On Campus and Online Adult Education PhD Programs

adult education phd word cloudAdult education PhD programs can lead to interesting careers in education and training.  As the name suggests, these programs prepare you to work with adult learners, a task which requires an entirely different approach to teaching minors.  This page provides information on what is studied in adult education doctorate programs, where you can take them, what the prospects are, and more.

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.  This same learning philosophy applies to adult education in higher education as applies to other adult learning settings, and you can usually tailor your doctoral studies to match your setting. You can take a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) or a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in higher education or in postsecondary and adult education.  It is also possible to take related specializations in a Ph.D. in Education, for example, if your interest is in moving into leadership, it is possible to take adult education leadership or leadership for higher education.

You might also like to check out the adult education programs page and the adult education masters programs page for more details. 


Finding the schools and programs you want

If you want to browse areas available and the schools offering adult education doctorate programs, use the search form or the list of schools below.

  • Walden University
    • Ph.D. in Education
      • Adult Education Leadership
      • Higher Education
    • Doctor of Education (Ed.D) - Higher Education and Adult Learning
  • Capella University
    • PhD in Education
      • Professional Studies in Education
      • Leadership for Higher Education
      • Postsecondary and Adult Education
  • Click here for a page that links to campus universities and campus colleges in Canada. It also provides some advice on choosing a suitable campus.


What does the program cover?

Graduate education in adult education enables 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 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 jobs does an adult education PhD prepare you for?

The qualifications you need to be an adult educator depend on the type and level of educational program. In order to teach university adult education, you a need a relevant adult education doctorate (a PhD or EdD - such as the Doctor of Education in Higher Education and Adult Learning from Walden University).  

As well as teaching in the government education sector, graduates also find employment in: corporate training; teaching in the private sector; community services; educational administration, and management in vocational, technical, college/university, and continuing education.  Adult education doctorates also provide a base for further training in counseling and careers work. Graduates also find work in development jobs and other non-profit organizations.


What are the earnings of graduates?

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.


For more schools and programs

Browse the schools below to find a suitable school and program. Request information from several schools and compare the admission requirements and course content before you choose a program.

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