By 2030, more than 20% of US residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13% in 2010 and 9.8% in 1970. Policy makers and programs will need to address the challenges this demographic change will bring to everyday life, including processes for Social Security and Medicare. Families, businesses, and health care providers will also be affected. 
The study and practice of gerontology will be essential in addressing these issues. The master’s in gerontology addresses a range of pertinent topics, including insights into how people change as they age and the impact that has on society. Graduates emerge capable of applying skills to plan and manage effective policies and programs for this underserved patient population.
There are abundant job opportunities in the field of gerontology. These fall broadly into administrative roles (such as urban planners), financial and legal services (such as retirement planners), fitness professionals (such as physical therapists), and more.
These professionals also often work with elderly clients alongside those in the housing sector, such as retirement housing professionals, advocates, personal trainers, travel agents, and employment specialists.  Courses in the program accommodate this range and typically cover a broad combination of topics within policy development, human resources, administration, and health services. Specialized parts of the syllabus might include services such as counseling, medical services, and financial planning.
Due to the sector’s broad scope, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) suggests college-level gerontology programs look to the following learning outcomes for students: 
As administrators, gerontologists are responsible for planning, developing, administering, and evaluating programs that address the needs of older adults. Some of these roles are available to those with bachelor’s or associate degrees. Residential care management will usually require state licensing. Positions in this area may include:
As researchers, professionals studying gerontology look for ways to improve the quality of life and well-being of older persons. Roles in this field may include:
They may also move into extended research on the issues that emerge from this area.
Some graduates will take the Nursing Home Administrators Licensing Examination or the Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrators Licensing Examination and become licensed administrators of social housing facilities. 
Students with an interest in extended study or teaching at institutes of higher education can apply to a doctoral degree program in gerontology.
Gerontological roles vary according to whether you work as a practitioner, an administrator, or a researcher.
Core courses in a master’s in gerontology program often cover the biology, psychology, and sociology of aging. These courses will usually comprise 12 hours of a typical 36-hour program. Students may also choose elective courses to further specialize their degree, in subjects such as family relationships, economics, recreation, or death and dying. Most programs also require a practicum or other field experience component.
Do Master of Gerontology programs require a capstone project?
Yes, an online gerontology master’s degree will require a thesis or capstone project. This will bring together the theory and skills-based knowledge students have been developing during the program. Graduate programs most often design capstone projects to stretch over one semester.
What electives can I take?
The AGHE suggests additional studies in the following areas for those seeking a career in gerontology: 
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.
How Long Does It Take to Complete My Master of Gerontology Program?
If you are going to study full-time, then you should expect it will take approximately two years for you to graduate with a Master of Gerontology. To graduate you will need to have completed somewhere around 30 to 50 credit hours.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. 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 admissions requirements page.
Will my Master of Gerontology require prior work experience?
Due to the broad spectrums of careers available in gerontology, many programs do not require specific work experience in order to qualify for admission.
However, experience working with aging adults is the best way to identify gerontology as the right career path for you. Students with experience and an affinity for assisting, treating, or advocating for older adults are more likely to enjoy long-term career satisfaction.
No work experience is required to enter a master’s degree in gerontology.
Are there any prerequisite courses for my Master of Gerontology program?
Some master’s programs require applicants to complete undergraduate coursework in foundational topics related to gerontology. Inquire with your program’s admissions office to learn what prerequisites you will need to qualify for admissions.
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 master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the Master of Gerontology, 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.
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.
Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.
The varied nature of gerontology roles means that a single body offering accreditation is a difficult concept. However, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) brings together colleges and universities that offer programs in the field of aging and is the most recognized form of accreditation for gerontology programs.
The AGHE’s Program of Merit provides a seal of approval for degree programs run by member and non-member institutions if they complete a voluntary program of evaluation. This will require them to provide evidence of program quality and appropriate learning outcomes. 
Certification requirements may vary depending on your field or the state in which you practice. In order to obtain certification/licensure in your specific field, you will need to earn either a bachelor’s or master’s degree and then pass an exam conducted by an organization relevant to your field.
Why get licensed or obtain certification?
The National Association for Professional Gerontologists gives credentials to those who can demonstrate that they possess a core body of gerontological knowledge. This will include a broad background in the social, psychological, and physical/biological aspects of aging as well as an in-depth awareness of the practical concepts behind working with older adults. To qualify for these credentials, applicants must evidence their successful study in the field of gerontology and pass a qualifying exam. 
Gerontologist jobs don’t always require licensure or certification, as some professionals work in diverse roles such as research or policy, where they do not interact with patient populations. However, professionals who plan to practice medicine, administer drugs, or perform other clinical functions (such as therapists) should follow the requirements for their particular profession. Each state has its own rules, but eligibility to practice usually requires a degree from an accredited medical school, passing a standardized national licensure exam, and completing a residency.
Students that wish to take the NHA Examination for Nursing Home Administrators or Residential Care will need to sit the NAB Examination as a requirement for licensure.  This focuses on resident-centered care and quality of life, human resources, finance, environment, and leadership and management. A Master of Gerontology program can prepare you for your licensure examination.
The first serious efforts to put in place effective services for elderly populations came with the Social Security Act in 1935 and, later, the Older Americans Act in 1965. This created the “formal aging network,” a hierarchical system that includes the Administration on Aging (AoA) at multiple levels of government. 
Each time the OOA is reauthorized, new programs and services that meet the newly assessed needs of older adults are added. To meet the need for knowledge that drives these developments, more than 500 institutions of higher education have offered majors and degrees in gerontology in the last decade. 
Gerontology is the study of the aging process, including physical, mental, social, and spiritual changes.  Gerontologists work across many industries to provide health care, social, and other services to the aging population.
The population of people 65 and older is projected to more than double from 2000 to 2030. This has created a huge need for workers in the field of gerontology.  The study of aging includes fields such as biology, sociology, psychology, public policy, humanities, and economics. Gerontology degrees and the knowledge gained can be applied to many industries and career fields. 
Gerontology is a multidisciplinary program that can be tailored to fit the student’s interests and career goals. Programs cover biology, sociology, psychology, public policy, humanities, and economics. 
Master’s in gerontology programs appeal to a wide variety of students since the field covers many industries. Students can use the degree to work in health, finance, travel, wellness, and many other areas. Primary audiences are those who have an interest in serving an aging population. 
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.
No. This degree will appeal to those from a wide background and can be tailored to the student’s interests. Skills gained can be applied to health care, banking, insurance, social work and other industries.
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.
Yes. Many institutions offer Master of Gerontology degrees online.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
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.
Graduates from gerontology programs have been known to pursue careers in health care, social work, financial planning, career planning, the travel industry, human resources, nursing home management and others. 
The population of people 65 and older is projected to more than double from 2000 to 2030. This has created a huge need for workers in the field of gerontology.  Aside from the growing older population, the ability to apply skills from these programs to multiple industries gives graduates ample career opportunities.
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.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) 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. 
Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.
The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. 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, commonly known as 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 you’re qualified to be awarded.