As the age of the general population continues to skew older, many universities are implementing gerontology programs that prepare their students to work with the unique interests of an aging society. Gerontology, or the study of aging, focuses on both caring for individuals of advanced age as well as understanding their unique socioeconomic and even psychological concerns. As one of the fastest growing fields in the country, there’s no shortage of great online programs to choose from at the two-year and four-year levels, as well as within graduate tracks at schools across the country. Among all of the programs currently offered, though, there are ten in particular that stand out as both academically rewarding and professionally beneficial.
1. Capella University
Long one of the major players in distance education, Capella University operates a thriving School of Public Service Leadership that excels in gerontology education. The university, which was founded to educate students using online courses in 1993, has been offering master’s degrees for much of that two-decade history. Today, Capella’s Master’s of Science in Public Service, with a gerontology concentration, is one of the leading ways for students to advance their career with older patients and clients, all within an affordable and nationally accredited university infrastructure.
Capella University consistently ranks among the best distance learning institutions in the country and, with a strong graduate program in aging, it’s consistently one of the top choices for graduate students who need the right combination of strong education and flexible course scheduling.
2. University of Southern California: Davis School of Gerontology
There are few schools with a gerontology program as broad and as diverse as the one at the University of Southern California. The Davis School of Gerontology offers a total of four master’s degrees in the field, as well as a graduate certificate and a doctoral program that can cement graduates as among the top professionals in the aging industry. USC’s programs are all available online, with students meeting regularly with professors and their peers.
Programs like aging service management, long term care administration, and the choice between either an M.S. or M.A. in the broader gerontology field, will prepare students for success in the field wherever their career leads them. A sophisticated doctoral program in the philosophy of gerontology is perfect for those who aspire to enter an instructional position at another university. The certificate program, too, is robust, and serves as a quicker and more affordable alternative for students who require only a basic certificate in the field.
3. The University of Massachusetts at Boston
The aging industry is big one, full of executive and leadership opportunities that demand professionals with the right combination of gerontology education and leadership training. That’s exactly what the online Master’s of Science program offers at the University of Massachusetts’ Boston campus. The online program offers a concentration known as the “Management of Aging Services Track.”
Students will learn all of the skills they need to work with older patients and relate to their needs, all while leading one of the many organizations that caters to this specific demographic. With the UMass reputation and a strong online presence paired together, graduate students will be equipped to directly enter a leadership role after graduation.
4. Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University is one of the fastest-growing public institutions in the state of North Carolina, and its gerontology program is one of its newest efforts. The school has already emerged as a leader in gerontology leadership and education, offering two complete master’s degree programs and a one-year graduate certificate in the field that is perfect for career advancement and continuing education programs.
Students will have access to App State’s top-ranked administration and faculty, as well as a program that brings a unique focus to the field. Unlike similar programs, Appalachian State’s gerontology department focuses on family connections and the group experience of aging. Practical experience is encouraged of all online students, and face-to-face meetings or presentations serve as a key part of the program.
5. University of Utah
The University of Utah is one of the only schools that places gerontology studies within its broader school of nursing. As most students might guess, this gives the entire program a bit more focus on one-to-one patient care. Students learn the importance of proper care and management in assisted living environments and senior centers, and a great deal of attention is placed on the aging process and its biological effects on those who are of advanced age.
The University of Utah offers undergraduate and graduate-level programs, with several certificates that can be earned with roughly 15 credit hours of coursework. All programs offered at the university are offered online, with no on-campus education requirements.
6. California State University, Sacramento
The undergraduate gerontology program at Sacramento State is the only such program in all of northern California, giving it a degree of prestige within the state. For students nationwide, though, this four-year program in undergraduate gerontology studies is one of the best available. With an emphasis on both patient care and aging services management, students will be equipped with a firm understanding of both leadership and how to treat the most common effects of aging.
After completion of the undergraduate program, students can pursue a graduate certificate or a specialized master’s degree program through Sacramento State. Furthermore, students in another concentration at the university can choose to minor in gerontology. All of these options are available in online-exclusive implementations.
7. The University of Missouri
The University of Missouri is one of the Midwest’s leading institutions, and the school’s program in gerontology is in line with that reputation. Though undergraduate programs in the field are not offered, the university does offer a highly ranked Master’s of Arts in Gerontology program that can be completed entirely online. The program is appropriately broad, preparing students for professional work as a case manager, a patient care representative, or even a leader within established aging-based businesses and senior centers.
8. University of Indianapolis
At the University of Indianapolis, students can choose from an undergraduate certificate in aging studies, a graduate certificate in the same area, or one of two aging-based courses of study. All programs are offered completely online, and both the certificates and graduate degrees are part of the broader Center for Aging and Community at the university. An interdisciplinary focus is key to this program, which is one of the most comprehensive and broad gerontology education efforts currently on the market for students at all levels.
9. Brenau University
Offered through the College of Health Sciences, Brenau University offers a comprehensive Master’s of Science degree program in applied gerontology. The degree focuses extensively on practical applications of the aging field, and the unique considerations that aging requires of people in various professions. Students who complete the online degree program are prepared to work in medical, legal, and other fields, implementing aging-sensitive polices and procedures that work to include people of all ages. This applied knowledge program is unique to Brenau, and it presents a compelling experience to students at the graduate level.
That the program is offered through the College of Health Sciences should only make it more appealing to those who are focused more on the unique medical and mental health concerns that affect today’s senior citizens. The program, though applied, is still geared a bit more toward medical concerns than many other programs offered to graduate students.
A Wide Variety of Certificates, Bachelor’s Degrees, and Graduate Coursework
Whether offered through traditional distance learning institutions or offline universities that have increasingly put their programs online for all to participate in, it’s pretty evident that gerontology programs nationwide are only getting more advanced and competitive over time. That’s largely because America’s population is set to continue becoming more advanced in age over the next several decades, with the median age of the population skewing upward each year.
With an older population and a more developed field, professionals angling for success in the aging field will need to enhance their education and pursue continuing education through certificates, graduate programs, and even bachelor’s degrees. The ten schools mentioned here each present a compelling way to seek that education and cultivate a more rewarding and more knowledgeable career overall.