An online bachelor’s degree in gerontology is a flexible way to prepare for a fulfilling career in helping the oldest and the wisest population (namely, those over 65) live their best lives.
The baby boomer population is driving some of the fastest growth in healthcare jobs across the country. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, one in five Americans will be 65 or older! That’s over 65 million people, so that’s kind of a big deal.
Gerontology, simply put, is the study of human aging. This field covers physical, emotional, behavioral, and social changes that occur with aging adults and their families, as well as the aging population’s effect on society. Gerontology is a diverse field with career opportunities in various settings, including retirement communities, health care, human services, government agencies, and more. There’s seriously so much to this field, and the opportunities to pursue it as a career are vast.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What is an Online Bachelor’s in Gerontology Degree?
Gerontology is a highly specialized field, and a bachelor’s degree in gerontology unlocks a number of career opportunities in a variety of settings. A good program prepares its graduates to enter the workplace with knowledge and skills to help improve the quality of life of the aging.
Online bachelor’s degrees are typically 120 credit hours, which include general education classes, core gerontology classes, and electives. Most of the time, a practicum or internship is also required. Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete, but that will also depend on if a student has previous credits that may transfer.
A bachelor’s in gerontology will focus on aspects of the field such as public policy, advocacy, social services, communication, and healthcare. Many bachelor’s degrees in gerontology also include another concentration, such as psychology. Some include concentrations like long-term care administration or human services.
Because there are many options with this degree, the specific curriculum will depend on the program. Most schools offer a bachelor’s degree in gerontology in both on-campus and online formats. Distance learning offers a flexible schedule to those who have work and family responsibilities, so online programs are the way to go if you have a plethora of other life duties pulling at you in all directions!
Careers for Gerontology majors
Graduates of a Bachelor’s of Gerontology program can apply their specialized training in a wide range of careers. As we said before, the opportunities are endless. Some individuals may pursue a research career in gerontology, while others may choose to work directly with older adults.
Here are the more common career avenues for those who study gerontology:
- Mental Health
- Human Services
- Public Policy
Gerontology research careers involve conducting research on factors of the aging process. For example, a research topic could be how to slow down the progression of diseases associated with aging.
Some gerontologists specialize in the mental and emotional health of the aging population. They may work as counselors or therapists for older adults.
Advocacy is another common field in gerontology. Advocates may work as links between older adults and their community, or they may help them with tasks related to healthcare or insurance.
Those with a bachelor’s in gerontology may work in any facility that helps older adults. Hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement homes are a few common workplace settings.
Bachelor’s in Gerontology Salary Potential
The salary of someone with a bachelor’s in gerontology will depend on where he or she works. The field of gerontology typically falls under social work.
The field of social work is growing, especially for those who work with aging populations. From 2018 to 2028, the number of social workers is expected to increase by 11%. Social workers make approximately $49,470 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Someone with a bachelor’s in gerontology may become a social and community service manager and help coordinate and supervise programs for aging adults. These professionals make around $65,320 per year.
Community health workers and health educators promote health and wellness in retirement homes or aging facilities. The average salary for these workers is $46,080 per year.
Some people decide to pursue further education in gerontology. They may get their master’s or doctoral degree in Gerontology and pursue a specific career field, like a doctor or nurse practitioner. Further education improves earning potential.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor’s in Gerontology Degrees?
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University of Maryland, University College
Average Net Price
Today, more than 80 percent of the University of Maryland, Global Campus’ students work full-time! UMGC was designed over 70 years ago for working students, many of whom were service members returning from World War 2. UMGC is also the largest online public university in the nation, which is the reason why they offer more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees online with no-cost digital materials in every course.
UMGC offers an online bachelor’s degree in gerontology and aging services program that is perfect for individuals with healthcare experience with the aging population and those who are interested in beginning a career in this field. This program is 120 credit hours, a combination of general education courses, core classes, and electives.
A three-credit internship is also required where students will work in the field for 15 weeks, applying what they have learned in this program. Interested applicants can apply for this program without submitting their SAT or ACT scores. Students can be admitted to this program on a regular or provisional basis, depending on past academic records.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Average Net Price
A maverick is an independent thinker, an explorer, and a risk-taker, and more than 15,000 of them make up the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s student body. Located in the metropolis area of Omaha, UNO offers more than 200 undergraduate degrees and 90 graduate degrees and certificates. In addition, UNO has been consistently ranked as the best university for military personnel.
The bachelor’s of multidisciplinary studies in gerontology is offered on campus, online, or a blend of both. This 120-credit program includes concentration requirements, two secondary fields, electives, and general education classes. At least 30 credits must be from 3000 or above level courses. A three-credit-hour practicum where students complete a field experience project is also required.
To be accepted to UNO, students must have at least 16 units of academic courses in the following: English, math, natural sciences, social sciences, and foreign language. A unit is equivalent to one year of high school or a semester of college. Applicants must also take the ACT and earn a composite score of 20 or higher, or they must have ranked in the upper one-half of their graduating high school class.
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Average Net Price
A non-profit, regionally accredited university, Southern New Hampshire University has been providing top-notch education to its students for over 80 years. Located on a 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, this university serves more than 3,000 students in physical classrooms, and more than 90,000 students in virtual classrooms online. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked SNHU the Most Innovative University in the North and one of the nation’s Best Regional Universities.
SNHU offers an online Bachelor of Arts in human services with a concentration in gerontology that prepares students for working with the aging population and their families. The program is 120 credit hours, which includes 42 general education credits, nine arts and sciences credits, 24 major course credits, 12 elective credits, and 33 free elective credits.
Applying to SNHU is easier than some other universities. The process is simplified, and you do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Tuition rates for SHNU’s online programs are among the lowest in the nation, and not only are there financial aid packages for students who qualify, but there is also a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members and their spouses.
Average Net Price
A private, non-profit university, Brandman University offers more than 90 degrees to its 13,000+ students all over the world. With over 25 locations throughout California and Washington, students can take traditional classes, hybrid classes, or online classes. BU’s mission is to provide quality, flexible education to working students; in fact, 90% of BU students work while completing a program.
BU offers a unique degree, an online BA in psychology with a concentration in gerontology, which focuses on the study of aging from different standpoints, including biology, health, economics, sociology, and psychology. Because this is a psychology degree as well, graduates will be qualified to start careers that deal with the mental health of the aging population.
This degree is 120 credit hours, which includes general education classes, 33 credit hours of psychology classes, and 15 credit hours of gerontology classes. In order to apply for this program, applicants must have at least 12 undergraduate credits and a minimum of 4.0 GPA. If a student is short on transferable credits, BU offers a four-course program that allows students to earn the 12 credits needed.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Average Net Price
Founded in 1978 with the purpose of preparing leaders not only for their careers but to develop as Christians, Regent University started with 70 students and has grown to what it is today: a private university on 70 acres in Virginia Beach, Virginia with nearly 10,500 students.
In 2019, RU ranked as one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only 22 universities nationally to receive an “A” rating for its comprehensive liberal arts core curriculum.
RU’s online BS in gerontology blends the fields of biophysical science, healthcare management, and psychology in order to best help aging adults. Built on a Christian foundation, this degree helps equip students to create programs and organizations to support the aging population. This 120-credit hour program includes 33 credit hours of gerontology courses, along with a practicum.
The admission process to RU is quite simple, and there are no required entrance exams. Those transferring to RU will find that up to 90 credit hours from previous academic programs may transfer to this degree, speeding up the process of the time spent working through this program.