Online Class in Adult Education: Coursework Overview

Online adult education courses, which may be offered at community colleges or 4-year institutions, are usually found in either continuing education or extended learning programs. Adults can also choose to pursue a college degree at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

Essential Information

Adults looking to continue their education have plenty of online options, regardless of their level of education. Programs are available for both students who have yet to receive a high school and adults with multiple college degrees looking for career training. Students enrolled in an online adult education course can expect to use Blackboard software, through which instructors post password-protected assignments, quizzes, tests and other course content. Most correspondence is accomplished through e-mail or postings on forum-style bulletin boards.

Often, online adult education classes are designed to help students complete their General Education Development (GED) requirements. These programs are designed for those who can read at a 9th grade level. College degree programs for working adults are known as extended learning. For adult degree seekers, online classes in adult education might include undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and doctoral-level coursework. Online undergraduate programs typically integrate general education courses, while graduate-level programs focus more on advanced topics in the area of study, as well as research methods.

Regardless of which adult education courses students pursue, any additional coursework, either online or in a traditional classroom, is likely to boost their career options. Students who complete GED programs will have access to community college or 4-year university programs. After completing an online adult education program, post-baccalaureate and graduate students who earn advanced degrees and certificates may realize higher earning potential.

Common Online Courses

Although courses will vary depending on a student's major and school, the following options represent common course offerings in different adult education options

  • American Government: This course provides students with an in-depth analysis of how the American government works. Students will examine the government's main branches and how they interact with each other, and special attention will be devoted to the evolution of government from the 19th century to the present day.
  • Sociology: A common online offering at a number of schools, sociology is a complex field. This introductory course provides students with an overview of the fundamental tenants of sociology. Course topics include societal change, class inequality, and culture characteristics.
  • Critical Thinking: Much more abstract than most online offerings, critical thinking courses deal with philosophical issues and challenge students to consider and improve their ways of thinking. Students will develop skills related to self-assessment, and other course topics include problem solving and intellectual standards.

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