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Adult Education Certificate

College of Individualized Studies
Graduate certificate

This 14-credit, completely online Adult Education Certificate is designed to prepare teachers, trainers, administrators, and counselors in the broad political, social, economic and theoretical aspects of improving adult foundational skills in a global environment.

Are you interested in the Adult Education Certificate? Learn more about our Zoom information session.

Using a culturally responsive and representative curriculum, this certificate is intended to prepare teachers and trainers in a variety of public and private settings where foundational skills improvement is a necessity. 

The four courses in this certificate program include a focus on trauma-informed teaching, take participants through various approaches and techniques of teaching adult foundational skills and literacy, as well as formal and informal assessment approaches to literacy, and allow students to build on their interests through targeted fieldwork.

Certificate Program Highlights

  • Offer a deep understanding of the characteristics – within the social and demographic context – that motivate adults to engage in lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Offer a deep understanding of various adult learning and development theories.
  • Offer a deep understanding of intermediate and advanced approaches to teaching adult literacy and of formally and informally assessing the literacy skills of adult learners.
  • Offer a deep understanding of various adult education and literacy programs.
  • Enables learners to connect theory with practice and develop real-world teaching experience in adult education settings or training.

Student outcomes

Learners who complete the Adult Education Certificate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate depth of knowledge of adult education theories and approaches.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the importance of foundational literacy in the workplace, and community.
  • Demonstrate understanding of formal and informal literacy assessment approaches, specifically with adult learners.
  • Demonstrate understanding of various resources for adult teaching and training programs.
  • Critically evaluate various approaches to teaching English as a foreign language.
  • Demonstrate understanding of cultural and gender implications for English communication.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the connections between adult education theory and practice.

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Application instructions

Minimum Admission Requirements

Applicants must demonstrate evidence of readiness for graduate study including an earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution (or foreign credential equivalency) with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale).

Applicants with competence-based transcripts and no calculated GPA will be considered.

The Adult Education Certificate is designed to meet the needs of a diverse student population. We therefore strongly encourage a diversity of candidates to apply to this program in order to reflect the learners engaged in the various adult education setting throughout our communities.

Admission is not guaranteed.

Application Deadlines

June 30 – Fall semester
December 6 – Spring semester
April 30 – Summer semester

Applications received by the deadline will be reviewed and a decision will be provided to each applicant within a month after the deadline. Note: we will continue to accept applications beyond the deadline, however we cannot guarantee admission for applications that are received too close to the semester start date. In such a case, we will defer admission to the next available semester. Incomplete applications will carry over to the next available semester, for no more than three consecutive semesters.

Although admission is based on meeting a number of qualifying criteria, detailed below, there are only a limited number of seats available every semester. If you meet the criteria but are not admitted due to limited space, you may be granted deferred admission.

International Students

Since this certificate takes place online, international students may complete the courses without needing to be in the US. However, since one of the required courses is a fieldwork, international students will need to enter into an agreement with the program director, to identify a suitable substitute fieldwork. Further, international students must meet the admission criteria and present evidence of language proficiency. We accept TOEFL scores of at least 550 (PBT) or 213 (CBT) or 80 (IBT) and IELTS scores of at least 6.0. Applications from international students studying on an F-1 student visa will not be accepted, as this is not a degree-granting program.

Application Requirements

A complete application file consists of two parts. Begin the application process by first applying online using the online application portal. All application materials become the property of Metropolitan State University and are not returned. All application materials must be received by the Graduate Studies Office by the application deadline.

Your application will be considered only if your application is complete. Note that if you are completing a four-year program you may apply to this graduate certificate if you are in your final year; however, you cannot begin this graduate certificate program until you have finished your bachelor's degree.

Part One

  • Complete the Online Graduate Programs Application, using your Minnesota State StarID. If you don’t have a Minnesota State StarID you will create on at the beginning of the application.
    • If you don't have or choose not to provide your Social Security number (SSN), please follow the No SSN instruction to activate your StarID. If you encounter difficulty with the online application, please email graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.  
  • Non-refundable application fee, paid online
    • The current fee of $20 is waived for graduates of Metropolitan State, certified veterans and active military.
  • Official transcripts
    • Must show a bachelor degree or equivalent earned from a regionally accredited institution with grade-point average or narrative description describing courses completed.
    • Transcripts from ALL schools attended after high school and from any graduate or professional programs are required.
    • All transcripts from non-US schools must be evaluated (course-by-course) by either ECE (preferred) or WES.
    • Electronic transcripts should be sent to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.
    • Paper transcripts should be sent directly from the sending institution (preferred) to:

Metropolitan State University
Attn: Graduate Admissions
700 East Seventh Street
Saint Paul MN 55106

Part Two

After you have submitted your online application, log in to the Applicant Portal using your Star ID and password to upload application materials, and check on the status of your application. The Applicant Portal will indicate any missing application items.

  • A 2-page letter of interest, to be uploaded via the Applicant Portal using your StarID.
    • Your letter of interest will serve as both a goals statement and a writing assessment. Submit your letter of interest, using 12-point font, double-spaced, clearly written, well-organized, with correct grammar, accurate spelling and punctuation, good sentence structure, and clear sub-headings. Make sure that you carefully address each of the following:
      • Pledge of Authorship: Please begin your admissions essay with the following statement: (Your essay will not be accepted if this is not included.) I, (complete name), verify that this admissions essay is my own work, and I am fully aware that discovery otherwise will invalidate my entire application.
      • Why you are interested in the Adult Education Certificate. 
      • How do you feel your previous experiences, academic or otherwise, have prepared you for this program?
      • If you have taught in adult education settings, in the workplace, community, please make sure to include that.
      • What skills and knowledge do you expect to gain through this program?

Currently in a Metropolitan State University graduate program?

Applicants who are in a Metropolitan State University graduate program and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher may apply to the Adult Education Graduate Certificate by:

  • Completing the Online Graduate Application. If you have trouble submitting a new application, scroll to the bottom of the application page and select new.

The admission essay will be waived. 

Questions about applying to the graduate certificate?

Questions about the online application, fee, transcripts/transcript evaluations, and document upload feature can be sent to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu (preferred) or call 651-793-1302.

For questions about Part Two requirements or the program in general, please contact Prof. Daniel Woldeab, Director of the Certificate Program, at ABE.GraduateProgramCertificate@metrostate.edu (preferred) or call 651-793-1781.

262 St. John’s Hall
700 East Seventh Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000

Student licensure

Academic Progress Policy

Students are responsible for understanding the questions about Part Two requirements or the program in general, please contact Prof. Daniel Woldeab, Director of the Certificate Program, at daniel.woldeab@metrostate.edu (preferred) or call 612-793-1781e Academic Progress Policy, and for monitoring their academic progress and immediately notifying the Program Director of a low grade or non- completion of a class or other learning.

To remain in good standing and to qualify for completion, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Grades below C+ do not apply to program requirements, but are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.

Academic Probation, Dismissal and Reapplication

Satisfactory Academic Progress

  • Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain in the program.
  • Only courses with a letter grade of C+ (2.67) or better count toward certificate requirements; however, a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for completion.
  • Only courses with letter grades (A–C) are applied to the graduate certificate, with the exception of ADED 690, which is graded as Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S–NS).
  • Students who receive a letter grade of C+ or below in any of the courses will be placed on academic probation. Students who receive a letter grade of C+ or below in two courses, or whose cumulative graduate GPA falls below 3.0, will be dismissed from the graduate certificate program.  
  • Students suspended from the ABE graduate certificate for unsatisfactory academic progress, may reapply after one calendar year has passed. Re-admission to the certificate program is not automatic.
  • Students should immediately consult with the Graduate Certificate Director if they have questions or concerns about their academic standing.

Appeal of Unsatisfactory Academic Progress Removals from the Program

Students suspended from the program for unsatisfactory academic progress may appeal the suspension to the College of Individualized Studies dean. The appeal must be in writing and it must provide specific grounds for the appeal. The appeal to the dean is due within 30 days of receiving confirmation of suspension from the program; appeals received after 30 days will not be considered.

Reactivating into the Certificate Program

Should a student who is admitted to the certificate program not be able to start the program and register for courses, they will be able to retain their accepted status for up to a year; students in this situation should consult with the Certificate Program Director. Students who have been admitted but do not register for courses for more than a year without consulting with the Certificate Program Director, will be dropped from active status and will need to reapply to the program.

Similarly, students who started the program and are in good academic standing, but who have not registered for courses for two semesters, must reapply to the program. If readmitted, students are required to satisfy the degree requirements in force at the time of readmission, if those requirements differ from those in force at the time of original admission.

Time to Completion

The Adult Education graduate certificate program allows students to complete their certificate program within three semesters. However, students may take up to two years from the first semester of graduate study to complete their program certificate requirements.

Please note that ADED 620: Introduction to Adult Education with Emphasis on Adult Literacy is a prerequisite and must be taken before any of the other courses. Students who are admitted into the certificate program, and who have a background in this area of work, may consult with their advisor to explore completing the program within two semesters; this could mean taking ADED 620 alongside ADED 640, followed by ADED 660 alongside ADED 690. Please note that taking ADED 640 together with ADED 660 is not allowed. Finally, ADED 640: Techniques and Approaches to Teaching Adults must be taken before enrolling in the Field Experience course.

For students not admitted into the certificate program, and who are taking these courses as electives, please note that you are encouraged to take ADED 620 before any other course. 

An extension of the time limit may be requested by writing to the Graduate Certificate Program Director. Such requests must be received prior to the expiration of the time limit. Requests for extensions should include:

  • The reason(s) for requesting the extension.
  • A summary of the student's plan to the certificate requirements.
  • A specific date for the extension to expire.

Extension decisions are not automatic, and cannot be appealed.

Course requirements

(14 credits)

ADED 640 Techniques and Approaches to Teaching Adults

4 credits

This course deals with various advanced theories and approaches to teaching adults, paying special attention to the role of English communication for the workplace. As part of our framework, we will use major adult learning theories such as transformative, self-directed, experiential, and cooperative, in order to explore various aspects of adult development as they relate to life-long learning. The course uses extensive readings, class discussions, and site observations of adult education centers, community education, and workplace education settings to address adult teaching strategies in various environments. The course in particular will address the following topics: learning and improving English literacy as an adult; advanced approaches to teaching reading, writing and communications skills; technology as a teaching tool; teaching students with disabilities; and cultural and gender discrimination.

Full course description for Techniques and Approaches to Teaching Adults

ADED 660 Assessment in Adult Education with Emphasis on Adult Literacy

4 credits

This course will focus on ways of formally and informally assessing the literacy of adult learners. Once learner needs have been identified, specific content ¿materials, tools, and instructional approaches can be used to assist adult learning in various settings. We will also look at appropriate assessments for English as a foreign language; adult English literacy skills needed for work, family, community and continuing education; the uses and issues of standardized tests; assumptions about testing, cultural bias and interpretation of formal tests; test preparation programs; and hiring discrimination caused by misuse of hiring tests. Finally, the course will also cover assessment of adult literacy using approaches such as applications and case studies; planning for work, family and community, including transition to post-secondary education career and vocational preparation; and use of formal testing for college admission, and other educational and vocational programs.

Full course description for Assessment in Adult Education with Emphasis on Adult Literacy

ADED 690 Field Experience

2 credits

This fieldwork course is designed to give learners the opportunity to connect theory with practice and develop real-world teaching experience in adult basic education settings or training. Through this hands-on experience in authentic learning situations, students deepen their commitment to life-long learning and professional development. This two (2) credit fieldwork should be tailored to your experiences and your desired professional journey.

Full course description for Field Experience

ADED 620 Introduction to Adult Education with Emphasis on Adult Literacy

4 credits

This course will cover various theories and approaches to adult education. Identify and assess the literacy skills needed in the workplace community and family. We will review the evolution of adult literacy in the US, and in Minnesota in particular, and will look at state and Federal programs associated with literacy and adult education. The course will also address the need for writing in plain language for low-literacy employees. Finally, the course will also analyze and assess community literacy programs and the role literacy plays in social and economic empowerment. We will also cover ways of reaching underrepresented groups. We will critically examine new social action approaches to literacy education; and related issues such as poverty and welfare, ethnicity, cultural barriers to literacy and achievement related to social class.

Full course description for Introduction to Adult Education with Emphasis on Adult Literacy