Masters in Gerontology

What Do You Learn in a Masters in Gerontology?

Completing a Masters in Gerontology Studies (Masters in Gerontological Studies or MGS) may enable people to better work with older people or in fields related to the aging process. Those who complete this educational path typically work in one of three areas: research/academic work, non-social work direct services, or in policy related to older people. Other paths may be present as well.

To do this type of work, individuals typically need to complete a significant amount of education. They may have a bachelor’s degree in this field or a related field but typically require hands-on and academic study in the field or concentration they select.

Top 25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters Degree in Gerontology

The following are the top 25 schools for those seeking a master’s degree in gerontology, based on the number of students graduating with that degree in the 2019/2020 school year from data reported by NCES.

College / UniversityGraduatesAcceptance Rate
University of Southern California13211%
University of Massachusetts-Boston3176%
University of Indianapolis1993%
Brenau University1658%
University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences13N/A
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus1272%
Georgia State University1176%
Miami University-Oxford980%
California State University-Fullerton853%
University of Nebraska at Omaha883%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro882%
Webster University857%
Capella University7N/A
Concordia University-Chicago775%
Eastern Illinois University653%
San Francisco State University667%
University of La Verne655%
University of North Carolina Wilmington665%
Georgetown University514%
Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo526%
McDaniel College592%
Texas State University581%
University of Louisiana at Monroe580%
University of North Carolina at Charlotte565%
University of South Florida548%

Gerontology Courses May Include

Students may be able to select from a wide range of electives. This may help them to complete their educational path in areas of interest or in areas they wish to focus on specifically in their career. Below are a few of the courses commonly found in a masters in gerontology.

1st course Gerontology

Gerontology

This is an introductory course into the field of gerontology. The psychological, sociological, and political aspects of the field and how it relates to the elderly are common topics. Basic theoretical perspectives, and the future of gerontology are likely to be discussed.

2nd course Economic Issues for Older Adults

Economic Issues for Older Adults

In this course students typically examine the economic issues related to middle aged and older adults. Post retirement planning, financial planning, and housing options are often topics included. The economic impact of the older adult on society may be examined.

3rd Course Psychology of Aging

Psychology of Aging

An understanding of psychological aging is the common premise of this course. Theoretical and empirical foundations may be discussed. Normal age-related psychological changes may be covered in this course. Psychological changes and psychological function of aging adults may also be a part of this course.

4th Course Management of Programs for Older Adults

Management of Programs for Older Adults

This course typically covers the managing and administration of organizations as a whole. There is typically a focus on these types of programs and facilities based on how the relate to the elderly. Looking at current facilities and seeing deficiencies and what may be done to improve them is typically a major portion of this course.

5th Course Research Methods

Research Methods

This course usually covers a number of different methods for research regarding the elderly. Some may include data collection, methods, analysis, and interpretation of the data. How this data relates to the elderly is also common main point of emphasis is this course.

6th Course Issues in Gerontology

Issues in Gerontology

Some of the major issues facing gerontology may be discussed in this course. A look back at what has been done and how the field has progressed and how issues in the past have been solved is typically a major portion of this course.

  • Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access

5 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters in Gerontology

Completing a degree in gerontology may help people work in a variety of fields. That may include working as psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, and sociologists. Some paths may require licensing within the state after completion of education.

A typical master’s degree in gerontology requires 2 years of education, though this may differ from one university to the other. Some universities and colleges may offer an accelerated course that allows for early completion of the program in as little as 18 months. Those wishing to attend part-time may be able to complete the course over a long period.

Social gerontology is a more specific area of the field of gerontology. This area typically focuses on the social aspects of getting older. The underlying goal in this field is typically to help older adults interact move fully with the rest of the world.

Completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in gerontology may be beneficial to those who want to find ways to help older people. It may also be a necessary step for those who wish to work in some careers.

Gerontology is an important area because it aims to focus on older people and the process of aging, something many people are likely to experience in their lifetimes. It may also help people better inform public policy and quality of life for those who are older as well.

Find Funding

The cost of completing a master’s degree may seem prohibitive to some people. NCES states that the average master’s degree program during the 2019/2020 school year was $19,792. Considering that, many students may wish to consider a variety of funding options to help them cover those costs in some or fully. There are a variety of ways that may be available to students at the graduate level. The following are some of those opportunities potentially available to students.

Scholarships

One step many students may wish to consider is applying for scholarships. These are not loans, but rather awards of funds to help pay for tuition, books, and other needs, in some cases. A variety of organizations offer scholarships including schools, professional associations, and local organizations. Scholarships typically require students to apply for them, meet all of the necessary criteria related to them, and be selected from a group of people. Though competitive in some cases, it may be worth looking for scholarships in gerontology since these funds often do not require repayment.

AfterCollege/AACN $10,000 Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: The AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship is available to U.S. graduate and undergraduate students who are pursuing an education in nursing or a related healthcare field. Four awards offered annually: one per quarter.

Amount: $10,000 ($2,500 per quarter. The total dollars awarded for this scholarship is $10,000.)

Deadline: December 31, 2021

District of Columbia Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The District of Columbia Nursing Scholarship is a one-time $2,500 award given annually to two students in financial need who are residents in the District of Columbia who have been accepted or are currently enrolled in a Nursing program at the University of the District of Columbia. A minimum GPA of 3.25 is required.

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: January 31

National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This award is available for members of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) who are currently enrolled in a nursing program with at least one year of study remaining. Candidate must be in good scholastic standing at the time of application. Awards range from $1,000- $5,000. Applicants must have a minimum of one full year of school remaining and be in good scholastic standing at the time of application.

Amount: $3,500

Deadline: April 1

Federal Loans

Federal loans are another potential option for paying for a master’s degree. Students may be able to apply for federal loans at the graduate level, though the types of loans may be different than those available to undergraduate students.

Federal loans are backed by the U.S. federal government. A component of that is providing borrowers with some specific benefits related to repayment or qualifications. However, these terms may be different at the graduate level than they are at the undergrad level.

Here is a look at some of the options for graduate degree programs through federal student loans:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are available to graduate schools and professional students. Unlike direct subsidized loans, which are made available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, direct unsubsidized loans do not have a need based requirement. More students may be eligible for them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are made available to professional or graduate level students. They are designed to pay for educational expenses that are typically not paid for through other loans. Eligibility for these loans is not based on financial need. However, some require a credit check to be performed, and borrowers may not qualify without meeting other requirements in some cases.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans enable a student to combine all of their undergraduate and graduate level federal debt into one new loan. This consolidation loan is typically provided after a student completes their education.

Private Student Loans

Another potential option is to look into private student loans. Private loans are not backed by the government, but they may still provide financial help to students looking to complete their graduate degree. These loans differ significantly. Borrowers may wish to take a closer look at all of the terms and conditions of these loans before making the decision to invest in them. Compare things like:

  • Interest rates
  • When repayment starts
  • Credit qualifications
  • GRE or GPA requirements
  • Repayment terms including availability of forbearance and refinancing

Is occupational therapist a good career?

Working as an occupational therapist with a gerontology degree may involve a focus on providing this service to older adults. That may include assessing, planning, and organizing rehabilitation provides that help to rebuild skills in areas like daily living skills, homemaking, and vocational areas. It may aim to help individuals to regain or improve independence or support the needs of a person with developmental delays. They may use a range of therapeutic techniques while also teaching people to adapt to their environment.

The work of an occupational therapist may involve testing and evaluating a person’s physical and mental abilities to determine realistic rehabilitation goals. They may work to complete and maintain records, plan and organization occupational therapy programs, and plan and implement programs and social activities. Some may work in a hospital setting, or they may work in an institutional or community setting providing these services. They may help people who need support rehabilitating due to previous injury, illness, or psychological problems. Many also spend time selecting activities that may help with learning work and life-management skills when a person has limitations, either physically or mentally.

The daily work activities of an occupational therapist may include analyzing patient data to determine needs and create treatment goals. Evaluating a patient’s functioning, capabilities, and overall health. Recording medical history and then designing a treatment plan. Some may also work to design public or employee health programs or direct healthcare delivery programs.

Those working in this field typically need to have a master’s degree or higher. Many employers expect individuals to have some work experience in the field. There is typically little on the job support provided with employers expecting individuals to have the skills they need.

Gerontology Masters Degrees , Important Skills for Occupational Therapists
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.

2020 Median Salary for Occupational Therapists

The following is the median salary people earned working as an occupational therapist in each state in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$86,960Alaska$94,020
Arizona$94,510Arkansas$82,430
California$103,200Colorado$89,070
Connecticut$90,480Delaware$79,940
Georgia$89,290Florida$88,220
Idaho$84,570Hawaii$88,310
Indiana$82,130Illinois$83,000
Kansas$87,080Iowa$80,750
Louisiana$87,820Kentucky$78,960
Maryland$86,610Maine$72,550
Minnesota$77,250Massachusetts$85,620
Montana$77,730Michigan$76,370
Nevada$105,440Mississippi$88,820
New Jersey$97,490Missouri$79,680
New York$84,760Nebraska$79,100
North Dakota$74,430New Hampshire$80,720
Oklahoma$91,370New Mexico$82,710
Pennsylvania$81,380North Carolina$81,370
South Carolina$82,600Ohio$86,120
Tennessee$84,970Oregon$92,610
Utah$84,390Rhode Island$93,580
Virginia$93,260South Dakota$73,580
Wisconsin$77,410Texas$87,140
Washington$87,680Vermont$75,330
West Virginia$85,010Wyoming$78,990

Is gerontology nurse practitioner a good career?

Those who work as a gerontology nurse practitioner provides diagnostic and treatment services to people who older. The work they do is typically the same as the work of a nurse practitioner. That may include diagnosing and treating episodic, acute, and chronic illness as a part of a healthcare team. They may focus on disease prevention and health promotion. They may also order and perform, then interpret diagnostic tests, including x-rays and lab work. They may also prescribe medications. They may have a specific level of education to meet the needs of older people.

A gerontology nurse practitioner may work to maintain complete and detailed records of a person’s prognosis and health care plans, develop treatment plans for them based on scientific rationale and standards of care, and provide patients with the information they need to promote health and reduce risk factors. They may help patients manage or prevent disease or disability as well. Many times, they analyze and interpret a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical findings, and diagnostic results to diagnose conditions and healthcare needs. They may not only diagnose but also create treatment plans, including for complex conditions, episodic events, comorbid, unstable, and emergency care needs.

Gerontology Masters , Important skills for Nurse Practitioners
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Day-to-day skills may include recording patient medical histories, developing medical treatment plans, and analyzing test data or images to make a diagnosis of a condition or need or to create treatment plans. They may also communicate that information directly to the patient and their family.

In addition to completing a master’s degree or higher, many nurse practitioners for gerontology also need to be licensed by the state they work in. Typically employers expect them to have a high level of education in the field and working experience. Little on-the-job training is typically provided.

2020 Median Salary for Gerontology Nurse Practitioners

Those who worked as a gerontology nurse practitioner in 2020 earned the following, by state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$97,610Alaska$116,950
Arizona$115,950Arkansas$101,920
California$135,480Colorado$110,740
Connecticut$118,740Delaware$110,290
Georgia$104,090Florida$100,930
Idaho$112,830Hawaii$124,260
Indiana$109,450Illinois$110,890
Kansas$103,640Iowa$106,710
Louisiana$107,350Kentucky$99,500
Maryland$112,730Maine$110,050
Minnesota$120,860Massachusetts$123,960
Montana$114,970Michigan$107,170
Nevada$118,440Mississippi$106,570
New Jersey$122,970Missouri$104,050
New York$124,020Nebraska$106,900
North Dakota$109,380New Hampshire$111,440
Oklahoma$109,690New Mexico$115,810
Pennsylvania$104,020North Carolina$106,770
South Carolina$98,940Ohio$105,420
Tennessee$99,300Oregon$119,110
Utah$111,200Rhode Island$117,440
Virginia$108,530South Dakota$102,620
Wisconsin$113,100Texas$113,800
Washington$127,700Vermont$105,930
West Virginia$100,080Wyoming$115,380
Sandy B CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy Baker

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

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