Program goal

The Master of Education in Adult Learning is a 33-credit hour program of study that prepares individuals for a broad range of positions related to the education of adult learners. Students choose one of three elective concentrations in adult literacy, human resource development, or instructional design and technology. Graduates are found in major corporations, higher education, health care organizations, state and federal agencies, nonprofit and community-based organizations and human services agencies. Admission to the program is predicated on the “whole person” concept, taking into account life experience, academic record, references and the reasons for the student’s interest in the program. An interview with the program adviser is recommended prior to admission. Successful applicants will have sufficient prior work experience with adults as learners to enable them to bring relevant work experience into the classroom learning environment.

The program provides a foundation in educational research methods and a strong core of seven courses in the theory and practice of adult learning, including emphasis in development of facilitation skills, as well as the design and delivery of adult learning programs. Upon completion of the foundation and core courses, students choose one of three concentration areas: adult literacy, human resource development (learning in the workplace), or instructional design and technology. The last course in the program, a capstone seminar in action learning, reunites students from all three concentrations for a comprehensive synthesis experience as they work in action learning teams to solve a real problem of strategic importance to an organization in the community.

A unique feature of the program is the learning portfolio, maintained in an online journal (blog) format. The learning portfolio, in combination with the capstone seminar, replaces a comprehensive examination requirement. For the portfolio, students write reflective blog entries during each of the core and concentration courses. During the program, selected assignments are posted to the blog to document personal growth and learning over time. At the end of the program, students create a synthesis of their learning in an essay format or through creation of a digital story. The portfolio serves as a demonstration of the graduate’s abilities to a prospective employer and can be added to a student’s resume. Throughout, the program utilizes students’ experiences in working with adults as learners to unite theory with practice and emphasizes 21st-century technologies for teaching and learning.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to articulate a personal philosophy of adult learning practice that enables students to work effectively as leaders and facilitators to improve adult learning, as evidenced on the final program learning assessment
  2. Demonstrate the ability to integrate knowledge of all facets of adult learning to have a significant impact on the practices, culture and learning environments of the organizations in which students work
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the nature, function and scope of adult learning during the capstone experience of the program
  4. Demonstrate awareness of the processes of adult learning and development during the capstone experience
  5. Acknowledge the influence of technology in adult learning, as evidenced in the final program learning assessment
  6. Demonstrate awareness of educational research in the adult learning field, as evidenced on the research on instructional strategy and organizational change strategy analysis rubrics

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
M.Ed.FallFeb 1
SpringNov 1
SummerFeb 1

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate discipline
  2. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  3. Statement of intent
  4. Transcripts of all previous college work

Please visit the School of Education website for further information.

Degree requirements

Students must meet all general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements.

Curriculum requirements

Foundation course
EDUS 660Research Methods in Education3
Core courses
ADLT 601Adult Learning and Development3
ADLT 606Design and Delivery of Adult Learning Programs3
ADLT 610Consulting Skills In Adult Learning Environments3
ADLT 612Learning in Groups and Teams3
ADLT 636Capstone Seminar in Action Learning3
ADLT 650Adult Literacy and Diversity3
ADLT 688Lifespan Issues for Adults with Learning and Behavioral Disabilities3
Human resource development concentration electives 1
ADLT 620Human Resource Development Overview3
ADLT 623Organizational Learning3
ADLT 625Change Strategies for HRD Practitioners3
Total Hours33

Students choose an elective concentration of nine credit hours in human resource development. These courses are designed to be taken after the student completes foundation and core courses, with the exception of ADLT 636, the capstone seminar.

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 33.

Communications and Enrollment Management
(804) 827-2670

Additional contact
Robin R. Hurst, Ed.D.
Assistant professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-1305

Program website: