All about the master's degree in Gerontology

  • All about the master's degree in Gerontology

    If you are looking to make a difference on a local or broad scale, you might consider a career as a gerontologist. Individuals working in this specialty have a broad range of careers to choose from, allowing them to work in a variety of environments. If you want to grow in your career in this field, you may benefit from a master's in Gerontology.

    The study of gerontology

    Gerontology is the study of aging in adults and how society can advocate for the needs of the older population. Gerontologists typically study the effects of aging in patients and clients, then use their knowledge to advocate for their everyday and long-term needs. These issues might be a result of physical, social or emotional factors.

    A need for gerontologists

    Careers in gerontology are in high demand. There is a large population of Baby Boomers in the U.S. in need of support and medical care. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers made up 24.3 percent of the country's population in 2012. As the large Baby Boomer population ages, there is a rising need for individuals in careers that accommodate the geriatric community.

    In addition, the Census also estimated that the 65-and-older population may rise to 83.7 million in 2050, almost doubling the 2012 number of 43.1 million. There are several reasons for this trend, including fertility patterns, international migration and higher life expectancy rates. As the elderly population increases, the need for gerontologists follows suit.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers as social and community service managers are expected to rise 18 percent through 2026. The agency reports that this occupation's job growth is mostly a result of the aging population and the need for more social services for older adults. These statistics display the fact that employment in gerontology is in high demand, making it an excellent short- and long-term career.

    What you can learn from studying gerontology

    Although many gerontologists work in the medical care of the elderly population, the field includes a diverse skill set. For that reason, graduate students majoring in gerontology may need to take courses in the following subjects:

    • Social work
    • Family development
    • Nutrition
    • Psychology
    • Public health
    • Sociology

    There are several graduate universities that offer both on-campus and online master's degrees in gerontology. For instance, Iowa State University offers an on-campus master's degree in Gerontology, offered by their College of Human Sciences. This program offers interdepartmental degrees, which allows graduate students to receive training in disciplines that are complementary to gerontology.

    Miami University of Ohio offers a Master of Gerontological Studies, which allows students to take one of three paths in this field: research, policy or non-social work services. This program offers international research opportunities to students who are interested in taking their gerontological skills elsewhere. Miami University also provides assistantships to full-time students to help them gain experience in the field.

    There are plenty of advanced degree programs in gerontology to choose from. To gain the most of your graduate education, it can be helpful to research each program to see how their course offerings align with your goals.

    Career prospects for gerontology graduates

    Since careers in gerontology are in such high demand, graduates pursuing this occupation can go into a number of different fields in which they can advocate for the geriatric community. Some popular careers that individuals majoring in gerontology may pursue include:

    • Social worker
    • Geriatric care manager
    • Researcher
    • Public policy workers
    • Assisted living administrators
    • Health educators

    The career choice you make in this industry determines the setting in which you do your day-to-day work. Gerontology specialists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, hospices, physician offices, long-term care facilities and home health agencies. You might also work directly in clients' homes or conduct your business in an office setting.

    If you are interested in working in an industry in which your career is lucrative, impactful and in demand, you may consider enrolling in a master's degree in gerontology. Having an advanced degree in this field can broaden your career possibilities and provide you with the knowledge you need to be an effective gerontologist.

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