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.
Published on January 12, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022
Ready to start your journey?
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.
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:
- Mental health and psychology
- Public policy
- Cognition and aging brains
- Pharmacology and the aging
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?
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.
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 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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Programs
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
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.
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.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
Feature Image: Kiwis / iStock / Getty Images Plus
10 Emerging Public Health Careers in 2021
6 Essential Tips for Students Taking Online Courses This Fall
Compare your school options.
View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.