How Long Does Gerontology School Take?

If you have a passion for caring for the elderly and advocating for their welfare, a career as a gerontologist would certainly be in your line of interest. In this profession, your daily tasks will include providing physical care and emotional support to seniors as well as enhancing their living conditions. But before you can be an aging professional, you will need to go to gerontology school. The education and training you get will help you understand the various aspects of aging and the laws, services and programs that are geared for this age group.

The length of time you will spend in gerontology school will depend on the program which you will enroll in. There are associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in gerontology offered in community colleges and universities across the United States. An associate’s degree typically takes a couple of years to finish while a bachelor’s degree takes four years to finish. A master’s degree takes two years to complete while a doctoral degree usually takes anywhere from three to six years to finish. A certificate program is also available in some schools which take only a year to complete. For example, Portland State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology, a program that requires the completion of 19 credits for graduation.

If you want to have control of your schedule while obtaining your gerontology degree, attending an online school is going to give you just that. Ashford University is one school that offers the Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology program online. This is 120-credit program is designed to be completed in 208 weeks or about four years. The University of Phoenix also offers the Bachelor of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Gerontology online in Arizona. The completion time for this program is 56 months.

If you have already obtained your bachelor’s degree in gerontology and want to proceed with your postgraduate studies, a master’s degree program on this field is fast-becoming popular. Brenau University, for example, offers the Master’s in Applied Gerontology program. Students enrolled in the program fulltime can complete it in one year while those who opt for part-time classes can get do so in two years. The Brenau University website revealed that students enrolled in this online program will need to devote anywhere from 10 to 14 hours a week to their studies.

A doctoral degree in gerontology is ideal for those who would like to teach in the university or do research. This usually involves coming up with an original dissertation before the degree is granted. The University of Southern California offers the Doctor of Philosophy in Gerontology program which has two tracks—the social, behavioral and policy track and biology of aging track. Students who enter the program without a prior master’s degree are expected to complete the program in four to five years. In the first couple of years, the student will take the required and elective courses. They will be busy in their third year which will have them taking electives, passing the qualifying exams and finishing their dissertation proposal. In their last two years, they are expected to finish their dissertation.

Career Spotlight: Gerontologist

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