Credits and costs
Online Adult Basic Education (ABE) Postbaccalaureate Certificate
If you currently work, or if you wish to work, with adults or out-of-school youth who struggle with reading, writing, numeracy, and/or English language proficiency, this online postbaccalaureate certificate program could be ideal for you. It is designed to enhance your ability to provide high-quality, research-based instruction in adult basic education (ABE), especially literacy and numeracy.
The 12-credit certificate includes three required courses and one elective, which allows you to tailor the program to your specific interest, such as ESL, program planning and administration, distance education, educational technology, or adult learning.
The Penn State Difference
This online program is offered in partnership with the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy in the College of Education at Penn State; you can learn from faculty with academic and professional expertise in adult basic education — the same renowned faculty who teach on campus — ensuring that you will receive a high-quality education. All courses offered for this certificate have been developed using Penn State Quality Assurance standards established by the University.
Adult Basic Education Curriculum: Adult Literacy and Numeracy
The focus of the ABE curriculum is to deepen your knowledge so you can more effectively teach adult literacy and numeracy and expand and strengthen adults' proficiency in literacy and numeracy, to enhance your ability to apply these strategies in your professional practice, and to advance the overall quality of instruction for students enrolled in adult basic education.
Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Adult Basic Education may count toward professional development hours.
The Hart Van Horn Adult Education Scholarship is available to individuals in the field of adult basic education and literacy. Recipients will receive $1,200 off tuition that can be used within the academic year. The student must be enrolled in one or more of the Goodling Institute’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) or the Family Literacy (FL) Certificate courses. However, preference will be given to an individual enrolled in the ABE Certificate program.
Information for Military and Veterans
Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions.
Elective Courses (select 3 credits)
In addition to the required courses, choose one course from the following list of electives.
Apply Earned Credits toward a Master's Degree
After completing the certificate, you would only need to take an additional seven courses to obtain the online Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education, if you apply and are granted admission into the master's program.
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
Paying for Your Certificate
Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.
Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.
Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Your certificate application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.
- Summer Deadline: Apply by May 1 to start May 15
- Fall Deadline: Apply by August 1 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by December 1, 2023, to start January 8, 2024
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
All applicants are expected to have earned a junior/senior grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — Postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required.
GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
Statement of Purpose — Explain your reasons for applying to the Adult Basic Education certificate. Please limit your statement to one page.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the Graduate School application
- Choose "Certificate Admission" as the enrollment type
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Adult Basic Education" as the certificate
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?
Excel within Your Field
Excel within Your Field
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
To learn more about the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Adult Basic Education, offered in partnership with Penn State's College of Education, please contact:
Beth McLean, Ph.D.
405 Keller Building
University Park PA 16802
Email: [email protected]
Craig A. Campbell
DegreeEd.D., Adult and Higher Education, Northern Illinois University
DegreeM.A., Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks (in progress)
DegreeM.S., Ed. Teaching and Learning, Northern Illinois University
DegreeB.S., Mathematical Sciences, Northern Illinois University
DegreeA.S., Applied Science, Highland Community College
Dr. Craig A. Campbell's doctoral degree focused on community development and international and popular education. Currently, he is working on a capstone project toward acquiring a second master's degree in cross-cultural studies with emphasis on indigenous knowledge systems. His research interests include nonformal and informal learning, international adult education, folk schools, popular education, University and Cooperative Extension, distance education, qualitative research methodologies, the Tribal College movement, and indigenous knowledge systems. The commonalities among these seemingly disparate areas are rural place–based knowledges and access to education.
William C. Diehl
DegreePh.D., Adult Education, Penn State
DegreeB.S., Elementary Education, Penn State
Dr. William C. Diehl is an assistant associate professor of education in the lifelong learning and adult education program. He is also the coordinator of online graduate programs and lead faculty. Dr. Diehl is the director of The American Center for the Study of Distance Education and associate editor of The American Journal of Distance Education. His research includes foundations of distance and adult education, online teaching competencies, emerging technologies, and intercultural communication. He serves as an adviser to the graduate assistant group and Lifelong Learning and Adult Education GSA group.
DegreePh.D., Educational Technology, Concordia University (Montreal)
DegreeM.A., Adult Education, University of British Columbia
DegreeB.A., Intellectual History, Queen's University
Dr. Adnan Qayyum is an assistant professor of lifelong learning and adult education. He specializes in comparative and international online and distance education, digital technologies and adult learning, health literacy, and quantitative research design.
DegreePh.D., Education, University of California, Berkeley
DegreeM.A., Education, University of California, Berkeley
DegreeB.A., Anthropology and Latin American Studies, University of Michigan
Dr. Rebecca Tarlau is an assistant professor of education and labor and employment. Her ethnographic research agenda has three broad areas of focus: theories of the state and state-society relations; social movements, critical pedagogy, and learning; and Latin American education and development.