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If you’re aiming for higher-level administrative roles to improve the well-being of the aging population, a master’s in gerontology is your pathway forward. These programs focus on developing leadership, policy analysis, and comprehensive care management skills, preparing graduates for roles like Geriatric Care Manager, earning a median salary of $110,680 in 2023, or Senior Living Administrator, with a median salary of $104,900 the same year.

Typically completed in 18 months to two years, these programs offer practical and theoretical training for impactful careers. With an average graduate tuition of $19,749, investing in one of the best programs is an excellent way to prepare for a fulfilling and financially rewarding career.

How to Choose a Master’s in Gerontology Degree Program

Choose your area of study

While gerontology is already a niche field, choosing an area of study within your graduate degree program allows for more focused learning so that you can center your education around your career goals. As a bonus, a well-chosen specialization can increase your competitiveness in the job market — especially in this field. By focusing your studies on a particular niche, you’ll develop more knowledge in that area, making you more attractive to employers and more effective in your chosen role.

For instance, healthcare professionals might focus on senior health management, while those interested in advocacy can delve into public policy. Research enthusiasts could specialize in aging studies to pursue academic or clinical research careers.

Research schools and programs

With your intended specialization in mind, you can begin researching schools and programs to find the best fit. To guide your research, consider these questions:

  • Does the program offer a curriculum that supports my specialization?
  • What are the faculty’s research interests and experience in this area?
  • Are there internships or practical opportunities available?
  • What career services or networking opportunities does the program offer?
  • Is the program accredited, and what is its reputation among employers?

For answers, explore program websites, contact admissions offices, and contact current students or alumni for further insights into each program’s strengths.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparing for tests and applications can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by seeking out letters of recommendation early to avoid any last-minute delays. Then, begin working on your personal statement in advance, highlighting your enthusiasm for the program and your readiness for graduate-level study.

If the program requires GRE scores, consider enrolling in a test prep course to reinforce critical skills and familiarize yourself with the exam format. This can boost confidence and help you achieve a competitive score.

Select your program

When acceptance letters arrive, revisit your research criteria and focus on how each school aligns with your priorities — like curriculum relevance, alum outcomes, and faculty you’re excited to learn from. Consider the program’s overall cost of attendance alongside any promising financial aid opportunities to ensure the program is a good financial fit. This approach will help you choose a program that meets your academic, career, and financial needs — ultimately setting you on a path to success.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To fund your degree without significant debt, prioritize scholarships and grants, which don’t require repayment and can help offset costs. Next, consider assistantships that offer stipends or tuition reductions in return for part-time teaching or research work. If you’re employed in a related field, ask if your employer offers tuition reimbursement for continuing education. For any remaining costs, explore federal loans, which are known for their lower interest rates and flexible repayment options.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Gerontology Programs

Best Master's in Gerontology Degree Programs_2024 badge

Miami University

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Louisiana Monroe

Georgia State University

The George Washington University

University of Southern California

University of Southern Indiana

Bowling Green State University

University of Utah

Youngstown State University

San Francisco State University

Virginia Commonwealth University

California State University, Long Beach

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How we rank schools

This list covers graduate programs in gerontology. Graduates are prepared to assist and educate health professionals and the general public on matters related to aging and longevity. Degrees offered include Master of Gerontological Studies, Master of Science in gerontology, Master of Arts in social gerontology, Master of Science in applied gerontology, Master of Science in interdisciplinary gerontology, and Master of Science in Nursing in adult gerontology. Students can choose from online, in-person, and hybrid learning formats.

All of the listed programs are approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations regularly assess schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Gerontology Program?

Typically completed in 18 months to two years, a master’s in gerontology will prepare you to excel in the field of aging and elderly care. These programs offer an in-depth understanding of the biological, psychological, and social aspects of aging. As a student, you’ll explore critical topics like longevity, aging processes, and the societal implications of an aging population. Courses delve into public policy, senior health, and community services, providing graduates with a comprehensive toolkit to address the challenges and opportunities in elder care.

Programs frequently offer both thesis and non-thesis tracks, allowing students to customize their education to more research-oriented careers or direct professional practice in gerontology.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in gerontology program

  • Geriatric Health Management: Often considered a core requirement, many curriculums offer a version of this course that addresses the unique health needs and challenges of the elderly population. It covers chronic disease management, mental health, and preventative care, emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to designing and managing effective senior care programs.
  • Aging Policy and Advocacy: Another common element in most curriculums, this course examines the formulation, implementation, and effects of policies affecting the aging population. Students analyze case studies and current events to understand advocacy strategies and policy-making processes relevant to aging.
  • Ethical Issues in Aging: Usually considered an elective, this course analyzes the ethical considerations in senior care and research. Students debate real-life scenarios and moral dilemmas, such as end-of-life decisions, informed consent, and distribution of limited resources.
  • Gerontechnology: This elective explores how technology can support the aging process, including advancements in telemedicine, assistive devices, and digital health records. Participants learn about the design, application, and impact of technology in improving older adults’ quality of life and independence.

Master’s in Gerontology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in gerontology degree program?

To apply for a master’s in gerontology, complete the application form on the university’s website and prepare to submit the following documents:

  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • GRE scores, if required

Degree requirements can vary between institutions, so it’s essential to consult with an admissions counselor to ensure you meet all criteria and understand the application process for your chosen program.

How much does a master's in gerontology degree cost?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the average cost of graduate tuition was $19,749. However, many factors can cause this figure to vary, including whether the school is public or private and whether you qualify for in-state residency.

Beyond tuition, you should prepare for additional expenses like books, supplies, commuting, and housing costs. Budgeting for these expenses is essential to get a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of the degree program.

How long does it take to earn a master's in gerontology degree?

Earning this degree takes 18 months to two years for full-time students. Part-time students might take longer — usually three to four years — depending on how many courses they enroll in each semester. It’s important to consider the program’s total number of required credits, as this varies and can affect completion timelines. Some programs may also offer accelerated options or require a thesis, which could also influence the duration of the program. Always check specific program requirements to plan your education effectively.

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