Online Gerontology Programs: The 2021 Guide

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Last Updated: 09/21/2021
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Best Accredited Online Gerontology Programs in 2021

Online gerontology degree programs can lead to a number of rewarding jobs, but students must find the best school for their needs first. In order to help you find the school that will allow you to reach your career aspirations, we have compiled the following list of the country’s best gerontology programs. These accredited schools were chosen based on their flexible curriculum, affordable price, and the career-ready skills that graduates leave with. Continue reading to learn about three of the best online gerontology programs – and check back soon for our complete 2021 college ranking.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of South Florida-Main CampusTampa, FL Public $ 2

A public research institution located in Tampa, the University of South Florida administers nearly 250 different programs of study across 14 schools and colleges. Its College of Behavioral and Community Science and School of Aging Studies offer a gerontology master’s program that uses hybrid delivery methods. The course of study provides an interdisciplinary curriculum, 30 credits in total, that prepares students for further graduate study in aging or for careers that support quality of life in older adults. Eligible students can also pursue a fully online 15-credit certificate in gerontology with optional transfer pathways for the master’s degree later on.

Students in the master’s program receive core course content online, exploring topics in human development, age and ethnicity, and program evaluation. Electives include classes in assisted living and elder abuse, mental health assessment, policy and practice, and counseling theory. The program concludes with an integrative capstone component where students undertake directed research that support their interests. The school also offers optional internship and field placement opportunities.

Program Highlights:

Gerontology, M.A.

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Cost: $348/credit
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $348/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
2 California State University-NorthridgeNorthridge, CA Public $$ 1

Initially established as an independent school in 1958, California State University, Northridge is one of the largest comprehensive institutions in the U.S., enrolling nearly 40,000 students annually. A key member of the 23-campus California State University system, CSUN provides quality programming in communication, education, business, and behavioral science. Students with a relevant bachelor’s degree can earn a graduate certificate in gerontology through the school’s Department of Health Sciences. The program entails 15 credits that most student complete in a single academic year, taking full advantage of online, weekend, and evening course offerings.

Curriculum for this hybrid gerontology certificate focuses on public policy in aging, gerontology program development, resource management, and healthcare ethics. Credits earned toward the certificate can also be applied to a relevant graduate degree, either concurrently at CSUN or elsewhere via transfer. The school’s online learning platform makes it easy for student to interact with instructors and colleagues in real-time, accessing class material on demand at their convenience.

Program Highlights:

Gerontology Certificate

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: Varies
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: WASC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
Accreditation#N/A
3 Oklahoma State University-Main CampusStillwater, OK Public $$ 1

Stillwater-based Oklahoma State University promotes learning and advances knowledge through over 200 academic programs. The public land-grant school operates six different schools, including a College of Education and Human Science that offers a 36-credit master of science in aging studies available entirely online. The program develops foundational knowledge in gerontology through a multidisciplinary approach that draws on sociology, psychology, and family science. Most students take 2-3 classes each semester, finishing all program requirements in just three years. Students also enjoy complete access to the school’s Alliance on Aging, a gerontology research center dedicated to improved health protection across the lifespan.

The program uses a blend of intuitive virtual learning tools to accommodate working professionals who want to study at their own pace. Student can access course material whenever they choose, studying specialized topics in adult development, nutrition and physical activity, program evaluation, and statistical research methods. Near the end of study, prospective graduates work with faculty advisors to develop either a research-driven thesis or a creative capstone project.

Program Highlights:

Aging Studies, M.S. - Online

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $590/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
73%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboro, NC Public $ 2

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers two fully online programs to students interested in furthering their careers in gerontology. Its master of science in gerontology prepares aspiring professionals for work in retirement communities, senior centers, and assisted living facilities. Eligible students interested in obtaining a non-degree credential can pursue a postbaccalaureate certificate in gerontology, which familiarizes learners with key conceptual approaches to the processes of aging. Administered by the school’s Department of Social Work, both programs deliver courses in 7-week sessions, incorporating synchronous and asynchronous online learning formats.

Recent course offerings include social services for the elderly, gerontology research methods, health promotion, and more. Each class draws on current research in the field, including cases studies on aging and long-term care that look to contemporary applications in a variety of settings. Students pursuing the master’s degree complete their course of study with an applied internship or research project, whichever fits their interest and career goals.

Program Highlights:

MS in Gerontology

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Cost: $336/credit (in-state); $1,098 (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)

Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Gerontology

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $336/credit (in-state); $1,098 (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
5 University of North GeorgiaDahlonega, GA Public $ 2

The result of a 2013 merger between North Georgia College and Gainesville State College, the University of North Georgia administers gerontology programming for non-degree seeking students. Its graduate and undergraduate certificates make it easy for learners to receive the training and preparation they need without an additional degree. Both programs require just 18 credits and offer flexible, fully online courses to accommodate busy lives and work schedules. Most students earn their certificate in just 2-3 semesters, gaining specialized skills in program evaluation, public policy, and resource planning for aging populations.

Students pursuing the undergraduate certificate take courses that focus on the biology of aging, communicating with older adults, and other topics. They complete the program by participating in either a research component or a practicum experience in applied clinical settings. The graduate certificate includes much of the same core coursework and capstone elements with more opportunity to explore electives in death and dying, health promotion and human development, and the psychology of aging.

Program Highlights:

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

  • Credits: 18
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $303/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)

Undergraduate Certificate in Gerontology

  • Credits: 18
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $303/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
9%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
6 University of Nebraska at OmahaOmaha, NE Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
7 Idaho State UniversityPocatello, ID Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8 University of Nebraska-LincolnLincoln, NE Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
9 University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

University of Nebraska, Omaha

University-of-Nebraska

The Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska, Omaha offers several online degree programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels. For undergraduates, the school offers a bachelor’s degree that allows students to become familiar with the gerontology field, theories on death and dying, and how nutritional needs change as people get older. In addition, this program offers three concentrations: administration, pre-health, and healthy aging. The school also has an undergraduate certificate program designed to give students an intensive look at gerontology and hands-on experience in the area of their choice.

At the graduate level, the university has a master’s degree program in social gerontology, which provides coursework on advanced concepts and allows students to choose between a thesis and non-thesis option. In order to be admitted to this program, students are expected to have a bachelor’s degree and submit two letters of recommendation and a personal statement. The school also offers a graduate certificate program, which has a concentration in interior design. Students in this program—who may work as senior housing professionals, architects, realtors, or nursing home administrators—learn the best practices for designing and building an environment that is most suitable for senior citizens.

University of Maryland – Global Campus

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland offers an online gerontology and aging services bachelor’s degree program. This program gives students an understanding of the biological, psychological, and social issues related to aging; how race, gender, class, and ethnicity influence the aging process; and the laws and ethics associated with providing care for the elderly. In addition to coursework, students have the opportunity to participate in an internship for 15 weeks, so they can apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations at a community organization. The university also has clubs and organizations specifically for gerontology students, so they can discuss what they learned in the classroom, connect with other students, and network with professionals in the field.

In addition to gerontology coursework, students at the University of Maryland take general education classes designed to give them a well-rounded learning experience. These classes include English composition, economics, history, statistics, public speaking, and biology.

University of Southern California

University of Maryland

The University of Southern California offers five online graduate gerontology options for students with a variety of professional interests. For example, the school’s master of science in gerontology focuses on policy and research related to aging and prepares students to work at government agencies or in executive positions at organizations that provide direct care to the elderly. Specific coursework in this program covers lifespan developmental psychology, social policy and aging, research methods, and physiology. Students are also required to participate in a field practicum.

On the other hand, the master of arts in gerontology addresses topics like the mind and body connection through the lifespan, health and longevity medical care, and the administration of care to senior citizens. This degree is designed for those who already have experience in the healthcare industry and want to gain more of an understanding of gerontological issues because that is the population they work with.

The University of Southern California also provides a master’s degree in aging services management for those who want to learn how to run an organization in the aging services industry. Another available option is USC’s master’s degree program in long-term care administration that trains students for a managerial role in retirement communities and residential care or assisted living facilities. Finally, the school offers a graduate certificate in gerontology for students who want to learn about the field after studying another discipline during their undergraduate years.

Getting Familiar with Online Gerontology Programs

Maybe you’ve thought about studying gerontology, but aren’t sure exactly what it is or what you actually learn in a degree program. Or perhaps you’ve already decided to get a degree in gerontology, but want to know what earning one online would be like. No matter your situation, chances are you have many questions about earning an online gerontology degree, and you can find the answers below.

What is Gerontology?

During the aging process, people go through a variety of physical, psychological, emotional, and social changes. Gerontology is the study of this process and the personal and societal issues that people encounter as they get older. This is a multidisciplinary field that looks the medical, policy, and relationship implications of aging, as well as how people cope with the way their lives change during this time—including changes to the body, the loss of loved ones, and coming to terms with their own mortality.

What Do You Learn in a Gerontology Degree Program?

People who complete gerontology programs gain a holistic perspective of aging that they can apply to numerous jobs, whether they help older adults directly or indirectly. During their studies, students learn about primary, secondary, or tertiary aging issues, which allows them to understand the physical, emotional, and cognitive deterioration of the human body, as well as the chronic conditions that are common among older individuals. As a result of the coursework, students leave the program with the following skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Empathy
  • Information management
  • Research
  • Interpersonal
  • Critical thinking

What Is It Like to Earn a Gerontology Degree Online?

Depending on the program, gerontology degrees can be earned completely or partially online. Many of the topics that students learn in these programs—such as the psychology of aging, lifespan development, gerontological public policy and advocacy, and case management—can be studied in online classes. Programs may require that students take capstone courses that are conducted on campus or participate in hands-on learning experiences at gerontology-related organizations.

Online Gerontology Degree Program Options

Whether students are learning about gerontology for the first time in order to land an entry-level position or are already healthcare professionals who want to deepen their knowledge of gerontology to get a higher-level position, there is a program available that suits their needs. Below are descriptions of online gerontology degrees available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as certification programs in gerontology.

certificate

Online Associate Degrees in Gerontology

Online gerontology associate degrees, which are generally offered by community colleges, are designed to give students a sturdy foundation of knowledge and skills needed to enter the field. People generally will graduate with an understanding of the physical, social, spiritual and psychological components of aging; the development and implementation of services provided to meet the holistic needs of seniors; aging theories and how they relate to seniors on a group and individual level; and the ways seniors are viewed and treated by society.

Best for … those who want to pursue careers as social services workers, nursing assistants, meal coordinators, or adult educators.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 60 credits

Other Common Requirements: Internship

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 4 Years

Full-Time Program: 2 Years

certificate

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Gerontology

Students in online gerontology bachelor’s degrees learn about aging independence and the financial, legal, and ethical issues associated with it; contemporary and classic research and theories related to aging; best practices for providing services to the elderly; and the changing relationship dynamics between older people and their loved ones. Specific classes found in these programs include the sociology of aging, aging and health, long-term care administration, and the cognitive and emotional impact of aging. Also, general education classes are required to increase students’ knowledge of areas like math, science, public speaking, and writing.

Best for … those who want to become social workers, home health aides, social scientists, administrative gerontologists, and geriatric case managers.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 120 credits

Other Common Requirements: Internship

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 6 Years

Full-Time Program: 4 Years

certificate

Master’s Degrees in Gerontology Online

Online master’s degrees in gerontology provide an advanced look at the discipline by focusing on the societal challenges people face as they age; the cognitive, physical, and emotional ramifications of the aging process; the laws and ethics followed by those in the gerontology field; and strategies for conducting gerontology research. Specific coursework may include topics like lifespan development and sociology, bereavement studies, aging and the family, and counseling the older adult.

Best for … people who have been in the aging field for a while and want to advance their knowledge and skills to obtain a higher-level position, as well as people who want to enter the gerontology field as a second career.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 36 credits

Other Common Requirements: Thesis, Field Practicum, or Capstone Course

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 6 Years

Full-Time Program: 2 Years

certificate

Gerontology Certificate Programs Online

Certificate programs at the undergraduate and graduate level offer a deep dive into gerontology that can generally be completed in about one year. On the undergraduate level, students become familiar with the principles of gerontology in order to provide services to older adults, while the graduate level certificate generally combines gerontology studies with leadership development in order to prepare students to run organizations that cater to the elderly.

Best for … people who want to begin providing services to senior citizens, as well as those who want to move up the ladder in their gerontology careers.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 24 credits

Other Common Requirements: Internship, Capstone project

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 2 Years

Full-Time Program: 1 Years

certificate

Online PhDs in Gerontology

PhD programs focus on the strategies for conducting gerontology research. Students learn how to conduct qualitative and quantitative research, analyze past research and gerontology policies, formulate theories, and communicate research findings to other professionals. In addition, online PhDs in gerontology also help students develop leadership skills.

Best for … those who want to obtain a gerontology research position or become a college professor to train future gerontologists, as well as those who want to run gerontology organizations.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 60 credits

Other Common Requirements: Dissertation

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 8 Years

Full-Time Program: 5 Years

Gerontology as a Specialization Within Other Degree Programs

Some schools offer gerontology as a standalone degree program, while others offer it as a concentration within a degree in a different academic discipline. The following are examples of other degree programs that may have a gerontology specialization.

Advanced Practice Nursing

Advanced practice nursing degrees that concentrate on gerontology teach students how to provide care that is tailored to the needs of older patients. In order to foster this understanding, these programs offer coursework on adult assessments, common health problems among the elderly, geriatric syndromes, and transitional care for older, chronically ill patients. More information can be found on our dedicated page about online adult gerontology nurse practitioner degrees.

Human and Social Services

This degree prepares students to implement and execute programs that provide services to seniors in a community. Topics that may be covered include human services administration, grant writing, contemporary gerontology, culture and aging, and advocating on behalf of the elderly.

Social Work

Social workers need to tailor their practice to the needs of specific communities, so those who want to primarily work with senior citizens can earn this degree to become experts on the needs of elderly clients. Coursework may cover death and dying, grief, the role of spirituality among older people, and assisting seniors with substance abuse issues.

Psychology

Psychology students who concentrate on gerontology focus on the psychological aspects of aging. These programs address gerontology behavioral science research, counseling strategies for treating the elderly, social policies that affect older people, and the emotional support that people and their families need as they face the end of their lives.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Gerontology?

People who earn a gerontology degree often pursue careers involving the direct or indirect administration of services to the elderly and older adults. Whether they want to provide daily healthcare services for patients in a nursing home or contribute to the policymaking process that impacts the services older people can receive, people who earn an online degree in gerontology can play numerous roles to help make the lives of the elderly better. The following are examples of some of the career options available to gerontology graduates.

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides provide help to older people who have disabilities and illnesses that may preclude them from carrying out daily activities on their own. These professionals help their clients with housekeeping, going to doctor’s appointments, bathing, and getting dressed. In addition, they may help their clients meet dietary needs by grocery shopping for them and preparing their meals.

Typical Education Required: Associate Degree

Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 36%

Median National Salary (2018): $24,060

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators and community health workers can use their gerontology degrees to promote good health and wellness among senior citizens and educate the community about the needs of this group. Specific job duties include using data to determine the health needs of the older people in their area, providing feedback that is used to create new programs or improve existing ones, and advocating on behalf of the elderly in their community.

Typical Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%

Median National Salary (2018): $46,080

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants, who often work closely with social workers, help to provide assistance to elderly people in the community by locating services such as personal care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, meal delivery, housing, and veterans services. These professionals—who can find employment at government agencies, residential care facilities, or hospitals—research services, assist clients with paperwork, and follow up to ensure that the services they found are making a difference in clients’ lives.

Typical Education Required: Associate’s Degree or Certificate

Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 13%

Median National Salary (2018): $33,750

Postsecondary Teachers

Those who want to train gerontologists can seek a postsecondary teacher position after earning their doctoral degree. These teachers work closely with students to ensure that they understand the field, which involves giving lectures, creating and grading tests and assignments, and providing guidance if students need extra help. In addition, college professors may also conduct research to expand the knowledge of professionals in the gerontology field.

Typical Education Required: Doctoral Degree

Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%

Median National Salary (2018): $78,470

Understanding Accreditation for Online Gerontology Programs

When looking for an online gerontology program, it’s important to only consider schools that have been accredited by an organization recognized by the Department of Education (DOE). This will ensure you get the high-quality education you need to reach your career goals. Accredited schools are required to undergo a strenuous review process so you can feel confident you’re earning a worthwhile degree. Schools are accredited by regional organizations like the Higher Learning Commission, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or by national associations like the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

There are currently no organizations recognized by the DOE that specifically accredit gerontology programs. However, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education offers a list of “programs of merit” where schools gain recognition through a voluntary review process. The Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council is another organization that approves gerontology programs, but has not yet gained recognition from the DOE. You can use approval from these organizations as an extra way to determine a program’s quality, but it should not be mistaken for real accreditation.

You can check the accreditation status of programs you’re considering by visiting school websites or by visiting this DOE search tool.

Finding Help Paying Your Online Gerontology Degree

No matter what program students choose, paying for an online gerontology degree can be challenging. Although the prospect of paying for a degree may seem overwhelming at first, there are ways for students to save money through financial aid. From student loans to scholarships and grants to internship programs, there are many avenues students can take to lower the cost of their degree.

For more information about how you can find and apply for financial aid to help pay for a gerontology degree program, read through our financial aid guide. You can also apply for one of EduMed’s four scholarships and learn about other scholarship opportunities on our dedicated scholarships page.

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Online-Gerontology-Degree

Recommended Gerontology Degree & Career Resources

Looking for even more information on degrees and careers in gerontology? We’ve put together the following list of top online resources so you can continue your research and keep on top of the latest industry trends.