Adult and Higher Education

MS in Adult and Higher Education

The University of Southern Maine's Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education program was established in 1972 to meet the region's need for trained adult education public school administrators. Since those early days it has expanded its role in the state and region to prepare professional adult educators for positions in a wide variety of sectors including public K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, large and medium-sized corporations, and community not-for-profit agencies. Specific jobs graduates fill include director of adult education, dean, academic advisor, corporate trainer, staff development specialist, program designer, research associate, and adult education teacher. The thirty-six-credit hour degree may be earned entirely online although several elective courses are offered either in a blended format or on campus.

The Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education requires thirty-six credits of coursework. Students must also submit a professional portfolio and write a comprehensive essay describing the learning outcomes documented in their portfolio to complete the degree.

Basic Core (9 credits)
     EDU 600 Research Methods and Techniques
     HRD 600 History and Philosophy of Adult Education
     HRD 631 The Adult Learner

Middle Core (9 credits required from the following)
     HRD 550 Uses of Technology in Adult Learning
     HRD 601 Marketing Training and Adult Education
     HRD 630 Facilitating Adult Learning
     HRD 633 Managing Adult Education and Human Resource Development
     HRD 636 Planning Programs for Adult Learners
     HRD 667 Action Research and Evaluation Methodologies

Field-Based Practice Courses (3 credits)
     HRD 687 Internship in Adult Education and Human Resource Development
     or HRD 698 Directed Study in Adult Education and Human Resource Development

Senior Course (3 credits)
     HRD 649 Seminar in Adult Education and Human Resource Development

Electives (12 credits)

Students may cluster their electives into a concentration in consultation with their faculty advisor
     EDU 559 Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners
     EDU 561 Aspects of the English Language
     EDU 562 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom
     EDU 671 Organizational Behavior
     EDU 678 School Law (state director certification)
     EDU 679 Evaluation and Supervision of School Personnel (state director certification)
     EDU 683 School Finance (state director certification)
     HCE 604 Career Development

     HRD 500 College Mental Health
     HRD 510 Aging and the Search for Meaning
     HRD 551 Spirituality in Adult and Higher Education
     HRD 554 Foundations of Academic Advising
     HRD 555 Introduction to Student Affairs in Higher Education  
     HRD 557 The Older Learner

     HRD 615/PPM 615 Organizational Leadership
     HRD 639 The Heart of Teaching
     HRD 646 Global Perspectives of Adult Education and Practices
     HRD 699 Independent Study

Applicant Qualifications

  • 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

Application Procedures and Required Materials

Application Deadline:  Applications are accepted for three different dates: May 1 for fall matriculation, October 1 for spring matriculation, and February 1 for summer matriculation.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

  • Application: Online Application
  • Application fee: Waived for all applicants
  • 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.  
    • International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required 
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • 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.
  • Recommendations:Two letters 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.
  • Formal Interview: Candidates to be interviewed will be selected on the basis of the above information. During the interview, issues relating to the following topics will be covered: a) communication skills, b) clarity of professional goals, c) fit with the adult and higher education profession and d) understanding one’s self as a learner.
  • TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.

Where to send transcripts and application materials

Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:

Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412

Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to edocs@maine.edu. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to edocs@maine.edu

For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation.

International Applicants

In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:

  • College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
  • Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation
  • International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

English Proficiency Test Scores

Official English proficiency examination scores are required from international applicants and/or applicants whose primary language is not English, unless the applicant has received a degree from an English-speaking institution. The University of Southern Maine accepts the following score reports sent directly from the testing agency.  TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for a graduate program.

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.

  • The course sequences below are recommended but not mandatory.
  • “Core” courses are designed to be taken early. “Middle Core” and “Elective” courses may be interspersed throughout the curriculum. The field course (HRD 687 or HRD 698) and capstone seminar (HRD 649) should be taken toward the end of the curriculum.
  • The fastest people move through this M.S. program is two years. The typical pace is three years. And due to their life circumstances some students prefer to take four years.
  • All courses in this M.S. progam are offered online

Two-Year Track

Year 1 (Fall)

  • History and Philosophy of Adult Ed. (HRD 600 = Core)
  • The Adult Learner (HRD 631 = Core)

Year 1 (Spring)

  • Introduction to Educational Research (EDU 600 = Core)
  • One middle core course (there are six to choose from)

Year 1 (Summer)

  • One middle core course
  • One elective (there are several each summer to choose from)

Year 2 (Fall)

  • One middle core course
  • One elective (there are several to choose from)

Year 2 (Spring)

  • Field course (either Internship or Directed study)
  • Seminar in Adult and Higher Education (HRD 649 = Capstone)

Year 2 (Summer)

  • Two electives

Students complete the degree by submitting a program portfolio and comprehensive essay

Three Year Track

Note: The sequence below has the student taking one course in the fall, two in the spring, and one in the summer. This schedule can be changed in various ways to equate to four courses per year over a total of three years.

Year 1 (Fall)

  • History and Philosophy of Adult Ed. (HRD 600)

Year 1 (Spring)

  • The Adult Learner (HRD 631)
  • Introduction to Educational Research (EDU 600)

Year 1 (Summer)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 2 (Fall)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 2 (Spring)

  • One middle core course
  • One elective course

Year 2 (Summer)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 3 (Fall)

  • Field course (either internship or directed study)

Year 3 (Spring)

  • Seminar in Adult and Higher Education (HRD 649)
  • One elective

Year 3 (Summer)

  • Final elective

Students complete the degree by submitting a program portfolio and comprehensive essay

Four Year Track

Note: The sequence below has the student taking three courses per year over four years.

Year 1 (Fall)

  • History and Philosophy of Adult Ed. (HRD 600)

Year 1 (Spring)

  • The Adult Learner (HRD 631)

Year 1 (Summer)

  • Introduction to Educational Research (EDU 600)

Year 2 (Fall)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 2 (Spring)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 2 (Summer)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 3 (Fall)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 3 (Spring)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 3 (Summer)

  • One middle core or elective course

Year 4 (Fall)

  • Field course (either internship or directed study)

Year 4 (Spring)

  • Seminar in Adult and Higher Education (HRD 649)

Year 4 (Summer)

  • Final course (either middle core or elective)

Students complete the degree by submitting a program portfolio and comprehensive essay