A gerontology degree can equip you with essential skills for caring for an aging population and for leading organizations that meet seniors’ needs.
You can become more knowledgeable about the process of aging and learn what is involved in supporting older adults physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. This degree program can help you develop in-demand skills that could make a real difference in people’s lives.
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If you care about older people and want to invest your career into helping them, this might be the degree path for you.
Online Gerontology Degrees
The American population is growing older. As a result, there’s an increased demand for professionals who know how to care for and support older adults. You can prepare for such a career by earning a degree in gerontology, also known as an aging studies major.
In gerontology bachelor degree programs online, you might gain knowledge from a variety of disciplines, each of which will contribute to your understanding of a gerontology career.
Your studies may cover:
- Business and finance
- Leadership and management
- Legislation and policies
You’ll explore each of these disciplines as they specifically relate to elder care. For example, you may learn how to plan a budget for an adult day program or discuss what goes on in the body as a person ages.
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Your program might also include an internship. Although your classes could be online, the internship is likely something you’d do in person. You might be able to arrange this portion of your studies through a local organization that serves older adults.
After completing a degree in gerontology, many graduates work for organizations that support seniors. That could mean going into their homes as a health aide or having them come to you in a day program, residential facility, or community agency.
You could also choose to continue your studies. For instance, some aging studies majors get a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling or enter a professional program, such as medical school.
Common Online Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology Concentrations
Sometimes, you can choose a concentration track for your bachelor’s degree studies. That would allow you to gain in-depth knowledge about a particular aspect of the gerontology field.
Concentration examples include:
- Healthcare Preparation. If you want to continue your education with a professional program in healthcare, this degree plan could provide the necessary foundation.
- Management and Administration. This specialization track can help prepare you for leadership roles in organizations that support the well-being of senior citizens.
- Public Health. You may learn to work with older adults through government or community agencies that provide education, support, and health services.
Not all bachelor’s degree programs offer concentrations. You may receive a broad overview of this field in your undergrad studies, and you can specialize later if you decide to pursue a masters in gerontology online or on campus.
Gerontology Careers & Salaries
A degree in gerontology could lead to a fulfilling job of working with people in their later years. Community day programs and residential facilities are common work sites for such jobs. Some professionals are responsible for planning activities or food service for the participants.
Some also go into people’s homes as a health aide. On-the-job training may supply the practical skills that are necessary for this role. Your gerontology bachelor’s degree might even qualify you for supervisory roles. A gerontology bachelor’s degree could lead to management positions as well.
Experienced professionals in a social agency may be a program director. Those in residential facilities might oversee the intake process or housing services. With the necessary licensure, some workers eventually become nursing home administrators.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following jobs are related to the study of gerontology.
|Annual Median Salaries
|Medical and Health Services Managers
|Social and Community Service Managers
|Food Service Managers
|Social Science Research Assistants
|Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers
|Social and Human Service Assistants
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Depending on the employer and the job responsibilities, additional education may be required for some of these roles.
Graduates may also work for social service agencies. Depending on your state, you might qualify to be a social worker or an assistant, such as a caseworker or an intake worker. Another community role is to be a health worker. For example, you could help with vaccine drives or nutritional programs for seniors.
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Rehabilitation counselors often work with elderly populations. The job itself usually requires a master’s degree, but you might qualify for an assisting role. You could also pursue work as an assistant to social scientists, participating in research that could help advance the field of elder care.
BA in Gerontology Curriculum & Courses
You will typically take around 120 credit hours’ worth of classes to get your bachelor’s degree, and 30 or more of those hours will probably be in your gerontology major area.
Your classes may include:
- Cultural Perspectives on Aging: During your time in this class, you’ll explore various cultural attitudes toward growing older and caring for elders.
- Death and Grief: Working with older adults requires you to grapple with the reality of death, so you may have a college class on the topic.
- Finance and Business for Senior Care: To prepare you for administrative roles, you may study business concepts like marketing, data management, and financial planning.
- Gerontology Research: There may be coursework that focuses on how to conduct research in this field and ways to apply study findings.
- Health and Biology of Aging: You might learn about the changes that take place in the human body as people get older, talk about health issues that seniors face, and discuss ways to support healthy living.
- Legislative Policies: This class will introduce you to important federal laws surrounding elder care, and you may also explore ways to advocate for policy changes.
- Long-Term Care: This course will focus on the ins and outs of running a long-term care facility and providing for the residents’ needs.
- Managing Programs: You can gain practical skills, such as staffing and budgeting, for heading up programs that serve older adults.
- Psychology of Aging: In a major-specific psychology class, you may discuss how different stages of the aging process affect people’s thoughts, behaviors, and socialization.
- Technology for Aging: There may be a class that focuses on new technologies aimed at supporting seniors, improving health, and fostering independence.
In addition to taking online classes, you may also be required to earn practicum hours at a local worksite.
BS in Gerontology Admissions Requirements
There’s more than just an application form and a fee required for admission to most gerontology programs.
You may also submit:
- Personal essay or other writing sample
- High school transcripts, often with a minimum GPA
- Reference letters from teachers or bosses
- Test scores from the ACT or the SAT (not a requirement at all schools)
Depending on the school, there might be an application deadline or rolling admissions throughout the year.
Online Gerontology Programs Accreditation
Regional accrediting agencies review colleges to determine whether they meet certain standards. For your gerontology studies, it’s beneficial to choose a school that’s been granted regional accreditation. There are several advantages to selecting such a school.
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For starters, accredited coursework is often transferrable. That’s helpful if you decide to switch to a different college at some point before graduation. Also, an accredited bachelor’s degree is often a requirement for grad school admission. In addition, accreditation might increase your appeal as a candidate for certain jobs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Government programs can make it possible for qualifying students to enroll in college. You might qualify for loans, grants, or both. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you can get. This form may help you obtain state aid, too. Also, you might have the opportunity to receive scholarship money directly from your college.
Applying for additional scholarship programs from other organizations may help supplement your financial aid package. It could be possible to get support from your employer as well. Workplaces sometimes contribute aid when students’ studies are relevant to the work they do for the company.
What Is a Gerontology Degree?
A gerontology degree is a bachelors degree program that addresses caring for older adults. It’s often called an aging services bachelors degree.
Topics studied in this program include aging psychology, senior healthcare, and perspectives on aging. You can also learn about planning, implementing, and overseeing programs. There may be classes on statistics and social science research too.
This degree can help prepare graduates for careers in a variety of senior-focused settings. These settings could include home health, adult day care, assisted living, long-term care, hospice, and community health.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Gerontology?
Working as a home health aide is an example of what you can do with a geriatric degree. Your understanding of seniors’ physical and mental needs could be helpful in this role. The leadership skills you learn in college may also help you move into a supervisory position.
Another idea is to work in community health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community health workers are often employed by government agencies, hospitals, and individual and family services programs. Nursing homes or other assisted living facilities may benefit from your contributions as well. Aging studies graduates might welcome new residents, plan activities, or coordinate room assignments.
What Does a Gerontologist Do?
A gerontologist is a person with expertise in the field of aging. After graduating with a degree in gerontology, you might use the “gerontologist” job title. That’s not always the case, though.
Gerontology experts might also work as program directors, recreation leaders, food service coordinators, or other professionals with special know-how about meeting older people’s needs. Gerontologists can also be researchers. They may study various aspects of aging and share their findings to inform others about best practices.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s in Gerontology Online Degree?
In general, it takes about 4 years of full-time study to get a bachelors degree. If you take online classes from a college that uses year-round accelerated terms, your schooling might be a little quicker.
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If you’ve been to college before, you may have transfer credit that could count toward your degree. Transferring in coursework can significantly shorten the length of your program. On the other hand, it will likely take you longer to earn your bachelors degree if you enroll part-time.
What’s the Difference Between a Gerontologist vs. Geriatrician?
Both of these job titles come from the same root word, but they’re different careers that require different preparation.
A gerontologist could go by many different job titles. A geriatrician could also be called a geriatric physician.
Is an Online Gerontology Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online gerontology degree is worth it for many students. Studying older adults and their care can help prepare you for a meaningful career. Your work might contribute to people’s health, safety, and security in their later years.
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Some jobs in this field are experiencing significant growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for community and social service managers are expected to see a 15% growth rate over the next ten years. For medical and health services managers, there’s a projected 32% job growth rate.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Gerontology Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Bachelor of Human Services program at Anderson University offers a concentration in Gerontology. This program seeks to educate students in the medical, social, relational, and psychological realities of aging, equipping them to serve this population in diverse settings. Sample courses include Cultural Views of Aging, Resources and Policies Affecting the Senior Population, and Death, Dying, and Bereavement.
Anderson University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Geneva College offers a Bachelor of Professional Studies Aging Services. As the senior population steadily increases, this program aims to graduate competent, compassionate professionals to address the needs and challenges of aging individuals. This program can be completed entirely online, typically in 4 years, and covers relevant policies, services, and programs impacting the gerontological field.
Geneva College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Madonna University offers a Bachelor’s in Gerontology. All courses can be completed online, though the program encourages students to pursue additional hands-on experience in the field. In addition to the foundational information covered in this program, students can add optional certificates as well. Options are Care Management, Dementia Care, Aging and Older Adults, and pre-licensure Nursing Home Administration.
Madonna University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
At Purdue University, the Bachelor’s in Human Services program is designed to prepare students for careers of service in community settings, like healthcare or education. The program allows students to tailor their education to meet their needs and professional goals. It offers online learning options, accelerated, 10-week terms, and concentrations in Gerontology, Child and Family Welfare, and Human Services Administration.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Regent University offers a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology that can be earned online. The program aims to help students develop the skills needed to serve the aging.
Its curriculum is formulated from a Christian perspective, combining principles from biophysical sciences, healthcare management, psychology, and theology. To graduate, students must complete 120 required credits. Graduates often pursue careers in social work, healthcare, research, and in-home assistance.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Saint Xavier University’s online Bachelor of Science in Gerontology program is an interdisciplinary program. It blends concepts from business, nursing, communication, arts, and social science disciplines. The program consists of 120 credit hours, which includes general education requirements, elective courses, and 27 credits of gerontology-specific curriculum.
Saint Xavier University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
At Southern Nazarene University, the Bachelor’s in Family Studies and Gerontology program is made up of courses that cover the full spectrum of human development. After students complete the university’s general education requirements, they can complete their 36 major-specific credit hours via online learning or in-person evening courses. The degree can potentially be earned in just 18 months of full-time attendance.
SNU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor’s in Human Services that seeks to prepare students to work with families, individuals, and diverse populations.
It offers concentrations in Child and Family Services, Gerontology, and Substance Abuse. Accepted students may be able to gain credits for field experience or prior learning. They may transfer in up to 90 qualifying credit hours toward the program’s 120 required credit hours.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The Bachelor of Science in Gerontology and Aging Services program at the University of Maryland Global Campus utilizes a 100% online learning model. It even allows students to complete their internship experiences remotely in their communities. This 120 credit program covers topics like gender and aging, health promotion, the psychosocial aspect of aging, and long-term care administration.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Nebraska Omaha offers a Bachelor’s in Gerontology. The program seeks to provide students with the ultimate flexibility in the delivery of their education. It offers multiple concentration, attendance, and course load options. The program’s core curriculum, which makes up 24 of the required 120 credits, covers the biological, social, and psychological aspects of aging.
UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelors in Gerontology Degree Online
Bachelor degrees in gerontology are available online from reputable schools. Distance learning is a strategic, innovative way to get a college education and further your career. Online courses are often flexible and accessible.
With an accredited online program, you can prepare effectively for work in the gerontology field. This career path has the potential to make a real difference for others. After graduating with this degree, you may be prepared to assist older adults, encourage healthy living, and manage programs. You can start exploring accredited online programs in gerontology today.
Once you consider which school would be best for you, you can then make a plan to attend and begin your educational journey.