If the thought of helping elderly patients live life to the fullest brings a smile to your face, a career in gerontology may be right for you. Gerontologists study the process of aging and aim to increase quality of life for elderly patients. The goal of their research is to improve the physical and emotional health of the world’s aging population. Some gerontologists even work directly with elderly patients and provide support with daily tasks.
How can I choose the best gerontology degree program?
Gerontology is a rich, diverse field with many career paths to choose from. Gerontologists may work one-on-one with patients in a hospital or nursing home environment, or they may research in a lab with limited patient interaction. When choosing a gerontology program, it’s important to decide what career track is right for you.
Many of the top gerontology programs in the U.S. will teach you the same fundamentals. However, to get the most from your education, you should find a program that focuses on your preferred area of study.
You can choose from undergraduate programs that focus on:
- Applied Gerontology – Possible jobs include: Social worker, therapist, psychologist
- Gerontology Research – Possible jobs include: Lab director, researcher
- Administrative Gerontology – Possible jobs include: Hospital or nursing home director
Regardless of which path you choose, your ultimate goal will be to treat the mental and physical difficulties of aging. You’ll also help your patients lead rich, fulfilling lives. Read on to learn how you can select a school that suits your individual goals.
What are the best undergraduate gerontology programs in the United States?
To help you get the most for your time and money, we’ve put together this list of top-rated undergraduate Gerontology programs.
We considered the following factors:
- Scholarship potential
- Research opportunities
- Cost of attendance
1. University of Southern California
Tuition: $57,256 (in-state and out-of-state)
The Leonard Davis School at the University of Southern California has an impressive selection of gerontology programs.
You can choose from the following gerontology degree options:
- Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging (Social Science track or Health Science track)
- Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health
- Minor in Gerontology (Focus on Individuals, Societies, and Aging or Science, Health, and Aging)
The ability to tailor your degree program to your unique interests brings the Leonard Davis School to the top of our list. You’ll also be able to take advantage of over $500,000 in scholarships given to students annually.
2. University of Southern Florida
Tuition: $6,410 in-state, $17,324 out-of-state
The School of Aging Studies at the University of Southern Florida has been offering gerontology degrees since 1967. With such an impressive track record, it’s no surprise that the program has earned its place among the best in the country. And with reasonable tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students, USF’s gerontology program deserves a place at the top of our list.
Students can gain hands-on experience through internships, and choose from two different degrees and one minor:
- Bachelor of Science in Long-Term Care Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Aging Sciences
- Minor in Aging Studies
The School of Aging Studies also offers exciting research opportunities in:
- Aging and Health Disparities
- Cognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Aging and Mental Health
- Public Policy and Long Term Care
- Sleep, Stress, and Health
3. Wayne State University
Tuition: $12,269 in-state, $26,220 out-of-state
The Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University is an excellent choice for students interested in a research track. Wayne State University boasts four research labs and a large research volunteer pool.
Students can pursue research in:
- Financial Gerontology
- Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience
- Health Disparities and Disability
- Mental Health and Physical Well-Being
After their bachelors is complete, students can also go on to pursue a graduate certificate in gerontology. Some lucky students will also be able to take advantage of the Elizabeth A. Olson Award for Gerontology Education Memorial Fund.
4. Ithaca College
Tuition: $43,978 (in-state and out-of-state)
Established in 1992, the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute is devoted to serving the aging population in surrounding communities. Students can choose from a B.A. or B.S. in Aging Studies to suit their individual career goals.
One of the most unique features of the Ithaca College gerontology program is the partnership with Longview, a nearby adult residential facility. This exciting volunteer opportunity allows students to improve the lives of the aging population while gaining valuable career skills. Students will also gain access to the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center, where they can apply for internships with experienced gerontologists.
5. University of Pittsburgh
Tuition: $18,618 in-state, $29,758 out-of-state
Although the University of Pittsburgh doesn’t offer a gerontology major, students can earn a Certificate in Gerontology through the School of Social Work. According to the program’s website, the certificate aims to “enhance students’ understanding of the aging process and to provide them with the skills relevant to practice with and/or on behalf of older adults and their family members.” This certificate would be a great option for students interested in an applied gerontology track with a focus on social work.
6. SUNY Oneonta
Tuition: $7,932 in-state, $17,782 out-of-state
SUNY Oneonta’s gerontology program recently earned a place of honor on University.com. Students who pursue B.S. in Gerontology Studies here will receive individualized attention from staff, as well as plenty of exciting internship opportunities. With reasonable tuition and scholarships available, SUNY Oneonta’s gerontology program stands out from the crowd.
The program places a heavy focus on sociology and psychology, so SUNY Oneonta would be an excellent choice for students interested in applied gerontology—or even the psychology side of gerontology research.
7. Georgia State University
Tuition: $8,794 in-state, $23,542 out-of-state
The Gerontology Institute at Georgia State University offers many generous scholarships for its students, as well as several different customizable degree options. Students will earn a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Gerontology, and they’ll be able to focus on Behavioral and Social Sciences or Health and Health Services.
Students also have the option of earning credits towards a graduate degree with the BA in Sociology/MA in Gerontology dual degree program. This program offers a rare opportunity for students to enroll in graduate-level courses while working towards a BA in Sociology.
If neither of these options suit your needs, you can also choose to earn an Undergraduate Certificate in Gerontology while working towards a completely different major.
B.S. Biology | Utica College
A.S. | Herkimer County Community College
More Articles of Interest:
- What is the Difference Between Geriatrics and Gerontology?
- Where Would I Look For Jobs With a Degree in Gerontology?
- Do Most Master’s Programs in Gerontology Require me to Take the GRE?
- What Exactly Does a Gerontologist Do?
- How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist?
- Exciting Jobs: The Top 15 Jobs for Adrenaline Seekers