Adult Education MS in Higher Education

Master of Science in Higher Education

Open new doors for adult students

A career in adult education offers you an opportunity to help others redefine what’s possible in their lives. In Capella’s online master’s in higher education, adult education program*, you’ll focus on current theory and research for teaching adults and college students, including instructional models, assessment strategies, collaborative learning, and program development. The curriculum is designed to enhance your qualifications in adult education, give you the tools needed to improve adult achievement, and help you understand the learning styles of adults from diverse backgrounds.

*This degree program does not satisfy licensure requirements for K–12 public school teachers or administrators.

At a Glance

  • Online
  • 4 Core courses
  • 7 Specialization courses
  • Capstone

Reduce your tuition by $3,000

Enroll in a qualified program and apply for a $3K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your master’s degree.

Apply now »

Classes Start February 8th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo FALL20).

What you’ll learn

Make a greater impact

Advance the practice of learning and teaching within adult education.

Shape the future

Influence the vision and direction of adult education.

Understand adult learner needs

Adapt strategies and methods to address the diverse characteristics and needs of adult learners.

Improve professionally

Apply reflective strategies that lead to enhanced personal and professional practice.

Increase adult achievement

Apply adult education principles and theories to the instruction, program development, and enhancement of learning. 

Understand cultural relevancy

Understand how globalization and diversity can influence educational outcomes.

MS in Adult Education program features

Online, engaging learning

Learn in a dynamic, interactive, and collaborative learning environment that you can access anytime, from anywhere. 

Professional development plan

To help you focus on achieving your goals and stay on track, you can create a professional development plan in your first course. 

Cost & learning format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$455 per credit, 48 total quarter credits, 12 max transfer credits

*This is only an estimate, using general program pricing, and it does not include fees (including application and resource kit fees).  Your price may be higher or lower depending on your specialization, transfer credits, and tuition discounts. If transfer credits are allowed in this offering, the prices above show what you would pay if you brought in the average number of transfer credits and the price if you brought in the maximum allowed transfer credits.  

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.


There are a variety of need-based federal grants available to help pay for tuition and costs.

$3K toward your master's

Apply for a $3K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your master’s degree.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Master's in Adult Education sample courses

The master’s in higher education, adult education curriculum focuses on methodologies, theories, and principles in higher education. You’ll master strategies to assess, evaluate, and support adult learners.

Show course with description
Foundations of Adult Education

In this course, learners studythe foundations of adult education including the past and present understandings. Learners identify the aspects of the foundation of adult education, the diversity in characteristics of adult learners, the various contexts of adult education, and prominent learning theories as they apply to teaching adults. Learners engage in interactive activities and assignments as they examine the various topics related to adult education.

4 quarter credits
ED5340 *
Theories and Principles of Adult Learning

This course focuses on learning theories, models, and principles and their application to instructional processes for adult learners. Learners analyze the instructor’s role in enhancing adult learning and evaluate their personal philosophy, dispositions, and ethics relative to teaching adult learners. Prerequisite(s): ED5012.

4 quarter credits
Multicultural Perspectives in Adult Education

In this course, learners focus on cultural diversity in adult education settings. Topics include cultural self-awareness, demographic changes and projections, problems and issues in intercultural educational settings, theoretical perspectives on multicultural adult education, and strategies for handling diversity in a variety of adult education settings.

4 quarter credits
ED5348 *
Adult Education Program Development

In this course, learners focus on developing educational programs for adults in a variety of postsecondary settings. Topics include theoretical foundations, policies, evaluation models, and methods and materials for program planning. Learners also explore instructional approaches, engagement strategies, and management of instructional environments. Prerequisite(s): ED5012.

4 quarter credits
Faculty Leadership

Learners in this course assess the role of educational leadership in higher education. Learners examine faculty leadership, explore ways to build effective relationships and lead ethically, and assess leadership effectiveness based on theory and self-reflection. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits

Faculty & support

You’re never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment counselors

These experts will set you up for success. They’ll help you find the right degree and program, and answer all your questions about Capella.


Advisors know the details of your program. Got questions about courses? Instructors? Resources? Advisors have answers.


Our courses are taught by distinguished faculty members who hold top credentials and have hands-on expertise in their fields. They know what you need to know today.

Writing support

Sharpen your writing skills with our free tutoring services and other resources.

Adult Education professional paths

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with a master’s in higher education, adult education degree.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Instructor
  • Adult education teacher
  • Adjunct or part-time faculty of education courses

Employment settings to explore

  • Adult education program
  • Continuing education program
  • Community based organization
  • Community or technical college
  • Land-based or online college or university

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the next step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.