Master of Arts Degree in Adult Education (MA)

This program is projected to begin accepting students in the Fall 2017 semester.

Adult Education is a diverse field of practice, research, and scholarship that focuses on how adults (16 years and older) learn and how to facilitate that learning.  Students in the Adult Education Certificate program develop the ability to teach adults, plan adult learning experiences, guide communities in capacity-building, and foster learning for advocacy and action in a variety of settings.

Our program offers a variety of concentrations:

Adult Basic Education (literacy; teaching English as a second language; developmental/ remedial education; general equivalency diploma (GED) preparation; and workforce development and training
Human Resource Management & Development
Leadership and Administration in Adult Education
Health Services

Graduates of the program are equipped to secure positions in education, nonprofit, public and private service organizations at the national and global levels.

This program reflects national and local trends in adult education, and aligns with characteristics of Andragogy (theory and practice of educating adults).  It is designed to customize learning to specific learning needs using self-directed learning strategies that include learning plans and self-assessments.  The curriculum embeds workshops and seminars that are conducted by trained professionals.  The subdivision of core courses into 1-credit modules allows students to tailor their learning and adult educators to meet professional development requirements for job effectiveness and recertification (for which 90 PD hours are needed every four years).  Additionally, the program uses the cohort delivery model—students go through the program as a group, and courses are scheduled sequentially—with admissions to the program in the Fall semester only.

Master’s Degree in Adult Education Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Learners will demonstrate a thorough understanding of program design and tools essential to navigating the historical, sociological, psychological, and philosophical foundations of adult and continuing education.
  2. Learners will demonstrate understanding of the changing field of adult education, as well as vital information about their individual identities as educators and leaders.
  3. Leaners will demonstrate knowledge of a wide range of orientations and theories of adult development.
  4. Learners will acquire the ability to teach various adult learning styles using techniques and instructional methods that accommodate different learning preferences.
  5. Learners with demonstrate how to best institute self-directed learning strategies and include learning opportunities to encourage and empower adult learners to exhibit self-determination and plan their educational trajectory.
  6. Learners will demonstrate best practices for working with persons with disabilities and special needs in relation to career awareness, exploration, and placement by understanding pre-vocational, vocational and work activities.
  7. Learners will demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate with adults using learned methodology for organizing and presenting materials and information in ways appropriate for adults.
  8. Learners will demonstrate competency and understanding of the legal, ethical, cultural, and social issues that are associated with the use of technology.
  9. Learners will demonstrate understanding of basic computer literacy skills in relation to assistive technology for special needs learners.
  10. Learners will demonstrate mastery in the skills specific to their area of concentration.


Curriculum and Requirements in the UDC Adult Education Program (MA)

The Master of Arts program offers:

  • Master of Arts in Adult Education (36 graduate credit hours).
    Tailored to the distinctive learning needs of adults, this program is designed to be a natural transition from the Graduate Certificate program, with which it shares core courses and features.  Up to 21 of the credits earned in UDC’s Graduate Certificate program are transferable, within 5 years, to the MA in Adult Education.
  • Professional Development Training
    The subdivision of core courses into 3 one-credit thematic modules sets the stage for students to customize learning plans to their specific needs.  The incorporation of seminars/workshops on contemporary Adult Education issues (such as 2014 GED Blueprint, Common Core beyond K-12, CASAS and other assessment standards) conducted by faculty and other authorities in the field, provides adult educators the necessary academic training to satisfy professional development and/or recertification requirements.  90 PD hours are needed for recertification every 4 years.

Snapshot of Program Requirements

Program Core Electives Capstone Total
If Comps Assessment 24 12 0 36
If Master’s Thesis 24 9 3 36

Applicants to the Program must:

  • hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited, post-secondary institution.
  • to teach Adult Basic Education, must meet:
    • Professional education requirements set out in Municipal Regulations, Chapter 16, Sections 1653 & 1654. Equivalent UDC courses are accepted.
    • OSSE’s State Licensure and Accreditation requirement of Praxis I passing scores.  If you do not meet this requirement at the time of Admission, you must do so before completion of 9 credits of course work, to continue in the program.

To Apply Now:

  • Go to  for admissions requirements and application forms.
  • To apply to the MA in Adult Education:
    complete application for Masters Degree Applicants.  GRE scores, less than 5 years old, are required if you do not already hold a graduate degree.  If you do not meet the GRE requirement at the time of Admission, you must do so upon or before completion of 9 credits of course work, to continue in the program.
  • To register for PD Workshops: Please contact the Adult Education Program. Phone: 202.274.6984 or Email:

Program of Study

Faculty Spotlight: MA Adult Education Program

Dr. Heather Bruce is a Visiting Professor and Coordinator of the Adult Education program, which she co-developed.  She is a versatile professional with domestic and international experience in education, sustainable development, training, finance and banking, capacity building, organization effectiveness, human resources, business, and change management.  She holds a PH.D in human and organization development, an MA in human and organizational systems, and an M.Sc.  in applied behavioral sciences.  She is a Johns Hopkins Fellow in change management and organization effectiveness and a graduate of its graduate leadership development program.

Prof. Mohammed A. Essack is a Clinical Instructor of Adult Education in the Division of Education, Health, and Social Work at the University of the District of Columbia. Originally from South Africa, he moved to the U.S. in August 2000 as a Visiting Faculty and Cultural Ambassador. Prof. Essack has dedicated his career to adult learning engagement, holding coordinating roles in literacy programs across multiple states within the Community College Systems. His academic passion lies at the intersection of Historical Inquiry, focusing on race, class, gender, and ability. He holds a B.S. degree in Education Law & Management and an M.S. in Adult Education. He is pursuing doctoral coursework in Adult & Continuing Education at National Louis University in Chicago. His dissertation explores Liberatory Adult Education in the context of South Africa. Prof. Essack is driven as an Activist Research Scholar to craft a social theoretical framework for a just, equitable, and peaceful society, guided by the Southern African philosophy of UBUNTU, emphasizing interconnectedness and addressing issues like race, class, ability, gender bias, and poverty eradication.

Dr. Somanita Kheang is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Adult Education in the Division of Education, Health, and Social Work at the University of the District of Columbia. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development from North Carolina State University (2023) and her EdD in Instructional Leadership from Lindenwood University (2018). Her research uses andragogy, transformative learning, and the impostor phenomenon to explore adult learning experiences and satisfaction in postsecondary education. She has studied these adult learning theories and phenomena with various research participants, including nontraditional and international students from diverse educational, cultural, and professional backgrounds in community colleges and four-year institutions. Based on this and other research, she developed three instructor-specific dimensions that optimize international students’ learning experiences and satisfaction and can be used to develop specific strategies for improving faculty-student interactions in the classroom. Her research activities have resulted in 4 publications, 1 book chapter/section, 6 conference proceedings, and 25 conference presentations/symposia.

Find Faculty in the University Directory >

Career Pathways and Prospects

With a Master of Arts Degree in Adult Education, students are prepared to work education, nonprofits, and public and private service organizations. The skills that graduates gain transfer to a variety of jobs working with people. This specialized degree can lead to jobs such as adult literacy teachers, adult basic educators, ESL Instructors, corporate trainers, college instructors or professors, instructional designers, employment specialists, student affairs positions, vocational instructors, adult program coordinators and program directors. Employment of adult educators has been projected to grow 19 percent in some areas between 2012 and 2022, and employment growth is expected as continued immigration to the United States creates demand for adult literacy and GED programs.