The baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and people are living longer—that means good news for the gerontology field, which is concerned with human health and services, particularly for those 65 and over. Gerontology is not merely a focus of health, but an entirely specific subfield. This path requires the examination of aging, as well as the effect it has on people, families and entire communities.
What Students Learn in a Master’s Degree Program
Much of the training will cover essentials like biology, psychology, and even epidemiology, which is the study of patterns of diseases in certain populations. This is not merely a medical field, but one deeply ingrained in psychology and how aging changes one’s body, mind and relationships. Not all graduating students will be able to find work. This is why most career counselors would recommend going to school for a Master of Science degree, if not, a higher educational achievement, as this will qualify you for assistant positions—and perhaps even a fulltime position, depending on local licensing requirements.
Much of the core competencies are not merely written as national standards, but are identified by important organizations such as the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Some curriculums are even based off of evaluations of top-name universities in the country, as competitively speaking, each institution wants to provide the most comprehensive study program for its students.
Jobs in the field can be in multiple sectors, from long-term nursing home or assisted living care, to community-based centers, to general health services for clinics or hospitals. Graduates who earn their master’s degree can go on to find jobs as case managers, directors, managers, administrators and campaign project managers. There are even potential openings with religious organizations and retirement communities.
Programs will include work experience options, sometimes with large facilities or agencies, which allow master’s degree students to work directly with seniors and in modern health care. Depending on the school and program you select, you can choose a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A) degree in a related field.
How to Choose the Right Gerontology Degree
There are many schools offering master’s degrees and some of the top names include the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California State University at Fullerton, the University of North Texas and the University of Maryland at College Park. Regardless of the name, make sure you choose a school that is accredited and that offers an extensive training program with applicable work experience, for the best career options. Some schools also allow you take courses online or with a more flexible schedule. You may even be able to complete your degree in as little as two years, depending on school level.
This is a program that will prepare you to deal with seniors, relatives, and those close to you. Lastly, it is a program that will help you work with your own aging—something that a normal life rarely prepares you for, but that a comprehensive training program will show you in full. You will not only be an educator, but a mentor in life for others, and that is an invaluable skill and an honor!