Online Master’s Programs in Gerontology
Would you like to earn a master's degree in gerontology? Here, we outline what you'll learn, career options, and other helpful resources.
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What You'll Learn with a Online Master's in Gerontology and Career Potential
Population projections suggest that the number of U.S. adults over age 65 will reach 80 million by 2040. This will create demand for healthcare professionals who can treat aging populations. A gerontology degree emphasizes care methods and quality of life for aging individuals. Professionals in this field focus on both mental and physical health.
Geriatrics focuses specifically on medical care for aging populations. Gerontology graduates find careers in healthcare management, counseling, social work, and nursing. A master's degree in gerontology does not prepare candidates for geriatrician roles, which require a medical degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects much-faster-than-average growth for gerontology-related careers in 2020-2030. Health services managers enjoy 32% growth projections and nurse practitioners enjoy 45%. Nearly all gerontology careers require at least a bachelor's in gerontology degree. A master's can lead to many higher paying jobs. This page covers master's in gerontology degrees, including typical courses and career outcomes.
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What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Gerontology Program?
Earning a gerontology degree online builds specialized skills related to aging population care. The list below highlights five typical gerontology courses. While course titles may differ among schools, general content should remain the same.
What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Gerontology Program?
The class introduces foundational principles and theories of gerontology. Students explore various perspectives and approaches to aging, including demography, history, science, ethics, and medicine. General course topics may also include work, retirement, and living environments.
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Aging
Aging and death create ethical issues for caregivers and healthcare professionals. The class examines ethical dimensions of aging, including autonomy, elder abuse, long-term care, and end-of-life care.
Ethics and Aging
This class explores behavioral, physiological, and cognitive changes that characterize the aging process. Most courses emphasize the role of physical activity and its relationship to aging.
Physical Dimensions of Aging
This class highlights cognitive and behavioral changes that occur when people age. Students explore the later part of life as a developmental stage, examining topics like learning and memory.
Psychology of Aging
Aging populations are vulnerable to abuse, particularly in long-term care environments. The class highlights strategies for identifying and addressing elder abuse. It covers issues such as ethics and report reliability.
Elder Abuse Issues and Advocacy
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
Graduation requirements for gerontology degrees vary among schools and programs. A master's degree in gerontology typically culminates in a capstone or thesis during the final semesters. These projects assess overall student learning and form a bridge to professional gerontology practice.
Capstone projects typically relate to practical elements of professional practice. A thesis serves students interested in research or academic careers.
What Specializations Are Available in a Master's in Gerontology Program?
Students earning their gerontology degree online can choose a specialization, preparing them for different career paths. The list below highlights five popular gerontology specialization tracks.
Geriatric care management focuses on best practices for managing healthcare for aging patients. The concentration includes healthcare administration classes, along with specialized topics related to geriatric care. Classes include public health issues across the lifespan, minority health and aging, and geriatric care and case management.
Geriatric Care Management
While most tracks focus on patient care or healthcare administration, students can also focus on research. The concentration highlights the role of academic research in improving patient care practices. Learners focus on different parts of geriatric care, including administration, healthcare communication, or public policy.
Academia and Research
A long-term care nursing concentration emphasizes skills for managing nursing homes, retirement communities, and other assisted living environments. Students explore the principles of healthcare delivery, medical ethics, and relationships between staff members and residents. The track may also focus on healthcare leadership, administration, and management.
Long-Term Care Nursing
Geriatric social workers address aging-related issues in client populations, such as quality of life issues and elder abuse. The concentration trains students to advocate for clients' rights, including independence and dignity. Learners explore topics including client assessment, mental and physical health issues, and case and care management.
Geriatric Social Worker
Geropsychology applies psychological principles and methods to the needs of aging populations. The concentration highlights both broad psychology concepts and specialized topics in aging and gerontology. Classes include clinical psychology of aging, affect and lifespan development psychology, and psychological assessment methods.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Gerontology Degree?
Gerontology includes many career paths and professional roles. This list highlights just a few of the field's options.
GerontologistGerontologists handle health issues related to aging, specializing in care for elderly patients. While not medical doctors, gerontologists may provide many of the same health services as medical professionals.
Clinical Nurse SpecialistClinical nurse specialists hold advanced training in a specialized nursing practice area. Geriatric specialists treat elderly patients, dealing specifically with health issues related to aging.
GeropsychologistA speciality psychology field, geropsychology addresses social, psychological, and biological changes related to adult development. Geropsychologists research, assess, and treat mental and behavioral problems that occur later in life.
Mental Health TherapistMental health therapists help patients with emotional, social, and behavioral issues. Geriatric therapists serve older patient populations, helping patients identify and address issues related to aging.
Assisted Living ManagerAssisted living managers coordinate services at retirement communities, nursing homes, and other assisted living facilities. They manage staff, oversee finances, coordinate care practices, and supervise the maintenance of facilities.
How Much Can I Make with a Career in Gerontology?
Students can follow many career paths after completing a master's degree in gerontology. This list highlights some of the most popular career paths for gerontology graduates.
Geriatric Care ManagerWorking in medical and health services management, geriatric care managers typically perform administrative roles. They oversee health services for specific departments or entire healthcare practices. Care managers work closely with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to coordinate care. They oversee budgets, create schedules, and coordinate healthcare delivery protocols.
SociologistSociologists look at social behavior in groups, organizations, and societies. Those with a gerontology background research the aging process and other issues relevant to aging populations. Sociologists advise on policy and make suggestions to improve quality of life. They often work with social services agencies, government organizations, and research institutions.
Geriatric Social WorkerGeriatric social workers help aging populations deal with everyday problems. They help clients adjust to major life changes such as divorce, unemployment, illness, or houselessness. Social workers offer mental health counseling and connect clients to other social services. They often work in human services agencies or mental health clinics.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse PractitionerAdult-gerontology nurse practitioners use their specialized training to address common health problems in older patients. Nurse practitioners often treat patients directly, and in most states they can diagnose health problems and prescribe medications. They work in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, and other healthcare settings.
Occupational TherapistsOccupational therapists help patients with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities perform everyday activities. Therapists with a gerontology background help patients deal with age-related health problems and maintain their independence and autonomy. Occupational therapists evaluate patients' needs and develop a therapy treatment plan to help patients achieve their goals.
|Career||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)|
|Geriatric Care Manager||$104,280||32%|
|Geriatric Social Worker||$51,760||12%|
|Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner||$117,670||45%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online Master's in Gerontology Program Accreditation
When researching any gerontology degree online, make sure that both the school and the program hold proper accreditation. The accreditation process regulates schools and ensures they adhere to national education standards.
Accreditation comes in three types: regional, national, and programmatic. Regional accreditation serves four-year colleges, while national accreditation serves vocational and trade schools. Any school offering a master's degree in gerontology should hold regional accreditation, rather than national accreditation.
Programmatic accreditation evaluates individual programs within a certain field. For gerontology, look for either Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council or Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education accreditation.
How to Pay for a Master's in Gerontology Degree
Graduate students can find many funding options for their gerontology degree. This list outlines three common funding sources: loans, graduate assistantships, and financial support for military personnel and veterans.
- 1. Graduate Assistantships
Some programs offer full or partial tuition remission through graduate assistantships, which require students to teach or assist in research. For example, St. Cloud State University in Michigan offers graduate assistantships to roughly 30% of full-time graduate students.
- 2. Student Loans
Graduate students use both federal and private student loans to finance their education. Filling out the FAFSA shows students their eligibility for different types of aid.
- 3. Military and Veteran Financial Aid
The federal government offers educational funding to military veterans and their families through many programs. The VA provides education benefits for veterans primarily through the GI Bill®.
Gerontologists and other professionals in the field depend on different industry organizations to share knowledge. Many of these organizations offer memberships to graduate students pursuing gerontology degrees.
With over 6,000 geriatrics healthcare members, AGS works to improve patient care, public policy, education, and research. Student members receive access to career resources, networking opportunities, and educational events.
Bringing together professionals focused on aging, ASA works to build leadership skills and knowledge among its members. Members receive access to job resources, networking opportunities, and professional conferences.
Online Master's in Gerontology Programs
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
|Location||Greensboro, North Carolina|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Among the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's academic offerings are online master's programs in fields including adult gerontology. The public institution's student population includes on-campus degree-seekers and 10,282 online students. Many online programs feature flexible scheduling options, which can make earning a degree easier for busy learners balancing academics with personal obligations.
Degree-seekers complete a rigorous curriculum and gain field-specific training while fulfilling requirements for the MS in gerontology. Students can customize the master's curriculum based on their interests and professional goals. The online program emphasizes field-specific skills and knowledge. After earning the master's degree in adult gerontology, graduates can launch a new career in the field. Students and alumni can benefit from the institution's career services.
In addition to career advising, learners can access financial aid counseling to ensure they explore all available funding options. The school supports online learners through affordable tuition rates and institutional funding. Learners often apply for fellowships to fund their graduate education.
University of Utah
|Location||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
The University of Utah educates degree-seekers online and at its Salt Lake City campus. Along with in-person programs, the school delivers online graduate programs across fields. Online learners can enroll in the convenient master of science in gerontology program to gain advanced knowledge in adult gerontology.
The rigorous curriculum, combined with academic and career advising, prepares enrollees for gerontology careers. Designed with working professionals in mind, the program offers flexible enrollment options. While most master's degree-seekers graduate in 1-2 years, part-time enrollment may extend degree completion time.
Students at the accredited institution can receive federal financial aid. Of the student body, 29% take out loans, which require repayment, to pay for their degree. In addition, financial aid helps 85% of the institution's learners fund their studies.
University of Utah at a Glance:
Total Programs: 384
Number of Online Programs: 16
Online Master's Programs: 123
Number of Online Students: 11,058
Religious Affiliation: Non-affiliated
Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No
Kansas State University
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Learners throughout the country can pursue high-quality online graduate programs from Kansas State University. From its campus in Manhattan, the public institution offers 73 online programs, including 26 online master's programs. At the school, graduate degree-seekers can enroll in a master's program in gerontology. The online gerontology program is ideal for students with busy schedules.
Learners gain foundational knowledge during core classes and complete advanced gerontology coursework to develop specialized skills. Students gain theoretical and practical knowledge during experiential learning opportunities and elective classes. Full-time master's degree-seekers typically require 1-2 years to complete their program. Prospective applicants should reach out to the program to learn more about admission standards and deadlines.
The school's affordable tuition rates make graduate studies more accessible. Graduate students pay an average in-state tuition rate of $10,212 and an average out-of-state tuition rate of $23,050. The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees with financial need can qualify for federal grants and loans. According to the school, 88% of students fund their education through financial aid.
Iowa State University
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Learners enrolled at Iowa State University can pursue an online master's degree. Located in Ames, the public institution enrolls 7,802 students in its remote programs. Online programs typically feature flexible scheduling options, which are ideal for busy learners.
Degree-seekers in the master's in gerontology program complete a rigorous curriculum that fosters field-specific knowledge and transferable skills. Faculty mentors help graduate students customize the program based on their professional goals. Learners in the online program develop specialized gerontology skills and knowledge. After earning the master's degree in gerontology, graduates can apply for new positions in the field or advance their current career. The institution's career services and alumni network can help master's students locate and secure professional opportunities.
In addition to career advising, learners can access financial aid counseling to ensure they explore all funding options. Online learners at the school pay affordable tuition rates. Students who need additional funding can secure private scholarships and institutional fellowships.
|Location||Saint Louis, Missouri|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Webster University enrolls students in an online master's program. The school, located in Missouri, reports that 1,908 students take online classes. The school offers an online MA in gerontology program. The accredited program offers a rigorous course of study valued by employers. The program provides advanced training for gerontology careers. The institution reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1, giving students one-on-one time with faculty.
Prospective students can learn more about online support services at the school's website. The online program charges affordable tuition rates and offers financial aid. This helps graduate students complete a master's degree with less debt. The college reports a 58% graduation rate for its programs.
Webster University at a Glance:
Total Online Enrollment: 4,741
Number of Online Master’s Programs: 31
Graduate Tuition: $13,500/year in-state and out-of-state
The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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