As the name suggests, adult education programs prepare you to work with adult learners. The programs are based on adult learning philosophy, known as andragogy. In andragogy, learners are assumed to be self-motivated, self-directed, and have accumulated life experiences that need to be accounted for in course design and delivery. Adult learners are also goal-oriented and so the course goals and objectives must be established early in the course. They are relevancy-oriented, and so must see a reason for learning something, and the practical applications of what is being taught need to be clear. Also, adult learners need to be treated with respect – with valuable experience and knowledge. All these considerations impact on course development and delivery, so as to result in a totally different learning experience to that which many of the adults might have experienced during their earlier years in secondary education.
Campus-based and online education in adult education programs can lead to interesting and satisfying careers facilitating learning in adults. This page provides information on what is studied in these programs, where you can study them, what the prospects are after completion, and more.
What does education in adult education comprise?
Graduate programs in adult education enable you to design, deliver and manage the effective learning of adults in a variety of settings. Most programs will allow you to concentrate on your chosen setting, including online education, workforce development, continuing education, higher education, and military education.
A typical master’s in adult education might include: approaches to adult learning and distance education; adult and continuing education policy; adult development and learning; program planning for adults; workforce development; critical analysis and research skills; technology in adult education; issues and trends in adult education; plus a thesis or dissertation.
A typical doctoral program in adult education might include: approaches to adult learning and distance education; critical analysis and research skills; and, application of theory and research to develop effective learning environments for individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The doctoral program will probably include one or more residential periods.
What are the career prospects?
Graduates of adult education find employment in: corporate training; teaching in the private sector; community services; educational administration, and management in vocational, technical, college/university, and continuing education. The qualifications you need to be an adult educator depend on the type and level of educational program. For example, if you are working with students who are preparing to take their GED, a bachelors or masters degree would usually be required, but in order to teach in higher education in a university, you a need a doctoral qualification. Some adult educators teach in community college courses or in specialized areas such as English as a Second Language (ESL). Adult education programs also provide a base for further training in counseling and careers work. Graduates also find work in development jobs and other non-profit organizations.
The United States Department of Labor reports a median annual income of about $40,000 for adult literacy and remedial education teachers. In a US university, as an Assistant Professor you would earn about US$54,000, as a Associate Professor about US$67,000, and as a full Professor you would earn about US$85,000 – but the competition is tough.
List of schools and programs
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- Master of Education - TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
- Master of Education in Instructional Design & Technology
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