Adult and Higher Education | Online

Program Type
Master’s Program (Online)
Master of Science (MS)
Mode of Study

Tuition per credit hour

$460 both in-state and $494 for out-of-state residents. See details and other costs

Credit hours

36 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship & fellowship opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Apply for fall, spring, or summer term. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Balance your schedule while earning your degree: Complete coursework from wherever you are with our fully online program.
  • Earn your degree on your terms: Study full-time and finish in as few as 2 years, or study part-time and finish in up to 5 years.
  • Save money with reduced e-tuition for out-of-state students.
  • Learn from full-time faculty with doctoral degrees who are also leaders in the field.
  • Gain hands-on experience with your choice of an internship or directed-study project.
  • Prepare for work in a variety of organizations, including institutions of higher education, adult education centers, nonprofit organizations, medical institutions, corporations, and municipal agencies.
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Program requirements

Our program prepares professional adult educators for positions in a wide variety of sectors. Skills-oriented courses and field-based experiences build on research and theory to provide a rich professional-development experience.

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Experiential learning

In addition to required core courses, students design their learning through a range of skills-based courses, electives, and internships or self-directed projects that help them directly apply theories and strategies in a professional environment.

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Choose your focus

Tailor the program to your goals by choosing your area of focus. Options include Higher Education: Student Affairs; Higher Education: Teaching & Learning; Adult Education & Adult Education Director Certification; and Nonprofit Community Education Leadership, Staff Development, or Corporate Training.

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Alumni career paths

Our accomplished alumni currently serve in various roles, including as director of adult education, dean of higher education, academic advisor, non-profit director, corporate trainer, staff development specialist, program designer, adult education educator, and in-student services roles.

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Expert faculty

Many of our faculty were once students in the program who have established their careers and become leaders in their field.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Do you live in New England?

You may be eligible for a special reduced tuition rate, as part of the New England Regional Student Program (RSP).

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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Meet us

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Admission information: MS in Adult and Higher Education

Application deadlines

We accept applications on a rolling basis and review them continuously.

Application deadlineFall term startSpring term startSummer term start
RecommendedMay 15October 15February 15
FinalAugust 1December 15April 15
InternationalJune 1October 15Not available
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.5* (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program

*Applicants who do not have a 2.5 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Candidates should provide an integrated essay of approximately 1,000 words that includes:
    • Brief autobiography, referencing study in master’s degree and related experience, professional training and credentials,
    • Overall goal to be accomplished through the program,
    • Future aspirations and professional development needs,
    • Tentative list of proposed coursework for the thirty-six credit credential.
  • Recommendation: One letter of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s knowledge of current scholarship, capacity to connect theory and practice in posing and solving educational problems, achievement of excellence in educational practice, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in advanced graduate study.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of twelve credit hours of graduate-level study may be approved as transfer credit provided these credits were not used as part of another degree or certificate program, were earned no more than five years prior to matriculation, are in subject areas related to adult education, and show a grade of B or better on the transcript. In rare situations and when compelling evidence is provided, the program faculty reserves the right to expand the number and age of credits transferred into the M.S. in adult and higher education program beyond the twelve credit, five-year rule.

Graduate students in master’s level adult education programs at other universities may transfer into the program if they take their final twelve hours, including directed study or internship and graduate seminar, in USM’s adult education program. A maximum of nine credits in self-designed coursework may be counted toward this degree.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address