Adult and Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What must I do to apply?
2. What are the requirements for the master's degree program?
3. If I already have a master’s degree, how can I decide which program to take?
4. May I take some adult education courses before I apply or am admitted to the program?
5. What is the typical work load for a graduate course in adult education?
6. Can I take my time and go slowly?
7. When will I be assigned an advisor?
8. Can I select where I do my internship or directed study?
9. What are some job opportunities for graduates of adult education programs?
10. What credentials are needed to be a Director of Adult Education in the State of Maine?

1. What must I do to apply?

All the usual rules for application to graduate school at USM apply. You need to file an online application, submit undergraduate transcripts, get three letters of recommendation, and write a personal essay. In place of the standard essay required on the graduate application, a special essay is required for this program.  Please check the web site or the USM graduate catalog for information on the topics to be addressed.  In addition, we conduct a personal interview with all candidates.  While we prefer this interview to be in person, students applying from a distance can arrange for a telephone interview.

2. What are the requirements for the master's degree program?
The Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education requires 36 credit hours of coursework.  These credits include basic core courses (theory), middle-core courses (skills), electives and field-based courses.  With a faculty advisor, students choose their courses and can select a focus for their program.  While there is no thesis requirement for the master’s degree program, a capstone seminar enables students to plan and write a publishable paper in an area of significant interest.  At the end of the program, students write an integrative, portfolio-based essay.

3. If I already have a master’s degree, how can I decide which program to take?
If you are an experienced educator with a master’s degree, the 30 credit hour post-master’s certificate of study in adult learning may be for you. This program gives accomplished students the opportunity to further hone their learning in the field of adult education and encourages field-based projects. If you hold a master’s degree but lack experience as an educator, the master’s degree in adult education is more likely the program designed for you.

4. May I take some adult education courses before I apply or am admitted to the program?
Yes, many students explore the adult and higher education programs by taking a few courses first.  We recommend that students begin with courses from the following list: HRD 600 - History and Philosophy of Adult Education,  HRD 604 - Self-Directed Education: Orientation , or HRD 631- The Adult Learner.  A 36 credit program planning sheet is linked.

Note:  After earning 6 credits of graduate work, students must apply for acceptance into a degree program.  While their application is being considered, a student may take up to an additional 6 credits. Students who have credits they wish to transfer toward a degree in adult and higher education should apply for acceptance into a program before taking additional graduate work.  As part of the application process, possible transfer credits will be evaluated.

5. What is the typical work load for a graduate course in adult education?
In most three credit courses students are asked to read three or four books and several articles (articles and book chapters might be packaged into a bound "course pack"). Most courses require writing which may include essays, autobiographically-based reflections, journals, or research-based papers. On occasion, oral presentations and group work are part of the assessment process. While every week is different, in general plan to spend two to three hours working outside the classroom for every hour in class.

6. Can I take my time and go slowly?
Yes - in fact, most of our students do. Full time study in graduate school is considered to be nine credit hours per semester. Very few people in the Adult Education Program are full-time students. The typical pattern is to take one course in both the fall and winter semesters and then one or two courses in the summer. This puts an individual on track to graduate in between four and five years. However, it is possible to complete the program in as brief a period as two years. Once accepted into a program, a student has five years to complete a the degree.

7When will I be assigned an advisor?
Students who have applied and been formally accepted into a degree program are assigned academic advisors. If you have questions before being accepted into a program, contact the adult education program coordinator.

8. Can I select where I do my internship or directed study?
Yes, students are expected to research and find appropriate sites for their directed study and/or 300 hour internship. Proposals require final faculty approval; USM faculty are interested in how these significant work experiences fit into a student’s educational goals. Since the adult education program has strong connections to the Department of Student Services at USM, Portland Adult Education, Women, Work and Community, and UNUM-Provident, many students have done internships and directed studies at these sites.

9. What are some job opportunities for graduates of adult education programs?
Graduates of the master’s degree and the post-master’s certificate of advanced study programs in adult education work in many areas of the large and diverse field of adult education in Maine. Within the field of higher education, graduates hold positions as faculty members, directors, presidents, counselors, and assistant deans. In the non-profit sector, graduates serve as executive directors, assistant directors, program directors and educational specialists. In the corporate sector, graduates work as managers of corporate training, HR managers, trainers, assistant vice-presidents and workplace educators. Within the area of public education, graduates are directors, teachers and staff developers. In the area of community education, graduates hold positions as program coordinators, educators, counselors and community educators. Finally, in the governmental arena, graduates serve as directors, department heads and educators for state departments in Maine including labor, environmental protection and the police academy.

10. What credentials are needed to be a Director of Adult Education in the State of Maine?
To work as a Director of Adult Education for a public school system in the State of Maine, you must be certified. The master’s degree in adult education can lead to this certification if the required courses are selected as part of the degree program. To complete the certification within the 36 credit hours required for the master’s degree requires careful course selection from the very beginning. Some of the specialized courses that may be required for the certification include: EDU 683 School Budgeting and Finance, EDU 679 Evaluation and Supervision, EDU 678 School Law and SED 611 Exceptionality. Each student is ultimately responsible for working directly with the Department of Education in Augusta regarding the current certification requirements. After researching these requirements, students are advised to work with their academic advisor to select courses that will lead to the desired certification and fulfill the requirements for the master’s degree.