The adult education doctorate in North America: The programs, curricula, websites, and the Commission of Professors of Adult Education standards

Wendy Jean Sonstrom

Abstract

A list of programs that offer a doctorate in adult education was created using the most recent edition of Peterson's Graduate Programs in Business, Education, Health, Information Studies, Law & Social Work (2010) and the most recent version of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education (CPAE) Directory of Adult Education Programs in North America (Pierce, 2008). A list of programs was then reviewed by the membership of the CPAE utilizing the organization's listserv. Program information was collected from each program's website, and the researcher then reviewed the list of programs for three core adult education courses (adult learning theory, program planning, and a foundations/history course) based on the literature of the field. Programs that did not meet this three course criteria were eliminated. Thirty-seven programs met the criteria, and another seven programs were identified that offered an individualized doctorate, for a total of forty-four programs. Programs were analyzed by area of study, type of doctorate offered (Ed.D., Ph.D., or both), and curricula. Programs were found to have varieties of program names, types of curricula, and course requirements, and most programs (82%) had more than one area of study. Curricula were also compared to the 2008 version of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education (CPAE) standards for doctoral education, and this is the first known study to do so. The results indicated that the programs have a general alignment with the standards which is consistent with earlier studies that compared graduate curricula to an earlier version of the standards. A form to evaluate program websites was developed based on the work of Hans (2001). After Hans, this is the second known study to evaluate graduate program websites across a field of study, and this is the first known study to evaluate graduate program websites in adult education. The websites of all graduate programs in adult education were evaluated by two raters, and implications for practice and future research are discussed.