Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2006


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

William P. Barone

Committee Member

Babara Fry

Committee Member

Joseph Kush

Committee Member

V. Robert Agostino


adult education, graduate programs


The history of adult education has extended over a relatively short period of time in the United States, and so concurrently have the programs of graduate education in the schools of Higher Education. Through the years, the backgrounds and occupations of the students enrolled in adult education changed. Graduate students in the fifties and sixties were primarily administrators from university-based programs (Houle and Buskey, 1966). The late sixties and seventies found those working in adult basic education (ABE) entering programs. During the seventies there was an increase in the number of students from the private and public sectors, along with educators in higher education and public health. While the eighties included students from a variety of organizations, they were concerned with many of the applications of adult education. The rate of development started to decline slightly during the eighties in both the numbers of institutions granting doctorates, and those individuals receiving doctorates. It was during this time that a shift in graduate enrollments and a decline in the number of programs nationally continued to dwindle. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current status of graduate programs in adult education, to explore the reasons for the increase or decline in the number of programs nationally in adult education, and to suggest ways in which adult education programs need to change in order to survive in the 21st century. A survey will be conducted among all of the schools that offer a graduate degree in adult education. It will look only at those colleges and universities in the United States that offer a master's or doctorate degree in adult education. This study will investigate the following research questions: 1) What has the enrollment trend in graduate programs in adult education been for the last 5 years? 2) What is the future of graduate programs in adult education? 3) What should be done to remain competitive and increase the number of graduate programs in adult education in the 21st century? 4) What effect if any have the CPAE Standards for Graduate Programs in Adult Education had on the number of programs nationally? During its seventy years, as an academic discipline, the field has spent a great amount of time examining itself as an emerging and distinct field. The significance of establishing itself as a legitimate field in education and one that is away from K-12 education. It seems clear that adult education programs continue to struggle to find their niche among university programs. As these programs start the 21st century, this crisis may present them with the opportunity to clearly define their mission and market.