Best Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Programs

Degree-holders can expand their options with a graduate certificate in gerontology. Find out what to expect from these programs.

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by Staff Writers
Published on January 12, 2022
Edited by Darlene Earnest

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Students planning to work with aging populations can benefit from a graduate certificate in gerontology. These certificates teach students to think critically about aging and how to best ensure the well-being of adults as they grow older.

This certificate provides a foundation for a variety of other fields. Students go on to work in healthcare, social work, psychology and psychiatry, physical therapy, and law.

Each job course can provide a way to work with aging populations, offering support and helping older adults live healthier.

The field offers different paths to fit with a student's strengths. This guide outlines what students can expect from an online graduate certificate in gerontology program at a top online school, along with the career outlook.

What Is a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program?

A gerontology certificate program can provide a vital education about the aging population. Students with undergraduate or graduate degrees can take advantage of this graduate certificate to add depth to their existing careers.

Postsecondary institutions award certificates, whereas independent professional organizations provide certifications. Licenses come from state governments.

Courses delve into aging as a public health issue, the psychology of aging, and the latest in research for supporting an aging population. Some certificates allow students to further specialize in one particular aspect of aging to better align with their careers.

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

Certificate programs vary in length. Some last a few weeks or a few months. However, graduate certificate programs typically last two semesters for students choosing a full-time course of study. Graduate certificate programs are an option for students who have completed an accredited undergraduate program or a graduate program.

In some programs, students can choose a concentration. Students will decide on electives that follow a particular path. Some common concentrations include:

Students can choose online or in-person courses and should expect to complete group and research projects in both cases. Learners may complete a portfolio for some courses or certificates.

Online programs use two delivery methods: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous programs include live, scheduled, online courses, while asynchronous programs do not.

For certificates, students take just a few courses at a time. Coursework focuses on the latest research and best practices for core areas of aging, including health, psychology, and pharmacology.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Popular Online Gerontology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program?

Adult Development and Aging

This course provides an introduction to the process of aging and a survey of different aging populations. Students examine the changes adults go through as they age, including mental, physical, and emotional changes.

Sociology of Aging

This class expounds on the aging process by examining the social and cultural aspects. Students explore the role of demographics and community in the aging process and the types of challenges older people experience during the aging process.

Nutrition in Aging

This class provides foundational training on the role of nutrition in an aging population. Students build awareness of how socioeconomic factors and physiological changes influence older adults' nutritional needs and habits.

Mental Health and Aging

Aging comes with unique mental health challenges. This course includes an introduction to the concepts associated with mental health and aging and approaches to treating stress or emerging conditions. Coursework offers a positive look at the aging brain and treatment approaches.

Death and Dying

This course explores the cultural significance of death and dying. Coursework explores the topic through sociological and psychological approaches and touches on the philosophy of death and dying.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program?

Graduate certificate programs require at least an undergraduate degree in a field for admission. In some cases, students may need a graduate degree as well. The admissions process involves filling out an application and submitting official transcripts.

While gerontology certificates don't typically require work experience, some programs may require relevant work experience with aging populations for admission.

Additional requirements may include:

  • Letters of Recommendation: A program may require letters of recommendation to gain a better view of applicants, since students will be working with vulnerable populations.
  • College Essays: Competitive programs may ask for application essays on why students wish to work with vulnerable populations.
  • Transcripts: Graduate certificates require transcripts to prove that students have the right degrees and grades to apply.
  • Resume or CV: Programs that require work experience ask students to submit a current resume or CV as proof.

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

Career Outlook

Between 2020 and 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16% job growth for the healthcare industry, which is double the average projected growth rate for all occupations. Because certificate-holders can concentrate on a specific aspect of aging, their job search could prove more focused and straightforward.

Students can apply gerontology certificates to a variety of careers, giving them the flexibility to pursue their biggest interests. Graduates can work in healthcare, public policy, and law, among other fields.

See where a graduate certificate in gerontology can take you. Learn more about gerontology careers.

Career Paths

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with patients to overcome injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday objects. Therapists with a gerontology certificate can help specifically aging populations with their challenges. More than 10,000 job openings are projected each year between 2020 and 2030.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $86,280

Social Worker

Social workers promote the well-being of different vulnerable communities of people. Geriatric social workers ensure that older adults have a high quality of life, advocate for those who don't have family or children, and help them gain access to the services they need to live healthily and happily.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $51,760

Health Education Specialists

Health education specialists develop programs to teach people about well-being. Those focusing on gerontology work with the aging and their families to ensure that they have knowledge and tools to ensure that they maintain a high quality of life.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $48,140

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners work with patients and coordinate care in a variety of healthcare institutions. Those specializing in gerontology provide quality healthcare choices for aging populations to manage chronic conditions and prevent challenges through the aging process. This field requires nurse training and clinicals.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $117,670

Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapy assistants and aides work primarily with patients recovering from injuries and surgery. Those focusing on gerontology assist medical teams and specialists in helping to keep aging populations healthy and strong. The BLS projects 32% job growth for these professionals between 2020 and 2030.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $49,970

Gerontology Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Some programs provide a unique bridge between undergraduate and graduate work, allowing learners to apply credits from their certificate to further graduate study. Certificate courses typically make up the first semester or year of a full graduate degree. Other options include going to law school to work in policy or becoming certified in psychology or sociology.

How Do I Choose an Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Program?

Cost

An online program typically offers some cost savings due to logistics. Students don't need to pay for room and board or relocation. Some certificate programs even offer the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students or provide a tuition reduction for out-of-state students to bring the true program cost closer to the in-state rate.

Program Format

Online programs offer two basic formats. Asynchronous programs use general deadlines, but students choose when to finish the work. Synchronous programs meet live at a scheduled time. Asynchronous formats offer flexibility for working students, while synchronous programs more closely resemble traditional classes. Some certificates may offer part-time schedules or even accelerated timelines designed for executive students.

Location

Online programs remove geographical barriers to receiving a quality education and improve flexibility for working students. However, online students choosing a program near them can take advantage of local resources and networks to gain hands-on experience. Both choices offer benefits for working and professional students.

Accreditation

Colleges and universities must go through a rigorous accreditation process to prove their programs comply with education regulations and offer the programs they say they do. Students may experience trouble in the job search with a certificate or degree from an unaccredited school. You cannot receive federal financial aid if you enroll at a school that doesn't hold regional accreditation.

Student Support

Certificate programs should offer support from student services to both on-campus and online students. These services may include mentoring for school and career growth, providing internship placement and support, and writing services. Students should choose a program that provides support through student services.

Best Accredited Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Programs

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University of Southern California true View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

USC offers an entire school dedicated to gerontology. At the state level, educators from this school are playing a key role in developing the state Master Plan for Aging.

Applicants to USC's online graduate certificate in gerontology need a 3.0 GPA and college transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a persuasive statement of interest. Class offerings include electives from the physical to emotional to psychological aspects of aging. Certificate offerings happen each spring and fall.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $1,995 per unit
  • Program Length: 5 months full time, 12-18 months part time
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 16 units
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
University of South Florida-Main Campus true View School Profile Tampa, FL

Applicants must meet university admission requirements before applying for USF's graduate certificate in gerontology. That includes a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 average. Students choose electives such as aging mental disorders, ethnicity and aging, and perspectives of the death process.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $348 per credit (in-state), $773 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 15 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
George Washington University true View School Profile Washington, DC

Two certificate options allow students to choose between adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Students need to come to campus twice during this program.

No online applicants from Alabama, Louisiana, or New York can be accepted per those state's licensing boards. Prospective candidates should have a master's degree with a 3.0 GPA, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and a current nursing license.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $1,395 per credit hour
  • Program Length: Varies but must be completed in 5 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 48 credit hours, 625 clinical hours
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Hybrid
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Indiana University-Bloomington true View School Profile Bloomington, IN

A graduate certificate in gerontology and health at IU includes learning the biology, sociology, and psychology of aging. Classes and hands-on fieldwork prepare students to be job-ready at certification. Successful applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $504 per credit (in-state), $604 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 12 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Appalachian State University true View School Profile Boone, NC

Appalachian State offers an online graduate certificate on aging, health, and society. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.7 GPA and must submit official transcripts, a resume, and writing samples of relevant academic work. Students may optionally visit campus for some electives.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $269 per credit (in-state), $110 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 12 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
University of Utah View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT

Students at the U can pursue a gerontology interdisciplinary certificate. Out-of-state students who take summer courses get the same rate as in-state students. Students can choose from a list of 12 courses for their elective focus. Options include diversity, research, emotions of aging, and death/bereavement. A $50 fee will be paid for each online course on top of tuition.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $285 per credit (in-state); $1,002 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 15 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

Texas Tech offers an online graduate certificate in gerontology comprising two core courses plus electives. The program stems from the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance where schools team up to offer distance learning at a standard tuition rate. Admission requires just an application and college transcripts for this non-degree certificate.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $580 credits
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 15 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
University of Missouri-Columbia View School Profile Columbia, MO

The University of Missouri offers an online adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist graduate certificate. Students need a master's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA or other evidence of preparation. Transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, two professional recommendations, and proof of current nursing license round out the admission requirements.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $610 per credit
  • Program Length: 3 semesters
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 21.5 credits and 570 clinical hours
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
University of Nebraska-Lincoln View School Profile Lincoln, NE

UNL offers a unique focus with a gerontology graduate certificate with a concentration in interior design through the school of architecture. The courses are designed around building and sustaining the physical spaces occupied by aging populations.

The program offers value to realtors, nursing home administrators, hospital administrators, and code officials. The application requires transcripts from the baccalaureate college. Students can also choose a graduate certificate in gerontology through the College of Public Affairs and Community Service.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $357 per credit (in-state), $676 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 18 credit hours
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Iowa State University View School Profile Ames, IA

Iowa State's online graduate certificate in gerontology also takes part in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance program, offering access to resources across various universities. Students select from certificate tracks in design or long-term care.

Applicants must provide proof of a bachelor's degree, a minimum GPA of 3.0, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. GRE scores are not required.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per Credit: $590 per credit
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 15 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: None
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Programs

What is gerontology? true

Gerontology concerns the science and philosophy of aging. The field focuses on providing well-rounded care to a community's aging population by providing healthcare, activities, mental health resources, and other services. The study of aging falls into four basic categories:

  • The physiology of aging and its deviations, including disease
  • The psychological aspects of aging, including mental health and decline
  • The socioeconomic challenges presented by an aging population and their solutions
  • The general process of aging for humans and other biological organisms and research methods into that process

What is a gerontology certificate? true

A graduate certificate in gerontology allows students with an undergraduate or professional degree to dive deeper into the field of aging.

As people continue to live longer, communities will need experts who understand the challenges of an aging population. These certificates provide foundational support for those who work with aging populations in a variety of fields. Students can leverage their certificate to fulfill a variety of roles caring for the health and well-being of aging populations.

In addition to careers in social work, nursing, and medical fields, students might also find work in community support, healthcare aid, and senior recreation centers.

What is the job outlook for those in gerontology? true

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects significant job growth in fields such as physical therapy assistance (32%) and nurse practitioner (45%).

Students can apply a gerontology certificate to a variety of fields, expanding their job search far beyond a single industry. Job candidates with a graduate certificate in gerontology can work in nearly any field offering human services. They might work in healthcare or recreation centers, social work, hospitals, or therapy centers.

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