shutterstock 700156936One thing that connects all of humanity is the fact that we get older. According to the US Census Bureau (2014), 20% of the US population is projected to age 65 or older by the year 2030. This means that job opportunities will be readily available for those involved in Gerontology. In fact, Indeed.com reported the number of gerontology related job postings has increased 75% since 2005. This shows the tremendous growth in the field and its continual projected growth. The Bureau of labor statistics also predicts growth in the gerontology field with a projected 21% increase more than the overall national average for all occupations. Careers in gerontology support, improve, and enhance the lives of older adults, so it is no surprise that many career opportunities are available.

Gerontology studies the effects of aging and uses that knowledge to help the elderly population. Since Gerontology is the study of aging processes and issues related to an aging society, it is separated into basic and applied sciences. It can be examined as psychological and society issues faced by individuals as they age, as well as their physical changes occurring over time.

Gerontology is a blend of many sciences: psychology, biology, epidemiology, statistics, human ecology, and political science. Because of such specialized content, a Master’s degree in Gerontology is a great route to take to start your career. Master’s degrees in Gerontology are offered on-campus and online; but you may be wondering what other admission requirements are mandatory for such a degree. Some graduate schools require students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). You may ask, do most Master’s programs in Gerontology require me to take the GRE? Surprisingly, more than half of graduate schools do not require you to take the GRE in order to begin courses.

Admission requirements and the GRE

GRE exams are computer-based standardized tests that are often required to gain admission into graduate school. Potential school admission committee members review scores from the GRE to weigh acceptance into various academic programs. The GRE tests basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis, college-level vocabulary, analytical writing, and verbal reasoning. The GRE is used as a tool to determine success in graduate school, although not all graduate schools require the GRE.

Many colleges and universities do not require students to take the GRE in order to gain admittance into Master of Science in Gerontology programs. 15 universities were surveyed around the United States, and only 5 required GRE as an admission requirement. That is 33% of Universities surveyed required the GRE. Given this information, most schools do not require the exam. The following Universities require the GRE:

  • University of Southern California [Master of Health Administration/MS in Gerontology- dual program]
  • Iowa State University [MS in Gerontology]
  • University of Louisiana-Monroe [MA in Gerontology- GRE required if undergrad GPA <2.7]
  • Virginia Commonwealth University [MS in Gerontology]
  • University of Massachusetts-Boston [MS in Gerontology Research]

Online options

Online Master’s in Gerontology programs are readily available across the United States. Online programs give flexibility and convivence to many graduate students. Most online programs have strict deadlines to apply, require letters of recommendations, resume, objective statements, curriculum vitae, and an undergraduate GPA >3.0. The following Universities offer online Master’s of Gerontology programs:

  • Nova Southern University
  • Webster University
  • Kansas State University
  • University of Indianapolis
  • University of Nebraska-Omaha
  • Concordia University-Nebraska
  • McDaniel College
  • Brenau University
  • University of Louisiana-Monroe
  • National University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Utah
  • University of North Carolina-Greensboro
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Southeastern University
  • Texas State University
  • North Dakota State University
  • Texas Tech University
  • Wichita State University
  • University of Maryland-Baltimore

Registered Nurses can also attend graduate school to work with the geriatric population. Master of Science in Nursing degrees related to gerontology include Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner or Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. Many of these Universities offer an online/on campus hybrid degree. Most classwork is completed online, while skills and clinical hours are done on campus and at healthcare facilities. Of the 5 Universities reviewed for Gerontology Nurse Practitioner degrees, none required a GRE. An important pre-requisite for this degree is that you must be licensed as an unencumbered Registered Nurse.

Career paths for gerontology

Careers in geriatrics are just as prominent as in any other field. Gerontology can be compared to medical field jobs, in that, there are many options available. The reason so many options are available is because gerontology focuses on many areas of science. Psychology, biology, epidemiology, statistics, human ecology, political science are areas studied in gerontology. This opens many doors to many different career paths. This is good news for students and new graduates. So, what can you do with a Master’s in Gerontology? Gerontology career paths are separated into three categories: Social/Community, Medical/Health, and Research/Academia.

Gerontology related to social and community career paths oversee programs linked to community organizations. These services provide various social services to the elderly, community needs, and deal with political policies that may or may not need amending. Political careers related to gerontology are leadership roles in state and local governments that may be a part of advocacy organizations or foundations. Legal geriatric specialists work to amend laws and regulations that affect older people. Social workers, counselors, recreation managers, community service managers, geriatric policy champions, geriatric-focused interior designers, and product designers fall under this category. Service workers for non-profit companies and business marketing companies may also fall under this category.

Gerontology careers related to medical and health oversee healthcare facilities which serve the elderly. Social workers can also fall under this category because they can become licensed “clinical social workers” whose main focus is hospital settings. Nursing, nurse practitioners, human services, long-term care administration, dementia program director, adult protective service agent, palliative care manager, memory program coordinator, and rehabilitation therapy fall under this category. According to BLS, nurse practitioners job outlook is growing by 26%, which is more than the national average for all occupations.

Gerontology careers related to research and academia oversee research studies that help solidify information which affect various geriatric programs in public and private sectors. Research helps with planning and evaluating current and future projects related to gerontology and the aging population. Research specialists, academic professors and research facility employees fall under this category. Geriatric researchers study mental, physical, and social processes of aging and how they affect populations.

Overall, Master’s degrees in Gerontology are valuable and doable both online or on-campus for working professionals. GRE exams are not required for most degree plans, and many career options are available after completion of your degree. One thing is certain, we all age. Gerontology allows the need for researchers, caregivers, lawmakers, and human service workers to take care of our beloved geriatric population now, and in the future.

Tessa Chatham

Master of Science (M.S.), Nursing Education| Aspen University

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Nursing| Texas Christian University

Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Psychology and English| The University of Texas at Arlington

October 2019

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