Online PhD in Education: Adult & Continuing Education

Education Major, Adult and Continuing Education

College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

Program Overview

Want to turn your passion for lifelong learning into a career? The University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers an online PhD in Education, Adult and Continuing Education Concentration.

Consisting of educational psychology, research, and development experiences, this program will prepare you for a fulfilling career as an educator, researcher, scholar, or any other practitioner who works with adult learners.

Credit Hours


Cost Per Credit Hour*

In-State $700

Out-of-State $775

Testing Requirement


Admission Terms

Fall, Spring

*Cost per credit hour is an estimate based on maintenance and university fees. Some programs may have additional course fees. Please contact your department for additional information on any related fees, and visit Tuition and Fees in Detail at One Stop.

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A Degree to Advance Your Career

The Adult and Continuing Education PhD Program is designed for people interested in higher education, workplace learning, community-based organizations or any setting where adults can be found learning.

The doctoral concentration in adult and continuing education helps to develop professionals who can work effectively with adult learners in a wide range of settings and under a host of situations. This graduate program is internationally recognized. It offers students learning experiences that prepare them to work with a range of diverse adult learners, equipping them to work and live in globalized societies and environments that are more culturally sensitive.

The Adult and Continuing Education Concentration in the doctoral psychology and research program prepares students for careers as scholars and practitioners who work with adult learners in a wide range of settings.

The program consists of the following: 

  1. Continuous research or inquiry
  2. Courses and professional experiences in educational psychology and other related fields designed to develop a comprehensive academic basis for future work in research and teaching
  3. Other learning and developmental experiences tailored to individual needs and career goals

Featured Courses

The Ph.D. in Education, Adult and Continuing Education Concentration requires a mix of core courses, advanced courses, and research methods. Here are some examples of courses from each section:

ACED 520: Survey of Adult Education

This course covers the historical development and philosophies of adult education programs, agencies, associations, and more. It also explores the literature and issues surrounding the processes of adult education, and diversity of continuing education.

ACED 615: Advanced Study of Adult Learning and Development

Adult learning and development theories and research are essential for adult educators who design and implement educational applications and opportunities. Topics covered include advanced research and theories of adult education for improving learning and teaching in educational contexts.

ACED 529: Facilitating Adult Learning

Theory, research, and practice related to working with adults in teaching-learning situations.

ACED 530: Methods of Action Research

Models of action research and applications in professional practice. 

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Program Application Materials

Here are examples of the application materials needed to apply to the online Ph.D. in Education, Adult and Continuing Education Concentration. Please check with the department for the latest application requirements.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

This document should provide detailed information about your professional and academic experiences, as well as notable achievements, awards, volunteer work, etc.

Cover Letter/ Letter of Introduction

The cover letter is an opportunity for us to get to know you. It should elaborate upon your CV, highlight your skills, and explain your goals for pursuing a PhD in adult and continuing education. 

Statement Goals

Please share with us your research interests and how this degree will help you achieve goals in your learning, career development, and life enrichment; how you plan to use your prior life and work experiences, knowledge, and skills in your new learning; and how you intend to complete the degree.


Upload your degree transcripts. Check the page on Transcripts or call Graduate Admissions at 865-974-3251 for help with this process.

Writing Sample

Select a copy of your prior thesis for a graduate degree, a course paper for a degree program, a published article, a conference paper, or another form of writing that you feel represents your professional writing skills and style. 

Three Recommendation Letters/ Rating Forms

Provide either a letter by appropriately selected recommenders OR provide selected raters to complete a form that Graduate Admissions will automatically send to your chosen raters. For example, one or more faculty members can attest to your academic work, or your work supervisor can attest to your capabilities. Family members and personal friends are not appropriate raters. Although we can start to review your application with two recommendations, the third recommendation often helps in our decision-making process.  

Ready to light the way in educational psychology & research?