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About one in five Americans will be 65 years old or older by 2030, according to projections compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Ten million Americans currently require long-term care, and that number is expected to increase to 15 million by 2020.  What’s more, there’s only one board-certified geriatrician per 2,620 Americans aged 75 and up. This gap is projected to widen significantly to 3,798 per geriatrician by 2030. The growing demands of an aging population that’s living longer has created an ideal climate for clinical professionals looking to enter the field of geriatrics. 
These crucial gaps in care for older patients in the U.S. can be filled by well-educated, experienced nurse practitioners (NPs), according to the Institute of Medicine’s report on the future of nursing.  It calls for nurses to practice at the highest and fullest extent of their skills. Adult-geriatric nurse practitioner (AGNP) programs are designed to educate registered nurses (RNs) to the master’s level, preparing them for national certification, further study, or teaching.
AGNPs, which can also stand for adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, are trained to treat adults of all ages — including the specialized needs of the elderly. They work in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, hospices, hospitals, public and private clinics, home-based care, and in primary practice.  The rewards of working with older patients can be huge. Not only are you making a difference in communities working with some of the most vulnerable patients with complex needs, but you’ll also fine-tune your empathy and psychological methods to help patients and their families.
Then there’s the salary and opportunities for progression. The average salary for an AGNP in the U.S. is $87,089.  NPs with specialized certifications (including the AGNP) earn approximately $15,300 more per year than those without a specialty. 
Graduates can use the AGNP as a springboard for further study, roles in policy and teaching, or can go on to national certification. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), just 2.5% of NPs in the U.S. are AGNP specialists, making it an in-demand and exciting career path. 
There are plenty of things to consider when it comes to choosing the right AGNP program for you. We’ll cover as much as possible in this guide.
An adult-geriatric nurse practitioner is an advanced nurse with clinical training to treat people into advanced age. After qualifying as a registered nurse, would-be AGNPs must then embark on a specialized program, focusing their skills to treat older patients as well as advancing their practice to nurse practitioner level. Many RNs choose to work in other specialities before continuing their education to become an AGNP, but RN experience is often not a formal requirement for AGNP programs. The benefits include a higher average salary and more independence as a practitioner — as well as the personal rewards of working with often complex patients nearing the end of their lives.
Many AGNPs go on to work in independent clinical settings, often in private practice without physician supervision. The opportunities are varied: AGNPs can go on to further hone their skills with minors in subjects such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, health policy, and palliative care.
AGNP programs aim to prepare graduates with the specialist skills, studied at an advanced level, to meet the rising demand for health care tailored to adults of all ages — including the elderly. Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are usually qualified via a concentration or specialized track within a Master of Science in Nursing program, but it can also be a standalone degree. Most programs merge what was once a geriatrics certificate into existing adult nurse practitioner (ANP) programs, creating a qualification that teaches nurses to deliver quality care to patients of any age. 
Both AGNP and hospice nurse practitioners focus on treating older patients, but there are some key differences. The AGNP is commonly seen as a broader program, combining the wider content from an ANP program with more opportunities for practice settings after graduation, whereas HNPs will typically go on to work in hospice environments, facilitating end-of-life care. There will also be key variations in the coursework and outcomes between the programs.
There’s also the difference between primary care (often abbreviated AGPCNP) and acute care (AGACNP), the two most common variations on the AGNP program, in addition to a wide variety of electives, specializations, concentrations, and minors offered by different schools. The primary care track focuses on health promotion, prevention, detection, and management of chronic conditions. The acute care track is, by contrast, designed to hone your acute illness response skills, treating conditions that are severe and sudden. Be sure to explore the career opportunities offered by both tracks when deciding which program could be right for you.
Graduates from AGNP programs typically go into a variety of clinical settings, including:
Most AGNP students are registered nurses (RNs) working in other areas of nursing, so many schools offer online and blended learning programs to fit around a work schedule.
The AGNP is aimed at those who want to further their nursing career by earning an advanced degree, while also specializing in the complex and rewarding field of geriatric care. Many students report a desire to make an impact, helping to improve patient outcomes for some of the most vulnerable patients.
You may also be interested in undertaking an AGNP if you’re looking to change the course of your career by advancing your nursing practice — including influencing public policy or research, or going onto further academic study at the Ph.D. level. This is especially true for those who already have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and want to become a health educator to train the next generation of adult and geriatric specialty nurses.
Other things to consider:
Most online AGNP programs are designed to fit around working nurses’ schedules, so they allow you to learn at your own pace and wherever is most comfortable for you. Some programs ask for practicum elements to be completed on campus, at their chosen facilities, or at your current workplace. There are also synchronous online programs that have set class times so you can interact live with faculty staff and other students.
Some AGNP programs involve learning alongside the same group of classmates throughout the program. Others, particularly those with concentrations and a choice of specialized minors, will involve mingling with various class groups throughout the program depending on your choice.
Most AGNP programs require a practicum element, either completed in a current job (if relevant) or in a university’s approved facility (usually a hospital, hospice, or other clinical setting). This will give you the practical grounding to learn the advanced theory behind adult and geriatric nursing at nurse practitioner level, as well as giving you essential working experience in the field.
Statistics indicate it’s a great time to become a nurse practitioner. The number of NPs is projected to grow 35% from 2014 to 2024 — an increase way above the 7% national average.  This equates to around 44,700 new NP jobs nationwide, across a range of fields and clinical settings.
The population is aging fast. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were approximately 44.7 million people over age 65 in 2013.  That’s around 14% of the total U.S. population. That number is projected to exceed 71 million by 2030.  With an aging population comes increasingly complex health care issues, yet just 4% of NPs pursue certification as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. 
AGNPs are increasingly seen working with underserved populations, helping to provide health care in a diverse range of settings, often without physician supervision. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15,600 new health educators and community health worker roles from 2014 to 2024 to meet this growing need. The top five states to work as an NP are: 
AGNPs can be found in a wide range of clinical settings, including: 
A graduate degree can increase your earning potential — as well as allow you to move into higher positions or specialized nursing fields. Here are some of the most common job titles and their average salaries:
A typical program focusing on bridging the gap between theory and practice might involve:
The initial stages of the program are usually theoretical, and many schools offer this through online courses that can be completed wherever and whenever you’re able, before progressing on to the practicum elements of the program. Many schools also offer flexible start dates and full- and part-time options to fit around nurses who are currently working.
It’s important to make sure the AGNP program you choose includes coursework and practicums that are relevant to your professional goals after graduation. There is no single standardized curriculum leading to certification as either an adult-geriatric acute care nurse practitioner or adult-geriatric primary care nurse practitioner. Those wishing to take the acute care track should choose a program that works toward taking either the ANCC exam for the AGACNP-BC certification or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)’s adult-gerontological acute care NP certification. Those wanting to have a career in primary care nursing should choose a program that aligns with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification for the AG-PCNP or the ANCC certification for the AGPC-BC.
With so many certification choices, it’s important to pick a program that aligns with the key areas of each exam. According to the ANCC, there are several key areas that programs should cover:
The specific practicum experience required will vary by certification route and from school to school.
The AGNP program should prepare you for a career as a nurse practitioner, operating at an advanced level to treat adults of all ages, including the elderly. By the end of any AGNP program, you should be able to:
Core courses are the mandatory elements of your program that all students must study. They’re usually undertaken in the initial stages of the program to act as a foundation to your clinical practice hours and concentrations. For example, a Master of Science in Nursing AGNP program might incorporate core nursing courses including:
There may then be a second tier of core courses that will be dictated by your choice of concentration — to graduate in acute care or primary care. All programs tend to incorporate a significant amount of mandatory practicum experience, either undertaken at your current workplace (or a local clinical setting, facilitated by the faculty), or at a facility affiliated with or part of the school. For instance, for the acute care track (AGACNP), a school may require students to undertake set courses in subjects like adult-gerontology acute care diagnosis and management. The core courses offered will vary by:
In addition to the two main concentrations — acute care and primary care — offered by most schools, some also offer specialized courses to help you hone your skills further. Courses can be available in a diverse range of subjects that may include cardiology, endocrinology, HIV/AIDS, oncology, and orthopedics.
These specializations will have no bearing on the degree title you graduate with but can demonstrate to future employers your interest and enhanced experience in a particular field of care. They also give you the chance to delve deeper into an area of interest to see if you would like to enter a career path in that specialization. It’s worth checking which specializations each school offers, as they can vary widely.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the role of the acute care AGNP is to “stabilize the patient’s condition, prevent complications, restore maximum health, and/or provide palliative care”.  As a result, most AGNPs work in inpatient or hospital settings where they can diagnose and treat acute illnesses and injuries. This can include emergency rooms, intensive care units, and labs or specialist clinics. According to the AACN, the AGACNP is playing an increasingly key role on the front lines of health care in diagnosing, prescribing, monitoring, and referring patients with sudden health issues.
An AGNP who chooses to focus on nursing in primary care settings will study courses that are more aimed toward preventing illness and promoting better health. According to the AACN’s competencies for nurse practitioners in primary care, AGPCNPs are becoming increasingly important in community clinics and private practice, often for underserved populations. The underpinning skills are the same across acute and primary care concentrations, focusing on patient-centered quality care that will improve lifelong outcomes within a community.  According to the AACN, AGPCNP programs will incorporate taking detailed patient histories, making advanced health assessments, promoting lifestyle changes, and helping patients to manage the long-term effects of chronic illnesses.
Most AGNP programs offer tracks in acute care, primary care, or both. A small number of programs also offer a general AGNP program where the focus is on specialization through the practicum element (clinical hours). 
Most AGNP programs require students to undertake a significant number of practice hours in a relevant clinical setting, either in a facility affiliated with the school or at a local facility.
For an MSN AGNP, programs can request up to 900 hours of practicum. Clinical hours are normally worked in batches, with each batch applying the theories and practices learned either online or in the classroom and building in complexity. You’ll be expected to move between different clinical settings to ensure you graduate with a breadth of experience, and you may be assessed by self-evaluation and by a clinical mentor.
Students need to take an AGNP program to qualify for certification as an adult-geriatric nurse practitioner. There are multiple routes to achieving certification depending on the body you apply to and the track you take (acute care or primary care). It’s worth paying close attention to program curriculums for this reason. If you want to become a certified AGNP, you are only eligible if you have attended an accredited program and school.
There are a few different routes to becoming a certified AGNP after graduation from a master’s or doctoral-level AGNP program:
Although each will give you a slightly different acronym if you pass, each one simply requires a basic nurse practitioner education focusing on adult to geriatric care, as well as passing an exam. Once passed, you will need to engage in continual education and show your ongoing professional development to retain certification. Some nurses may choose to apply for more than one certification, particularly if their work spans different areas. 
In general, experiential learning gives students the opportunity to consolidate and synthesize their learning in a real-world setting. The hands-on learning helps prepare students for a career after graduation, perhaps moving into another or more specialized field of nursing.
Like most nursing qualifications, the AGNP (studied at any level) requires students to undertake a significant amount of practicum experience — often referred to as clinical or practice hours. Online AGNP programs will typically start with theoretical learning that can be completed at a distance and at a time to suit you. What online learning can’t do, however, is allow you to gain real-world experience of the theories in practice. By undertaking supervised, approved practical experience, you’ll be in a better position after graduation to enter the field of your choice. 
The time commitment of supervised clinical practicums varies school by school, from 500 hours to more than 1,000. Some schools prescribe the location and timing of practicums, using facilities owned or affiliated with the institution. Others only support those working in clinical settings in certain neighboring states and will assess on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to make sure your chosen program will allow you to undertake practicums that fit with the rest of your life.
Earning an AGNP Takes Time. Finding the Right One Shouldn't. Start NowLearn More
Learn What You Need To Know About Your Master's in Nursing-AGNP Here.Learn More
The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
Note that your time to completion also may vary based on the number of clinical hours your program requires you to complete. This could range from 500 hours to about 1,000.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework, standardized test scores, a personal statement or essay, letters of recommendation, and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admission requirements page.
The two most recognized accrediting bodies for nursing are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. They will soon be joined by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation in 2017, bolstering the standards for different levels of nursing.
Although the majority are, some AGNP programs are not accredited by the above bodies. When accrediting programs, in general, the main areas accrediting bodies look at are: 
There are numerous benefits to studying with an accredited program:
Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.
The following two master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as an AGNP, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.
There are three main professional certifications for acute care AGNPs:
There are also three common national certifications for AG-PCNPs:
All of the above certifications require candidates to have earned either an MSN or DNP from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education  or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. 
You’ll also be asked to demonstrate that you’ve completed relevant coursework, are an active RN, have undertaken at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours (practicum), as well as passed an exam. Once achieved, you will need to demonstrate your ongoing professional development to keep your certification.
Be sure to check your state’s board of nursing requirements for any specific certification requirements.
Although there are obvious variations between the different certifying bodies, candidates are usually asked questions on the following key subject areas:
It’s important to make sure that the AGNP program you choose will align closely with the specific areas the certifying body will test you on.
Caring and treating the elderly has been a concern for societies since the dawn of time, but the theories and practices behind effectively treating older patients is a surprisingly new field. Nursing articles focusing on the treatment of older adults first appeared in 1904. In the 1950s, gerontology arrived as a specialty with the publication of the first gerontological nursing textbook, Geriatric Nursing, by Kathleen Newton Shafer. 
Some of the first pioneers of the field — including Irene Burnside, Doris Schwartz, and Mary Opal Wolanin — worked to create the first geriatric nursing specialty. Formed in 1966, the American Nurses Association’s gerontological program was the first of its kind and led to the birth of the National Gerontological Nursing Association in 1984. Alongside the development of specialized official nursing bodies, the John A. Hartford Foundation has sought to increase awareness and develop practice initiatives focused on treating an aging population.  Today’s AGNPs have a vital role in an interdisciplinary context, helping all of us toward the end of our lives.
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
There are two tracks for those who choose to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner:
This specialization is designed for registered nurses who wish to focus their nursing career on the needs of young adults, adults, and older adults.
The MSN with an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner concentration can help nurses and prospective nurses gain the competencies required to provide care and improve outcomes for patients throughout their adulthood. The program focuses on teaching skills related to disease prevention, treatment of trauma, emergency care, and more. 
In order to become certified as either an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) or Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), a master’s degree is required.
When choosing your MSN with an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner concentration, you may want to consider some of the following criteria:
Typical requirements to become admitted to an accredited MSN in Adult-Gerontology program include:
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
Subjects that you can expect to cover in the core classes of a typical MSN with an AGNP concentration include:
If you choose to pursue a specialty in acute or primary care, your core courses may be adjusted to address relevant competencies.
The typical length of an MSN in Adult-Gerontology degree is two years for students who study full-time. Your time to completion may be extended if you choose to study part-time, but this could give you the flexibility to help you work or address personal responsibilities while you stuyd.
Yes, most programs require clinical experience. In order to sit for board certification, successful completion of clinical coursework in a graduate program of study is required. The ANCC requires at least 500 faculty-supervised AGNP clinical hours in order to become certified. 
Yes. There are several online programs available through which you can complete this degree. Many programs will provide coursework online and allow you to fulfill your clinical requirement in your community.
Online and on-campus degrees typically look identical. Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
In most graduate degree programs, the online and campus-based programs are closely aligned. The didactic portion of the program is typically very similar, if not the same. The clinical portion will depend on the program. For example, an on-campus program may choose a specific location for clinical experiences, where others allow students to choose a clinical site in their community that is then vetted by the institution.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.
The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioners earn on average $92,410 per year, according to AANP’s 2015 National NP Compensation Survey.  Below find common job titles and average salaries for MSN in Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner degree holders:
According to the United States Census Bureau, there were approximately 44.7 million people over the age of 65 in 2013. That’s 14% of the total U.S. population. Yet only 4% of nurse practitioners pursue Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner certification. 
In addition to this growing aging population, an Adult-Gerontology NP can also specialize to care for adults and young adults (13 and up), increasing the range of patient impact. This helps to broaden your skills at a time when the nurse practitioner field itself is expanding. The amount of active nurse practitioners is projected to grow by 31% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the national average for other occupations. 
Common settings in which master’s in AGNP graduates typically find employment include:
No, attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
There are two main accrediting bodies for nursing education: The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). 
Accreditation information can typically be found on each program’s website, and you can typically confirm accreditation by checking the list of accredited schools at an an accrediting body’s website. In the case of the AGNP programs, visit the CCNE or NLNAC websites to confirm.  
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses. 
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance. 
Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. For example, the tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.
Yes. The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships for which you qualify.