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Those pursuing a master's in gerontology will typically follow an interdisciplinary course of study incorporating topics from health sciences, medicine, psychology, and business. These programs allow graduates to gain specialized skills and knowledge for working with aging populations in advanced roles. As a large number of baby boomers age and require more in-depth care, completing a master's in gerontology can lead to strong career prospects.
Prospective students still deciding whether or not to complete an online master's in gerontology can find information on this page to help them make an informed and confident decision. Read on to learn about common classes, admission requirements, and available jobs after graduation.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Gerontology Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|2||University of South Florida||Tampa, FL|
|3||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|4||University of Utah||Salt Lake City, UT|
|5||Webster University||Saint Louis, MO|
|6||Iowa State University||Ames, IA|
|7||Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI|
|8||University of Missouri||Columbia, MO|
|9||McDaniel College||Westminster, MD|
|10||Concordia University Chicago||River Forest, IL|
- How We Rank Schools
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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Gerontology Programs
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University of Southern California
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
USC's master's in gerontology program prepares students for careers as researchers and managers. The curriculum emphasizes social policy and aging, lifespan developmental sociology, and the physiology of development and aging. The program culminates in a field practicum. Full-time learners can graduate in approximately two years.
USC's career center provides virtual workshops with potential employers, archived career videos, and resume guidance. Students can also access specialized advice on how to research and apply to Ph.D. programs.
Admission requirements include GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, and 1-2 recommendation letters. All students pay the same tuition rate.
University of South Florida
|Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Students who earn USF's online master's degree in gerontology develop the knowledge and skills needed to improve older adults' quality of life. The 30-credit curriculum of this MA program includes core courses in human development, physical change, and health and ethnicity. Additionally, the degree features five electives and a directed research capstone.
Distance students can learn about the latest job openings and attend a virtual career fair online. Prospective students with a minimum 3.25 undergraduate GPA do not need to submit GRE scores. Additional requirements include a resume and two recommendation letters. Florida residents receive a tuition discount. Competitive students may be eligible for assistantships or other types of financial aid.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Registered nurses who want to specialize in treating older adults can enroll in GW's MSN in adult-gerontology acute care program. This hybrid degree requires multiple on-campus visits so that students can gain hands-on experience with ventilators, chest tubes, and other medical equipment. Graduation requirements include 650 clinical hours.
GW's School of Nursing offers students career resources like a career guide and links to top nursing job boards. Students can also enhance their resumes by joining one of nine on-campus student nursing organizations.
Although GW requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, applicants with a lower GPA may still receive conditional admission. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. Veterans receive an automatic tuition discount through the Yellow Ribbon Program.
University of Utah
|Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
The U's online master's degree in gerontology blends synchronous and asynchronous courses. Required classes in this 33-34-credit program include service agencies and programs, health and optimal aging, and aging and the arts. Additionally, learners complete a 150-hour practicum and either write a master's thesis or complete a capstone project.
The university's career center provides an updated list of career opportunities throughout the state, and learners can prepare for interviews by using Stand Out software.
Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and students with a GPA of at least 3.2 need not submit GRE scores. Utah residents receive a tuition discount. Learners can apply for federal financial aid programs by submitting their FAFSA results.
|Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Webster's master's in gerontology program features 36 credits of coursework, including classes in the physiology of aging, social science perspectives in gerontology, and economic issues for older adults. Students also take four elective courses. Participants must maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA to remain in good academic standing. This program is only available online.
Students may also pursue 12- or 18-credit gerontology certificates; the credits from these programs can also be applied towards a master's degree. Nearly 95% of the university's gerontology alumni achieve a positive career or education outcome soon after earning their degree.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Webster does not require recommendation letters for admission.
Iowa State University
|Ames, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
Students who earn Iowa State's online master's degree in gerontology prepare to lead other professionals in the fields of social work, public policy, and adult education. The curriculum features courses in aging in the family, adult development, and perspectives in gerontology. Additionally, students can gain hands-on experience by enrolling in a practicum elective.
More than 80% of program alumni begin a career or a doctoral program within six months of graduating. Students can research jobs and graduate schools and receive cover letter and resume critiques through Iowa State's website.
Admission requirements include two recommendation letters and a statement of purpose. Out-of-state online learners pay the same tuition rate as Iowa residents. The university's students use OneApp to apply for all institutional financial aid programs.
Michigan State University
|East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Registered nurses who want to work as a nurse practitioner may be interested in MSU's online MSN in adult gerontology program. This program is designed for clinical nurses and offers a concentration in nurse education. Classes include health promotion and a four-part intensive in clinical diagnosis. Additionally, students can complete internship requirements at a job site in their own communities.
MSU's career center offers resume critiques and cover letter templates to help students prepare for a promotion or a new job. The center also hosts virtual career fairs for online learners.
Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three recommendation letters, and an active nursing license. Applicants must also submit a resume and a personal essay. Departmental funding opportunities require a separate application.
University of Missouri
|Columbia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Mizzou's online master's in human development and family science features a gerontology emphasis. This program includes required coursework in adult development, aging in the family, and perspectives in gerontology. Students customize the program by selecting two elective classes. Additional requirements include a comprehensive exam, which participants take during their final semester.
More than 90% of Mizzou alumni achieve a positive career outcome within six months of graduation day. Degree-seekers can access Mizzou's online resources, including guides, videos, and software suites.
Prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, the program does not require GRE scores for admission. All graduate students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Additionally, most of Mizzou's gerontology students receive significant financial aid.
|Westminster, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
McDaniel's master's in gerontology program awards an MS and features an optional certificate in aging. In their second year, students choose between a traditional master's thesis and a capstone project. Both options feature original academic research. Additional requirements include maintaining a 3.0 GPA.
The college provides distance learners with virtual coaching sessions, networking events, and access to Handshake software. McDaniel also maintains a blog that shares alumni success stories.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA, three recommendation letters, and a letter of intent. McDaniel does not charge out-of-state tuition. Active-duty
military personnel and their dependents may qualify for the Military Legacy Scholarship.
Concordia University Chicago
|River Forest, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
CUC offers an online master's degree in gerontology. Faculty deliver the 33-credit curriculum through eight-week sessions. Coursework covers topics like perspectives in gerontology, introduction to research, and public policies and aging. Participants also complete a thesis or an applied/analytical project. Additionally, each course enrolls no more than 20 students.
Students can access gerontology job boards on the program's website. CUC also provides distance learners with a career webinar video series and practice interview questions.
The program accepts applications throughout the year and may grant probationary admission to prospective degree-seekers who do not meet the 3.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff. The school does not charge an application fee.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Gerontology Program?
Online master's in gerontology programs serve students who want to use their clinical skills to help aging populations.
Online master's in gerontology programs serve students who want to use their clinical skills to help aging populations. Individuals considering this path should be empathetic and enjoy helping seniors.
Most master's in gerontology programs require two years of full-time study and consist of approximately 36 credits. In addition to foundational coursework, some schools also offer specializations in areas like long-term care administration, aging studies, mental health in older populations, and grief care management. Prospective degree-seekers should research several schools to find one that offers the specialization most aligned with their professional goals.
Students should plan to complete either a capstone project or a thesis. Prospective learners may encounter both MA and MS in gerontology programs. The former is often a terminal degree and focuses more on the humanities while the latter is best for students whose interests are more scientific and who may want to pursue a doctorate at a later date.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Gerontology Programs
Admission requirements for online master's in gerontology programs vary by school. Nevertheless, many schools look for similar attributes and accomplishments when reviewing applications.
In addition to a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, many programs require prerequisite coursework in psychology, sociology, statistics, and biological sciences. Some programs may also require GRE scores.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Gerontology Program?
Coursework for master's in gerontology programs depends on the individual program. Most curricula include several foundational courses on topics like the biology of aging and geriatric diseases before allowing for some electives. The following section highlights five common core courses in these programs.
- Physiology of Development and Aging
Typically taken in the first semester, this foundational course lays the groundwork for advanced studies. Students look at how human development, growth, and aging inform gerontology studies and how understanding the implications of aging can help inform health maintenance in older populations.
- Social Policy and Aging
Designed for professionals who see themselves working in policy, advocacy, or social work roles, this course examines program implementation for aging populations. Students also learn about historical and contemporary legislation impacting older populations, and how to create change at the local, state, and federal levels.
- Program Management in Gerontology
This course serves learners who want to use their leadership and administrative skills to help aging populations. Coursework focuses on topics like volunteer program management, residential and community program development and evaluation, and fundraising for nonprofit groups.
- Multidisciplinary Approaches to Gerontology
Gerontology students need to know how to connect approaches from varied fields into seamless practice. This course examines how professionals like sociologists, biologists, and psychologists approach aging and how those approaches can inform practice.
- Research Methods
This course provides the training needed to design, implement, and manage research projects within gerontology. The curriculum touches on topics like qualitative and quantitative methods, data collection and analysis, problem formulation, and report preparation.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Gerontology Degree?
Earning an online master's in gerontology provides you with the credentials needed to work with senior citizens in a variety of clinical and administrative roles. As older generations live longer, they need more professionals to help them meet their needs.
See where a master's in gerontology degree can take you. Learn more about gerontology careers.
- Social Work
Providing social work services to aging populations involves offering therapy, counseling, and referrals specific to their stage of life. Gerontology social workers help their clients address psychological and emotional challenges while also taking into consideration practical concerns like healthcare coverage, financial issues, and social needs.
- Community Support Administration
Many nonprofits support senior citizens by creating programs that encourage interaction with others and by advocating politically on seniors' behalf. Working in community support administration means ensuring this population receives the attention and care needed to thrive.
Students whose interests lean towards research often work in epidemiology, as this allows them to learn more about how societies age and what diseases the elderly commonly encounter. Epidemiologists focused on senior citizens also consider the public health impact of growing older and provide community education services.
- Health Policy
Understanding how health policies at the local, state, and federal levels affect aging populations is critical to improving care and creating better health outcomes. Whether working as a senior citizen advocate, lobbyist, or community organizer, pursuing a career in health policy can provide meaningful opportunities to impact seniors' lives.
- Long-Term Care Management
Another professional path for degree-holders is to work in nursing homes, retirement communities, and other settings designed to serve aging populations and provide varied levels of independence for seniors. Graduates with a master's in gerontology can work for both state-managed facilities and private communities.
Gerontology Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Gerontology Programs
- Is a master's in gerontology worth it?
Earning a master's in gerontology can lead to many different career options. When considering whether this path best fits their needs, students should make sure they enjoy working with aging populations and that available jobs align with their expectations.
- What can I do with a master's in gerontology?
Depending on how learners concentrate their studies, they can choose from several different jobs in gerontology. Those focused on leadership may oversee long term-care facilities, while learners interested in research may look into the epidemiology of age-related diseases.
- Is gerontology a good career?
Gerontology can be a great career for professionals who want to approach aging from a multidisciplinary perspective. Gerontology graduates may be motivated by knowing they are directly or indirectly improving the lives of senior citizens.
- How much money can I make with a master's in gerontology?
Gerontology salaries depend on the career students pursue after graduating. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of $67,150 in 2019, while community health workers and health educators made a median salary of $46,910 per year.
- What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in gerontology?
In general, clinical roles tend to pay less than administrative positions in gerontology. According to the BLS, medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of $100,980 in 2019.