What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Gerontology Program?

The online master’s degree in gerontology is designed for students who want to prepare for leadership positions in the field of aging. Taking classes online provides an advantage to students who want to balance their work and personal lives with college. It’s also helpful for those who live in rural areas that are not close to a university or college. No two online programs are the same, so it’s important to do your research and find one that best suits your educational goals and needs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Gerontology

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Public Health Prepares students on how to address the needs of the growing older population at the local, state and national levels. Public policymaker, health educator, emergency responder, occupational health worker, social worker
Biology Explore the human aging process and the biological behaviors of aging adults. Social and health services assistants, home health aides
Psychology Centers on the mental changes that individuals experience as they grow older. Case manager, social services coordinator, intensive in-home counselor, memory care coordinator, social services director
Social Work Learn skills to help match students and individuals with the best career or job for their experience and personality. Geriatric case manager, social worker, geriatric support service manager, memory care director
Occupational Therapy Focuses the knowledge of improving the day-to-day life skills of the elderly to help promote a higher quality of living. Clinic director, rehabilitation manager, occupational therapy aide
Medical and Health Technology Medical and health technology is a graduate concentration that combines business, technology and health care. Health services manager, health informatics consultant, nursing informatics specialist, chief medical information officer

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Gerontology

The type of coursework you’ll receive while pursuing an online master’s degree in gerontology varies depending on your concentration and the college or university you decide to attend. There are a few common core classes that are relevant to the degree. When choosing classes, it’s also important to consider how the class is delivered. Some universities require labs and intensives to be completed on-campus, while others allow all coursework to be completed online. Some of the core classes you might encounter include:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Biology of Aging Focuses on the aging process by revealing similarities in the ways humans age compared with other species.
Geriatric and Age-related Illnesses Learn about the different types of illnesses, diseases and disorders that affect the elderly population.
Theories on Aging Exposes students to different aging theories and how these theories may be used to provide patient care.
Health Aging Explores the effect lifestyle changes have on aging adults.
Population-based Research on Aging Students assess population-based research methods for various diseases that affect the elderly population.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Gerontology?

Students completing the online master’s degree in gerontology usually take approximately two years to complete 36 semester hours when taking a full-time course load. Some choose to continue working full-time while taking classes on a part-time basis, which can increase the time it takes to finish the degree to as much as five years. Cohort classes, in which students must start and finish their degree with the same group of students, may take longer to complete in comparison to individually paced programs. New classes only start once or twice per year. Individually paced classes are offered at least once a semester, and you can take as many or as few classes each semester as you desire to finish the degree on your own schedule.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Gerontology

Many of the career positions for those with an online master’s in gerontology are in health care, and most employers look for individuals who have graduated from an accredited college or university. Accreditation ensures the degree program meets the strictest educational standards. This accreditation may vary depending on the concentration. Some colleges may receive accreditation from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), while others may receive it from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Gerontology Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Around 8 percent of the population in the United States has a master’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2022, nearly 18 percent of all jobs will require a master’s degree. Because the job market is competitive, an online master’s degree in gerontology can give you the professional edge needed to qualify for a wide range of professional positions.

Expected Salary

Salaries for those with an online master’s in gerontology depend on whether you work in a private or public setting and the number of years of experience. Having a master’s can boost your salary by as much as 30 percent across all occupations.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Because most jobs in gerontology require advanced degrees, most jobs for those with a bachelor’s degree or less pay considerably less. Consider some of the following entry-level position salaries, which fall significantly lower than occupations with professional credentials.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

An online master’s in gerontology opens doors for a wide variety of occupations. While most stay in health care and work directly with elderly individuals, there are available positions in the government and in private healthcare facilities.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Mental Health Associate Mental Health Associates or counselors advise the elderly who suffer from a wide variety of illnesses, including cognitive decline. $43,300 per year 23%
Geriatric Case Manager Geriatric Case Managers plan, direct and coordinate activities for those living in memory care or assisted living facilities. Case managers may also work in hospital and group medical practices. $98,350 per year 20%
Social Worker Social Workers in gerontology-based careers help the elderly solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. They may also help diagnose and suggest a treatment plan for mental, behavioral and emotional issues. $47,980 per year 16%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations provide a wealth of benefits for their members. Individuals who join professional organizations have access to networking opportunities and tend to stay caught up on technological advancements and news about the industry. Here is a list of some of the top gerontological organizations.

National Association for Professional Gerontologists: Considered to be the leading organization for gerontology personnel in the United States. The group validates its members’ credentials and provides networking and professional development.

Gerontological Society of America: The Gerontological Society of America has over 5,500 members. It is one of the largest and oldest organizations devoted to those working in gerontology careers. It provides services for professionals, including a long-running peer-reviewed journal.

American Society on Aging: The goal of the American Society on Aging is to enhance the knowledge of those who want to improve the quality of life for aging Americans. The group has more than 5,000 members, which include students, administrators, educators, policymakers and business owners.

American Geriatrics Society: Founded by a small group of doctors in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society focuses on the health and treatment of senior citizens.

National Council on Aging: The National Council on Aging is one of the largest gerontology organizations dedicated to helping those age 60 and older.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Gerontology

An online master’s in gerontology degree is typically more affordable than an on-campus degree program, but most students still need assistance when paying for their education in spite of the lowered cost. The first step in receiving aid is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This gives you a list of all available scholarships, loans, grants and other types of aid provided by the federal government. There are also scholarships available through public and private resources. Consider some of the following resources when seeking help to pay for your degree.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

R&D Systems Scholarship

Award: $1,500

Deadline: July 31

Eligibility: Students must major in a science-related field. The award is given twice per year.

Novus Biologicals Scholarship Program

Award: $1,500

Deadline: July 31

Eligibility: Awarded to students pursuing a degree in a science-related field.

Andrus Foundation Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships in Gerontology

Award: Varies

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility: Eligible students should be working on a graduate degree in gerontology. Only nominations from faculty members at academic institutions are accepted.

Patricia G. Archbold Predoctoral Scholar

Award: Varies

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility: Applicants must hold a degree in nursing, be a permanent U.S. student and demonstrate the potential for long-term contributions to gerontological nursing.

Annual Senior Care Innovation Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility: Eligible applicants should be a U.S. citizen who is taking graduate classes in gerontology from an accredited university. An essay should be written on how to improve the quality of life for seniors.