You can enroll in a graduate program to earn a gerontology certificate and develop your ability to work well with older adults. This quick program provides relevant skills and knowledge for anyone in aging services and senior care.
Not only can earning a gerontology certificate equip you with invaluable expertise, but it will also give you a strong credential to list on your resume.
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Through coursework, research, and practicums, you could prepare to take your senior-services career to the next level.
Online Gerontology Certificate Programs
Do you currently work with older adults in your job? Are you hoping to move into a position in which you’ll care for or provide services to seniors? If so, increasing your education about aging services could be an advantageous move.
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Perhaps a master’s degree is more than you’d like to take on right now. Many professionals prefer the shorter commitment of a program that focuses only on the most pressing topics in senior care. That’s what a certificate program is for. A graduate certificate in gerontology is for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree and want to get a quick education in advanced topics related to aging services.
Completing a graduate certificate may require taking only 3 to 6 courses. In those classes, you might study:
- Business principles
- Health education
- Law and public policy
- Research in the social sciences
- Social services
You may be able to pick some of your own classes so that you can study topics that apply to your career. Also, the curriculum for some certificate programs includes practicums or research projects. Accredited certificate courses may be transferrable. That could put you on track to quickly completing a masters degree in gerontology at some point in the future.
Whether or not a master’s degree is in your plans, this certificate program can be beneficial. Some professionals put their lessons into practice in roles as program managers, project coordinators, or agency directors. Jobs might be available in human service organizations, elder-care facilities, health departments, community centers, or rehabilitation agencies.
Gerontology Careers and Salaries
Professionals in many different jobs work with older adults, and certificate in gerontology programs could be beneficial for many of those roles. Community service organizations may benefit from having employees who are well-versed in senior care. That could include human service agencies, nonprofit groups, and social service departments that cater to older adults.
Entry-level roles in those areas could include being a human services specialist or a social worker. With a graduate certificate, experienced professionals might be able to work as program coordinators, project managers, or directors in organizations that provide counseling, recreation, housing, or other services.
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Health and medical organizations can also provide for seniors’ needs. Depending on your previous training, you might qualify to offer health education or rehabilitation counseling. Other potential jobs might include running a nursing home or a community clinic.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some potential career paths that could benefit from the study of gerontology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$101,340|
|Project Management Specialists||$94,500|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Health Education Specialists||$60,600|
|Social Science Research Assistants||$49,720|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$37,610|
You won’t be limited only to these careers with a gerontology certificate. The courses could apply to any career that deals with the needs and interests of older adults. Not everyone who gets a certificate in gerontology, though, plans to work directly with seniors.
If you have a background in business, you might want to study gerontology so that you can better target products or services to an older crowd. Marketing, advertising, or sales jobs might be relevant to your experience and interests. Research might be another area to consider. Social scientists usually need a graduate degree, but a gerontology certificate could enhance the work of social science research assistants.
Gerontology Graduate Certificate Curriculum & Courses
In an online certificate program for gerontology studies, you might take 3 to 6 classes. Some schools have all students take the same core classes, while others allow for customization.
The course offerings might include:
- Changes in Aging: This course will address the ways that the aging process affects the body and the mind.
- Communication in Gerontology: As you learn to communicate effectively with seniors and their families, you might focus on health education.
- Coordinated Care: This class will address how various professionals can work together to provide comprehensive care for seniors.
- Culture and Aging: You’ll examine cultural attitudes toward older adults and take a look at emerging trends in elder care.
- Ethical Gerontology Leadership: You’ll consider a variety of ethical issues that may arise in your work, including how to best allocate your organization’s limited resources.
- Financial Management in Senior Care: In addition to addressing budgeting and accounting, this class will also discuss public programs that cover some senior-care costs.
- Gerontology Sales and Marketing: You might study strategies for connecting seniors to products and services—both to benefit your customers and profit your organization.
- Long-Term Care: A course focused on managing long-term care facilities may help you meet your state’s licensure requirement for nursing home administrators.
- Senior Public Policy: This class may cover current federal regulations regarding older adults and help you understand how to advocate for policy changes.
- Psychology of Older Adulthood: As you examine current research in this field, you’ll learn about the normal brain changes that accompany aging and consider the psychological effects of dementia.
In addition to classroom courses, some certificate programs also require a practicum component. You might be able to do your practicum in person or online. Other schools may require a research project instead of a practicum.
Applying to certificate programs is similar to applying to master’s degree programs. Here are some common admissions requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree—plus official transcripts from all colleges attended
- Online application form and fee
- Recommendations from professional references
- Score from the GRE or another entrance exam (not needed at all colleges)
- Writing sample that outlines your interest in the gerontology program
Some programs require applicants to have earned a minimum GPA, such as 2.75 or 3.0, during their undergraduate studies to be considered for admission.
Even though a gerontology certificate isn’t a full degree, accreditation is still important. For the best results, you might consider selecting a school that holds regional accreditation. While some certificate programs may qualify for federal financial aid, federal funding is only for accredited schools.
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Transferability is another benefit of taking accredited classes. Your regionally accredited certificate courses may count toward a relevant masters program at the same school or another college. Finally, accredited studies may also enhance your resume and help you qualify for licensure exams.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Because certificate programs include fewer classes than full degree programs, they are usually a more affordable way to further your education. Even still, you might require financial assistance.
You may be able to apply for state or federal financial aid, but it will probably depend on how comprehensive your program is. With short programs, you might not be enrolled for enough credit hours to qualify. To learn more about your grant or loan options, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and talk to your college’s financial aid department.
Whether or not you qualify for government aid, you might be able to get scholarships. The funding could come directly from your school or through an outside organization. Most scholarships require an application process for the opportunity to be selected. Your gerontology education might benefit your workplace, so you could also ask whether your employer will contribute to your costs.
What Is a Gerontology Certificate Program?
A gerontology certificate program is a relatively short graduate-level college program that provides a focused look at key issues related to aging and senior care. You might learn about social services, psychology, public policy, and the business of aging services. Some programs include practicums or research projects.
As a certificate program, this course of study doesn’t lead to a degree. Rather, you would graduate with an academic certificate that you can put on your resume and share with prospective employers. You may also be able to transfer your certificate classes into a related master’s degree program down the road.
What Can You Do with a Gerontology Certificate?
A gerontology certificate program could be useful for working in social services, residential care, health education, business, or public policy.
Having graduate courses on your resume could help you qualify for leadership roles. Management jobs could be available in health agencies, community organizations, or nursing homes. Some professionals lead programs, oversee projects, or run whole organizations.
Other potential roles related to this field of study include social worker, rehabilitation counselor, and marketing specialist. While those jobs often require specialized training, a gerontology certificate could serve as a valuable complement to your previous studies.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Gerontology Certificate?
The length of your certificate program will depend on how many courses are required by your school. Most programs range from 9 to 18 credits. The shortest programs can usually be completed in well under 1 year. For example, some last for 9 months. The longer programs may take somewhere between 1 to 2 years.
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The format is another factor that influences program length. Schools with 8 week terms usually move students through more quickly than schools using traditional semester calendars. Online colleges are more likely than on-campus ones to use this accelerated approach to education.
What’s the Difference Between a Gerontology Certification vs. Certificate?
While “certificate” and “certification” sound similar, they mean two different things in the world of education and employment. Here’s how a geriatric certification differs from a certificate.
|Gerontology Certification||Gerontology Certificate|
Certificates and certifications aren’t mutually exclusive. After earning your certificate, you might want to look into gerontology certification online to further enhance your resume.
What’s the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology vs. Masters Program?
If you want to study gerontology at the graduate level, you can choose to pursue a certificate or a degree. May want to compare your options before deciding which is best for you.
|Graduate Certificate in Gerontology||Masters in Gerontology|
For either program, you’re required to hold a bachelor’s degree before you can be admitted.
Is a Certificate in Gerontology Worth It?
Yes, a certificate in gerontology is worth it for many students. The US population is aging quickly, and providing high-quality care and services for senior citizens requires a special set of skills and knowledge. You can quickly advance your understanding of aging and senior care through a gerontology certificate program.
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Graduate classes may help you qualify for managerial roles in growing sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that positions for social and community service managers will likely increase by 12% over the next decade. A 28% job growth rate is expected for medical and health services managers.
Universities Offering Online Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Indiana University—Bloomington offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology and Health designed for busy adult professionals, such as those who work in public health. To earn the certificate, students must complete Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Gerontology, two electives, and a 3 credit practicum. All courses can be completed online.
Indiana University – Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Iowa State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. To earn the certificate, students must complete 15 credits, all of which are designed to be applied toward a master’s in family and consumer sciences with a specialization in gerontology. The program requires the completion of three electives and two required courses: Perspectives in Gerontology and Adult Development.
Iowa State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
To earn the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology at Portland State University, students must complete 17 to 19 credits. The program can be started any term and can be earned mostly, and perhaps entirely, online. In addition to completing coursework, students in the program also participate in an 8 hour internship to gain real-world experience.
Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Georgia offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. The certificate can potentially be earned in just 2 semesters in a fully online, asynchronous format suited to working professionals. To earn the certificate, students must complete 1 required course, Foundations of Aging, and then 3 electives.
The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maine offers an online program for an Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. The program requires 3 courses: Opportunities and Challenges of Aging, Life Transitions and Health in Aging, and Interprofessional Care of Older Adults in Diverse Settings. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
The University of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Boston offers an online program for a Gerontology Graduate Certificate. Students can begin the program in the fall or spring and can potentially finish in 9 months. UMB’s online classes include live sessions but are scheduled with working professionals in mind. All classes are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus.
The University of Massachusetts – Boston is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
The University of North Georgia’s Gerontology Graduate Certificate program requires the completion of 18 credit hours of coursework and can typically be finished in 2 to 3 semesters. Classes are fully online and asynchronous. The program also includes practicum and research opportunities. Students may apply to begin in the fall, spring, or summer.
UNG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Pittsburgh offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Courses are available in both online and traditional formats, and all credits are designed to be applied to a graduate degree. The program requires the completion of 15 to 16 credit hours of coursework, which can potentially be done in just 9 months.
The University of Pittsburgh is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Southern California offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. The program is available online and on campus and requires the completion of 16 units of coursework. Full-time students can potentially finish in less than a year, and part-time students usually take 1 to 1.5 years to complete the program.
USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of Wisconsin—Whitewater offers an online program for a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. There are flexible scheduling options, and it can be attended full-time or part-time. To earn the certificate, students must complete two required courses, Introduction to Social Gerontology and Aging Policy, and then two electives for a total of 12 credit hours.
UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Gerontology Certificate Online
A graduate certificate in gerontology could be a quick, strategic way to enhance your resume and prepare for leadership roles in senior care and services. Through focused classes, you will study the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects of aging.
Not only can you learn how to care for older adults’ needs, but you’ll also explore what’s involved in advocating for senior-friendly policies and conducting social science research. You can do all this through gerontology certificate programs online. At accredited colleges, you can take part in informative classes, expand your network, and prepare for the next step in your career.
Why not start checking out available gerontology certificate programs today?