Hybrid Gerontology Graduate Programs – The Best of Both Worlds

Trying to decide between online and campus-based gerontology graduate programs to help you prepare to pursue a career in this essential field? Hybrid Gerontology Graduate ...

Programs may be a way to enjoy the potential benefits of a campus-based program while also pursuing some gerontology courses online. For example, you might pursue most of your studies from the comfort of home, but participate in a few on-campus sessions, clinical learning experiences, or other in-person activities. Does that sound like the ideal way for you to explore the study of aging and prepare for a possible role improving quality of life for elderly populations? Learn more about choosing a hybrid gerontology graduate program, below!

Interesting Fact: By 2030, about 20% of Americans will be aged 65 and older! [i]

Graduate Gerontology Hybrid Programs InformationWhat is gerontology, and what might this career involve?[ii]

Gerontology is basically the study of aging, but the field may include a variety of related roles and applications. For example, social gerontology focuses on the social aspects of aging, while other types of gerontologists may focus more on the physical aspects of growing older. In general, gerontologists are medical scientists who study not just the changes people exhibit as they age, but also ways to improve life for the elderly and address some of the challenges of growing old. Some gerontologists may work directly with patients and perform a more clinical role, while others primarily conduct research.[iii] They may work for hospitals, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other potential employers.[iv] Therefore, no two gerontology careers are the same! However, some typical tasks may include planning biological research, monitoring lab procedures, directing healthcare programs, and much more.[v]

What hybrid gerontology graduate programs might I consider?[iii]

Wondering what degree you may need to earn for a gerontology career path? About 20% of medical scientists like gerontologists earned a master’s degree, while 29% earned doctoral degrees and 45% pursued postdoctoral work. iv In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical entry level education required for medical scientists is a doctoral or professional degree[vi]. In short, you should probably consider a graduate program in gerontology if you hope to work in this field.

A PhD is the most common degree for medical scientists; this type of program typically focuses on research and laboratory work[vii]. However, some gerontologists may opt to earn a dual PhD and medical degree if they hope to work with patients in a physician’s capacity. It’s up to you whether you intend to pursue a research-oriented career or one that involves working with elderly people directly. Interested in a nursing role, or another role that may involve caring for aging patients? You may wish to check out options like master’s degree programs or earning a graduate certificate.

What’s the difference between a gerontology degree online and a hybrid degree?

Some students may consider earning an online gerontology degree if they work full-time, have kids, or live far away from a school of gerontology. Online learning may be a great choice…but in some cases, it may be necessary to pay a visit to campus. For example, you might need to perform laboratory work as part of your gerontology degree. iii Unless your home is equipped with a lab, that means heading to your college or university to use campus resources. Here are some other possible characteristics of a hybrid gerontology program that may make it unique from an 100% online or campus-based program:

Gerontology courses online – You could pursue some or most of your coursework from anywhere with an internet connection. If your busy life prevents you from attending traditional college courses during the day, online classes could be a welcome option!

Some campus-based components – Perhaps you’ll take a few on-campus classes alongside your online courses. Or possibly, you could visit campus for short-term residencies while pursuing most of your gerontology coursework remotely. No matter how your hybrid gerontology graduate program is structured, you can probably expect to spend at least some time on campus.

Social benefits, on your own terms – Online learners may not have the opportunity to meet classmates and professors in person, whereas more traditional students may find themselves distracted by all the social opportunities they encounter on campus! A hybrid gerontology may permit the best of both worlds: focused, independent study, plus occasional campus involvement.  

 

Every school of gerontology will have its own admission requirements, but here are a few to keep in mind as you explore hybrid gerontology graduate programs that are perfect for you!

Be prepared with prerequisites[iii] – To enter a graduate program, you’ll likely need to have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Commonly, those interested in a gerontologist career path will have earned a B.A. or B.S. in biology, chemistry, or a related area. Undergraduate courses that may be useful include life sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics. Of course, your prospective program may have additional prerequisites, so check with the admissions office for details.

Know your degree requirements[iii] If you’ve decided to pursue a graduate gerontology degree, you should be familiar with program requirements and prepared to complete all phases of your studies. For example, if you hope to earn a medical degree with a gerontology focus, you’ll likely need to pursue clinical experience, a residency, and more. If you’re hoping to earn a PhD, you’ll probably need to write and defend a dissertation.

Understand your learning style – Hybrid learning involves a combination of online and campus-based learning. If you plan to take a lot of gerontology courses online, you should have the ability to work independently and keep yourself on track. (In fact, it may be good practice for the independent work many gerontologists perform!)

Your next step

Ready to pursue the study of aging in a hybrid form? Depending on your academic and professional goals, you may have a variety of exciting gerontology graduate programs to choose from! Take your time exploring the list below, and click on the program that interests you to learn more about degree content, requirements, and next steps. You could potentially be on your way to a rewarding new career path!


Sources: [i] census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-2 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-3 | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-1042.00 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm [vii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm