Earning an accelerated online Master’s in Gerontology can help working adults develop their human services skills in order to pursue careers devoted to protecting the well-being of older generations. Gerontology is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the cultural, social, psychological, and physiological factors that impact human aging. Whereas geriatrics is a medical field in which professionals deal with treatment methods for elderly patients, gerontology is not limited to healthcare. Other areas of interest for aspiring gerontologists may include public policy, law, politics, geography, social services, and economics and finance.
A significant number of professionals in the field of gerontology start their careers by earning an accelerated online Master’s in gerontology. However, while some programs are devoted solely to this field, other pathways allow students to pursue a gerontology specialization in master’s subjects such as social services or public health. In addition to standard coursework, many accelerated master’s online in gerontology programs require students to participate in supervised on-site training from experienced professionals as part of a practicum course. The program may also include a master’s thesis or capstone project. Those who pursue online gerontology degrees follow the same rigorous curriculum as their traditional on-campus counterparts, resulting in the same number of job opportunities for graduates. The study-from-home format and self-paced schedule are ideal for students with childcare duties, part-time jobs, and other obligations that may conflict with on-campus learning. Many affordable accelerated online Master’s in Gerontology programs can be completed in one to two years.
We generated a list of schools using information obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics. Using a search term for Master’s in Gerontology degree online, we were able to narrow down the initial pool of 35 schools into the top 20 most affordable universities and colleges based on the reported in-state graduate tuition rates. In descending order, please find the top 20 most affordable accelerated online Master’s in Gerontology programs below.
Ranking Low-Cost Accelerated Master’s in Gerontology
20. Webster University
St. Louis, Missouri
Online Master of Arts in Gerontology
Found in 1915, Webster University is a private nonprofit university that educates students at campus locations throughout the country as well as in Africa, Asia, and Europe and in a robust online learning environment. Webster offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in various disciplines, including business and management, teacher education, fine and performing arts, and the liberal arts. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and has an alumni network of approximately 170,000 graduates worldwide. The 36-credit-hour master’s degree in gerontology is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for careers related to this particular field. The courses draw upon a variety of disciplines such as the natural sciences, political science, economics, the behavioral and social sciences, and management. Within this framework, students develop a broad educational base that covers the impact of aging on cultures and individuals. Both the program electives and the core courses maximize the application of gerontological knowledge, particularly in the areas of administration, management, program development, consulting, and direct service.
19. University of Missouri
Online Master’s in Gerontology
The University of Missouri, or Mizzou, is a public, land-grant research university in Columbia, Missouri. Founded in 1839, it was the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River. Mizzou is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri System and the largest university in the state, enrolling nearly 31,000 students in more than 300 degree programs across 20 academic colleges. The 36-credit-hour online master’s degree in gerontology is designed for students seeking careers in service organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. No campus visits are required as the degree is delivered entirely online, and students who take one or two classes per semester may earn their degree within two years. The curriculum consists of eight core courses and four elective courses. Core requirements consist of studies in research methods, aging policy, adult development, physical health, and perspectives in gerontology, while elective offerings include courses in human development and family science, long-term care administration, mental health and aging, and biological principles of aging.
18. Brenau University
M.S. in Applied Gerontology
Founded in 1878 as a private institution for the education of women, Brenau University now offers undergraduate and graduate degrees for men and women at multiple campuses as well as online. Both U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review have recognized Brenau as one of the best institutions of higher learning in the south. The Master of Science (M.S.) in Gerontology program allows students to earn their degree in 12 months. The 30-credit-hour program includes 9 credit hours of electives and 21 credit hours of core courses, and students can expect to study the psychology of aging, physical aspects of aging, cultural and social issues, effective communication with the elderly, and death, dying, and loss. Students round out their degree with fieldwork or a major project. Graduates are prepared for careers in various areas of healthcare, including geriatric care management, institutional care, management and administration, marketing, social work, legal services, psychology, and more.
17. Kansas State University
Online Master’s in Gerontology
Kansas State University was established in 1863 as a land-grant college and the first public institution of higher learning in the state. In addition to the main campus in Manhattan, KSU also operates branch campuses in Olathe and Salina. The school’s academic offerings are administered through nine colleges, and graduate degrees offered include 45 doctoral programs and 65 master’s degrees. The online master’s degree in gerontology is designed to prepare students who will be involved in research or education related to aging issues or those who plan to work directly with older people. The program draws on the expertise of graduate courses from several universities and graduate faculty and provides students with the core competencies identified by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. After graduating, students will have earned a master’s degree in human development and family science with a specialization in gerontology.
16. University of Florida
Master of Science in Medical Sciences with a Concentration in Gerontology
The University of Florida is a public space-grant, sea-grant, and land-grant university that sits on a 2,000-acre main campus in Gainesville, Florida. It is the third largest university in the state by student population, and it is the eighth-largest single-campus university in the country with nearly 55,000 students seeking degrees each year. UF is home to more than 150 research centers and institutes as well as 16 academic colleges, where students may earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The Department of Aging and Geriatric Research provides a 36-credit-hour online graduate program to help students pursue careers in geriatric care and gerontology. Students learn how to care for the rapidly aging population, increase the public’s understanding of the issues seniors face, and develop the skills necessary to conduct age-related research. The curriculum looks at aging from psychological, sociological, epidemiological, physiological, and clinical perspectives. Students are accepted year-round, and they may earn their accelerated graduate degree in as few as two years.
15. North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
Online M.S. in Human Development and Family Science in Gerontology
North Dakota State University sits on a 258-acre campus in Fargo, North Dakota. Founded in 1890, the school is a comprehensive doctoral research university that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Students from nearly all states and more than 80 countries pursue degrees from NDSU each year. The 36-credit online master’s degree in gerontology takes students through all phases of the aging process, and students may earn their degree within two years. The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) curriculum of the master’s degree in human development and family studies with a concentration of gerontology was built by seven universities around eight core courses. Participants will complete a three- to six-credit independent project and round out their degree with electives. Additionally, students may choose a research project or internship for their final project, and everyone must pass a comprehensive exam.
14. Iowa State University
Online Master’s of Family and Consumer Sciences With Gerontology Specialization
Iowa State University of Science and Technology is the largest university in Iowa and the third-largest university in the Big 12 athletic conference. Founded in 1858, Iowa State became the country’s first designated land-grant institution. Currently, students learn through the school’s eight colleges that offer more than 80 doctoral degrees, more than 100 master’s degrees, and more than 100 bachelor’s degrees. Iowa State offers a number of web-based programs through its Online and Distance Learning Department. A master’s degree in gerontology is available via a partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA). Students must take 24 credits in core courses that cover topics such as nutrition and physical activity, aging in the family, environments, economics, and research methods. Students must also take 12 credits in elective or thesis work. The program explores not only the physiological changes that stem from aging but also how senior citizens relate to society, their communities, and their families. Courses are available entirely online, and students typically earn their degree within two years.
12. University of Louisiana Monroe (Tie)
Online Master of Arts in Gerontology
The University of Louisiana Monroe is a public coeducational university located in Monroe, Louisiana. Founded in 1931 as Ouachita Parish Junior College, ULM is recognized as one of the best regional universities in the south and among the top public schools out of all south regional universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Master of Arts in Gerontology is a 36-credit-hour program in which students must complete a core curriculum before choosing a specialization in grief care management, mental health, small business management, long-term care administration, aging studies, or program administration. Assistantships are available to qualified students, and those enrolled in the online program may earn their full degree within two years.
12. Concordia University Nebraska (Tie)
Master of Healthcare Administration in Gerontology
Concordia University Nebraska is a private coeducational university that is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Established in 1894, it is one of nine schools in the Concordia University System and is organized into three schools: the College of Graduate Studies, the College of Education, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Professionals who aspire to careers in long-term care may choose to pursue an online Master of Healthcare Administration with a concentration in gerontology from Concordia University Nebraska. The program’s 36-credit curriculum emphasizes the business skills that are essential to healthcare administration as well as their applications in the senior long-term care industry. All online courses are taught asynchronously, and students may complete this accelerated program within two years. Online students are not required to commute to campus; they may instead arrange to complete practicum experiences at a local facility.
11. Southeastern University
Online Master of Arts in Human Services
Southeastern University was founded in 1935 in New Brockton, Alabama as Southeastern Bible Institute before it was relocated to Lakeland, Florida in 1946. The school offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and operates more than 80 extension sites across the U.S. Students seeking a career in gerontology may consider pursuing a Master of Arts in Human Services. Students receive an experience-based, theoretical understanding of the human services profession and have the opportunity to choose a specialization based on the type of people they would like to help. The curriculum consists of 24 hours of core courses in areas such as program planning and evaluation, legal and ethical issues, and contemporary and historical issues. The gerontology specialization requires four additional courses in aging and disability, the sociology of aging, social issues on caring for the aging, and aging as it relates to the family. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions, and students may graduate in as few as 12 months.
10. University of North Carolina Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina
Online Master of Science in Gerontology
The University of North Carolina Greensboro is located in Greensboro, North Carolina and is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System. The school offers 26 doctoral programs, 61 master’s programs, and more than 100 undergraduate degrees across a number of schools and colleges. The university is also home to the nationally renowned Weatherspoon Art Museum, which features one of the most impressive and largest collections of modern American art in the U.S. UNCG’s online Master of Science in Gerontology is available entirely online, and courses are available in seven-week formats. The 30-credit-hour curriculum incorporates many fields of study with an emphasis on applied learning, and the program strives to teach students to apply their knowledge and research through collaborative relationships with businesses, community organizations, and academic departments.
9. Texas Tech University
Online Human Development and Family Studies Master’s Degree Option
Texas Tech University was established in 1923 as Texas Technological College, and it is the flagship institution of the Texas Tech University System. It is the only campus in Texas to house a medical school, a law school, and an undergraduate university. Since 1927, the school has awarded more than 200,000 degrees, including more than 40,000 professional and graduate degrees, in more than 150 courses of study. Texas Tech offers a master’s degree in gerontology online through its family and human development major. This degree is aimed at working adults who are already employed as professionals in family, elderly, and child services. The curriculum is designed via the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) consortium of colleges, and to earn this degree, students must complete four electives and eight core classes that total 36 credit hours. Electives in subjects like spirituality, physical activity, and mental health enable students to tailor their degree to their career goals.
8. Concordia University Chicago
River Forest, Illinois
Online Master of Arts in Gerontology
Located 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, Concordia University Chicago was established in 1864 as a college exclusively for parochial teacher education. Now, the school offers more than 100 postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, educating more than 5,000 students per year. The 33-credit, two-year Master of Arts in Gerontology program introduces students to the best practices of gerontological research and education. While students complete all coursework online, they are required to participate in a 16-week practicum in a community agency serving older adults. Students may expect coursework in death and dying, public policy, sociology, ethics, diversity, and adult development. The program concludes with a capstone seminar in which students complete an applied project or thesis and present it for peer review.
7. University of North Texas
Online Master of Science in Health Services Administration
The University of North Texas operates a main campus in Denton, a satellite campus in Frisco, two schools, 11 colleges, a library system, and a science academy for exceptional high schoolers from across the state. Established as a coeducational, nonsectarian, private teacher’s college in 1890, UNT was formally adopted by Texas 11 years later. It is the flagship institution of the University of North Texas System, which includes additional universities in Fort Worth and Dallas. UNT offers an online master’s in gerontology as part of its Master of Science in Health Services Administration program. Students take the 36-credit curriculum entirely online, including 24 credits of core coursework and 12 credits of the applied gerontology specialization. Students can expect to cover healthcare and management topics like healthcare laws and ethics, financial issues in healthcare, and health information systems as well as gerontological-specific courses in program planning, programs in aging, processes of aging, and housing. Students must complete a research project as part of the capstone and present it for review.
6. McDaniel College
Online Master of Science in Gerontology
McDaniel College is located 30 miles northwest of Baltimore, Maryland in Westminster and also operates a satellite campus in Budapest, Hungary. Established in 1867, the school offers more than 60 bachelor’s degrees, more than 20 graduate programs, and more than 100 minors. In 2002, the McDaniel Plan was created, a nationally renowned plan designed to motivate students to make education their own. Those who graduate from the Master of Science in Gerontology program are prepared for leadership roles in industries that support the elderly population. The 30- to 36-credit curriculum explores the psychological and biological aspects of aging, supported by the study of research methodology as well as its applications.
5. Oklahoma State University
Online Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science in Gerontology
Oklahoma State University was founded in 1890 and originally known as Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. It is the flagship institution of the Oklahoma State University System and enrolls more than 4,000 students each year. It is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as being one of the best public universities in the country. The 36-credit online Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science degree with a concentration in gerontology gives students an understanding of the mental, social, and physiological stages people go through as they age. Subjects covered include statistics, economics, public policy, and health and nutrition. The program opens with a professional seminar and finishes with a capstone project.
4. University of Nebraska Omaha
Online Master of Arts in Social Gerontology
The University of Nebraska Omaha was founded by faculty from the Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1908 as a private non-sectarian college. UNO offers more than 200 programs of study across six colleges and expects to enroll more than 20,000 students by 2020. Students have the option of pursuing a Master of Arts in Social Gerontology with either a thesis option or a non-thesis option. Both tracks require core courses in research methods, programs and services for the elderly, a seminar in aging and human behavior, and applied social gerontology. However, the non-thesis option includes a graduate practicum and 21 credit hours of electives as well as a comprehensive examination, while the thesis option includes a six-credit thesis and 18 credit hours of electives.
3. Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas
Online Master of Science in Dementia and Aging Studies
Texas State University was established in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School. Since its founding, it has grown into the largest institution in the Texas State University System and the fifth-largest university in the state, enrolling more than 38,000 students per year. The main campus consists of 245 buildings on 492 acres, and the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State is the world’s largest forensic research facility. The 33-credit online Master of Science in Dementia and Aging prepares students to manage various organizations, agencies, programs, and communities for the growing aging population or conduct research on aging, gerontology, and dementia. Students may choose from three tracks: Practitioner, Dementia and Long-Term Care, and Research.
2. Wichita State University
Online Master of Arts in Aging Studies
Located in Wichita, Kansas, Wichita State University offers more than 60 undergraduate degrees in more than 200 areas of study, more than 40 master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study, and doctoral degrees in a number of in-demand fields. WSU also hosts classes at four satellite locations and offers fully online degrees to distance learners across the country. Students pursuing the 30-credit-hour Master of Arts in Aging Studies can choose a specialization such as administration, public health, or social science. Students may earn their degree within three semesters, and graduates are qualified to work with the aging population in a number of professions such as education, wellness, senior services, senior living, social work, and business.
1. Eastern Illinois University
Online Master of Arts in Aging Studies
Established in 1895 as the Eastern Illinois State Normal School, a teacher’s college that offered a two-year degree, Eastern Illinois University has grown into a comprehensive university that provides bachelor’s and master’s degrees in humanities, sciences, arts, business, and education. The Master of Arts in Aging Studies can be completed with five semesters or 18 months, and classes are available entirely online. It is one of four graduate programs in gerontology/aging studies to hold the National Program of Merit designation from the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education. In addition to completing core requirements and electives, students have the opportunity to choose a thesis option as part of their degree as well as conduct research projects as part of their independent study courses.
What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Gerontology Degree?
Students who graduate with a gerontology master’s degree online are qualified for a number of occupational roles. Gerontology graduate schools train students for diverse settings, from hospices and assisted living centers to mental health facilities. Knowledge of seniors’ unique problems can help in a variety of disciplines, including audiology, public health, dietetics, public policy, nursing, and even financial advising. Some of the most common job titles for gerontology degree-holders include:
- Postsecondary teachers
- Social workers
- Adult care specialists
- Recreational and occupational therapists
- Medical health and services managers
- Research and medical scientists
However, let us take a closer look at five of the most popular careers for graduates who have earned a graduate degree in gerontology via accelerated learning.
1. Elder Care Advocate
Older Americans often fall victim to financial abuses and scams that cost $36.5 billion per year, according to CNBC. As a result, elder care advocates are needed to promote senior citizens’ best interests when cognition declines. Earning an online master’s gerontology degree could help in terms of checking their welfare, supervising in-home aides, securing proper services, reviewing health bills, finding suitable housing, assisting with medical decisions, and navigating Social Security laws.
2. Rehabilitation Counselor
According to U.S. News & World Report, online master’s studies in gerontology could result in the 26th best job in the field of healthcare. Rehabilitation counselors help those who are injured or impaired on their way to recovery. These professionals advocate for accommodations, record progress, teach caregiving skills, introduce assistive technology, propose life changes, arrange therapeutic care, consult clinicians for treatment plans, and evaluate disabilities.
3. Geriatric Social Worker
The seventh most meaningful job according to Forbes, a geriatric social worker helps clients cope with aging processes, non-clinical and clinical, for long life expectancies. Pursuing a master’s degree in gerontology online after earning a bachelor’s degree in social work would prepare students for giving grief counseling, nurturing good mental health, signing clients to Medicare, referring social services like Meals on Wheels, customizing interventions, and assessing senior needs.
4. Nursing Home Administrator
Graduates who pursue an accelerated online graduate degree in gerontology and who pass the Long Term Care Administrator exam provided by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) would certify their ability to coordinate residential elderly care for more than 1.4 million patients across the country. Nursing home administrators are responsible for marketing services, investigating grievances, monitoring account expenditures, adhering to regulations, procuring supplies, handling insurance claims, supervising nurses, planning senior activities, and setting operational policies.
Earning a graduate gerontology degree may be beneficial for those who wish to pursue a career in the biomedical aspect of the field. These professionals focus on conducting and analyzing empirical-based studies on the emotional, psychological, social, and biological aspects of aging. Gerontologists develop investigative hypotheses, form research proposals, pursue appropriate approvals, collect and analyze data, draw conclusions, present their findings at conventions and conferences, and inform clinical staff members of their conclusions.
In addition to the above careers, the accelerated online Master’s in Gerontology will also provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue further studies in a doctoral or Ph.D. gerontology program.
What Skills Will an Online Master’s in Gerontology Teach?
An accelerated graduate gerontology degree prepares students for a variety of professional settings. Those pursuing a career in medical or academic research will learn how to evaluate, analyze, and collect data related to different aspects of human agency. Those who plan to work in fields such as counseling and health management or social- and community-based services may also consider a master’s track in gerontology, keeping in mind that the best programs will cover licensure and certification requirements such as residency hours and/or exams as they relate to these career paths.
How Do You Find the Best Accelerated Online Master’s Degrees in Gerontology?
Choosing the right program is a personal decision, and only the student can properly evaluate whether a potential school’s strengths and offerings match their educational goals and needs. If one is considering this educational path, it is important to contact admissions specialists at different universities and colleges to learn more about their specific programs and requirements. The ranked list of schools above should serve as a helpful starting point in the search for the best affordable accelerated online Master’s in Gerontology.