Adult 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. 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.
This page provides information on what is studied in adult education doctorate programs, where you can take them, what the prospects are, and more. You might also like to check out the adult education programs page and the adult education masters programs page for more details.
What do the programs cover?
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.
Most doctoral programs will allow you to concentrate on your chosen setting, including online education, workforce development, continuing education, higher education, and military education.
What are the prospects with an adult education PhD?
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.
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.
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
- Ranked among the top 20 Regional Universities in the West in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
- Listed as one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes Magazine in 2014.
- More than 97% of tenure-track faculty holds a terminal degree in their field.
- Student to faculty ratio of 15:1, and 47.5% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
- Accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Doctor of Education in Organizatonal Leadership - Higher Education Track
- Doctor of Education in Organizatonal Leadership
- Doctor of Education in Organizatonal Leadership - Conflict Resolution Track