Top 10 Master’s Degrees in Gerontology

Bring together your passion for social services, health care, and elder advocacy with one of the Top 10 Master's Degrees in Gerontology for the 2019-2020 school year. The field of gerontology is a perfect blend for those seeking to work in health care, social services, or administrative and policy management, all for the advocacy and care of the needs of aging populations. There are dozens of possible careers in the field of gerontology. A few examples include activity director at a retirement home, a financial planner, a fitness trainer, or a geriatric psychiatrist. If you're ready to start on your path to working with or in support of elders, a Master's Degree in Gerontology is key. 

As the baby boomer generation ages, people over the age of 65 in the United States will make up the largest segment of the population. A diverse range of needs among this population makes for varied jobs across all public and private sectors. From audiologists to adult day care coordinators, the aging population is very much in need of a growing workforce. Additionally, behind the scenes, policymakers and knowledgeable researchers are needed to direct funding and inform decision making. Many assumptions are made about older people– educated and informed gerontologists work to educate and change ageism and elder abuse. 

The programs below offer specializations or concentrations for those who know where they want to be post-graduation. If you're certain of working on-one-one with elders and their families, practicum and clinical experience are the cornerstones of many of the programs. If you want to work behind the scenes in geriatric research, several of the programs offer rigorous curriculums and support and guidance from knowledgeable professors. Many of the programs also offer their programs in a completely online format, particularly convenient to those who are already working in a gerontology related environment and want to move their careers to the next level. If you're not yet certain about the specific area you'd like to focus on in graduate studies or wish to research careers in gerontology, several organizations can provide guidance: Agework.com, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the Gerontological Society of America

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Here are the Top 10 Master's Degrees in Gerontology for 2020!

#10. University of Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Master of Science in Gerontology Research Policy

Website

The Master of Science in Gerontology Research Policy at the University of Massachusetts allows students to complete the program at full or part-time enrollment. The program is a total of 36 credits and prepares students for careers in research and analysis as applied to age policies. The curriculum is made up of nine foundation courses, three electives. The MSGRP ends with a capstone project that integrates the student's knowledge of social gerontological theory and solutions to problems in gerontology. Coursework covers how to design experiments and different methods of research, the social aspects of aging, and economic issues among aging populations. 

The faculty of the gerontology department at UMass represent a spectrum of research interests, including coping with chronic illness, bereavement, and family caregiving. Applications to the program are accepted once per year in June to start in the fall term. Required materials for admission are three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, official transcripts from all previous institutions, and a cover letter. UMass has a robust scholarship system, awarding over $9.4 million each year. Graduate students may also apply for assistantships through the department. Assistantships cover tuition, fee waiver, and a stipend each term. 

Graduate Tuition: $17,876

Score: 88.7

#9. Brenau University 

Gainesville, GA

Master of Science in Applied Gerontology

At Brenau University, the Master of Science in Applied Gerontology can be tailored to the student's particular area of interest and career goals. The program allows for 12 elective credit hours out of a total of 30 credits to receive the degree. Students are encouraged to take elective courses across disciplines. The program may be of particular value to students already working with aging populations. Core coursework in the program is offered entirely online. Core coursework includes topics on the cultural and social issues of aging, effective communication with the elderly, and the physical aspects of aging. Elective classes include geriatric pharmacotherapy, social policy and aging, and elder law. 

Students in this program may spend approximately 10-14 hours a week on their coursework. All students must complete a fieldwork project that demonstrates the integration of course concepts and application in the field of gerontology. GRE scores are not required to enter the program, but candidates for admission must have at least a 2.5 GPA in their undergraduate coursework. Brenau University utilizes Canvas as their online coursework platform. University Tech support is available to all online students. 

Graduate Tuition: $12,510

Score: 90.5

#8. Miami University 

Oxford, OH

Master of Gerontological Studies

Miami University's Master of Gerontological Studies prepares students to pursue careers in research, social work, or aging policy. The program gives students opportunities for networking with gerontology professionals. It requires a practicum experience. Past students fulfilled their practicum at locations such as the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, The Benjamin Rose Institute, and the Northwest Ohio Chapter Alzheimer's Association. The program is a total of 43 credit hours, with required courses in topics such as qualitative research methods, methods and statistics and linking research and practice. Elective course offerings include research on inequality in aging and health, interpersonal perspectives on adulthood and aging, and exercise, aging and health promotion. 

To apply to the program, candidates should submit transcripts from all previous institutions, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a professional statement. Applications are accepted once per year in January for the following fall term. Miami University offers a variety of funding opportunities for graduate students, including graduate assistantships for students who are enrolled full-time. 

Graduate Tuition: $13,409

Score: 90.9

#7. University of Louisiana Monroe

Monroe, LA

Master of Arts in Gerontology

The Master of Arts in Gerontology program at the University of Louisiana Monroe offers six areas of specialization. Students may opt to focus on aging studies, long-term care administration, program administration, small business management, mental health, and grief care management. All coursework is completed online. The program is 36 credit hours, with core courses in the biology of aging, social gerontology, and programs and public policy required for all six specializations. Depending on the student's specialization, a thesis or internship may be required to complete the degree. 

Students in the MAG should have a PC, high-speed internet, word processing software, and a webcam and headset. To gain admission to the program, candidates must have a minimum 2.75 GPA in their undergraduate coursework and a score of 400 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE. Over 200 graduate assistantships are offered each year. To apply, students should submit three letters of recommendation along with an application to the Gerontology Department. Assistantships give students a full tuition waiver, along with a $2500 stipend each term. Graduate assistantships generally require 20 hours of work per week in their department. 

Graduate Tuition: $6,490

Score: 91.0

#6. Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

Master of Science in Gerontology

The Master of Science in Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University prepares its graduates for careers geared towards increasing the quality of life for aging populations. For students interested in becoming licensed as assisted living administrators, this program will prepare them for licensure. The 30-credit curriculum brings together the core competencies of understanding aging populations in the United States as defined by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Students select a concentration in education, health care organization, and planning, psychogeriatrics, public administration, research, or social services. 

Required courses include Biological and Physical Aging, Psychology of Aging, Social Gerontology, and Aging and Human Values. Depending on the student's area of concentration, fieldwork or a thesis may be required. Elective courses in the concentration areas delve into subjects such as Career Planning, Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training, or Aging and Mental Disorders. VCU offers competitive fellowships and assistantships that provide graduate students with living stipends and tuition support. 

Graduate Tuition: $12,217

Score: 91.4

#5. Youngstown State University

Youngstown, OH

Master of Arts in Gerontology

The 36-credit Master of Arts in Gerontology program at Youngstown State University brings together several disciplines in its curriculum. Within the coursework, students will be exposed to concepts in sociology, human ecology, biology, and social work. The program also emphasizes nursing and nursing administration, as well as public health. Students may opt for a thesis or non-thesis track. Non-thesis students engage in six credits of field practicum work, whereas thesis track students will focus more on data analysis. Students in both tracks will take classes in Epidemiology of Aging, Anatomy, and Physiology of aging, and Adult Development and Aging. Practicum sites in the past have included the Ohio Department of Aging, the Alzheimer's Association, and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education. Qualified candidates for admission to the MA in Gerontology program at YSU have at least a 3.0 GPA and a social statistics course in their undergraduate work. Other application materials include three letters of recommendation, a statement of the student's long term career goals and objectives in the program, a resume or CV. Some students may receive a request for an interview with faculty members. YU's average class size is 21 students and has a student to faculty ratio of 14:1. 

Graduate Tuition: $8,906

Score: 94.0

#4. Georgia State University

Atlanta, GA

Master of Arts in Gerontology

Website

In Georgia State University's 36-credit Master of Arts in Gerontology program, students may concentrate in research or program administration. Students will take 15 semester hours of core courses that acquaint them to the field of gerontology and expose them to research methods in the field. They will then select a total of nine credit hours in courses such as aging policy and services, diversity and aging, and psychology of aging. Students in the administration concentration will engage in an internship. Those in the research concentration will complete a thesis. An additional twelve credit hours of electives are also required to fulfill the degree. Elective courses in the program span a number of topics, from communication and aging to global aging and social policies. 

The Gerontology Institute at GSU has a number of research projects in four central areas: housing and formal long-term care; social relationships, families and caregiving, diversity and aging; and health and aging. The Gerontology Institute offers a number of scholarships to students each year. Graduate Research Assistantships and Graduation Teaching Assistantships are also available. GRAs and GTAs receive a tuition waiver and are expected to work at least eight hours per week during each semester. 

Graduate Tuition: $7,020

Score: 95.0

#3. Iowa State University

Ames, IA

Master of Science in Gerontology

Website

The curriculum of Iowa State University's Master of Science in Gerontology is in line with the recommendations established by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. The program is interdepartmental, meaning that students will take classes in other departments and identify a Major Professor who matches the student's research interests and career goals. Within Iowa State's College of Human Sciences, for instance, students can find faculty members who specialize in research related to financial health and wellness, family and consumer economics, or intergenerational relationships. 

Prior to applying to the program, prospective students should identify their areas of interest and select a home department. Together, with the Gerontology faculty, they will create a specific program of study designed for the student. The MS in Gerontology program at Iowa State is offered both on campus and online. The program admits new students once per year with applications due in January. The application to the program also is the application to apply for a graduate assistantship. Letters of recommendation, transcripts from all previous institutions, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores are all required for the admissions application. Iowa State University offers many resources to graduate students, including counseling, legal, veterans, and women's services. 

Graduate Tuition: $9,302

Score: 96.0

#2. University of Nebraska Omaha

Omaha, NE

Master of Arts in Social Gerontology

Website

The Master of Arts in Social Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Omaha offers its program both online and on campus. Students in the program may choose to complete a thesis or they may take the non-thesis track where they will complete a minimum 156 hours of practicum work. The non-thesis track is recommended for students currently working with elders or hope to work with them in their future careers. The thesis track is geared towards students who intend to engage in research or go on to a Ph.D. program. All students will take 18 credits in core coursework that delves into Applied Social Gerontology and a Seminar in Aging and Human Behavior. 

To gain admission to the program, candidates must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate work and submit a writing sample along with GRE test scores. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. To finance their graduate studies, students may apply for scholarships, fellowships, awards or waivers. The University of Nebraska at Omaha is a military-friendly institution who offers a number of services and events specifically for veterans and active duty students and their families. 

Graduate Tuition: $5,053

Score: 96.0

#1. George Washington University 

Washington, D.C.

Master of Science in Nursing: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Website

The Master of Science in Nursing: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at George Washington University is designed for currently employed nurses. The program is a total of 48 credit hours and requires a minimum of 625 practicum hours. Part-time or full-time enrollment are options. The program is offered online, with students required to come onto campus for the Campus Learning and Skills Intensive and clinical examinations at the end of the program. Students will take courses in Nursing Leadership, Biostatistics for Health Care Researchers, and Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology. 

GW is home to a number of gerontology-related centers, such as the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities. Admissions to the program require a Bachelor's in Nursing, a 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a resume, personal statement, an active nursing license and transcripts from all previous institutions. Students will select where their practicum will take place upon the approval of the GW Nursing faculty. U.S. News and World Report ranked the Masters in Nursing program at GW one of the best in the nation for 2020. 

Graduate Tuition: $30,780Score: 100.00

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