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Adult and Community Education, MA: Curriculum

The online Master of Arts in Adult and Community Education (ACE) is a 36-semester-hour program that offers a balance of academic courses, individual research, and practical field experience. 

General Information for Students

Two resources are invaluable for students in the ACE program. These are the ACE Student Handbook and the Graduate Catalog. The ACE Student Handbook contains complete information for students in the program, including course information, academic advising, admission requirements, graduation procedures and requirements, professional development opportunities, and resources for students. TheGraduate Catalog contains official Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Graduate School policies regarding academic standing, student rights and responsibilities, and a complete listing of graduate programs at IUP. 

Course Requirements

Course Course Name Credits (Non-Thesis) Credits (Thesis)
ACE 620 Introduction to ACE 3 3
ACE 621 The Adult Learner 3 3
ACE 622 Program Planning in ACE 3 3
ACE 623 Organizational Leadership in ACE 3 3
ACE 625 Teaching Adults 3 3
ACE 635 Issues in Distance Education 3 3
ACE 640 Community-Based Education 3 3
ACE 735 Analysis of the Professional Literature in ACE 3 3
ACE 745 Practical Research in ACE 3 3
ACE 698 and/or Electives (ACE 650 or other approved electives)  Internship  3
GSR 615 Elements of Research 3 3
 ACE 795  Thesis 0 3
 Portfolio Assessment   Yes  No 
Total Credits Required   36 36

Online Master’s Program

The Master of Arts in Adult and Community Education can be completed entirely online. The 36-semester-hour program can be completed in two years by taking two courses per semesters for six consecutive semesters. See the Rotation of Courses section below.  

Thesis/Non-Thesis Option

Thesis Option:

Students can elect to do a thesis or take the non-thesis option. The thesis is a formal research project overseen by a faculty committee. Students electing the thesis option are committed to academic excellence through conducting an extensive research study. For information on IUP policies pertaining to writing a thesis, please refer to the Thesis/Dissertation Manual

Non-Thesis Option:

Students electing the non-thesis option must submit a portfolio during the last semester of their program. See below for more information on the portfolio. 

ACE Portfolio Requirements

Research Requirement

ACE students complete three courses in which research is emphasized. GSR 715, Elements of Research, focuses on how to conduct research and an overview of research methods. In ACE 735, Reviewing the Professional Literature in Adult and Community Education, students learn to conduct an extensive library literature review research project. In ACE 745, Practical Research in Adult and Community Education, students complete an empirical research project. The following PDF and searchable Excel document contain a list of research studies conducted by former ACE students in ACE 745:  

ACE Practical Research (PDF)

ACE Practical Research (Excel)

Elective Courses

Non-thesis ACE students are required to take a minimum of six credits of electives and/or internship. Non-thesis students may take six credits of electives, six credits of internship, or three credits of electives and three credits of internship. Thesis students are required to take three credits of either internship or electives. Qualifying electives can be selected from graduate courses offered by the ACE department, other departments at IUP, or transferred to IUP from other institutions. The following link contains a list of graduate courses in the College of Education that qualify as electives for the ACE program ( COE Electives). 

The ACE Department offers an elective course each summer (ACE 650), which is a special topics course and can be taken more than once. Because graduate courses and requirements differ from department to department and instructor to instructor, students are encouraged to contact the instructor or department for more information before registering for a course. Check the Graduate Catalog for IUP Graduate School policies concerning transferring credits from other institutions or other programs at IUP to serve as electives for the ACE program.  


ACE students may opt to do an internship. The internship is a theory-to-practice exercise in which students transfer what they have learned in classes to a real-world setting. For the internship, students develop a learning contract which is approved by a faculty advisor and a supervisor at the site where the internship will take place. Students can complete the internship without it interfering with their current employment. The ACE Internship Handbook includes information for ACE students wishing to complete an internship.

The following PDF and searchable Excel documents contain a list of former ACE student’s internship site information:

ACE Internship Sites (PDF)

ACE Internship Sites (Excel) 

Rotation of Courses 

Courses in the ACE program are offered online in a two-year rotation. The following schedule shows the current rotation of courses for academic years 2015–16 and 2016–17. The rotation shown below will repeat beginning with the fall semester, 2017. It is recommended that students register for two courses per semester and begin with ACE 620 and 621. Students may, however, begin the ACE program in any semester.  

Fall 2015 (Year 1)

ACE 620 

ACE 621 

Spring 2016 (Year 1)

ACE 622 

GSR 615 

Summer 2016 (Year 1)

ACE 650 

ACE 640 

Fall 2016 (Year 2)

ACE 623 

ACE 735 

Spring 2017 (Year 2)

ACE 625 

ACE 745 

Summer 2017 (Year 2)

ACE 650 

ACE 635 

*ACE 650 is a special topics course. Students may register for ACE 650 more than once, as the topics of the course change each time it is offered.  

Course Descriptions

ACE 620 Introduction to Adult and Community Education
A survey course which examines the fields of adult education and community education philosophically and historically and in terms of current programs and processes. The course includes the study of adult and community education principles and concepts as well as literature and resources.

ACE 621 The Adult Learner
The course focuses on the adult as learner, including physiological, psychological, and sociological characteristics and their effect on learning.

ACE 622 Program Planning in Adult and Community Education
A knowledge and skill-building course designed for present and future adult and community education practitioners. This how-to course examines concepts and practices relevant to the development of educational programs in a variety of settings.

ACE 623 Organizational Leadership in Adult and Community Education
This course introduces the student to basic theories of leadership, management, and organizational structure. It includes study and application of the tasks, tools, strategies, and leadership roles of administrators in adult and community education.

ACE 625 Teaching Adults
This course examines teaching and learning theories as they relate to adults: the teaching-learning process in a variety of educational settings; instructional methods, techniques, and devices that are effective with adults; and instructional designs and evaluation methods that are effective in the teaching-learning process.

ACE 635 Issues in Distance Education
This course explores the development, delivery, and evaluation of distance education in a variety of settings including educational institutions, business and industry, health care, and government. Specific topics addressed include online pedagogy, delivery systems, institutional support systems, marketing and outreach, and program evaluation of distance education programs.

ACE 640 Community-Based Education
Community-based education has a rich history in the United States and around the world. Community-based education is educational initiatives generated by individuals and groups outside of formal educational structures, frequently for the purpose of achieving social change. Following are some of the concepts investigated in this course: social, cultural, and economic reasons for the origins of community-based education, support structures generated to sustain and enhance community-based education, types of learning that results, both individually and communally, and the outcomes of community-based education that affect individuals, groups, and communities.

ACE 650 Current Topics in Adult and Community Education
Explores current issues, trends, and topics in depth in a workshop format. Topics will be selected by the faculty and announced in advance of the semester in which the course is to be offered. Topics may include issues in continuing higher education, volunteerism, adult career development, managing nonprofit organizations, group processes in adult education, and current issues in research. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

ACE 735 Analysis of the Professional Literature in Adult and Community Education
This course involves an intensive study of special topics in adult and community education with a research emphasis. Research content varies according to student interest. Prerequisites: nine credits in Adult and Community Education and permission. 

GSR 615 Elements of Research
Selection of a research problem, data collection, types of research, research reports, and use of libraries and computers in connection with research problems are addressed. Elements of statistics are introduced. This course provides background for preparation of research projects, including the thesis, and enables students to become intelligent consumers of academic research.

ACE 745 Practical Research in Adult and Community Education
Practical research in adult and community education is designed to have students conduct and report a formal research study in their field of interest. Students formulate a research problem and design a plan of inquiry to provide an answer(s) to their research problem(s). Students must be able to interpret their findings and communicate them both orally and in writing at a professional level. Prerequisites: GSR 615 and permission

ACE 795 Thesis
Students selecting the thesis option will complete a thesis project with a committee consisting of at least three faculty members.

  • Adult and Community Education Department
  • Davis Hall, Room 104
    570 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2470
  • Fax: 724-357-3085
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.