What is Liberal Adult Education?

The concept of liberal adult education refers in general terms to “higher” education, though that descriptor is also broad in and of itself. Increasingly, adults are looking for education, whether for work, career re-training, or personal betterment. There is a long history of intellectual pursuit in a variety of societies and the idea of liberal adult education continues to fill a particular niche of the educational market.

Here are a few details on the area of liberal adult education.

Vocational outcomes

As mentioned, adults go to school for a variety of reasons.

Some people pursue liberal adult education because they need to develop their skill set in their current job. The may also enroll in particular degrees so that they can pursue advanced positions within their particular organization.

Sometimes the individual drives this pursuit. Other times the organization encourages their employee to engage in “lifelong learning” because they know that a better-educated workforce helps the outcomes of the business.

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Liberal adult education can also be about personal betterment, either for the development of skill sets or the general expansion of knowledge.

Oftentimes people try to make a direct connection between education and vocational application, but there are times that people just want to learn more about the world. While this may not fit into a capitalistic society, it is a reality of some adults who are simply curious about educational subjects from a purely intellectual standpoint.


In terms of definitions, the idea of “liberal” stems from the broad category of liberal arts education. This includes, but is not limited to, subjects like English, mathematics, history, art, psychology, music, sociology, foreign language, religion, language arts, and humanities.

Most degree programs include some component of “general” or liberal arts education, which forms the basis of a “well-rounded” education.


Liberal adult education can also be more vocationally focused and be geared toward particular career fields.

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For example, courses may be offered in areas of business such as accounting, management, marketing, finance and human resources. Or, there may be classes in certain software packages that center on word processing, spreadsheets, databases, graphics, or website development.

In addition, schools may offer particular training courses for entrepreneurial or personal applications. These may include areas like notary, taxes, or other legal documents.


Finally, people should be aware of the where liberal adult education may lead them in the long term.

Some educational offerings are part of an overall degree program that can yield a bachelor or associate degree. Other times the coursework may yield some sort of educational certificate, which may have some credibility to particular organizations.

In still other situations, the classes are just for the informational benefit. They do not earn anything towards a degree or degree program.

Overall, adult education is the ever-increasing phenomenon of institutions that offer learning opportunities for adults.

Sometimes those offerings are particularly suited to the working adult who only has so much time to go to school.

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Also, the education provided might cover a variety of topics and provide a number of outcomes for those adults who wish to better themselves or advance in their current vocational situation.