The senior service sector is growing rapidly. In addition to today's aging Baby Boomer generation, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that people older than 65 will outnumber those under 18 for the first time in 2056. All of the most common positions within the field, from geropsychologists to social workers to acute care nurse practitioners, will experience significant growth. For instance, the need for gerontology aides is projected to increase by 16% between 2016 and 2026.

Job opportunities are abundant for graduates dedicated to improving the aging experience of senior citizens. If you are interested in obtaining a gerontology graduate certificate online, the following details will help you determine whether pursuing a career in this sector is the right decision for you.

What are the best gerontology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
4 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
5 George Washington University Washington, DC
6 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
7 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
8 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
9 University of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI
10 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE

2020 Best Accredited Online Certificate in Gerontology Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

USF's online certificate in gerontology is an excellent option for college graduates who need additional education to reach their career goals. The 15-credit certificate features a flexible curriculum in which learners can select multiple electives, choosing options like the economics of aging and physical change and aging.

In recent years, 40-80% of USF's gerontology alumni have started a career immediately after graduation. Learners can review the latest information regarding career trends on USF's career services website. The website also offers brief informational videos that provide job hunting tips.

Prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, this certificate track does not require GRE scores for admission. Florida residents receive a significant tuition discount.

2

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

Johns Hopkins' certificate in gerontology program uses a hybrid delivery method in which distance learners take some courses on the university's campus in Baltimore, Maryland. The nine-credit core curriculum includes required coursework in health issues for aging populations and epidemiology of aging. Students also complete nine credits of guided electives.

Nearly 100% of graduates begin a job or another academic program soon after graduation. Both students and alumni can prepare for the future by using the university's numerous online resources, which include Handshake, Candid Career, and GoingGlobal.

Students must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA to remain in good standing. Admission requirements include two recommendation letters, a resume, and undergraduate transcripts.

3

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

USC's online certificate in gerontology features 16 units of classes and includes required courses in counseling older adults and their families, social policy and aging, and lifespan developmental sociology. Most students earn their certificate in approximately one year.

USC's career advisors provide students with career videos, a job exploration guide, and internship opportunities. Additional services include an alumni mentor program and tailored resources for learners who are part of a racial or cultural minority.

The certificate program admits new students in the spring and fall. Interested students should have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a resume and recommendation letters, although GRE scores are not required.

4

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

Recent college graduates and experienced gerontology professionals can pursue TTU's online certificate in gerontology. Participants analyze topics like cognitive health, spirituality and aging, and physical health and nutrition in aging. Students can apply certificate credits toward a master's degree in gerontology.

Nearly two-thirds of students in this certificate track accept a job offer or gain admission into another academic program by graduation day. TTU's career center helps students explore careers, craft resumes, and develop interviewing skills.

Prospective students should contact TTU's Office of Graduate Admission to learn more about admission requirements. Out-of-state learners who live in a Great Plains IDEA member state pay the same tuition as Texas residents.

5

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Nurse practitioners who already hold a master's degree can pursue two gerontology certificates at GW. One program serves acute care nurse practitioners, while the other trains primary care nurse practitioners. Although most coursework in these programs takes place online, students must attend two on-campus learning events.

GW helps students find jobs by offering networking guides, resume and cover letter critiques, and experienced career coaches. The university also offers a series of on-campus events that connects learners with potential employers.

The acute care nurse practitioner certificate requires one year of professional experience. Prospective students should also have a minimum 3.0 graduate GPA and submit two recommendation letters.

6

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Appalachian's online certificate in gerontology includes 12 credits and covers topics related to healthcare and aging, the sociology of adult development and aging, and health disparities. Participants round out their studies by picking an elective course from more than a dozen options. Most students earn this certificate in two semesters.

Appalachian's career services help over 95% of graduate alumni find a career or enroll in another program within 12 months of earning a degree or certificate. The university's resources include Big Interview and the in-depth career readiness handbook.

This program accepts applications for the fall and spring semesters. Prospective students should have a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Additional requirements include an academic writing sample. North Carolina residents pay the lowest tuition rates at this public university.

7

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

The U's 15-credit certificate in gerontology can be completed online and features an interdisciplinary curriculum with courses in health and optimal aging, diversity and aging, and gerontology research. Students can personalize the program by completing a practicum. Faculty deliver all online coursework asynchronously.

Gerontology alumni enjoy an impressive job placement rate. Additionally, according to the university's data, graduates typically find employment in Utah. Students can explore careers in other states and make an appointment with a career counselor on the university's career services website.

The U accepts new learners at three points each year. Admission requirements include a short essay. Utah residents receive a significant tuition discount. The U posts requirements for all institutional scholarships on its Our Opportunities website.

8

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Mizzou offers two online graduate certificates in gerontology: gerontology and gerontological social work. The gerontology certificate requires 15 credits and emphasizes topics like mental health, women and aging, and long-term care. The 12-credit gerontological social work certificate prepares students to become licensed as an advanced social worker in gerontology.

Mizzou's career center offers all services entirely online. Students can access resume critiques, tips for getting into graduate school, and prerecorded online workshops at any time. These resources help 92% of alumni find a job or enroll in another program within 180 days of earning a certificate or degree.

Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters. All online students pay in-state tuition.

9

University of Michigan-Flint

Flint, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

UM-Flint's certificate in gerontology helps registered nurses gain additional knowledge and skills that can lead to career advancement. The two-year certificate includes courses in primary healthcare for advanced practice professionals, special topics in adult-gerontology acute care, and informatics for advanced practice.

UM-Flint alumni experience a 91% positive outcome rate shortly after graduation. The university's career center provides learners with career exploration guides, resume templates, and an online job database.

Prospective students should have an active nursing license and a minimum 3.2 undergraduate GPA. Additional requirements include at least one year of professional experience and a personal statement. Michigan residents receive a significant tuition discount.

10

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Nebraska's online certificate in gerontology offers a concentration in interior design that helps experienced architects understand older adults' needs and design buildings and other structures accordingly. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously, and students interact with their peers and professors through online discussion boards and video conferencing. Learners can complete the program's practicum requirement at a local job site.

Nebraska's career services office provides students and alumni with a job board, networking opportunities, and virtual career fairs.

This add-on certificate can only be pursued by students earning a master's in architecture at Nebraska. Admission requirements include an educational goals essay, a professional portfolio, and references. Nebraska residents receive a major tuition discount.

What Else can I Expect From an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program?

Curriculum for an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

Coursework for a graduate certificate in gerontology online program typically includes several general core requirements related to the field. You can also choose electives based on your area of interest and/or profession. Classes range from in-depth studies of the physical and psychological changes that occur with age to ethical, social, and medical concerns. The following classes are examples of topics you may cover in your program.

  • Biology of Aging: This course examines the human aging process and the common disorders and diseases that occur with age. Coursework promotes an understanding of the physical changes that affect the human body over time; this is useful for students who to plan work with the senior population in healthcare, counseling, and home settings. Students also study current clinical research techniques.
  • Geriatric Pharmacology: This course multifaceted issues of medication for senior citizens are reviewed in this course. Topics include prescribing, dosing, administration, and oversight of drugs; the common errors inherent within each aspect; and the ramifications of those errors. This class is important for all professionals in the senior sector and is critical for those working in the healthcare field.
  • Perspectives on Death and Dying: This course provides a global examination of the end-of-life experience, from historical and cultural aspects to physical and psychological changes. It also provides an understanding of the grief process for caregivers and family members. This is important knowledge for counselors, social workers, and healthcare workers.
  • Ethical and Legal Issues in Aging: Students gain an understanding of the complex health and legal concerns affecting the aging population. These range from end-of-life care and decision-making to the rights afforded to seniors, their families, and caregivers by the legal system and certain legal documents. The ethical concerns related to these topics are examined, often through case studies. This course is important for jobs involving senior healthcare, law, and social work.
  • Aging and the Family: This class examines the dynamics of aging within the context of family, work, and community. Changes that occur within family units regarding roles, responsibilities, and caregiving - and how they affect seniors psychologically and socially - are reviewed. Counselors, psychologists, and social workers benefit from this course.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology?

If you choose to pursue a gerontology graduate certificate online, you should expect to dedicate 15 to 18 months to your studies. Some students take up to two years to complete their certificates, depending on their schedules. Programs typically require the completion of 12 to 15 credits.

Some programs utilize a cohort learning model, which organizes students into groups who pursue their certificate as a unit. This method provides shared learning experiences and deepens the impact of class discussions, which are often delivered synchronously. Certain cohort programs are accelerated and can be completed in 15 months. Alternatively, an individually-paced program lets students take classes at their convenience. Most of these courses are taught asynchronously and distance learners can access coursework at any time.

What Can I Do With an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology?

Professionals who earn a gerontology graduate certificate online can work in a variety of capacities within the senior service sector. Psychologists, social workers and their assistants, and counselors support seniors and manage issues affecting mental or emotional health, while nurse practitioners deliver expert healthcare. Anyone interacting with seniors should be compassionate and caring. They must also have excellent communication, listening, and problem-solving skills. Most of these positions require advanced degrees, state and/or board licensure, and internships.

Geropsychologists

These psychologists work with the senior population. They observe, analyze, and treat patients for mental or emotional disorders. They may also assist them in the short-term with issues related to grief or trauma.

Median Annual Salary $75,230
Projected Growth Rate 19%

Gerontology Social Workers

This type of social worker helps seniors manage disorders or adjust to changes in their lives, such as altered living situations or grief. They work in senior living communities, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations serving seniors. They may be licensed or clinical social workers.

Median Annual Salary $46,890
Projected Growth Rate 12%

Mental Health Counselors

Some mental health counselors specialize in assisting seniors and provide them with strategies to manage grief, substance abuse, stress, anxiety, and other issues.

Median Annual Salary $44,170
Projected Growth Rate 19%

Gerontology Aides

These professionals assist social workers and help seniors who live independently. Tasks may include coordinating meal and housekeeping assistance. In some cases, gerontology aides also help seniors find residential communities or nursing homes.

Median Annual Salary $31,810
Projected Growth Rate 11%

Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners provide a higher level of professional care and often specialize in senior health management. Acute care nurse practitioners deal with urgent healthcare needs in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. They can prescribe medication and order lab tests.

Median Annual Salary $107,460
Projected Growth Rate 31%

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Salary

Students who complete a graduate certificate in gerontology online typically find employment in a profession within the senior service sector. They may have already earned a master's degree and have several years of work experience. The following table features data collected by PayScale. It outlines the correlation between years of work experience and salary increases for professional positions commonly held by individuals with an online graduate certificate in gerontology.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Psychologist $75,330 $67,522 $81,479 $90,443
Hospice Social Worker $49,667 $49,667 $52,615 $54,315
Mental Health Counselor $40,270 $39,073 $42,373 $49,061
Social and Human Service Assistant $33,617 $29,000 $29,000 $34,000
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner $98,328 $95,114 $102,706 $107,172

Financing Your Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program

There are a variety of resources available to students seeking financial aid. By completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you'll receive eligibility information about federal loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities. There are also private sources of funding you can use to finance your online graduate certificate in gerontology. These include personal loans, private and organizational scholarships and grants, and employer tuition reimbursement programs. Some employers may cover some of your educational costs in order to hire you or retain your services in this specialized field.

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