In a bachelor's degree program in gerontology, students complete general education requirements, but also examine issues that influence the physical and emotional health of the elderly. Students may look at ways to improve healthcare delivery, increase life expectancy and encourage physical activity. Many programs call for research projects, and some require an internship in an assisted living facility.
Master's degree programs cover a variety of topics related to aging, including health promotion and institutionalization. Students engage in research projects and complete fieldwork. A graduate certificate program in gerontology is a 1-year program that examines the needs of the elderly and how the U.S. healthcare system addresses them. Students conduct research and look at options for improving the delivery of care to aging individuals.
Common admissions requirements include a high school diploma or GED at the undergraduate level and an undergraduate degree and GRE scores are required for the graduate level.
Bachelor of Science in Gerontology
Due to the growing elderly population, gerontology is an emerging field of study that focuses on the physical and emotional health of the aged, including studies in nutrition, wellness and disease prevention. An undergraduate program in gerontology explores the needs of the aged and the creation of programs for encouraging physical activity and increasing life expectancy.
Coursework includes studies in aging in the United States, public policies that affect the elderly, the biological process of aging and issues in long-term care. Students conduct academic research and may complete an internship in an assisted living facility towards the end of the program.
Coursework facilitates discussion of the role of aging populations on society and society's responsibility to provide quality health and human services for the elderly. Topics that are explored in the coursework include:
- Death and dying
- Psychology of aging
- Exercise and wellness
Master of Science in Gerontology
A master's degree program in gerontology includes studies in the process of aging, health promotion, aging policies, aging organizations and the delivery of health services to aging populations. Courses in the degree program cover a variety of topics, from the marketing of aging services to the elderly to the structure of Medicare and Medicaid. A personnel course introduces students to human resource management and a finance course includes examines the design, implementation and budgeting of elder services programs.
Admittance requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, letters of reference, a personal statement essay and resume.
Courses in the program explore policies in the United States healthcare system, development across a life span and the biological and psychological process of aging. Topics of discussion in coursework include:
- Aging services administration
- Alzheimer's Disease
Graduate Certificate in Gerontology
In a graduate certificate program in gerontology, students will examine the physical and emotional needs of the elderly and study the United States healthcare system. Students will also study topics like nutrition, disease prevention and public policy. Students conduct gerontological research, examine theories and perspectives on aging and develop approaches to improve the quality of life in aging populations. Admittance requires a master's degree from an accredited institution or concurrent enrollment in a related master's degree program.
The program includes coursework in social and behavioral science, elder activities and elder and family counseling. Topics of discussion in the program include:
- Long-term care
- Mental health
- Culture and aging
- Life transitions
- Cognition and personality
Popular Career Options
Graduates are eligible to take positions in senior centers, elder housing communities, nursing homes, adult day care facilities and more. Many graduates choose career paths such as:
- Nursing home administrator
- Social worker
- Human resource manager
- Assisted living Administrator
- Social service assistant
- Geriatric aid
Continuing Education Information
Graduates are eligible to sit for the Nursing Home Administrator and Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrators exams, offered through the National Association of Long-Term Care Boards (NAB). Candidates should refer to their state boards for information on licensing requirements.
Graduates of a bachelor's program can enroll in post-graduate certificate programs in gerontology or master's degree programs in a related area of study. Advanced degree program options include a Master of Science in Public Health, Health Administration and Applied Gerontology. Registered Nurses (RN) who hold a bachelor's degree in gerontology have the option of enrolling in a master's degree program in nursing with a specialization in gerontological advanced practice nursing.
Graduates who are interested in a career in research or teaching at the university level can enroll in a variety of doctoral (Ph.D.) programs in a related area of gerontology. Degree options include a Ph.D. in Applied Gerontology, Social Gerontology, Public Health or Healthcare Administration.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers held over 372,670 jobs in the United States in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession would grow by 18% between the years 2018 and 2028. The median salary for medical and health services managers in May 2018 was $99,730 (www.bls.gov).
Those looking to specialize in geriatric health are able to study a bachelor's, master's or graduate certificate program in gerontology. Popular career options for graduates in this field include a social worker and nursing home administrator.