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MS in Higher Education, Adult Education

School of Public Service and Education

The master’s Adult Education specialization is designed to enhance learners’ qualifications in adult education and college teaching. The curriculum emphasizes reflective practice within adult education settings and integration of current theory with best practices in adult learning and teaching. Learners focus on the learning styles of individuals from various backgrounds, collaborative learning, and program development for the adult learner. Learners who successfully complete this specialization are prepared to pursue careers as educators in community college, distance education, college, university, corporate, or other adult education settings. These specialization requirements are not designed or intended to meet professional licensure requirements for the education profession.

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Core courses:

Foundations of Master’s Studies in Education

This course provides learners with opportunities to acquire and use graduate-level skills, including the ability to critically examine and apply relevant educational theory to professional practice. Learners develop expertise in scholarly writing as well as explore the importance of multicultural perspectives and diversity in professional contexts. Finally, learners articulate and examine their professional purpose and its alignment with their specialization and career aspirations. Must be taken during the first quarter by learners who have been admitted to the MEd in Teaching and Learning, MS in Education, MS in Education Innovation and Technology, and MS in Higher Education degree programs and the Adult Education and Higher Education Leadership and Administration graduate certificate programs. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or credit for prior learning.

4 quarter credits
Survey of Research Methodology

This course is an overview of graduate research methodology. Learners examine fundamental research methodologies and their respective quantitative and qualitative approaches to rigorous scholarly inquiry.

4 quarter credits
ED5012 *
Overview of Higher Education

Learners in this course study the impact of higher education on individuals and society.  Learners also evaluate the history of higher education; examine the structure and scope of higher education institutions; and analyze the role of history, policy, and theory on current and future practices within the field. The course also includes a review of current higher education literature, issues, and trends. Learners continue to develop the Capella e-portfolio and career action plan.  Prerequisite(s): ED5010. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or credit for prior learning.

4 quarter credits
Foundations of Higher Education Assessment and Evaluation

Learners engage in a planning process for developing and conducting effective learning outcomes assessment in both academic and non-academic settings in higher education. Learners examine the background, context, and practice of assessment of student learning and evaluation of educational programs. They apply knowledge of assessment processes and strategies to design an equitable and inclusive assessment plan that can be implemented at the program, course, department, or institutional level to promote improvement and accountability.

4 quarter credits

Specialization courses:

Foundations of Adult Education

In this course, learners study the 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

Learners assess 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

Learners acquire knowledge of cultural diversity in adult education settings by analyzing topics such as 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
ED5344 *
Strategies and Best Practices for Teaching and Learning

Learners in this course focus on effective ways to enhance adult learning in a variety of postsecondary settings. Topics include the theories and characteristics of adult growth and development, changes experienced in adulthood and their implications for adult instruction and learning, and issues and trends in adult teaching and learning. Prerequisite(s): ED5012.

4 quarter credits
ED5348 *
Adult Education Program Development

Learners cultivate and utilize their knowledge of theoretical foundations, policies, evaluation models, and methods and materials for program planning to develop educational programs for adults in a variety of postsecondary settings. Learners also evaluate instructional approaches, engagement strategies, and management of instructional environments. Prerequisite(s): ED5012.

4 quarter credits
ED5390 *
Adult Education Capstone

In the capstone course, learners demonstrate proficiency in the program’s competencies by integrating learning from required courses to complete a final project.  For MS Adult Education learners only. Must be taken during the learner’s final quarter. Prerequisite(s): ED5006; ED5317; ED5016 or ED7547; ED5340 or ED7311; ED5342 or ED7314; ED5344 or ED7312; ED5348. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or credit for prior learning.

4 quarter credits
History, Issues, and Trends in Higher Education

Learners gain an understanding of the evolution of colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions. Learners investigate the cultural, societal, and economic influences that have shaped the development of higher education curricula, culture, practices, and governance. Learners also relate historical events and milestones to current issues and trends in higher education.

4 quarter credits



One Elective Course(s)



At least 4 quarter credits

Choose any graduate education (ED, EDT) course(s).






At least 48 quarter credits

* Denotes courses that have prerequisite(s). Refer to the descriptions for further details.

Learners who do not complete all program requirements within quarter credit/program point minimums will be required to accrue such additional quarter credits/program points as are associated with any additional or repeat coursework necessary for successful completion of program requirements.

This specialization is not designed to lead to license, endorsement, other professional credential, or salary advancement. Contact your school district for a determination on qualifications for salary advancement.