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Academic Requirements and Curriculum

The Master of Arts in Adult Education and Communications Technology (AECT) examines a variety of topics, including adult learning theory, adult education organizations, development and theories behind various media, and instructional design. 

The program consists of 36 credit hours and includes a thesis and non-thesis option as well as an optional Instructional Technology Specialist Certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The Adult Education and Communications Technology track (AECT) combines instructional technology with adult education and training. Graduates work as instructional designers, trainers, distance educators, and program planners in a variety of organizations such as colleges and universities, business and industry, government, health care, and many other types of organizations. The unique combination of adult education and instructional technology prepares AECT students for the education and training jobs of tomorrow. Information about the program can be found in the AECT Student Handbook.

Academic Requirements: Semester Hours (credits)
Non-Thesis Option
ACE 621 The Adult Learner
ACE 622 Program Planning in ACE
ACE 623 Organizational Leadership in ACE
ACE 625 Teaching Adults                
3 3
COMM 600 Instructional Design and Development
3 3
COMM 601 Media Production
3 3
COMM 614 Instructional Computer Basics
3 3
COMM 631 Interactive Multimedia
GSR 615 Elements of Research
3 3
ACE 750 Seminar: Technology & Adult Learning
COMM 698 Internship or Electives
- 6
ACE/COMM 850 Thesis
33 36

Suggested Track for One-Year Completion:

ACE 621
The Adult Learner*
ACE 623
Organizational Leadership in ACE*
COMM 600
Instructional Design and Development*
COMM 601
Media Production*

ACE 622
Program Planning in ACE*
COMM 614
Instructional Computing Basics*
COMM 631
Interactive Multimedia*
ACE 625
Teaching Adults*

GSR 615
Elements of Research†
ACE 750
Seminar in Technology and Adult Learning*
COMM 698
Internship* and or Elective†

*Course only offered once per year in the indicated semester

†Course offered every semester

Thesis/Non-Thesis Option

Students can elect to do a thesis or take the non-thesis option. Students electing the thesis option must complete 30 hours of course credit and three hours of thesis credit (33 hours total) in which students will select a committee of at least three faculty members and complete a thesis project. For information on IUP policies pertaining to writing a thesis, please refer to the Thesis/Dissertation Manual.

Students electing the non-thesis option must complete a total of 36 hours of course credit (30 hours of coursework and six hours of internship and/or elective credit). Students in the non-thesis option may choose to complete the AECT program in one calendar year. To do this, students must begin coursework in the Fall and carry a minimum of 12 hours for the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. (Note: Students should check with their adviser when planning this option; most courses are only offered once during a calendar year.)


AECT non-thesis students are required to take 6 credit hours of internship and/or electives.  Students may do a six credit internship, take six credits of electives, or do a three credit internship and take three credits of electives. Thesis students are required to take three credits of either electives or internship. 

Electives: The following link contains a list of approved electives in the College of Education and Educational Technology at IUP (COE&ET electives). Electives may also be taken from other colleges at IUP or transferred to IUP from other institutions. Because graduate course requirements differ from department to department, students are encouraged to contact the instructor prior to registering for an elective course. All elective courses must meet the Graduate School requirements as a graduate course.  Students should consult with their academic advisor prior to registering for an elective. 

Internship: Student may complete an optional three or six credit internship (COMM 698). Student wishing to complete an internship should consult the Internship Checklist found in the AECT Internship Handbook. Internships are typically completed during the summer semester. 

Instructional Technology Specialist Certification

For students wishing to acquire the Instructional Technology Specialist certification, an internship in a public school or intermediate unit is required. AECT students can obtain the Pennsylvania Department of Education Instructional Technology Specialist Certification. This certification permits graduates to work in school, school districts, and intermediate units in Pennsylvania as an instructional technology professional. (Instructional Technology Certification

Course Descriptions

ACE 621 The Adult Learner 

This 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

This course is designed to present knowledge and skill building 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 traditional and nontraditional educational 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 adult and community education administrators.

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 which are effective with adults; and instructional designs and evaluative methods effective in the teaching-learning process.

ACE 750 Seminar: Technology and Adult Learning

This course, by providing an advanced forum in which to research, discuss, and document current and emerging topics, issues, and applications in technology and adult learning (with special emphasis on distance learning), serves to synthesize these two fields of inquiry and offers students the opportunity to conceptualize and develop models and strategies for the integrated application of theory and practice learned in earlier courses. Literature reviews, topic analyses, and case studies are used to enhance awareness of critical issues and potential application in real-life settings.

COMM 600 Instructional Design and Development 

This course examines the systems approach for the design, development, and evaluation of instructional material (print, video, multimedia, etc.). Students will learn about the history of instructional technology and its current applications. Each student will produce a self-instructional prototype that will require the student to systematically and creatively apply the concepts and rules learned in the class.

COMM 601 Media Production 

Students learn how to systematically plan, produce, use, and evaluate media. Each student will produce different types of messages (motivational, informational, and instructional) using a variety of media.

COMM 614 Instructional Computing Basics 

Students will be introduced to the practical use of the computer as a tool for enhancing effectiveness and efficiency in teaching/learning and training and development. Learners will explore the use of the computer in school and non-school teaching or training and development settings, conduct critical evaluation of computer-based instructional/training materials, and develop strategies for integrating computing into the total teaching/training and development environment. Current research in the area of instructional computing and its practical implications for teaching and training and development will also be discussed.

COMM 631 Interactive Multimedia

Students get an introduction to designing and producing computer-generated multimedia presentations and courseware for industry and education.

GSR 615 Elements of Research

Selection of a research problem, data collection, types of research, research reports, and use of the library and computer in connection with research problems are studied. Elements of statistics are introduced. This course provides background for preparation of the thesis and enables the student to become an intelligent consumer of products of academic research.

  • 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.