Adult Education Associations and Organizations

Which one should you join?

It can be overwhelming to figure out which professional organizations are the right ones to join when you're ready to get more involved in adult and continuing education, so we put together a list of the top national associations. Some are for individual members, some for institutions, and some, like ACE, are designed for presidents. Likewise, some are involved in high-level national policy making, and others, like ACHE, are more about professional networking. We listed enough info to help you select the right organization for you. Visit the websites for more information about membership.

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American Council on Education

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ACE, the American Council on Education, is located in Washington, DC. It represents 1,800 member institutions, primarily presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, which include two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities.

ACE has five primary areas of attention:

  1. It is at the center of federal policy debates related to higher education.
  2. Provides leadership training for higher education administrators.
  3. Provides services for non-traditional students, including veterans, through The Center for Lifelong Learning.
  4. Provides programs and services for international higher education through ​The Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE).
  5. Provides research and thought leadership through its Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS).
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American Association for Adult and Continuing Education

The AAACE, the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, located in Bowie, MD, is devoted to "helping adults acquire the knowledge, skills, and values needed to lead productive and satisfying lives."

Its mission is to provide leadership in the field of adult and continuing education, to expand opportunities for growth and development, unify teachers of adults, and offer theory, research, information, and best practices. It also advocates public policy and social change initiatives.

AAACE is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization. Most members are academics and professionals in fields related to lifelong learning. The website states, "We therefore strongly advocate relevant public policy, legislation, and social change initiatives which expand the depth and breadth of opportunities for the education of adults. We also support the ongoing growth and expansion of leadership roles in the field."

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National Association of State Directors of Adult Education

NASDAE, or the National Association of State Directors of Adult Education, used to be called the National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium (NAEPDC). NASDAE is located in Washington, DC and was incorporated with five main purposes (from its website):

  1. To coordinate, develop, and conduct programs of professional development for state adult education staffs;
  2. To serve as a catalyst for public policy review and development related to adult education;
  3. To disseminate information on the field of adult education;
  4. To maintain a visible presence for the state adult education program in our nation's capital; and
  5. To coordinate the development of national and/or international adult education initiatives and link those initiatives to state programs.

The consortium provides training activities, publications, and online resources for state directors of adult education and their staff members.

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The Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations

COLLO, the Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations, located in Washington, DC, is dedicated to bringing together leaders of adult and lifelong learning to "advance knowledge, find common ground, and take collective action to benefit adult learners in areas like access, cost, and removal of barriers to participation in education at all levels."

COLLO is involved in the U.S. Department of Education program integrity and state authorization, literacy, UNESCO, and the educational needs of returning veterans.

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Association for Continuing Higher Education

ACHE, the Association for Continuing Higher Education, located in Norman, OK, has about 1,500 members from 400 organizations, and is "a dynamic network of diverse professionals who are dedicated to promoting excellence in continuing higher education and to sharing their expertise and experience with one another."

ACHE provides members with networking opportunities with other higher education professionals, reduced registration fees for conferences, eligibility for grants and scholarships, and publishes The Journal of Continuing Education.

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Your Citation
Peterson, Deb. "Adult Education Associations and Organizations." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Peterson, Deb. (2020, August 26). Adult Education Associations and Organizations. Retrieved from Peterson, Deb. "Adult Education Associations and Organizations." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).