2021 Best Degrees for Older Adults

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What are some of the best degrees for older adults? Education has no age limit, and there can be many benefits for adults returning to college. Some schools even have reduced rates for senior learners and programs for older students.

Best Degrees for Older Adults

Whether you’re wanting to advance your career or simply expand your knowledge, it can be difficult to know where to start with how many degrees there are to choose from.

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We will discuss some common degrees for older adults in order to help you narrow down your degrees of preference.

Degrees for Older Adults Online

There are many majors and degrees out there. The right one for is ultimately the one that most aligns with your interests and schedule preferences.

The following are some of the best degrees for older adults online. We’ve included how each degree can be useful in terms of career paths as well as the subjects that you may study as part of each online degree program.

All of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Accounting

Accountants working together

Accounting is a major that deals with money and finances. At its heart, it is the process of recording financial transactions in regards to a business. These transactions are summarized, analyzed, recorded, and reported to various agencies, such as tax collection agencies and regulators.

You might be interested in accounting if you have a knack for numbers. If math, money, and finances are exciting topics, accounting may be a degree for you to consider.

With an accounting degree, you may become an accountant for a company. Career paths such as bookkeeping, auditing, and budget analyzing can come from an accounting degree as well.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accountants and auditors is $73,560, and these positions are projected to grow at a rate of 4% through the next decade.

An accounting degree program may include courses on financial accounting, managerial accounting, financial accounting theory and practice, and income tax accounting.

Business Administration

Project Managers in a meeting

A business administration degree focuses on educating students about the core of business function. It includes all facets of overseeing and supervising business operations and can lead to a few different career paths.

With a degree in business administration, you may work as a project manager, sales manager, financial analyst, market research analyst, or human resources specialist.

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Courses within a business administration degree program may cover a wide range of topics. Course options may include accounting, business administration, marketing, human resources, logistics, information technology, and finance. This degree may be for you if the aspects of a business and its operations interest you.

Education

Secondary Education teacher with her students

There are many places you may go with a degree in education. Many who get their education degree do so to become teachers.

Within education, you can specify whether you want to do primary or secondary education. Certifications for teaching different age groups exist within that as well.

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Although a degree in education can lead to becoming a teacher, there are other alternative career paths out there. You may also become an education administrator or work in counseling. Courses that you may take as an education major often depends on your specialization.

If you plan on teaching a certain subject, your own coursework may reflect that subject. Other courses may include lesson planning, educational psychology, educational policy and leadership, and curriculum development.

Finance

Financial Advisor with a senior couple

A finance degree, similar to accounting, involves numbers and business. It involves learning about how various types of numbers affect a business, whether it is accounting, statistics, or investments.

A finance degree may teach you how to understand investments within financial institutions. A degree in finance may lead to a career as a financial analyst, economic analyst, or investment banker. You may also work in portfolio management, trading, or corporate finance.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for financial analysts is $83,660. If learning about investments and how they work within a business interests you, then you may consider a finance degree.

In a finance degree program, you may take classes such as statistics, economics, bank management, and financial management.

Healthcare Administration

hospital administrators in a conference

Healthcare administration involves management, leadership, and the healthcare system. Getting your degree in healthcare administration may allow you either to work directly with people or to do more background work with data and numbers.

A healthcare administration degree may lead to many job opportunities. You may become a healthcare administrator, hospital administrator, or a medical record and health information technician.

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If the healthcare system and its inner workings spark an interest for you, healthcare administration might be a field to consider. Courses for this degree program can include healthcare policy, healthcare management, health economics, and healthcare financing.

Information Systems

IT consultants working in data center

Information systems involves computers and database systems. It is the study of systems with a specific reference to information.

A degree in information systems allows you to study the networks of hardware and software that organizations use. The systems are used to create, process, collect, filter, and distribute data.

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An information systems degree may lead to various careers, including IT consultant, data analyst, cybersecurity analyst, IT technical support officer, and database administrator.

This degree may be a good fit if you’re interested in technology, computers, and how database systems work. Courses in an information systems degree program may include information security, computer networking, and systems analysis and design.

Management

Operations Manager meeting with staff

A degree in management is a type of business degree. It deals with the operations in a business setting. A degree in management can lead to careers in various fields.

Management can encompass business management, healthcare management, and sales management. With a management degree, you may get a job as a sales representative, financial advisor, or operations manager. The skills taught in management allow for the possibility of obtaining managerial positions in various industries.

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If you decide pursue a management degree, some courses that you may take include organizational behavior analysis, accounting for business managers, risk management, and dynamic team development.

Marketing

Marketing team in a meeting

Marketing is a career that can take you anywhere. It deals with the promotional activities that an organization does to raise awareness or sell their product. Every business and organization needs marketing, which allows for a lot of opportunities.

Career options in marketing can be in sales, print, or digital marketing. Marketing can deal with advertising, fundraising, event planning, social media, media buying, public relations, market research, and media planning.

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Marketing is diverse because it may allow you to take your learned skills and apply them anywhere. You may be a consultant or work for a company whose cause or products you feel strongly about. If you pursue a degree in marketing, you may take classes in business, marketing strategy, market research, and marketing techniques.

Nursing

Nurse taking care of newborn children

A nursing degree puts you in the middle of the healthcare field. For many, a nursing degree means becoming a nurse, and there are many possibilities within that.

As a nurse, you may work at a hospital, in private practice, or in someone’s home as an in-home nurse. There are different levels of nursing, such as a registered nurse (RN), nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Each level has different credentials.

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Other than being a nurse, you may also become a nurse educator or obtain a leadership role, such as nurse manager, healthcare manager, or chief nursing officer. The average salary of a registered nurse is $75,330 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and jobs for registered nurses are growing at a rate of 7%.

In your nursing degree program, you may take classes such as nursing fundamentals, physiology, and microbiology.

Psychology

Psychologist listening to a client

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, and psychology majors often use their knowledge of the mind and human behavior to help others.

With a psychology degree, you may become a psychologist, school counselor, occupational psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, and therapist. Some of these careers require additional graduate degrees, certifications, or licensing exams.

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Courses that you may take while getting your degree in psychology include experimental, abnormal, physiological, and cognitive psychology.

Adult Learners: Reasons Why Older Adults Are Going Back to School

adult college students in a university

Whether you’re going back to grad school at 25 or returning to college at 55, there are number of reasons why adults are going back to college.

  • Salary and career advancement. In many cases, having a bachelors degree can help you advance your career or earn a higher income. Every extra certification or skill that you learn may make you more marketable at your job.
  • Career change. Like many adults, you may have chosen your current career path when you were younger, and now it’s time for a change. Earning a degree can lay the foundation for a successful career change.
  • Unfinished business. You may have started earning your degree when you were younger but ended up not completing your program. Now that you’re older, going back to school may be more affordable or more accessible than it was in the past, especially with online learning.
  • Staying competitive. In every field, it’s beneficial to stay up-to-date with best practices. Staying updated with modern knowledge and advancements may allow you to continue to thrive and grow personally as well as professionally.

While these reasons apply to many adults who are going back to school, you may have another reason altogether for wanting to earn a degree as an older adult.

Benefits of Returning to College as an Older Adult

adult college student studying at home

There are many benefits to returning to college as an older adult.

  • Online education. Completing your education online is more widely accessible now than ever before, and online learning can make it easier to return to school.
  • Experience. You may have both life experience and professional experience to draw from that helps in the learning process.
  • Professional growth. Returning to college may allow you to advance your career or salary.
  • Network growth. As an adult, you can focus on growing your network, especially if you are taking classes with others that are already working. This may help your career growth as well.
  • Continued learning. Going back to school allows you to advance in your knowledge and understanding. You may be learning to change your career, advance your career, or just stay up-to-date.

There are many more benefits to returning to college as an older adult, as this list is not exhaustive. Going back to college may open up many new opportunities.

Admissions Requirements

adult college student in university library

Admissions requirements for college for older adults can vary depending on the program and institution. Requirements for admission typically include the following:

  • Present transcripts of previous credits
  • Obtain letters of recommendation
  • Have a high school diploma or GRE

As an adult, you may also show work experience in your field. To find out what the admissions requirements are for a specific school, you can check their website or contact their admissions office.

Accreditation

College Accreditation

Regional accreditation is official recognition given to a school or program for meeting a standard of excellence.

A school’s accreditation status is important when it comes transferring credits or job hunting. Institutions as well as employers recognize and respect degrees and credits earned from accredited schools.

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For more information on accreditation, or to discover whether a school is accredited, you can visit the website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

College Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you want to try and save on school expenses, you may look into the various financial aid options that are available to see if you qualify.

To see if you qualify for federal aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal aid can come in the form of loans or grants. Another form of financial aid is state aid. A number of states also have grants or scholarships available to students who qualify.

Researching scholarships is another avenue you can pursue. Some are need-based while others are merit-based. Some schools even offer scholarship opportunities. You can always check with the admissions office or financial aid office to see what scholarships may be available.

You can also inquire with your job to see if your employer offers any tuition reimbursement programs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

senior college students in university

A bachelors degree generally takes 4 years to complete if you’re following a traditional, 16 week semester and attending full-time.

Some schools offer 8 week semesters. If you follow this route and stay enrolled year-round, you may finish sooner.  If you’re working, you may need to enroll part-time to accommodate your schedule. When attending school part-time, it may take longer to complete your degree.

Benefits of Online Degrees for Senior Citizens

senior student attending an online class

If you are a senior citizen and looking at degrees for adults returning to college, here are some of the benefits that may be available to you with an online degree:

  • Learning something new. No matter your age, it’s always beneficial to learn something new, especially if you’re interested in the subject.
  • Online ease. Getting a degree online means you can attend class from the comfort of your own home. Online programs also tend to offer more scheduling flexibility.
  • Senior discounts. Senior citizens may be eligible for tuition discounts, which can make obtaining your degree more affordable than ever.
  • Tools for a new venture. Getting your degree can allow you to advance your skills or to learn new skills if you’re wanting to start something new.
  • Time. If you are either retired or an empty nester, you may have more time to devote to getting a degree. You may even be able to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time. Some online degrees also offer accelerated programs.

If you are looking into seniors college, earning your degree online has many benefits that might be worth exploring.

What Is a Good Degree for an Older Person?

adult college students attending class in university

When it comes to online degrees for seniors, some colleges and universities offer specific programs for senior learners and returning adults.

If there is a particular field that you are interested in, you may want to explore to see what special options are offered to senior learners. When determining what degree is best for you, it often comes down to your personal interests and goals.

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If you’re still exploring your interests, a few degree options you may look into include nursing, information systems, healthcare administration, education, accounting, and business administration.

What Is the Best Career to Start at 50?

There are plenty of careers you may start at 50, especially with a bachelors degree in that field.

Careers for older adults include therapist, school counselor, accountant, financial manager, nursing, database administrator, and marketing. There are many more careers you can start at 50 as well. Your bachelors can help get you started, and then your passion and experience can help you take the next steps.

Can Senior Citizens Go to College for Free?

Depending on the school and program you are interested in, there may be a discount for senior citizens. Some schools have tuition discounts as well as tuition waivers.

You can check a particular school’s website or speak to an admissions counselor to see if they have a college for seniors program. Some states also offer a senior citizen tuition waiver if you go to a state school.

Getting Your College Degree Online

Getting Your College Degree Online

Whether you are going through a career change, are a mid-career professional, or a 25 year old considering going back to grad school, it is never too late to learn something new and get a degree.

You can obtain your bachelors degree online as well as in person. Online learning gives you the flexibility of completing your coursework from the comfort of your own home. If this sounds appealing to you, you can start your educational journey by researching and exploring accredited universities.

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Joanna Smykowski
WRITTEN BY
Joanna Smykowski
Joanna has a Juris Doctor degree from the CUNY School of Law and earned her Bachelor's in Communications from St. John's University. Joanna is a licensed New York State attorney and she focuses her research and writing on current trends in higher education.