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Gerontology studies the factors that affect aging, specifically among older people. An online master’s degree in gerontology gives students the necessary skills to succeed in a career working with the elderly. Gerontologists work in healthcare, government agencies for aging, academics, and research.

Gerontologists may work for community health organizations, with salaries averaging $50,000, or as social and community services managers, who average over $70,000 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational health jobs, such as therapists and aides, are expected to grow much faster than other fields, at 25% through 2031.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Gerontology Program

Choose your area of study

The area of study reflects your career goals, interests, and skills. A physician working with older people requires a medical degree and a specialty in geriatrics. A social gerontologist must meet the social and mental health needs of the elderly. A master’s degree in psychology or social work is recommended. An assisted living director must be able to resolve issues regarding staff management, finances, and compliance with regulations. Therefore, a business degree may be most appropriate.

Even more examples of degree programs associated with gerontology careers include the following:

  • Nursing or nursing assistant
  • Professor at the community college or university
  • Occupational therapy
  • Law with a specialty in elder law

Research schools and programs

Quality online master’s degree programs have an accreditation status in good standing, which confirms that the school meets the standards required to provide educational services. Choose a program that is accredited at the institution level and the program level.

Examples of accrediting agencies specific to the master’s degree in gerontology include the following:

  • Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council
  • Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation Program
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Tutoring, disability services, financial aid, career coaching, engagement activities, and counseling are some of the most used services in higher education.

Prepare for tests and applications

Entering an online master’s degree program occurs in steps and may include taking entrance exams. Practicing elder law requires passing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before being accepted to law school. The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is for business programs, and the General Record Exam (GRE) is for programs without specific testing requirements.

Additional items needed to enter an online master’s program may include the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum GPA, usually 3.0
  • Experience working with the elderly
  • Application fees

Check with each program of interest to determine their specific requirements.

Select your program

You may find that numerous programs can provide the education you need for a master’s degree in gerontology. You can further narrow your options with a list of preferences, like the ones below:

  • Financial aid opportunities
  • Student services offered for social connections
  • Academic services provided, such as tutoring and advising
  • Accessibility to professors
  • Length of program
  • Cost of the program

Determine how you will pay for your degree

Completing an online master’s program has direct and indirect costs. Buying textbooks is a direct cost, while paying for childcare is an indirect cost. Consider both costs when weighing your options for paying for the degree. Work with the school’s financial aid advisor to choose the best payment option.

If you have saved money to pay cash for the program, inquire about discounts for paying in cash. If you want to avoid acquiring debt, ask about payment plans, scholarships, and grants available through the school. If you must borrow money to pay for school, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Gerontology Programs

Best Online Master's in Gerontology Degree Programs

Georgetown University School of Nursing

GW School of Nursing

Stony Brook School of Nursing

University of Connecticut

Michigan State University

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Iowa State University

University of South Carolina

Concordia University

Kansas State University

Drexel University

University of Florida

Wichita State University

University of Utah

Texas Tech University

Seton Hall University

McDaniel College

Webster University

Florida A&M University

UMass Boston

UTMB School of Nursing

University of Indianapolis

Maryville University

Arizona State University

Fort Hays State University

UNC Greensboro

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How We Rank Schools

We concentrated our research on programs that offer degrees in gerontology. Students typically earn a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) degree in this field.

To ensure flexibility, we focused on reviewing programs that can be completed entirely or primarily online. In instances where schools offer classes both on-campus and online, students may have the option of completing the program through a mixture of in-person and online coursework.

All of the schools on our list have regional accreditation. This confirms that they meet high standards of quality for postsecondary education. Several programs are also accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

We evaluated the programs based on their flexibility, faculty, cost, outcomes, and reputation. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Gerontology Program?

Most of the best master’s degree programs in gerontology require between 30 and 36 credit hours, typically taking about two years. If the school offers an accelerated program, you may be able to complete it in one year. You may need more than two years to complete if you have many work and family responsibilities, which is also allowed in online programs.

Master’s programs often require supervised practicums or other fieldwork experience where you practice what you have learned in an online course. Supervised experience is beneficial for gaining the confidence and skills necessary to care for challenges among older people. For example, if you plan to work as a nurse, you can complete supervised hours in a hospital, nursing home, or home health environment. Examples of other workplace settings include the following:

  • Long-term care facilities
  • Research facilities
  • Retirement homes
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Mental health agencies

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in gerontology degree program

  • Geriatric Pharmacology. Students can learn the most common mental and physical health problems among older adults and how medications help or harm them. This course focuses on the benefits, risks, schedules, potential interactions, and what to do in a medical emergency.
  • Psychology of Aging. Students will learn about psychological changes that affect the quality of life of people as they age, such as memory loss, mental illness, and grieving the loss of friends and family members. Students will learn how to recognize signs of psychological impairments and how to help an aging client get the treatment they need.
  • Policies Affecting the Aging Population. Students will learn about constantly changing laws and regulations, including Medicare, Social Security, and the Elder Justice Act.
  • Perspectives in Gerontology. This course typically offers an overview of the many things affecting aging today, such as research, politics, careers, and social issues. Other areas addressed may include theories on aging, new technologies, ethics, and the various environments in which older people can thrive.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Gerontology?

Career outlook

Pursuing an online degree in gerontology opens doors to a diverse array of meaningful career opportunities, particularly in the context of our aging global population. Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of aging and its associated challenges and opportunities. This field equips individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to address the complex needs of older adults and contribute to their well-being.

Individuals who work with older patients are likely to find an expansive career outlook. The field of occupational therapy, for example, is expected to grow by 12 percent — much faster than the economy as a whole — with occupational therapists making a median salary of $93,180 a year.

Career paths

The career outlook for individuals with a degree in gerontology is promising, driven by the significant demographic shift toward an aging population. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the global population aged 60 and over will nearly double from 12 percent in 2015 to 22 percent by 2050. As a result, there is a growing need for professionals who can work with and support older adults. Here are some key career options in gerontology:

  • Geriatric nurse — provides specialized healthcare to older adults, addressing age-related health issues and collaborating with healthcare teams to enhance the quality of care.
  • Elder law attorney — specializes in legal matters related to older adults, including estate planning and healthcare directives.
  • Senior housing manager — responsible for the operation and management of senior living communities, including independent living and assisted living.
  • Alzheimer’s care specialist — focuses on assisting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Community outreach specialist — collaborates with organizations and agencies to develop outreach programs and initiatives to address the needs of older adults.


Earning Potential: $201,233-$239,033 annually
Education Required: Master’s or doctoral degree in gerontology or a related field

Gerontologists specialize in the study of aging and its impact on individuals and society. They conduct research and provide expertise on a wide range of issues related to older adults, including physical and mental health, social and psychological well-being, caregiving, healthcare, and public policy. Gerontologists work in diverse settings, including research institutions, healthcare facilities, social service agencies, and academic institutions. They aim to improve the quality of life for older adults, develop strategies for healthy aging, and contribute to the development of policies and programs that address the unique needs and challenges of the aging population.

Aging Services Administrator

Earning Potential: $76,762-$96,060 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in gerontology or a related field

An aging services administrator manages and coordinates programs and services that cater to the needs of older adults. They work in various settings, including senior living facilities, community centers, and non-profit organizations. Responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day operations, ensuring quality care, and implementing services that enhance the well-being of older adults. Aging services administrators collaborate with staff, healthcare professionals, and local agencies to provide support, activities, and resources to meet the unique needs of this demographic. They play a pivotal role in creating environments where older adults can lead fulfilling, active, and healthy lives while receiving the care and support they require.

Long-Term Care Manager

Earning Potential: $113,837-$142,455 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in gerontology or a related field

A long-term care manager, often known as a healthcare or care manager, specializes in coordinating and overseeing the care and services provided to individuals requiring long-term care. They typically work in settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or home healthcare agencies. Their responsibilities encompass assessing the healthcare needs of residents or clients, developing care plans, and ensuring that appropriate services are delivered. Long-term care managers collaborate with healthcare professionals, families, and caregivers to optimize the well-being and quality of life of those in their care. They play a vital role in managing the complex and evolving healthcare needs of older adults and individuals with chronic conditions.

Online Master’s Degree in Gerontology Frequently Asked Questions

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

Online master’s degree programs in gerontology do an excellent job of making the application process as simple as possible. However, each program may require different steps. To get started with an application, contact an admissions counselor at your selected school to ensure you understand their guidelines.

Documents you will likely need to apply include:

  • Results from the graduate entrance exam (GRE, LSAT, or GMAT, for example).
  • Original transcripts from your undergraduate program
  • Letters of recommendation
  • School-specific applications
  • Resume
  • Awards, certificates, or recognition papers

How much does an online master's in gerontology degree cost?

Tuition to master-level programs in gerontology will vary because they are based on individualized factors. For example, whether you attend part-time or full-time and the number of credit hours. A course worth three credits will be more costly than a course worth one credit.

Graduate-level education costs can average $12,000 or more at public institutions and $26,000 at private institutions. Ask questions about additional fees for technology, distance learning, and course materials. You may be charged an out-of-state fee if you live in a different state from the online program.

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

Many of the best master’s in gerontology programs last between one and two years. Factors that can change the length of your program include how many courses you take each semester, whether you take classes on a part-time or full-time basis, and the number of credit hours required for completion.

Occasionally, life interruptions slow progress, like family members becoming ill, financial struggles, and emergencies. At the same time, some people take an accelerated path and complete the program early. Depending on your circumstances, you may complete the program in as little as one year or up to three or more.

Is an online master's in gerontology worth it?

An online degree in gerontology is a valuable investment that not only opens doors to diverse career opportunities but also allows individuals to make a positive impact on the well-being of older adults in an aging society. The skills and knowledge gained through this program are essential for addressing the unique challenges and opportunities associated with an aging population.

The aging population’s increasing needs create a strong demand for gerontology professionals, and a master’s degree ensures that you will be well-placed to undertake leadership and career-defining positions in a diverse range of settings in healthcare and beyond.

Online programs offer the flexibility to balance educational tasks with professional and personal commitments, allowing students to take classes wherever and whenever it is convenient for them. Online gerontology programs also offer extensive networking opportunities with peers, faculty, and industry professionals across the country and even globally.

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