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Questions and Considerations When Choosing a Higher Education Program in Adult Education
Like many people, you may have "fallen into" adult education and stayed because it is fulfilling. You may already have extensive experience teaching basic skills or English language acquisition to adults or you may be new to adult education and are choosing to make a career in the field. Whichever the case, you might be wondering, "How important are higher education degrees and certificates in adult education, and what will one do for me?".
Adult education teacher in most states are not required to have any particular educational certification, not even a bachelor's degree, thought this may change in the future. However, more adult educators are going back to school to deepen their existing expertise in core areas of adult education, such as classroom instruction and preparation. They have realized that "having a knack" for teaching adult education only gets one so far, as does lenght of tiem in the field. Others are expanding their skills to include program leadership, staff development, nonprofit management, workforce education, cultural studies, social justice, resesearch, public policy, integrating technology into instruction, or another adult education-related focus. Many not only wish to gain experience but may also want to be an expert in their work.
This Portal will help you to further your professional development by finding higher education degree programs in adult education, including coursework in adult education for those who wish to maintain a K-12 endorsement.
You have made a decision to investigate whether earning a higher education degree in adult education is for you. Terrific! So what kinds of questions should you be asking yourself?
Consider the following questions as you plan to enhance your career in adult education. Then visit the higher education program’s website—or contact the program coordinator for the latest details. Information changes rapidly as programs add new specialty areas or expand their educational and networking opportunities.
Is it for your own fulfillment? Are you required to earn a higher education degree or certificate in adult education in order to teach or advance in the field? Whether you need certification to teach in adult education or a higher education degree to expand your career path depends upon the state in which you practice. Only a few states have established higher education requirements for teaching adult education. Even fewer require degrees specifically in adult education.
Whether or not a particular state has higher education requirements for adult educators, local programs in the state may have their own educational requirements for hiring or advancement. These local regulations may differ from those of the state and other local programs. Thus, it is very important to consult local program directors in the areas where you wish to practice in order to know what educational credentials you must have and how they will benefit you.
Programs located at community colleges are an example of the differences among local requirements. With a B.A. you can teach in most public school systems—but a M.A. is required to teach in many community colleges.
If you are unsure who the local program director is, then approach the state agency that provides funding for adult education programs in your area. Some states that have a higher education requirement for teaching adult education require a K-12 state certification; others will accept virtually any bachelor’s degree. But keep in mind that not all programs are state- or federally-funded. This is another important reason why it is best to start with the local program, or program where you would like to practice, first.
If you have trouble reaching the local program director or the state agency, ask your COABE Regional Representative what the requirements are in your state or locality. He or she can help you make connections at the state and local levels in order to get your questions answered.
If timing is a priority for you, then you can search for programs in the Portal by the minimum and average time it takes to complete them. The Portal also includes the number of credits required to complete each certificate and degree.
Also inquire with the degree program coordinator and program graduates about how much time it actually takes to complete. Sometimes it may take longer than estimated simply because the electives you want, for example, are only offered every other year.
Last, check to see what the time limit is to complete the degree. In other words, when do your credits start expiring?
Most higher education institutions that receive federal student assistance through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Title IV, are required to disclose to prospective students “gainful employment” information, including:
• tuition and fees the institution charges for a student completing the program within normal time
• typical costs for books and supplies (if not included in the tuition fee)
• cost of room and board, if applicable
• on-time graduation rate for students completing the program
• number of graduates employed
• the average salary graduates make
• other related information
When you search for a higher education program in the Portal, the program’s search results page provides the URL to the program’s website. Visit the website and you should be able to locate gainful employment information as well as a net price calculator. If you cannot locate the information, then contact the program degree coordinator and ask if he or she will provide it.
Some programs offer financial aid. Often this information can be found on the program's web page that discusses cost and gainful employment. Another place to look for financial aid information might be on the program's admissions requirements page. If you cannot locate the information, then contact the program coordinator and ask about financial aid information. The program’s main URL, admission requirements URL, and the program coordinator’s contact information are located on the Search Results page for each program listed in the Portal.
If you are already working in an adult education organization, ask if your workplace will provide financial support for you to attend classes. Some programs, such as those affiliated with community colleges or universities, may provide tuition stipends and even paid release time to attend college classes, up to a certain credit hour threshold each semester.
Where Are The Programs Located That I Need?
You can search for programs by state and institution. See the online interactive map and Search Programs page here.
Yes, some higher education programs are offered entirely online. Search by delivery mode, which will yield results for entirely online programs.
Do I need to quit my job in order to go (back) to school? Or does the institution encourage me to be practicing while taking coursework?
Some higher education programs tailor to working professionals by offering courses online, in the evenings, or on weekends. Some may actively encourage you to practice in adult education while taking coursework. Other programs require students to conduct action research to improve their existing practice as a part of the higher education program.
On the Program Results page, see the category called, Capacity to Prepare Students for Roles Within Adult Education. This category includes specific information about whether the program encourages you to work in adult education while taking coursework. Also check the course catalogue on the program’s website to determine whether, how, or how often the program accommodates schedules of working adults.
How much time will I get to spend in actual classrooms?
Search the programs. Click on the Program Requirements URL from the Program Results page to see what will be required to earn the degree. Visit the program’s website for more information. Consider questions like:
• Is there a practicum and what does it consist of?
• Is the practicum required?
• Where do they place you or do they expect you to find your own placement?
• How is it structured?
• How flexible are they around the needs of the student? For example, do they tailor a practicum based on student needs?
After reviewing the program requirements and the program website, note your unanswered questions and contact the program coordinator for specifics.