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Through an online or hybrid graduate certificate program in gerontology, students become familiar with how the elderly think and act. They learn specific techniques for providing quality patient care to an aging population. In order to apply to one of these programs, students need a bachelor's degree in a related area or instructor approval. Prior to graduation, students may need to fulfill an internship requirement.
Online graduate certificate programs typically can be completed in one year; however, individuals who want a lighter course load might be able to extend the program to two years. In some cases, several universities come together to offer a program, allowing students to take courses from educators who are the most knowledgeable in the field of gerontology.
Graduate-level programs typically require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a related area. Individuals interested in taking stand-alone courses might be able to do so as non-degree seeking students; however, instructor approval might be required.
In a graduate certificate program, students might complete gerontology courses related to a specific field, such as public health, law, social work, nursing or rehabilitation. Some sample course titles are listed below:
- Healthcare and the elderly
- Social and cultural issues in aging
- Perspectives on disability
- Sociology of aging
- Family life of the aging population
- Memory and cognition
- Aging, death and dying
Gerontology programs often require an internship experience, which is set up through the school. This gives students the opportunity to work in an assisted living facility and apply what they've learned through courses to provide care to an aging population. This is usually completed over the summer.
Online Learning Details
Most courses are offered in asynchronous format, allowing students to complete studies at their pace while adhering to assignment deadlines. Some programs are offered as a cohort, allowing the same group of students to go through the program together.
In most cases, students take online courses in gerontology through Blackboard or a similar program that allows them to access coursework, lectures and lecture notes and interact with classmates. Participation in online class discussions may be required, and students might need to secure a proctor for exams. Most schools also feature electronic libraries, which include e-books, e-journals and other texts, for students taking an online program.
According to the National Academy on an Aging Society, aging baby boomers and longer life spans will double the population of Americans over age 65 between 2007-2030, for a total of about 71 million older adults. This could lead to a wide variety of career options in gerontology.
Given the growing elderly population, social issues that affect them are becoming more relevant, and more workers will be needed to staff support facilities. Online graduate certificate programs in gerontology offer coursework in both areas.