Master of Arts in Education - Adult Education

Complete your master’s of adult education online

Extend your teaching abilities to postsecondary education, workplace training environments, and community organizations when you complete our Master of Arts in adult education. At East Carolina University, we offer our master’s of adult education online so that you can expand your profesional horizons while you balance other life aspects. Gain the skills you need to help others meet their goals through concentration in one of these areas:

  • Workplace Training and Development
  • Community-based Education
  • Community College Instruction
  • Education in Healthcare Professions
  • Student Affairs in Higher Education

Complete a master’s in adult education where your needs are understood

Introduced over 30 years ago, ECU’s master’s in adult education program has evolved to meet your needs today. Take courses—at your own pace—online from your home or other location. Choose a full- or part-time schedule and quickly launch your career. Most part-time students complete their degree in only two-and-a-half years. Get started on your path to becoming a college instructor, workplace trainer, community educator, or other exciting role with an adult education master’s degree from East Carolina University.

Why study adult education at ECU?

A top-notch master’s degree in adult education is within your reach through these benefits of attending ECU:

Program aspects not found elsewhere

Named a top school for online master’s in adult education by, ECU offers you a standout degree in adult education. Our Education in Healthcare Professions graduate certificate is unique to ECU. Our graduate certificate in Community College Instruction correlates with the academic strategies, structure, and initiatives of the North Carolina Community College System. Our online Student Affairs in Higher Education certificate is the only one of its kind in the UNC system. Complete a certificate as the basis of your degree in adult education or as an add-on.

Potential to earn money while learning

Fill a graduate assistantship position and earn money while you complete our master’s in adult education program. Scholarships are also available to help offset tuition and other expenses. Our College of Education awards over $600,000 annually. Search ECUAWard  for opportunities.

Real-world experience

Choose to complete an internship to get new or additional experience for your adult education master’s degree concentration and boost your resume. Independent study courses are also available for students who wish to examine other aspects of adult education not covered by the curriculum.

Expert faculty support

Get to know ECU faculty in the master’s of adult education online program. Each has practical experience and remains active in research. You’ll work with them one-on-one to help ensure your academic success.

Professional network development

Collaborate with fellow adult education practitioners as part of online discussions and course projects to expand your professional network.

Courses you will take in the master’s of adult education online program

Enjoy an active, hands-on learning environment and reflect on the process as part of the online master’s in adult education curriculum. You’ll understand how the adult student learns and then develop projects you can use in your own classrooms or training sites in these courses and others:

  • Development of Adult Education Programs
  • Instructional Strategies in Adult Education
  • Educational Program Evaluation

You’ll also work with a faculty advisor to select electives that align with your area of study and ensure you develop the right skills for the job. View ECU’s course catalog for a look at potential coursework for your adult education master’s degree.

Hear from our adult education master’s degree students

“ECU’s MAEd in Adult Education provided me with tools which I use every day in my job as an educational administrator.”

—Tim Davis, MAEd in Adult Education ’21
Educational program administrator, United States Marine Corps’ Enlisted College of Distance Education

“The Adult Ed MaED program is academically challenging with meaningful and thought-provoking interactions, which helped me enhance my personal and professional development. The convenience of 100% online learning is a great (and affordable) bonus.”

—Candace Roberts, MAEd in Adult Education ’22
Curriculum designer/media developer, National General Insurance

What can you do with your online master’s in adult education?

Upon graduation from ECU’s master of adult education online program, you’ll have a strong practical and theoretical foundation to facilitate adult learning. This knowledge will qualify you for vital and varied roles in education and training.

The skills you need to be an effective adult educator

New or enhanced skills gained as part of the master’s in adult education curriculum will allow you to develop, implement, and evaluate effective learning programs. As a reflective educator, you’ll purposefully assess and refine your programs and practices to ensure your teaching enables the best possible outcomes for your students.

Where do graduates of our online master’s in adult education work?

Graduates of ECU’s master of adult education online program are employed in:

  • Community colleges across North Carolina and in many of the state’s universities as instructors or in student affairs and academic advising
  • Civilian careers at military installations across North Carolina
  • Businesses everywhere as trainers and instructional developers
  • Community-based educational organizations throughout the state

Jobs for postsecondary teachers and for training managers in various industries are projected to grow faster than average—at 11% and 12%, respectively—by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a great time to advance your career with an adult education master’s degree.

Get started on your master’s of adult education online degree

Take the next step toward earning your master’s degree in adult education and landing the career or promotion you desire. Below you’ll find resources to answer all your questions and help you get started on your path to a degree in adult education.

Degree programs related to ECU’s master’s in adult education

Community College Instruction Certificate

Education in the Healthcare Professions Graduate Certificate

Student Affairs in Higher Education Certificate

Adult Education faculty (left to right): Dr. Christy Rhodes, Dr. Kathy Lohr, Dr. Phyllis Broughton, Dr. Steven Schmidt, and Dr. Xi Lin.

Graduate School Admission

Application for admission to the Graduate School is made either online or on forms furnished by the Graduate School. All applicants for admissions pay a nondeductible, nonrefundable fee of $75. The application form and all supporting documents should be received by the Graduate School, Ragsdale Building, (252) 328-6012 at least thirty days prior to the beginning of any semester or summer term.

Applicants are asked to furnish two official transcripts from each institution attended since high school, test scores from the MAT or GRE, and at least three letters of recommendation. Once the application is complete and has been forwarded to the Coordinator of the Adult Education program, the applicant will be contacted about completing the writing sample and interview.

General Admission Requirements

  1. Academic Achievement – Applicants must first meet the requirements for the admission to the Graduate School. The junior and senior years of undergraduate study are particularly crucial. It is recognized, however, that some applicants have finished their undergraduate study some time ago and that work experience and motivation are also factors in success in graduate study.
  2. Completed Application – Applicants must complete an online application form and submit transcripts and other requested materials.
  3. Letters of Recommendation – Applicants will be asked to present three letters of reference which can speak to their ability to perform graduate level academic work as well as their interest and experience in adult education. Letters of recommendation may be waived if you fall in one of the following categories:
    • Current ECU faculty member
    • Participant in the Army FC 32 Cohort program
    • You have previously earned a graduate degree*
      • (Note: An unofficial transcript showing proof of the degree must be submitted to the program for approval before the recommendations can be waived.)
  1. Statement of Intent– All applicants to the program will be required to include a Statement of Intent with application materials. This statement should highlight applicants’ reasons for applying to the Adult Education program.
  2. Interview/Review– Candidates are interviewed and reviewed by adult education faculty as part of their admission and continued progression through the program.

Program Requirements

The Master of Arts in Education in Adult Education requires a minimum of 36 semester hours. A thesis is optional, however, any student planning to continue into a doctoral program is strongly encouraged to take the thesis option. If a student does not have direct work experience in an adult education setting, an internship is recommended. To graduate, students must complete and present a cumulative portfolio. The coursework is as follows:

Adult Education Core Courses (15 hrs. required)

  • ADED 6445 Introduction to Adult and Community Education
  • ADED 6453 The Adult Learner
  • ADED 6481 Development of Adult Education Programs
  • ADED 6484 Organization & Administration of Adult Education
  • ADED 6487 Instructional Strategies in Adult Education

Research(3 hrs. required)

  • ADED 6491 Research Problems in Adult Education (or alternative approved by an advisor)

Electives in Adult Education (9 hrs. to be selected with an advisor)

  • *ADED 6001, 6002, 6003 Special Topics in Adult Education
  • ADED 6240 Effective College Teaching
  • ADED 6307 Proposal Writing for Grants and Contracts
  • ADED 6379 Issues and Strategies in Adult Literacy
  • ADED 6446 Community Education and Community Development
  • ADED 6450 Community, Junior, and Technical Colleges
  • ADED 6454 Educational Gerontology
  • ADED 6461 Introduction to Training and Development
  • ADED 6462 Seminar in Training and Development
  • ADED 6490 Issues and Trends in Adult Education
  • *ADED 6492/6493 – Directed Reading in Adult Education
  • ADED 6495 Educational Program Evaluation
  • ADED 6550 Leadership & Communication Skills in Education
  • ADED 6600 Introduction to International Higher Education Administration
  • ADED 6690 Current Topics in International Higher Education Administration
  • *ADED 6989/6990 Internship in Adult Education
  • ADED 7000 Thesis (1-6)
  • ADED 7001 Thesis: Summer Research (1)

*Prior approval by instructor must be obtained and approved by the department chair before registering for Special Topics, Directed Readings, or Internship hours.

Other Electives

Nine additional elective hours may be taken in adult education or in related disciplines outside of adult education. These can be from within education or from other areas such as psychology, business or allied health. They are to be selected with an advisor and should complement prior experience and future career goals.

MAEd in Adult Education Course Chart (PDF)

Click on the link above to see the many different specific areas of study possible in our Masters in Adult Education


Up to 20% of a program of study may be accepted by transfer or extension on approval of the Coordinator of the adult education program, the Department Chair and the Graduate School. All credits including transfer and extension, are covered by a six year limitation. No transfer courses will be accepted without approval of an advisor prior to registration.

Portfolio Requirements (PDF)

Use the link above to view the requirements for the MAEd in Adult Education portfolio.

Course Schedule

Fall/Spring Required Course Rotation Schedule

Fall & Spring:

  • ADED 6445 – Introduction to Adult & Community College
  • ADED 6453 – The Adult Learner
  • ADED 6487 – Instructional Strategies

Fall only:

  • ADED 6481 – Development of Adult Education Programs
  • ADED 6484 – Organization & Administration of Adult/Continuing Education

Spring only:

  • ADED 6491 – Research Problems in Higher Education