Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Ph.D. in Education, Adult and Continuing Education Concentration (Distance Program)

The Adult and Continuing Education PhD Program is designed for people interested in higher education, workplace learning, community-based organizations or any setting where adults can be found learning.

The program is characterized by students who come from varied professional and personal backgrounds, are intellectually curious, and supportive of the other students. In interactive courses, students explore how adults learn and develop through an understanding of research, theory, and reflective practice. With a degree from the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, our graduates use their knowledge of adult and continuing education to advance their careers as college instructors, university professors, adult basic education teachers, leaders in non-profit organizations, training and organizational development consultants, as well as nurse educators.

About Adult and Continuing Education

General Goals

The Adult and Continuing Education program is designed to help participants:

  • Better understand adult and continuing education in terms of its theoretical and conceptual underpinnings as well as its operation in practical situations;
  • Be further prepared for the increasingly changing demands of professional life and personal enrichment;
  • Enhance knowledge and skills in assisting adult learners with global visions;
  • Broaden ideas and competency to live and work within a knowledge society; and
  • Learn skills in order to make contributions to the areas of adult and continuing education as well as educational leadership & policy studies through presentations and publication of original research.

Key Features

  • Inquiry & Reflection. These are at the heart of the Adult and Continuing Education program. A learning community forms when students engage with each other and with faculty in scholarly activities that contribute to the body of knowledge about adult learning and one’s own professional practice.
  • Student Experience, Interests & Talents. These are considered in the application process and woven throughout the Adult and Continuing Education program of study. Many students in the program are employed or engaged with adult learners in a wide variety of contexts and/or settings. Their professional experiences contribute to a deeper understanding of the link between theory and practice.
  • Faculty & Peer Support. Advanced students are a valuable resource for newer students. Faculty and students often collaborate on projects and research; this work frequently leads to presentations at national and international conferences and publications in professional journals.
  • Flexibility. Students have the option to participate in the Adult and Continuing Education program on a full-time or part-time basis. Either way, the program flexibility meets diverse needs of doctoral students. Courses are offered in evenings, on weekends, and online to serve a wide variety of student needs.

Learning Outcomes

  • Academic Knowledge. Students will demonstrate a deep understanding of educational leadership & policy studies and related fields and a broad understanding of various methods of inquiry in educational leadership & policy studies. In addition, they will demonstrate competence in several methods of inquiry (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods) and the ability to successfully guide their own scholarship.
  • Practical Competence. Students will demonstrate an ability to work effectively with adult learners in various settings. They will be able to plan, implement, administer, and evaluate programs for adult learners.
  • Reflective Inquiry. Students will demonstrate the ability to engage in critical thinking and reflection, both in terms of scholarship and practice.
  • Democratic Commitment. Students will demonstrate in their scholarship and practice a commitment to diversity and an understanding of the complex process of democracy and a commitment to pursue this process with a focus on access to quality education for all learners in their own professional work.
  • Professional Engagement. Students will demonstrate deep intellectual engagement with education, particularly the field of adult education as an area of scholarly inquiry. In doing so, students will belong to and participate in national/international scholarly associations and make evident benefits and contributions that result from these memberships.

Application Requirements

Admission Semesters Information: 

To start the program in the Fall semester, the application submission deadline is February 1st.

To start the program in the Spring semester, the application submission deadline is October 1st.

Transfer Credits

At the doctoral level, courses are not officially transferred although they may be used to meet degree requirements. To be considered for review, a transferred a course must:

  • Be taken for graduate credit in adult education or other education-related programs focusing on adult and continuing education.
  • Carry a grade of B or better.
  • Be a part of a graduate program in which the student had at least a B average.
  • Not have been used for a previous degree.
  • Be approved by the student’s graduate committee and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Advising & Graduate Committees

Upon acceptance, students will be assigned a temporary advisor. All students must form a graduate committee, ideally by the end of the first year of study. At this point, students may change advisors after identifying their interests and getting to know other faculty. The major professor directs the student’s dissertation and chairs the dissertation committee. The student and the major professor identify a committee of at least four faculty members. One member must be from an academic unit other than Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. Doctoral committees should be formed after the first year of study. Students with their advisors complete a program plan to guide completion of requirements. Check the Graduate Catalog for details of graduate study.

Qi Sun

Qi Sun
Program Coordinator & Associate Professor

Mitsunori Misawa

Mitsunori Misawa
Associate Professor


Jennifer Kobrin
Assistant Professor