Adult and Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This FAQ is divided into categories. If you don’t see your question answered, talk with us! Visit our Contact Us page.

Admissions & Exploring Your Options

All the usual rules for application to graduate school at USM apply. Please check the website or the USM graduate catalog for information on the topics to be addressed. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

You’ll need to submit the following documents: 

  1. An online application
  2. Official Transcripts
  3. One letter of recommendation
  4. 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 website or the USM graduate catalog for information on the topics to be addressed.

The MS 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 prepare an end of program portfolio of work in the final capstone course. Explore your options here.

If you are an experienced educator with a master’s degree, the 30 credit hour post-master’s Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) 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. Explore your options here.

Yes, many students explore the adult and higher education program by taking one or two courses first. We recommend that students begin either with HRD 600 History and Philosophy of Adult Education or HRD 631 The Adult Learner. Either of these courses will provide suitable orientation to the field of adult and higher education as well as online learning in this program.

Note: After earning 6 credits of graduate work, students must apply for acceptance into the degree or certificate 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.

Program Completion & Flexibility

In most three credit courses students are asked to read several  books and articles (articles and book chapters are usually available at no charge from USM’s library electronic reserve). Most courses require extensive writing which may include essays, autobiographically-based reflections, learning journals, or research-based papers. While every week is different, graduate students can expect to spend 10-15 hours each week working in their graduate course (e.g., reading, writing, online discussions, in some cases undertaking a field study, etc.)

Yes, students are encouraged to select a pace that works best in their lives. The average person takes one or two courses each semester. If one is receiving financial aid or has accepted a Graduate Assistantship or scholarship, please be sure to understand the required number of credits per semester. The typical length of study in this MS program is three to four years. However, it is also possible for students to complete the MS or CAS in two years if a student desires to move more quickly through the program of study. Graduate students are expected to make continuous progress in the program of study. Courses are offered in fall, spring, and summer sessions. Once accepted into a program, a student has five years to complete the degree or certificate.

Careers & Faculty Mentoring

Students who have applied and been formally accepted into a degree program are assigned a faculty advisor. If you have questions before being accepted into a program, contact the Adult and Higher Education Program Lead.

Yes, students are expected to research and find appropriate sites for their field study experience. Towards the end of one’s program, each student will complete either HRD 698 Directed Study or HRD 687 Internship (MS) OR HRD 685 CAS Completion Project in Adult Learning (CAS). Assistance to identify a site is also available. Proposals are developed the semester before enrollment and require faculty approval to enroll. These field-based experiences are individualized and unique. They provide real world career experience. Choosing whether to do a directed study (HRD 698) or internship (HRD 687) is an important conversation to have with one’s faculty advisor.

Graduates of the MS in Adult and Higher Education and CAS in Adult Learning work in a broad and diverse range of positions. Within the field of higher education, graduates hold positions as directors and deans in student affairs and other areas of the university setting, program coordinators, project managers, academic advisors, faculty or staff developers, and other leadership positions. 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, trainers, assistant vice-presidents, and workplace educators. Within the area of public adult education, graduates serve as directors, teachers, and staff developers. In the area of community education, graduates hold positions as program coordinators, community educators, and directors. Finally, in the governmental arena, graduates serve as directors, department heads, and educators for state departments. Check out the Career Connections to see where our alumni work.

To work as a Director of Adult Education for a public school system in the State of Maine, you must be certified. Both the MS and CAS can lead to this certification if the required courses are selected as part of the planned program of study. These include EDU 678 School Law, EDU 679 Evaluation and Supervision of School Personnel, EDU 683 School Finance, and others. Courses taken toward certification already completed may count as electives in this program and will be evaluated as transfer credit at the time of admission.        

It’s important to note that each student is ultimately responsible for working directly with the Maine Department of Education regarding the current certification requirements. After researching these requirements, students are strongly encouraged to work with their academic advisor to select courses that will lead to the desired certification and fulfill the requirements for the program of study.