Degrees & Programs

Adult Education

Learning is a lifelong endeavor. Even as adults, we must learn and adapt. Technological advancements and rapidly changing work environments present challenges which require new skills. Educators who are committed to helping adult learners overcome challenges and achieve their goals are in high demand. Qualified adult education professionals are needed in academic, community, governmental, and corporate organizations.


How do you teach adult learners? How do their needs differ from those of young learners? How do you develop effective instructional programs for adults? What are the components of a learning environment where adults feel safe, comfortable, and able to grow? We prepare educators to answer these questions and develop the skills to engage adult learners in a variety of learning environments.

The M.S.Ed. in Adult Education is a program designed to help professionals like you work effectively with adult learners. It provides a strong background in adult learning and program planning, as well as the diverse philosophical, theoretical, and historical contexts of adult education in the United States. It emphasizes purposeful, active learning and the development of practitioners who apply theory to practice and, in turn, practice to theory.

Established in 1946, it is one of the nation's oldest adult education programs. It was converted to an online format in 1998 and offers the flexibility needed by working professionals.


Complete course descriptions and degree requirements can be found in the IU School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

M.S. Ed. in Adult Education (online only)

This practitioner-oriented degree offers working professionals the opportunity to build their credentials as a corporate trainer, continuing education professional, or adult education specialist. The M.S.Ed. in Adult Education is tailored to meet the working professional’s demanding schedule and is designed for practitioners who are ready to take themselves and their learners to greater levels of achievement.

Expand your expertise through interactive learning, current theory and best practices. You’ll get a deeper understanding of how adults learn and how to design effective educational programs for them as well as gain insight into different theoretical approaches to adult education. If you’re already working as a trainer or educator, you’ll be able to draw upon your real-world experience in course projects. You’ll also gain valuable insights you can use on the job even before you complete your degree.

This thirty-six (36) credit hour program consists of seven core courses (20 credit hours) and sixteen credit hours of electives to support your professional focus. Students generally complete the program in around 3 years. Up to nine credit hours may be transferred from other institutions if the coursework is from related areas and fits the program structure. Advisors are available to discuss your career goals and potential transfer of completed course credits.

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and detailed degree requirements may be found on IUconnectED.

Adult Education Core (20 cr.)

  • D500 Introduction to Adult Education Theory
  • D505 Adult Learning through the Lifespan
  • D506 Adult Education Planning & Development
  • D512 Forms and Forces in Adult Education
  • D521 Participation Training
  • D525 Introduction to Distance Education Systems
  • D640 Capstone Seminar

The core courses introduce you to the foundations and principles of adult education including learning theory, program planning, and the history of the field.

Electives (16 cr.)

  • D523 Small Group Theory in Adult Education 
  • D524 Power and Voice in Adult Education Programs
  • D600 The Teaching-Learning Transaction in Adult Education 
  • Y520 Strategies for Educational Inquiry (required)
  • Choose from additional Adult Education courses and other related fields to support your overall career goals.
  • At least 6 credit hours in addition to Y520 must be from outside Adult Education.

Elective courses need to be selected in consultation with your academic advisor. Core and elective courses should form an integrated program to support your professional goals.


Adult Education faculty are instrumental in developing and sharing best practices for teaching adult learners. As practitioners, their real-world experience influenced their approach to skill training and educational program planning. And as teachers, they combine theory with practice in their course instruction to prepare educators who will help adults expand their knowledge and achieve their goals.


Graduates of the program live and work throughout the world. They include teachers and administrators in vocational programs and community colleges, human resource managers, corporate trainers, continuing educators, academic advisors, technical instructors, and instructional designers. Alumni job titles indicate the variety of adult education career opportunities in both the private and public sectors.

This practitioner-oriented master's degree prepares individuals interested in working with adult learners in a variety of fields, including but not limited to continuing professional education, corporate training and development, postsecondary education, government, non-profit organizations, human services, the military, and adult basic education.


For detailed information about our adult education program, please contact:

Frank Di Silvestro
W.W. Wright Education Building, Room 2230
201 North Rose Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Phone: (812) 855-6520