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Overview of Master’s Degree Programs in Geriatric Health

Majors Overview November 9, 2017

This article talks about master’s degree programs in geriatric health and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification options.

Master’s Programs in Geriatric Health

Some schools offer master’s degree and/or certificate programs in geriatric health. However, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis in geriatrics or another nurse practitioner program is better suited for imparting training in the specialty. Participants in these programs are allowed to delve into methods of avoiding and minimizing illness and pain, along with ways of supporting the general well-being of older individuals. Some schools offer additional specialization, such as in geriatric women’s health.

Schools usually aim programs at registered nurses (RNs) with professional experience.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) including coursework in areas such as research methods or statistics. A specified amount of professional clinical experience and a current registered nurse (RN) license may also have to be held by applicants for admission.


Coursework includes classroom lectures on advanced theoretical nursing concepts and research. Students in some programs are allowed to tailor their program focus on specialty areas, such as pulmonary or cardiovascular care, leading to the application of the knowledge in various clinical settings. These settings include long-term care facilities, hospitals, and specialty clinics, where they perform on the supervisory watch of experienced professionals. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Physiologic aging
•Illness management
•Health assessment
•Disease prevention
•Nursing research methods
•Women’s health
•Advanced Pathophysiology
•Human development

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2016 – 2026 decade, RNs are expected to see a job growth of 15% (BLS). The projected growth is due to declining mortality rates and the greater need for healthcare among aging populations, including more out-patient care. This situation creates a greater demand for nurses in residential care facilities, home health care, and nursing homes.

Advanced nurse practitioners can expect a high demand, especially in areas that lack sufficient healthcare, including rural and urban areas. Individuals who cannot afford medical services may rely on the provision of primary healthcare on nurse practitioners.

In May 2016, RNs brought in an average annual wage of $68,450. Those in the 75th and 90th percentiles brought in respective average annual wages of $78,700 and $94,720. A median annual income of $73,610 is available for RNs working in specialty industries, other than psychiatric and substance abuse (BLS). In May 2016, nurse practitioners banked an average annual wage of $107,460.

Continuing Education and Certification Options

Nurse practitioners provide primary and specialty care and can administer medications; however, their ability to do so is regulated by the state. While an RN license is already held by nurse practitioners when they enroll in the master’s program, additional voluntary certifications can be acquired by them to validate their experience and expertise. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a credentialing agency that awards the Adult Nurse Practitioner certification. Eligibility for this certification includes having an approved graduate degree, valid RN license, and 500 hours of supervised clinical experience. Geriatric nurse practitioners can also seek certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. They must meet the same eligibility requirements as set by the ANCC.

Individuals can pursue continuing education by enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) with a focus on geriatric nursing. Schools also offer Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Geriatric Nursing that could lead to careers in academia or research.

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