The M.Ed. Degree Program

The M.Ed. in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education at Penn State is an online practitioner’s degree. It is geared toward students who intend to pursue careers in the professional practice of lifelong learning and adult education. Graduates are qualified to provide leadership in one or more of the following domains of lifelong learning adult education practice: teaching and learning, curriculum and instructional design and development, program planning and administration, curriculum and/or program evaluation, or lifelong learning and adult education in the health and medical professions.

The M.Ed. may be earned through Penn State’s World Campus. Most students earn their M.Ed. through part-time study over a period of two to three years. However, full-time students online through World Campus may complete the degree within one academic year. Online Lifelong Learning and Adult Education courses through the World Campus are taught using a blend of Web technology, print, and other media to provide an effective balance of flexibility and interaction. 

Additional Information

The M.Ed. program in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education consists of a required core of 12 credits in ADTED courses and 18 credits in ADTED or other electives. The 12 core ADTED credits include the following four specified courses: ADTED 460, 505, 542, and 588. Students then choose an additional 18 credits (six courses) from the following ADTED courses in consultation with their adviser: 456, 457, 470, 480, 501, 502, 506, 507, 509, 510, 531, 532, 533, 560, 575, or 581. Other courses may be substituted for these electives with the adviser’s permission.
M.Ed. students are required to write a master’s paper as part of the required 30 credits of course work. Students complete the master’s paper while enrolled in ADTED 588 during their last semester.

A minimum of 18 credits out of the 30 must be taken at the 500 or 800 level, with a minimum of 6 credits at the 500 level, and a minimum of 24 credits must be in ADTED prefix courses. 

While completing M.Ed. credits, a student may simultaneously earn a Certificate in Distance Education, Family Literacy, or Adult Basic Education through the World Campus by completing a specified set of courses, totaling 12 credits within the 30-credit requirement. Students may also simultaneously earn a Certificate in Adult Education in the Health and Medical Professions, totaling 12 credits, at Penn State-Harrisburg.

Writing a Master’s paper is the culminating experience for all M.Ed. students. In keeping with the Graduate School’s thesis requirements, the master’s paper is a sign capstone experience, of considerable proportion relative to the program as a whole. It clearly and definitively indicates the M.Ed. student's capacity to acquire, critically analyze, integrate, synthesize, and evaluate information, and draw logical conclusions; and present the experience adequately and professionally in writing. The student’s academic advisor guides her/him through the process.

M.Ed. students must select either the general M.Ed. degree or one of three formal options: (1) Adult Basic Education and Literacy; (2) Global and Online Distance Education; and (3) Medical and Health Professions. All students who choose an M.Ed. Option will complete the same four core courses listed above: ADTED 460 (Introduction to Lifelong Learning and Adult Education), ADTED 505 (Teaching of Adults), ADTED 542 (Perspectives on Adult Learning Theory), and ADTED 588 (Professional Seminar). In addition, they will take required courses and electives as specified below.

Applications to our online M.Ed. program are considered year-round. The M.Ed. is offered via World Campus and Harrisburg. The process of applying for admission to graduate school at Penn State requires the following application materials, some of which are submitted as attachments to the Graduate School application. There is no deadline for admissions into the master's program. It is a rolling admissions process. However, it is suggested that students should apply at least eight weeks prior to the start of the semester they wish to attend.

Applicants with a junior/senior grade point average of 2.70 (on a 4.00 scale) and a graduate GPA of 3.50 are highly considered applicants for the program.

Applying to the Master's Program

Step 1: Graduate School Application

Complete the online Penn State Graduate School application form at Make sure you pay the application fee as outlined on the Graduate School application form. You can check the status of your Graduate School application materials by visiting the Graduate Application Status Inquiry page. Please note that once submitted, you will not be able to make changes to the Graduate School Application or the uploaded materials.

When completing the online Graduate School application, you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • A statement of purpose describing your short and long-range career objectives, and explaining how your proposed study of adult education relates to those objectives. The statement of purpose is especially important for assessing applicants’ fit with the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program.
  • A sample of recent writing, such as a term paper, a report, or published paper of 3000 words or more.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letters of recommendation from three people who are best qualified to evaluate your ability to succeed in graduate study. The Graduate School application will ask you to submit the names of references along with their email addresses. Your reference will receive an email directing them to the site to upload a reference letter. You will be notified via email when they have submitted their letter, however, you will not be able to view the letter.

Step 2: Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program Materials

Prepare an application packet consisting of the following documents:

  • As part of the online application process, applicants are required to electronically upload a copy of transcripts/documents from all post-secondary institutions attended. Upon online acceptance of a program recommendation for admission, applicants will be notified that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School, in order to finalize an admission decision. Transcripts/documents must be in the official language of the institution(s) attended, but if that language is not English, an official English translation must also be sent. The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission. An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission. For applicants whose degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized
  • The M.Ed. requires either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores. Scores must not be more than 5 years old. If applicants choose the GRE, we require the General GRE test. The overall test score for the Verbal and Quantitative score should equal around 1100. Applicants taking the MAT should receive a score of 398 or higher. To find out more about the GRE or MAT visit the websites.
  • English Proficiency—The language of instruction at Penn State is English. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. To find out more about the TOEFL Exam visit the TOEFL website. Information about the IELTS can be obtained by visiting its web site at

Students taking the GRE, GMAT, IELTS, and TOEFL should use school code 2660 to send scores to Penn State.

Students wishing to send MAT scores should select “Penn State University” or use code 2609.

IELTS and MAT scores should be mailed to:

The Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA 16802

  • International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean, and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit this website.

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

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