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Online gerontology degrees teach professionals how to care for the elderlyOnline gerontology degrees explore all aspects of the aging process. Gerontology, the study of aging and the elderly, is growing quickly as older generations retire and live longer due to advanced medical care. Gerontology is different from geriatrics, which focuses on the diseases and healthcare that affect humans later in life. Instead, gerontology focuses on the changes that happen on various levels as humans age and methods of improving comfort during the aging process.

Online gerontology programs are multidisciplinary. They examine the biological, sociological and psychological aspects of aging, as well as economic and legal factors. Your studies won't prepare you for a specific career, but you will be able to work in many different fields related to aging, such as nursing, social services, administration, and education. Plenty of direct care and research opportunities exist in long-term care facilities, retirement communities, government agencies, and community human services.

THE CAREER PATH

Gerontologists work, through research, education, and application of interdisciplinary knowledge of the aging process, to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals as they age. The interdisciplinary aspect of gerontology means that the profession can stem from a specialization in a couple of different areas:

  • Social & Human Services
    For professionals who are more interested in direct service and interaction with the aging population, a career as a gerontologist in human services can begin with a certificate or an associate degree in gerontology. These professionals focus on helping clients to live on their own terms, in their own homes, under their preferred care conditions as much as possible. They may coordinate resources such as meal deliveries, personal care aides or geriatric nurses, and residential facilities. The American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) certify these professionals. Home health aides have to complete a competency exam, while nursing aides must complete 75 hours of training and pass an examination before they obtain certification.
    Salary: $31,000
    Expected Growth: 11%
     
  • Medical Sciences
    For professionals who are more intrigued by the scientific, biological aspects of the aging population, a career in gerontology can be pursued or advanced with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s in gerontology. Advanced gerontology programs can provide professionals with clinical skills in addition to the research knowledge to practice as a scientist. Gerontologists in the medical sciences study the changes that people go through as they get older in order to investigate ways to improve quality of life for aging populations.
    Salary: $82,000
    Expected Growth: 8%

 
While all gerontology professionals will need to have a basic understanding of the intertwined systems that affect aging populations, the two different areas will require different professional duties. Gerontologists in the medical science field will normally have responsibilities such as:

  • Creating and testing medical devices
  • Designing and conducting studies that investigate human diseases as well as methods of prevention and treatment
  • Developing programs that improve health outcomes


Gerontologists in the human service field, on the other hand, will perform tasks such as:

  • Assisting clients directly in connecting with and applying for resources to positively impact daily life and activities
  • Working with clients and other professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Coordinating and advocating for services provided to clients

WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?

Across the board, this uniquely focused career demands communication skills—whether to communicate research findings or to talk with clients about their lives and resources—as well as problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Gerontologists in the medical sciences must also be able to use statistical and investigative methods to analyze data in order to advance and validate their research. Human service workers in gerontology must have more people skills, and the compassion necessary to build trusting relationships with clients.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?

A career in gerontology can grow from any number of backgrounds, making it easily accessible and expandable for developing professionals. Some online programs have more of an administration focus, while others focus on healthcare concerns. A bachelor's degree should allow you to work in gerontology, while a graduate certificate or master's can help push you further into the field. An advanced online gerontology program, such as an online master's or doctorate, may be required to teach at a college or administer a community aging project.

A typical bachelor's program will cover adult development, counseling, healthcare, and psychology, all with a focus on how the topic relates to the elderly. You could also take research methods and biology classes to better understand the science of aging. A master's program in gerontology may cover many of these same topics, but usually provides a more comprehensive look into long-term healthcare management, nursing, or therapy.

COST

The cost of becoming a gerontologist can be adapted to suit the professional goals and resources available to students. You can start with an associate degree and jump right into your career, or you can kickstart your career with an advanced education. Online degrees can range from an average cost of $18,000 at the associate level to $33,000 for a bachelor’s degree, and even more for advanced degrees. These figures do not take into consideration additional costs of materials, books, and continuing professional education after obtaining a degree.

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List of Accredited Online Degrees

1
University of Massachusetts-Boston - College of Advancing & Professional Studies - Graduate

Master in Gerontology / Management of Aging Services

The Management in Aging Services master's degree program offers students an advanced degree in the growing field of aging services. This includes long-term care, service-supported housing, community-based services, marketing to an aging ...

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2
Oklahoma State University

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA); regionally accredited schools working in partnership to provide students with online opportunities. Students apply at their school of choice...

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3
University of Louisiana at Monroe

Master of Arts in Gerontology

ULM offers the online MA in Gerontology. Students may choose one of two areas of specialization: , Program Administrator - Focuses on understanding social service needs of the elderly and administrative positions in social service agencies. , A...

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4
North Dakota State University

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA); regionally accredited schools working in partnership to provide students with online opportunities. Students apply at their school of choice...

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5
Concordia University - Nebraska

Master of Healthcare Administration / Gerontology

The online Master of Healthcare Administration in Gerontology is an intensive and practical curriculum designed for experienced industry professionals as well as aspiring graduate students who demonstrate a passion for helping the aging ...

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6
Kansas State University

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

Kansas State University offers an online master’s degree in family studies and human services with a specialization in gerontology that is designed to prepare students to work directly with aging populations through a wide variety of programs ...

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7
Iowa State University

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA); regionally accredited schools working in partnership to provide students with online opportunities. Students apply at their school of choice...

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8
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Master of Arts in Social Gerontology

UNO offers the online MA in Social Gerontology. This degree is designed for students who are seeking a formalized and in-depth understanding of the aging process by either pursuing a thesis or non-thesis option. Degree Requirements for the Thesis an...

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9
McDaniel College

Master of Science in Gerontology

The online Master of Science in Gerontology provides the knowledge and expertise students need to improve the quality of life for older adults through an interdisciplinary program that gives students a knowledge base that increases their abilities to...

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10
Texas Tech University

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

Texas Tech University's online Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies is made possible through a consortium of universities called the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). Several universities have ...

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11
University of Arkansas

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA); regionally accredited schools working in partnership to provide students with online opportunities. Students apply at their school of choice...

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12
University of Florida

Master of Science in Gerontology

The online Master of Science in Gerontology provides a comprehensive and personalized curriculum in gerontology which can create new career opportunities for students in the field of gerontology and geriatric care.  Students learn about ...

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13
University of Maryland-Baltimore

Master of Science in Palliative Care

The online Master of Science in Palliative Care program meets the educational needs of individuals who are currently working or who wish to work in hospice and palliative care and want to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, psychological, sp...

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14
University of Missouri-Columbia

Master in Gerontology (Great Plains IDEA)

This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA); regionally accredited schools working in partnership to provide students with online opportunities. Students apply at their school of choice...

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15
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Master of Science in Gerontology

The online Master of Science in Gerontology program uses an applied, interdisciplinary approach to teach about the study of aging.  The curriculum prepares students to teach, research, and apply knowledge through collaborative relationships ...

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16
University of South Dakota

Master of Science in Administration / Long-Term Care Administration

The Master of Science in Administration Program from the University of South Dakota is a cross-disciplinary program that provides the primary tools and organizational skills necessary to effectively perform administrative roles in public service orie...

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17
University of Southern California

Master of Arts in Gerontology

Get the education of a lifetime with an online master’s gerontology degree from the USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Help the aging population stay healthy, active and involved in the community. As the nation’s first ...

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18
Walden University

Master of Science in Human & Social Services / Gerontology

Walden University offers a Master of Science in Human & Social Services degree. The online degree focuses on building your effectiveness and professional skills in your chosen area of practice within a global context. As a student of the ...

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19
Webster University

Master of Arts in Gerontology

The online Master of Arts in Gerontology is designed to prepare students for careers in this field by providing courses that draw upon a variety of disciplines such as management, the behavioral and social sciences, economics, political science, and ...

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20
Wichita State University

Master of Arts in Aging Studies

The online Master of Arts in Aging Studies teaches students how to help sustain or improve the quality of life of the aging population.  Coursework prepares students to work with the aging population in a range of professions, including ...

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21
Concordia University - Chicago

Master of Arts in Gerontology

The online Master of Arts in Gerontology prepares students to promote and contribute to the wellness of the aging population so they are ready to work in a variety of aging-related careers.  Courses train students in the best practices of ...

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22
Eastern Illinois University

Master of Arts in Aging Studies

Eastern Illinois University offers the online MA in Aging Studies. This multi-disciplinary program provides students a supportive environment for professional growth in the field of gerontology. Students are presented with several research opportunit...

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23
University of Indianapolis

Master of Science in Gerontology

University of Indianapolis offers the online MS in Gerontology. This degree offers both breadth and depth in promoting a positive and holistic view of aging. This program helps students understand that aging is part of the life course and that choice...

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24
Fort Hays State University

Master of Liberal Studies / Gerontology

With the increasing number of aging adults in society, the Gerontology concentration provides for diverse and growing career opportunities in wellness, rehabilitation, marketing, interior design, health care, policy development, government, and law. ...

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25
Fort Hays State University

Master of Professional Studies / Gerontology

The Master of Professional Studies program gives students the to combine a major subject area with one or more cognate areas designed to enhance professional workforce skills. The Gerontology concentration is designed to assist the individual in deve...

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