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Graduate Degrees

The M.Ed. Program

The Lifelong Learning and Adult Education M.Ed. Program has partnered with the World Campus for the online delivery of the program. All M.Ed. students are advised by ADTED program faculty. The M.Ed. degree is geared toward students who intend to pursue careers in the professional practice of adult education. Graduates are qualified to provide leadership in one or more of the following domains of adult education practice: teaching and learning, curriculum and instructional design and development, program planning and administration, or curriculum and/or program evaluation. At the M.Ed. program website, you will find information about courses, costs, application procedures, contact information, and more.

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More information can be found about the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program and the Master's Degree in the ADTED Student Handbook.

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit this website.

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

You can also check out our FAQ section.

How to Apply

Application for Non-degree Status

To expedite your enrollment in our courses, we recommend that you first apply as a "non-degree" graduate student, which will enable you to begin taking courses immediately. Those who wish to apply to the ADTED degree program can do so later. Fifteen credits earned under "non-degree" status can be counted toward the ADTED degree.

To complete the Graduate School online application form as a non-degree student, please go to the World Campus Website and pay the graduate non-degree application fee.

Applying to the Master's Program

The process of applying for admission to graduate school at Penn State requires the following application materials, some of which are submitted as attachments to the Graduate School application. There is no deadline for admissions into the master's program. It is a rolling admissions process. However, it is suggested that students should apply at least eight weeks prior to the start of the semester they wish to attend.

Applicants with a junior/senior grade point average of 2.70 (on a 4.00 scale) and a graduate GPA of 3.50 are highly considered applicants for the program.

Step 1: Graduate School Application

Complete the online Penn State Graduate School application form at http://www.gradschool.psu.edu/index.cfm/apply/. Make sure you pay the application fee as outlined on the Graduate School application form. You can check the status of your Graduate School application materials by visiting the Graduate Application Status Inquiry page. Please note that once submitted, you will not be able to make changes to the Graduate School Application or the uploaded materials.

When completing the online Graduate School application, you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • A statement of purpose describing your short and long range career objectives, and explaining how your proposed study of adult education relates to those objectives. The statement of purpose is especially important for assessing applicants’ fit with the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program.
  • A sample of recent writing, such as a term paper, a report, or published paper of 3000 words or more.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letters of recommendation from three people who are best qualified to evaluate your ability to succeed in graduate study. The Graduate School application will ask you to submit the names of references along with their email addresses. Your reference will receive an email directing them to the site to upload a reference letter. You will be notified via email when they have submitted their letter, however you will not be able to view the letter.

Step 2: Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program Materials

Prepare an application packet consisting of the following documents:

  • As part of the online application process, applicants are required to electronically upload a copy of transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended. Upon online acceptance of a program recommendation for admission, applicants will be notified that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School, in order to finalize an admission decision. Transcripts/documents must be in the official language of the institution(s) attended, but if that language is not English, an official English translation must also be sent. The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission. An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission. For applicants whose degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized
  • The M.Ed. requires either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores. Scores must not be more than 5 years old. If applicants choose the GRE, we require the General GRE test. The overall test score for the Verbal and Quantitative score should equal around 1100. Applicants taking the MAT should receive a score of 398 or higher. To find out more about the GRE or MAT visit the websites.
  • English Proficiency—The language of instruction at Penn State is English. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. To find out more about the TOEFL Exam visit the TOEFL web site. Information about the IELTS can be obtained by visiting its web site at www.ielts.org

Students taking the GRE, GMAT, IELTS and TOEFL should use school code 2660 to send scores to Penn State.

Students wishing to send MAT scores should select “Penn State University” or use code 2609.


IELTS and MAT scores should be mailed to:

The Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA 16802
 

  • International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit this website.

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

Doctoral Degree Programs

The Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program at Penn State offers two doctoral degrees: D.Ed. and Ph.D.  Newly applying students should visit the How To Apply page for detailed instructions.  Students who have missed a semester and are Resuming Studies or Changing Majors need to complete the resume study/change of major form.  Please click on the following link to view dissertations lead by Adult Education faculty.

The D.Ed. Program

The D.Ed. is a practitioner’s degree, geared toward students who intend to pursue careers in the professional practice of adult education. Graduates are qualified to provide leadership in one or more of the following domains of adult education practice: teaching and learning, curriculum and instructional design and development, program planning and administration, or curriculum and/or program evaluation. D.Ed. students receive greater and more extensive preparation than M.Ed. students - thereby qualifying them to assume top-level leadership positions in the practice domains listed above.

D.Ed. students need 60 credits beyond the master’s degree to graduate:

  • 9 credits of Adult Education core courses;
  • 12 credits of Adult Education electives,
  • 15 elective credits chosen from one or more Supporting Area(s) within Penn State,
  • 9 credits of research methods courses,
  • and a doctoral thesis/dissertation that carries 15 course credits.

 

The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. is a research degree. Graduates pursue careers in research and scholarly work. Ph.D. students in the adult education program at Penn State share a common focus on ways in which Globalization, and Lifelong Learning movements shape specific adult education practices - in the home, place of worship, workplace, community, and wider society.

Ph.D. students typically take 42 credits beyond the master’s degree to graduate:

  • roughly 9 credits of Adult Education core courses;
  • 6-9 credits of Adult Education electives,
  • 6-9 elective credits chosen from one or more Supporting Area(s) within Penn State,
  • about 18 credits of research methods courses; and a doctoral thesis/dissertation that carries no course credits.

Reflecting the interests and expertise of the faculty, the Ph.D. program has four emphasis areas:

  1. Adult Teaching and Learning
  2. Distance Education
  3. Learning in the Workplace and in the Community
  4. Literacy for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations

 

    Each emphasis area in the Ph.D. program has a minimum course requirement of 15 credits. Nine (9) of the 15 credits may be taken in Adult Education and six (6) from one or more Supporting Area(s) outside of the program. Alternatively, six (6) of the 15 credits may be taken in Adult Education and nine (9) from one or more Supporting Area(s) outside the program. The decision is made by the student’s academic advisor in consultation with the student and her/his doctoral committee.


    ADTED 594 is for “supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis. A specific title may be used in each instance and will be entered on the student’s transcript.

    Tell me about the similarities and differences between the Ph.D and D.Ed program and the emphasis areas in the Ph.D program.

    More information can be found about the Adult Education program and the Doctoral Degree in the ADTED Student Handbook.

    If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit this website.

    If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

    Those students interested in Graduate Assistantships can apply annually, applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Application Fee Waiver - Under-represented minority applicants (U.S. citizens or permanent residents only) may be eligible for a Graduate School application fee waiver. To inquire, please email Dr. John Holst at jdh91@psu.edu

    You can also check out or Doctoral FAQ section.

    How to Apply - Doctoral Program

    Application for Non-degree Status

    To expedite your enrollment in our courses, we recommend that you first apply as a "non-degree" graduate student, which will enable you to begin taking courses immediately. Those who wish to apply to the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education degree program can do so later. Fifteen credits earned under "non-degree" status may be eligible to be counted toward the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education degree.

    To complete the Graduate School online application form as a non-degree student, you will need to pay an application fee and submit the online application found here.

     

    Application for Degree Status

    Applicants with a junior/senior grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or above (on a 4.00 scale), and a graduate GPA of 3.50 or above will be highly considered applicants for the program. Applicants with strong backgrounds and abilities in areas of particular interest or relevance to adult education practice may be admitted to either of the doctoral programs with a baccalaureate degree only (provided the junior/senior GPA is at least 2.70), or with masters level studies in which the graduate GPA is at least 3.20.

     

    Application Deadlines

    Lifelong Learning and Adult Education admits graduate students on a rolling basis.
    All international students and any domestic students seeking graduate assistantships or fellowships should apply for the Fall Semester by December 1 of the year before they wish to enroll.

    Domestic students who are not seeking financial assistance may apply for any semester. They must apply at least eight weeks prior to the semester in which they would like to begin the program.

    Step 1: Graduate School Application

    Complete the online Penn State Graduate School application form.  Make sure you pay the application fee as outlined on the Graduate School application form.  You can check the status of your Graduate School application materials by visiting the Graduate Application Status Inquiry page.

    When completing the online Graduate School application, you will be asked to upload the following documents:

    • Resume or curriculum vitae.

    • A writing sample such as a published article; master's paper; master's thesis; or a paper from your master studies. This paper must be between 10-100 pages long.

    • A statement of purpose describing your short- and long-range career objectives and explaining how your proposed study of adult education relates to those objectives. Applicants should also describe their research interests and specify how these interests fit with the program and its faculty. The statement of purpose is especially important for assessing applicants’ fit with the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program.

    • Letters of recommendation from two people who are best qualified to evaluate your ability to succeed in graduate study.  The Graduate School application will ask you to submit the names of references along with their email addresses.  Your reference will receive an email directing them to the site to upload a reference letter.  You will be notified via email when they have submitted their letter, however you will not be able to view the letter.

     

    Step 2: Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program Materials

    Prepare an application packet consisting of the following documents:

    • As part of the online application process, applicants are required to electronically upload a copy of transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended.  Upon online acceptance of a program recommendation for admission, applicants will be notified that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School, in order to finalize an admission decision.  Transcripts/documents must be in the official language of the institution(s) attended, but if that language is not English, an official English translation must also be sent.  The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission.  An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission.  For applicants whose degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized.

    • The D.Ed. requires either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores.  Scores must not be more than 5 years old.  If applicants choose the GRE, we require the General GRE test. Applicants facing critical, extenuating circumstances outside of their control may request a GRE or MAT waiver.  Factors such as scheduling conflicts or performance in a prior degree program are not considered sufficient grounds for a waiver.  The decision to grant a waiver is at the discretion of the Lifelong Learning and Lifelong Learning and Adult Education faculty.  Students with excellent academic records who wish to be considered for fellowships and scholarships should take the MAT or GRE as a matter of course.  To find out more about the GRE or MAT vist the websites.  

    Students taking the GRE, GMAT, IELTS and TOEFL should use school code 2660 to send scores to Penn State. 

    Students wishing to send MAT scores should select “Penn State University” or use code 2609.

     

    IELTS and MAT scores should be mailed to:

    The Pennsylvania State University
    Graduate Enrollment Services
    114 Kern Building
    University Park, PA  16802

     

    • The Ph.D. requires only the GRE—no other scores will be accepted for the Ph.D., and scores must not be more than 5 years old. We require the General GRE test. Applicants facing critical, extenuating circumstances outside of their control may request a GRE waiver.  Factors such as scheduling conflicts or performance in a prior degree program are not considered sufficient grounds for a waiver.  Students with excellent academic records who wish to be considered for fellowships and scholarships should take the GRE as a matter of course.  To find out more about the GRE visit the GRE web site 

    • English Proficiency—The language of instruction at Penn State is English. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. To find out more about the TOEFL Exam visit the TOEFL web site.  Information about the IELTS can be obtained by visiting its web site at www.ielts.org.

    Students taking the GRE, GMAT, IELTS and TOEFL should use school code 2660 to send scores to Penn State. 

    • International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

    • Assistantship Application (for those applicants seeking financial assistance only)

    If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit this website.

    If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.



    Those students interested in Graduate Assistantships can apply annually, applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Application Fee Waiver - Under-represented minority applicants (U.S. citizens or permanent residents only) may be eligible for a Graduate School application fee waiver. To inquire, please email Dr. John Holst at [email protected]

    You can also check out or Doctoral FAQ section.

    Graduate degrees in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education are among the most practical - and adaptable - in all of higher education.


    The M.Ed and D. Ed. are both practitioner degrees, preparing graduates to apply their expertise effectively in a variety of specialized settings.

    The Ph.D. is a research degree, and prepares graduates to advance the theoretical foundations, empirical knowledge, and strategic role of adult education not only in the context of higher education, but in relation to national and international goals of building civil society and realizing human potentials.

    Students have the opportunity to work with faculty on organized research and outreach endeavors, which sometimes involve living outside the U.S. for several weeks at a time. Students may also co-author books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers and presentations with faculty.

    Examples of opportunities to assist faculty with research include:

    • Initiatives of the adult and family literacy institutes at Penn State
    • Engaging in community capacity building projects in West Philadelphia and Grenada
    • Engaging in consciousness-raising projects with prisoners in central Pennsylvania
    • Planning regional and national adult education conferences
    • Assisting in teaching adult education courses online and in residence

    Many graduates of our program become tenured faculty or administrators at one of numerous universities in North America with strong departments of adult and continuing education. Many others graduates choose work as educational planners, policy-makers, and consultants in such varied contexts as private business, government and public agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profit organizations, churches and religious organizations, international organizations in many countries (South Korea, Zimbabwe, Barbados, Turkey, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and Oman to name a few), and community-based groups or initiatives. Specialized areas of practice within the field of adult education include:

    • adult basic education
    • community education & organizing
    • adult & family literacy
    • professional and continuing education
    • distance education
    • human resource development
    • workplace learning
    • informal education
    • educational outreach
    • post-secondary education
    • religious education
    • social advocacy & action