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. The Graduate 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.

    Student Planning Guide

    New students should complete the Student Planning Guide. This forms helps you to be aware of the requirements for graduation as well as plan your academic program. It is required for all new students to complete and sign the Student Planning Guide and return it to the ACE office. The form can be returned as an e-mail attachment or printed and sent via US mail.

    Student Responsibility Signature Form

    It is the responsibility of each student to know and understand university, Graduate School, and department regulations and requirements. Students are required to sign and return the Student Responsibility Signature Form to the ACE office before they can register for courses. In order to familiarize yourself with university and department requirements, all new students should read the ACE Student Handbook and the Graduate School Catalog. The Student Responsibility Signature Form can be returned as an e-mail attachment or printed and sent via US mail.  

    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 615, 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.

    Semester Courses
    Fall 2017 (Year 1) ACE 620
    ACE 621
    Spring 2018 (Year 1) ACE 622
    GSR 615
    Summer 2018 (Year 1) ACE 650
    ACE 640
    Fall 2018 (Year 2) ACE 623
    ACE 735
    Spring 2019 (Year 2) ACE 625
    ACE 745
    Summer 2019 (Year 2) ACE 650
    ACE 640

    *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.