Programs structured for adult learners are offered at all levels and are often designed to fit the schedules of working people. Here we'll highlight common requirements and look at professional and interdisciplinary programs.
Adult Degree Program Overview
Adult degree programs lead to degrees from the associate's to the doctoral level, and they're structured according to the schedules of adults balancing postsecondary education with work and family obligations. Some colleges offer distance education or hybrid classes with a low-residency requirement, in which students meet with mentors in the community and complete coursework online.
Limited credit may be given for relevant life skills. However, granting a degree entirely or substantially based on life experience without requiring significant coursework is a marker of a diploma mill, according to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).
Many schools offer degree-completion programs for adults who began but have not finished a bachelor's or master's degree program. Adult degree programs may exempt a student from some degree requirements, such as study in a foreign language and minor areas of study. Many adult degree programs culminate in a capstone project.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Communications and Journalism
- Computer Sciences
- Culinary Arts and Personal Services
- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies
- Medical and Health Professions
- Physical Sciences
- Transportation and Distribution
- Visual and Performing Arts
Interdisciplinary studies allow students to create a customized degree program incorporating several fields, such as:
- Community development
- Human services
- Religion, performing arts
- Social science
- Criminal justice
Students declare areas of study called a competence or emphasis and choose relevant coursework that reflects their desired outcome.
Adult degree programs can also target professional needs, like:
- Business administration
- Public relations
- Information technology
Some professional programs, particularly at the lower degree levels, do not require liberal arts education in English composition, fine arts, natural and social sciences and humanities. Bachelor's degrees in professional fields follow the same curriculum for adult and traditional degrees.
Many colleges have age requirements for entering an adult degree program. Some require a student to be a certain age, while others require a student to have been out of high school for at least 6 years.
Those interested in adult education can pursue degrees of various levels in a number of disciplines. Interdisciplinary programs allow students to diversify their coursework, while professional degrees are best for those working in or interested in a particular field.