Master of Arts in Adult Education & Community Development

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Master of Arts in Adult Education & Community Development

Master of Arts in Adult Education & Community Development Overview

Are you interested in bringing about positive social change where you live or work? Are you committed to social justice and activism? This leading graduate program may be the place for you.

The MA in Adult Education & Community Development (AECD) is a research-based thesis degree program that focuses on the learning that happens individually and collectively among adults in communities, workplaces, social movements, the virtual world – any place where people come together to create social change. 

It is ideal for those who seek to develop skills for education, community, and organizational roles in a wide range of settings in public, private, and voluntary sectors. Our graduates work with newcomers, youth, women’s groups, LGBTQ agencies, organized labour, racialized people, and disenfranchised communities.

During their program of study, students are expected to have exposure to both qualitative and quantitative approaches to research.

We welcome applicants with diverse but relevant backgrounds. Indigenous, Marxist, feminist, anti-racist, environmentalist, anarchist, arts-based, and other critical perspectives are welcome and encouraged. 

For detailed information about the program, please consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar.

At a Glance

Delivery Mode 
In Person

Study Options
Full-time (6 sessions)
Part-time (10 sessions)

Program Requirement 
Coursework & Thesis

Funding and Tuition
For current information about tuition fees, funding, and financial support, visit Tuition & Financial Support.  

Applications for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle are now closed 


Ready to join one of the world’s top universities? Take the next step in your academic journey and start your application to graduate studies at OISE.

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Why I Chose Leadership, Adult & Higher Education

Denise Dwyer
Denise Dwyer (Master of Education 2013)

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Education and Wellbeing Division, Ministry of Education

"I decided to get my Masters in Adult Education at OISE because of the teaching and learning component. The program opened my mind to a different way of thinking. It gave me a very rounded perspective and a new approach to issues that I had not been trained in as a lawyer. I became a nimbler thinker, and that really prepared me for my role at the Ministry of Education. Above all, I learned that education really is social justice work."

Master of Arts in Adult Education & Community Development Admission Requirements

General Admission Requirements

Please visit the OISE Admissions website for detailed information about the application process, including general minimum admission requirements and supporting documents. 

Program Specific Information

Minimum admission requirements for this program are:

  • An appropriate bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or professional program from a recognized university, with a grade equivalent to a University of Toronto mid-B or better in the final year.
  • At least a year of relevant work, community or volunteer experience is highly desirable.
  • Applications are assessed based on: the clarity of written answers to the faculty admissions questions, strength of letters of reference; grades; work, community or volunteer experience; and fit with the program offerings.

All applicants must submit:

  • Transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended.
  • Two letters of reference (one academic and one professional).
  • Resumé that provides clear and complete information about the applicant's work or field experience related to their proposed studies.

Program Information


Students must complete 4.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) including:

  • Introduction to Adult Education (LHA1100H, 0.5 FCE)
    • Designed to develop students' understanding of and an identity with the field of adult education. Major philosophical, historical, and conceptual bases are examined, as well as contemporary agencies and programs, issues, and trends in the practice of adult education.


  • Community Development: Innovative Models (LHA1102H, 0.5 FCE)
    • This course attempts to come to grips with the meaning of community development in a highly networked, increasingly information-dependent society. The course looks at such issues as the relationships between community organizing and community development and the role of social capital in community economic development.  
  • Master's Thesis Seminar (LHA1183H, 0.5 FCE)
    • Designed to support students in the process of writing a thesis or a substantial research paper. 
  • 0.5 FCE in research methods.
  • At least 2.0 FCEs of the total of 4.0 FCEs must be from the Adult Education and Community Development program. Additional courses may be required of some students.

Based on original research, which may lay the groundwork for doctoral research.

Collaborative specializations provide graduate students enrolled in participating degree programs with an additional multidisciplinary experience as they complete their home degree program. 

Learn more about the collaborative specializations offered to students in this program:

Faculty in the AECD program have multi-disciplinary teaching and research expertise in a wide range of fields. 

Our faculty's expertise includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Community organizing and development
  • Workplace and organizational learning for social change
  • Social movement learning and the social economy
  • Comparative international education and development
  • Popular education
  • Indigenous education
  • Education for sustainability
  • Community healing and peace building
  • Adult literacy
  • Feminism, anti-racism and migration

Full Time

In their first year of study, full-time MA students receive a graduate funding package equal to the cost of academic tuition and fees, plus support as a Graduate Assistant. The second year of study is self-funded. For more information visit Tuition & Financial Support

Part Time

The part-time MA is a self-funded degree. For more information visit Tuition & Financial Support


For more information about awards and scholarships visit:

Please note: LHAE will advertise these awards via student listservs throughout the year as the competitions open. 

Information on scholarships available to OISE students.

The Bonnie Burstow Scholarship is specific to the Adult Education & Community Development program.

The Bonnie Burstow Scholarship for Research into Violence Against Indigenous Women: In Memory of Helen Betty Osborne

This scholarship is to be awarded to an outstanding OISE graduate student whose thesis focuses on the violence itself, or the history underpinning it. Approaches to addressing the aftermath of violence can also be considered only if they are vested exclusively in Indigenous approaches. For the purposes of this Scholarship, violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Indigenous and Two-Spirit/Trans people is defined broadly. It includes not only what is conventionally seen as violence, such as murdered and missing, battery and rape, it also includes such international  violence as imprisonment, psychiatrization, and interference by child welfare. 

If in any given year, there is an applicant to the MA or PhD program in Adult Education at OISE whose intended thesis fits the criteria and is deemed worthy by the University, the Scholarship may be offered to the applicant as part of the admissions package. Otherwise, after a competition in which any current OISE student may apply, the Scholarship will be offered to an OISE student, irrespective of program or department, whose thesis centrally involves research in this area. Preference will be given to Indigenous women students and Indigenous students who identity as Two-Spirit.

There is no automatic application process for this scholarship, but rather as part of the admissions process all new applicants to thesis programs in Adult Education & Community Development, will automatically be considered for the award; nonetheless, prospective students are free to draw attention to their suitability for this award in their Statement of Intent.  In the event that no one is given the award during the admissions process, applications for from students who are already in the program will open in the Spring.

Regrettably, our Full-Time Funded Master of Arts program cannot accept International applicants at this time.  However, the Department may consider applications from international applicants where home governments, international organizations or funding agencies can provide them with funding. The funding must minimally have the value and duration of the graduate funding package that is offered and should be indicated on the application. Please review the Graduate Funding Package website

International students are invited to apply to the Part-Time Master of Arts program or the Master of Education (Full-Time or Part-Time) program. Any international applications for the Full-Time MA program will automatically be redirected to the Full-Time M.Ed. program for consideration.

Ready to join one of the world’s top universities?

Take the next step in your academic journey and start your application to graduate studies at OISE.