Adult, Professional, and Community Education (PH.D.)

Ph.D. Adult, Professional, and Community Education

Students develop skills in research and practice that help adults in organizations and communities improve their lives and work.

Program Overview

The degree completion rate is approximately 30% above the national average. The adult education faculty is internationally recognized for scholarship and leadership. The program cultivates a supportive and diverse learning community, with faculty working together on community engagement projects, research and presentations, and publishing in local, national and international venues.

Course Work

Students are accepted into the adult, professional and community education (APCE) Ph.D. program once a year, entering as a cohort in the fall. Classes are offered in the evenings to better serve working professionals.

The 63-hour curriculum includes 24 hours of major emphasis courses, 18 hours of research courses, nine hours of electives and a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation. Dissertation topics reflect the wide range of student practice settings and interests as well as expertise of faculty.

DegreeCourse WorkDissertationTotal Hours
Course Work
51 hours
12 hours
Total Hours
63 hours

What Our Alumni Say

“The Adult, Professional and Community Education program is not just home to an unrivaled community of learners; it is a program that empowered me through challenging, rewarding, and engaging experiences.ˮ

– Esther Pippins, Ph.D. 2023

Program Details

Students and alumni regularly receive national and international awards for their practice and research. They teach and hold leadership positions in government, business, higher education and community organizations.

Program Mission

The program educates scholar-practitioners who work in the broad array of settings served by the field of adult education. Graduates of the program are educational leaders who:

  • act as change agents
  • foster student-centered, lifelong learning communities
  • recognize and build on the diverse assets of colleagues and students
  • thoughtfully use technology as a tool for communication, research, teaching and learning
  • make ethical and moral decisions and articulate the values and principles that guide them
  • inform theory with practice
  • continuously learn and support the continuous learning of others

Career Options

Graduates from the APCE program design, deliver, manage and evaluate adult learning in many settings, including not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, post-secondary education, healthcare organizations, business, adult basic education and ESL programs, international organizations and the military. They work as faculty, program coordinators, directors, scholars, administrators, executives, researchers, planners, learning specialists and organizational developers.

Program Faculty

The APCE faculty research areas include:

  • adult learning
  • adult development
  • organizational learning and development
  • adults in higher education
  • second language learning
  • research capacity building
  • gender, race, ethnicity, and social class
  • adult international education

They publish in top journals in our field including Adult Education Quarterly, Journal of Transformative Education, Human Resource Development International, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and Adult Learning.

Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more. If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following individuals.

Graduate Advisor
Dr. Lisa Baumgartner
Academic Services Building South (ASBS), Room 306

Contact for academic program-related issues.

Advisor Support
Kassi Redwine
Academic Services Building South (ASBS), Room 306

Contact for administrative support.


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Application Deadlines

DeadlinesU.S. CitizenInternational
U.S. Citizen
February 1*
February 1*

This program's deadline is firm. This type of deadline means the application and other application requirements must be submitted by the program's specified deadline day.

*The application deadline has been extended to April 1, 2024. Applications after February 1 will be reviewed on a space-available basis.

Funding Information
For scholarship, fellowship or assistantship consideration, applications must be completed by the deadline above.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a firm basis.

Admission Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.

  •   Review important information about the online application.

    • $55 Nonrefundable application fee, OR
    • $90 Nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

    Review important information about application fees.

    • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university. (Non-U.S. degrees must be equivalent to a four-year U.S. Bachelor’s degree. In most cases, three-year degrees are not considered. Visit our International FAQs for more information.)
    • master's degree from a regionally accredited university in a field related to the proposed course of study
    • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
    • competitive GPA in all completed graduate course work

    Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted.

  • GRE

    • GRE not required

    Approved English Proficiency Exam Scores

    Applicants are required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score that meets the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

    • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall and minimum individual module scores of
      • 19 listening
      • 19 reading
      • 19 speaking
      • 18 writing
    • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
    • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
      • minimum individual module scores of 6.0
    • official Duolingo scores required with a 110 overall
    • official TOEFL Essentials scores required with an 8.5 overall

    This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.
    Review important information about official test scores.

    • interview with program faculty
    • resume/CV
    • statement of purpose (approximately 500 words) describing your background and professional goals and including your rationale for pursuing a doctoral degree in adult, professional, and community education
    • three forms of recommendation addressing professional and academic background. References are required to use the program's Professional Reference Evaluation form and are also strongly encouraged to attach a recommendation letter to the form.

    Review important information about documents.

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