Gerontology is the study of the aging process, addressing the psychological, epidemiology, and biological aspects in humans. Since the number of adults over the age of 65 is expected to increase significantly over the next decade or so, the demand for professionals in this field is likely to increase as well. The gerontology master’s degree provides sufficient academic preparation for students to supply that level of necessary professionalism in the industry. The Master of Science in Gerontology is the most common gerontology degree offered at this level and there are several such programs offered online to distance learners.
Why a Master’s Degree?
With a bachelor’s degree and enough experience it is possible for students to find employment in entry-level gerontology jobs, but having a master’s degree will increase those chances substantially. The master’s degree in gerontology also provides more advanced study of the issues of aging, whereas bachelor’s and associate degrees related to this subject typically only address the fundamentals of the topics mentioned above. Having a this degree expands the career opportunities available to students as well as some positions in the gerontology field require candidates to hold master’s degrees, such as social workers or researchers.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Students are typically admitted to gerontology masters programs on the basis of academic and professional evaluation. Though the exact requirements vary by program, the following are common of a master of science in gerontology program:
- Completed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Acceptable GPA on previously completed college course work
- Professional resume showing previous work experience
Inside a Gerontology Master’s Degree Program
As with most master’s degrees, the Master of Science in Gerontology program is usually completed over the course of two years, though with online programs, that time may be accelerated. Depending on the institution, online gerontology masters can be completed either entirely or partially online. Distance learners will study and submit completed assignments through the online learning platform provided by the institution but may also participate in local clinical practices or internships as part of the program.
Upon completion of the program students will be proficient in the subject of aging, gaining understanding of the current issues related to gerontology, the social and cultural aspects of aging, and the biological and health aspects of aging. Some masters programs in human services offer gerontology as a specialization, which gives the student’s degree broader applications in the health industry while still addressing the issue of aging in society. These programs incorporate many of the same topics previously mentioned, but include general health industry topics as well.
What’s Next for Gerontology Master’s Holders?
With a master of science in gerontology, there are a number of career opportunities available to the job seeker that are not necessarily open to undergraduate professionals. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that some social worker positions require candidates to have a master’s degree to be eligible. Employment is also possible in administrative positions, research fields, clinical instructing, and management.
If a student desires to pursue the study of gerontology further, they can enroll in a doctor of gerontology program or a post-graduate gerontology certificate. Doctoral programs in gerontology focus on advanced research and theoretical aspects of aging and enable graduates to teach or practice health services at higher professional levels. Post-graduate certificates provide study of a specific aspect of gerontology and can lead to specialized careers such as clinical nurse specialists or primary care nurse practitioners.