Men and women who want to work with and on behalf of the elderly might pursue a bachelor's degree in gerontology. At some colleges and universities, gerontology is included as a concentration within a behavioral science or health services degree program. Gerontology programs combine training in health care administration, psychology and sociology, as students learn about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging and how community policies and programs affect the elderly.
Internship components and practicum experiences are common parts of the curriculum. Most of these programs do not have special admissions requirements. If there are prerequisites, they are minimal and may include completion of an introductory gerontology course. Additionally, a minimum grade point average of 2.5 or higher must be maintained.
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Bachelor's in Gerontology
Coursework in a bachelor's level gerontology program is multi-dimensional and cross-subject with medicine, psychology and sociology. For example, students often will take a class on nutrition or the psychological effects of death. Other typical topics include:
- Medical terms
- Human anatomy
- Bodily systems and functions
- Foundations in nutrition
- Common disabilities among the elderly
- Exercise and the science of movement
Popular Career Options
Gerontology majors have a number of employment options in government sectors, nonprofit organizations, hospitals and nursing homes. Specific job titles may be:
- Elderly advocate or social worker
- Adult day care administrator
- Nursing home recreation specialist
- Community outreach program developer
- Gerontological policy analyst
Employment Outlook and Salary
If a gerontology major pursues a career as a social worker or social and human service assistant, the respective employment growth rates for these fields over 2014-2024 are 12% and 11%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The mean annual salaries for these professionals as of May 2015 are $57,970 and $33,190.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in gerontology might decide to continue their studies and obtain a master's degree in gerontology, social work or public administration, or attend law or medical school.
Gerontology bachelor's degree programs include courses from various disciplines. With faster than average job growth, graduates of these programs can enter the workforce in a variety of settings, including human services and social work.