Students should research schools and programs that are accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)  and/or the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE).  Programs with IACET or AAACE accreditation have been evaluated and meet expected industry standards for preparing students to make valuable contributions and impacts to adult learning.
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
There are many different sources available to find information about education, but the best resources include:
Many programs will cover adult learning concepts, strategy, and leadership practice. If you choose to gear your master’s degree toward a particular concentration or specialization, you will take courses directly related to the specific topic. It will all depend on the career goals and skills you want to achieve.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.
Other graduate programs that may offer coursework in similar areas include: