Washington, DC Gerontology Graduate Programs & Gerontology Degrees
Medical scientists working in the field of gerontology, or the study of aging, often earn a medical degree or PhD.i If you’re planning to pursue a role that could help scientists and doctors better understand aging, as well as improve quality of life for elderly people, gerentology graduate degree programs may be a perfect next step for you!
What Is a Gerontologist?ii
Gerontologists are medical scientists who study how people change as they age. In simple terms, you can think of gerontology as the study of old people, and the biological factors involved in aging. Gerontologists may conduct studies and clinical trials, analyze medical samples and data, develop medical programs for aging populations, and much more. Perhaps most importantly, gerontologists, and gerontology programs, explore ways to make life better for people as they age. By understanding how the mind and body change as we advance in years, gerontologists may identify solutions for some of the challenges and health problems associated with growing older.
Gerontologists and other types of medical scientists may work in the following environments.
- Research and development practices – 34% of medical scientists
- Colleges, universities, and other academic institutions – 27%
- Hospitals – 15%
- Pharmaceutical companies – 6%
- Medical and diagnostic labs – 4%
How Can I Potentially Become a Gerontologist?
If you are interested in pursuing a gerontology career, you may wish to consider graduate gerontology programs. Most medical scientists, gerontologists included, decide to pursue a graduate degree such as a PhD. i In fact, about 29% of medical scientists choose to earn a doctoral degree.iv Before entering a PhD program, they usually earn an undergraduate degree in a field like biology or chemistry and take courses in math, physical sciences, and life sciences. i
Considering a master’s in gerontology program, instead? Though doctoral degrees are more prevalent, about 20% of medical scientists may earn a master’s degree.iv
Of course, earning a gerontology degree program might be just one piece of the puzzle. Many medical scientists – about 49% – opt to pursue postdoctoral studies after earning a doctoral degree.iv Postdoctoral work is basically an opportunity for prospective gerontologists to gain more independent laboratory experience, continue with specialized research, and further hone skills and techniques, like gene-splicing. i While there may not be a single path to jump-starting a career as a gerontologist, you’ll definitely need extensive preparation, knowledge, and experience in order to pursue a career in this field! iv A gerontologist program could get you one step closer to achieving that goal.
Types of Graduate Gerontology Programs
PhD in Gerontology Programs
If you’re hoping to focus on research on the study of aging, this option may be worth considering. A PhD Gerontology program may allow you to participate in laboratory work and conduct original research – perfect for prospective medical scientists! i These gerontology programs are research intensive and typically require students to complete a dissertation.
M.D. in Gerontology Programs
Some medical scientists may opt to earn a medical degree, such as an M.D. (Medical Doctor). This degree typically focuses on clinical skills, not just research. i It may therefore be a great fit for those hoping to work directly with the elderly in the field.
Dual Gerontology Degree Programs
Earning a dual degree may permit you to pursue a PhD in gerontology alongside a medical degree, such as an M.D. This option could potentially let you combine research skills with the clinical skills you may need to pursue the role of a physician. i
Masters in Gerontology Programs
Some medical or research scientists, as well as professionals hoping to work with the elderly, may choose to pursue a masters in gerontology degree. You might be able to choose from an M.A. (Master of Arts) in Gerontology, an M.S. (Master of Science) in Gerontology, and other potential program options. A gerontology focus may also be available to nurses hoping to earn their MSN degree.
Masters in Gerontology programs are typically shorter than doctorate programs. They may be designed for students who wish to work directly with older people, though often in a non-medical capacity. Courses may touch on caring for older adults, health promotion, gerontological research findings and leadership skills. Masters in Gerontology programs do not require a dissertation like the PhD, but may ask students to complete a thesis. Programs, vary so reach out directly to schools to learn more.
Graduate Certificate in Gerontology
Candidates already working in a related career area may opt to pursue a graduate certificate in gerontology in order to enhance their knowledge of this specific field. These are considered the shortest and most concentrated graduate gerontology programs. This could therefore be a great option for those looking to earn a credential without committing to a full degree program. Depending on the school, credits may also be transferable to a later masters in gerontology program.
Popular Gerontology Graduate Programs
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Gerontology
Master of Science in Nursing - Adult Geronotology
Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Masters in Gerontology - Management of Aging
Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services
What Are Gerontology Graduate Programs Like?
Graduate gerontology programs typically emphasize two main components: original research and laboratory work. In your courses, you may develop experiments and pursue research in topics related to aging and the study of old people. You might also study research methods, data interpretation, and how to design projects or experiments. You may even find yourself supervising undergraduate research! As with most PhD programs, your PhD in gerontology program will likely involve developing and defending a dissertation before a committee of faculty members. Some Masters in Gerontology programs, especially the MS, may ask for a thesis.
Your educational experience may be a little different if you opt to pursue a medical degree, such as an M.D. (Medical Doctor), or a dual gerontology degree program. During the first couple years of a medical degree, you may take courses like anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, medical ethics, and much more. You’ll typically also learn how to take medical histories, examine patients, and make diagnoses. Finally, you’ll probably need to complete a residency program. These usually take place in a hospital and last from three to seven years.v
Some Masters in Gerontology programs, especially MA programs, may put less emphasis on lab work but will still cover core concepts related to aging. Students might expect to study the latest research in their classroom and learn how to apply those findings to providing services and products to the elderly. Contact individual gerontology programs to learn more about the student experience.
Campus vs. Online Gerontology Programs
Choosing your gerontology program format may depend on your lifestyle and goals. Are you a busy parent or working professional? You may want to consider online gerontology degree programs that could potentially accommodate busy schedules. Hoping to get involved at school, have an active social life, and avail yourself of university resources in person? In this case, a more traditional campus-based gerontology program may offer the experience you are looking for. This may also be great for those looking for access to labs and other research facilities.
Accreditation for Gerontology Graduate Programs vi
Accreditation helps to ensure that educational programs meet rigorous quality standards. Many national and regional accrediting bodies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s a good idea to make sure your prospective gerontology program is accredited by one of these approved organizations. You can check the Department’s database of accredited programs to be sure!
Licenses for Gerontologistsi
In general, medical scientists such as gerontologists do not need licenses or certifications, as they mainly conduct research. However, some medical scientists may need a license to practice as a physician if they perform tasks like administering drugs, providing medical care to patients, etc.
Search Gerontology Graduate Programs
If you’re passionate about conducting research to improve quality of life for elderly people, or simply expanding your knowledge to better serve them, a graduate gerontology program may be perfect for you! On Gradschools.com, you can browse a variety of gerontology degree options available in levels and formats that may suit your goals. Browse below or use the search filter to get started.p>
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-4| [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-3 | [iv] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-1042.00 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-4 | [vi] www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html?exp=2
Seton Hall University
The online M.S.N., A.G.N.P. from Seton Hall University builds the skills graduates need to serve adolescent to elderly populations as a nurse practitioner in acute care or primary care settings.
As the world’s population continues to age, the demand will continue for individuals trained in gerontology. The Gerontology specialization is designed to train you in working with older adults and their families. Coursework in this program pre...
Purdue University Global
Registered nurses (RNs) with a master’s degree in nursing could prepare to advance their careers by enrolling in the School of Nursing’s graduate-level Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate program.
California State University, Northridge
The Online Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services is a two-year program that prepares you to assess clients’ needs and to apply the assistive technologies that improve the quality of their lives.
Kansas State University
Directly work with aging population through a wide variety of programs and services.
University of North Texas
The College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of North Texas houses one of the nation's oldest and best-known career training programs for professionals in gerontology. We instill in our students: A belief that the later years...
University of Louisiana At Monroe
Twenty-Five years ago, the National Institute on Aging recognized ULM's excellence in aging by awarding the University funds to develop the first Cent...
Oklahoma State University
Graduates of the M.S. in Gerontology provide leadership in programs or agencies for the aging or pursue doctoral studies.
University of Indianapolis
The graduate Certificate in Gerontology and the Master of Science in Gerontology are designed to meet the needs of persons with an interest in the agi...
There is an increasing need for well-qualified, highly trained professionals to provide services to the fast-growing aging...
University of Pittsburgh
The Graduate Gerontology Certificate is offered through the University Center for Social and Urban Research in collaboration...
Florida Atlantic University
University of North Dakota
Gain extensive knowledge to effectively provide care and services for adults throughout their lifespan. Pay in-state tuition.
Florida Gulf Coast University
The interdisciplinary Master of Science in Health Science program offers a choice of four concentrations: health professions education, practice, heal...
Nova Southeastern University
Gerontology, Graduate Certificate
Our certificate program offers an 18 credit, six course curriculum, which covers the major areas of Gerontology. These six areas provide professionals already working in the fields of human services, health care, long term care, senior housing, or any...
Concordia University Chicago
The MA in gerontology program at Concordia University Chicago positions graduates to promote and contribute to the wellness of our aging population. It prepares graduates to work in a variety of aging-related careers. Additionally, this course of stu...
Thomas Jefferson University
The Adult-Gerontology- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner is prepared to assess and manage the full continuum of care services for the acutely and critically ill.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Senior living is a phenomenon in the United States which is here to stay. Whether the living accommodations are part of a larger system providing a continuum of care or stand alone facilities the demand is strong for this senior living option and wil...
University of Southampton
Gerontology is the study of ageing at the individual and societal levels.
The George Washington University
Please See Program Description...