According to a recent U.S. census, close to 15 percent of our total population is over the age of 65. That’s 47.8 million people! That number will continue to rise for the next forty years as the baby boomer generation gets older. Who will take care of them in their old age? Who will provide the administration and support for such a task? That’s where you come in.
A bachelor’s degree in gerontology will get you well on your way to helping out one of the most vulnerable – but also most vibrant – populations among us: the aging.
What kind of Bachelor’s in Gerontology degree should you get?
Aging studies, another name for gerontology, takes a look at all the aspects of getting older. This covers everything from sociological changes to psychological shifts; everything from figuring out finances to grappling with death and dying.
Since you’re looking for bachelor’s degrees in gerontology, many of the schools on this list are just the tip of the iceberg to get you going in this field. All of them cover the foundational topics in aging studies, but they all differ in focus and detail.
For example, some programs include concentration tracks in Long-Term Care Administration. If that’s an interest to you, check out University of South Florida, Bowling Green University, and Northern Iowa University.
Other programs emphasize internships as a way to smoothly transition you to the working world. If that sounds fun to you, then start with San Diego State University, Miami University Oxford, or Youngstown State University.
Maybe you’re looking for a flexible degree that you can get on your own time while also being a working professional. If that’s the case, online schools may be your best option. Check out our list of the Best Online Gerontology Degrees.
How much money do people make with a Bachelor’s in Gerontology?
Ultimately, earning a degree in Gerontology can send you in a lot of directions. To get an accurate read on what your salary might look like post-graduation, we really need to narrow our scope to a few likely options.
Most students who graduate with a Bachelor’s in Gerontology go on to become long-term care administrators, hospice nurses, health services managers, and health educators. Here’s a look into what you can expect for your average annual income:
It’s probably obvious from these figures that salaries can range widely in this field. That’s because of the wide variety of application.
More good news for you, jobs that are related to health care are not going anywhere, especially as baby boomers continue to get older. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most jobs in health care are expected to increase in demand by 16 to 20 percent in the next ten years!
What can you do with Bachelor’s in Gerontology degree?
The great thing about a job in this field is that you truly can jump in wherever you want! The thing about getting older is that it affects every part of your life – socially, physically, financially, spiritually. The list could go on!
Some of the most common entry-level positions for someone with a bachelor’s degree in gerontology include social and human services assistants, health educators, adult enrichment coaches, and more.
For people who want to take this career further, a master’s degree or doctorate in this field could land you in elder law, adult protective services, social work or counseling, and more.
A number programs offer specialized tracks that point you in a career direction. These include long-term care administration, pre-health, applied research, and others. When it comes down to it, you have options. The common denominator is that you’ll be working with a population of older and aging adults in one way or another.
What are the requirements for a Bachelor’s in Gerontology degree?
Surprisingly, aging studies is not a common field in higher education. In some cases, these programs are the only places in the state to find a Bachelor’s in Gerontology. This means that you’re truly selecting from the cream of the crop.
Since you’ll be earning a bachelor’s degree, you don’t have to jump through too many hoops to apply. All of the programs last four years and require 120 credit hours to complete. Once you’ve been accepted into a program, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take advantage of any and all opportunities that come your way. Join a club. Volunteer at a nursing home. Call your grandparents and ask them about their experience of getting older.
A number of these programs include capstone projects, which involve a research project, an internship, field experience, or a study abroad program. Say “yes” to them all! You’re about to gain access to some of the best educational opportunities out there.
What are the best Bachelor’s in Gerontology?
Below you’ll find the 15 Best Bachelor’s in Gerontology Degrees. How did we put together our list? First and foremost, we took into account the academic quality of each program. Then we looked at affordability and the return on investment. Finally, we factored in student happiness using retention rates and graduation rates.
Our methodology draws from our own data experts at College Choice, the reliable resources at U.S. News & World Report, and the number-crunching gurus at Payscale.com. A meaningful career in gerontology is just around the corner. Now it’s up to you to take the next step!
San Diego State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $14,344
The sunny San Diego State University lands the number one spot on our list. A public research university, it claims the highest enrollment among universities in the county with over 30,000 undergraduates in attendance. SDSU has a vibrant campus with options in athletics, Greek life, and more.
San Diego State University offers a robust and integrated BA in Gerontology. Beyond coursework, field experience and a study abroad requirement set this program apart. You’ll complete two internships in a local organization. To prepare you for this, you’ll take engaging coursework like:
- Diversity and Aging
- Images of Aging in Contemporary Society
- Social Policy and Aging
- Aging Networks
Numbers show that this program pays off. A recent survey revealed that 75 percent of graduates from this program found work in a gerontology-related position right after college. Even more, this degree program feeds into the local economy. Over 80 percent of graduates find work in San Diego.
College Choice Score: 99.28
Average Net Price: $35,049
Based near the Finger Lakes of New York, Ithaca College is a small liberal arts college that enrolls around 6,200 students per year. In U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings, it listed Ithaca College as the 8th best Regional Universities of the North.
Students will have the choice to enroll in the BS or BA in Gerontology at Ithaca College. Both are interdisciplinary degrees that draw from several other departments. This program makes sure students are prepared to pursue future graduate work in aging studies. You’ll take a variety of focused classes such as:
- Biology of Aging
- Aging and Social Policy
- Critical Health Issues
- Sociology of Aging
The Gerontology Institute at Ithaca College incorporates two concentrations within the major: counseling or health promotion. Within the 120 required credit hours, 21 of those hours will be devoted to a concentration. This gives you a great opportunity to hone in on your specific passion within gerontology.
University of Nebraska Omaha
College Choice Score: 98.35
Average Net Price: $11,223
A fast-growing public research institute, the University of Nebraska at Omaha operates out of two metropolitan-based campuses: Dodge Campus and Scott Campus. Although it is growing, UNO still maintains an impressive 17:1 student to faculty ratio. UNO has been ranked in the top 10 “Best for Vets” schools by Military Times for the last six years in a row.
This BS in Gerontology pulls together a curriculum from three core aspects of aging: physical, social, and psychological. Out of the 120 required credit hours, you’ll take 36 hours of the core gerontology classes. From there, you are required to add a minor, a second major, or a concentration area. The core gerontology classes include:
- Adult Development & Aging
- Death & Dying
- Programs and Services for the Elderly
- Working with Minority Elderly
The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers two tracks of concentration for undergraduates in Gerontology: Administration or Pre-Health. This gives you options when it comes time to choose a career. For example, you could be a Long Term Care Administrator or a Hospice Nurse.
Miami University - Oxford
College Choice Score: 97.06
Average Net Price: $20,186
Located in the tiny town of Oxford, Ohio, Miami University-Oxford has a history that reaches back over 200 years to its founding in 1809. It has maintained its reputation for providing quality liberal arts education over the decades. This year, it ranked 78th among other national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Miami University-Oxford emphasizes research in their BA in Gerontology. In fact, one of the three focus tracks is Applied Research in Gerontology. The other two are Aspiring Health Professions or Policies and Programs. Within your selection of core classes, you’ll take:
- Social Forces and Aging
- Big Ideas in Aging
- Social Policy and Programs in Gerontology
- Issues & Controversies in Aging
One highlight feature of this program is the internship requirement. Students select an area of aging studies that interests them – be it long-term care or hospice – and spend a semester in that role. A pre-internship class prepares you for a future career in gerontology by working on networking skills, resume building, and professional ethics.
California State University, Sacramento
College Choice Score: 96.58
Average Net Price: $9,127
California State University-Sacramento (or Sacramento State) proudly serves over 30,000 students in California’s state capital. Sacramento State does particularly well by transfer students, and welcomes over 4,000 community college transfers each year. Among public schools on the west coast, it ranks 20th.
The Department of Gerontology at Sacramento State hosts a strong degree program in aging studies. You’ll earn a BA in Gerontology and take 48 classes wholly devoted to the major. Between research courses, a practicum, and a wide-ranging list of electives, you’ll be in good hands here. A sampling of highlight coursework includes:
- Elder Care Continuum Services and Strategies
- Managing Disorders in Elders
- Psychological Aspects of Death & Dying
- Family Finance
Sacramento State does a fantastic job of incorporating engaging electives into their curriculum. They take particular care in addressing multicultural issues with classes like Cross-Cultural Aging in America or Family Stress & Coping: Multicultural Focus.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 91.61
Average Net Price: $11,398
Tampa is home to the University of South Florida. It is a public research university that maintains three campuses: USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Its immense student population (around 41,000 students) matches its academic reach. It offers over 80 undergraduate majors.
The University of South Florida has been offering degrees in Gerontology since 1967, giving it a huge lead in its curriculum and offerings. You can choose from a BS in Aging Sciences or a BS in Long-Term Care Administration. Among the 36-39 major-related credit hours in each degree, you’ll take classes like:
- Program Evaluation in an Aging Society
- Physical Changes and Aging
- Legal Aspects in Health Care Administration
- Psychology of Aging
Both of these degrees culminate in a capstone project. This could be one of three things: an internship, a directed research project with a faculty member, or a senior seminar. This gives you a chance to specialize your study to focus in on mental health, business, assisted living, or Alzheimer’s disease care – just to name a few!
College Choice Score: 88.63
Average Net Price: $15,498
SUNY Oneonta is part of the larger State University of New York system. Enrolling around 8,000 students, it fosters a small but active campus life, with a number of honor societies, Greek organizations, and research opportunities. For the last ten years it has made it into Kiplinger’s “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” list.
The BS in Gerontology Studies at SUNY Oneonta brings together classes in sociology, anthropology, psychology, and human ecology, making this a truly interdisciplinary degree. Since it is housed within the Department of Sociology, this bachelor’s degree includes classes like:
- Sociology of Health and Illness
- Comparing Aging: A Global Perspective
- Sociology of Death and Dying
- Adulthood in Families
We’re not the only ones taking note of SUNY Oneonta’s Gerontology program. In fact, last year it was ranked #3 for Best Gerontology Colleges in New York by University.com. Part of its charm is that students receive one-on-one attention from faculty based on the small size of the department.
University of Northern Iowa
College Choice Score: 88.17
Average Net Price: $14,831
State pride is evident at the University of Northern Iowa, where over 90 percent of the student body is from Iowa. Based in Cedar Falls, this school enrolls around 11,900 students. Class sizes stay reasonable with over 90 percent of classrooms under fifty students.
UNI is unique in offering the only Gerontology degree in the state of Iowa. You can choose between two concentrations: social sciences and long-term care administration. In both cases, you’ll end up with a BA in Gerontology. A sampling of the gerontology core classes includes:
- Human Biological Variation
- Perspectives on Death & Dying
- Social Services for Older Adults
- Families and End of Life Issues
The statistics for undergraduates in this program are impressive, to say the least. Over 95 percent of students studying long-term care administration passed their boards on the first try! Even more, 96 percent of last year’s graduates found work within the year.
Missouri State University
College Choice Score: 85.98
Average Net Price: $14,862
Missouri State University-Springfield is a public institution that was founded in 1905. Among regional public universities in the Midwest, MSU ranks at the 31st. Although its main campus is in Springfield, MSU also has satellite campuses throughout the state, as well as in Dalian, China!
The BS in Gerontology at Missouri State University-Springfield is one-of-a-kind. It was the first to receive the Program of Merit designation in 1999 by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. As such, you’ll be taking top of the line coursework in a range of areas, including:
- Aging and Adjustment
- Identity and Aging in Literature and Film
- Psychophysiology of Aging
- Gender Issues in Later Life
One huge perk of the program at Missouri State University-Springfield is the option to earn a double major. Since the gerontology program is housed within the Department of Psychology, students can earn a double major in gerontology and psychology without taking any extra classes.
Winston-Salem State University
College Choice Score: 85.89
Average Net Price: $10,340
Winston-Salem State University is a historically black public research university that found its start in 1892. It shines when it comes to giving financial opportunities in higher education. In fact, WSSU was recently ranked #7 in the nation for its Social Mobility Index.
Winston-Salem State University also is a designated Program of Merit for its gerontology curriculum. With a required 61 credit hours in the major, this BA in Gerontology designates over half of the curriculum to focused study. You’ll take 15 credits of pre-requisites and then jump right in with classes like:
- General Gerontology: The Ups and Downs of Aging
- Aspects of Aging in Diverse Groups
- Public Policy of Aging
- Health-Related Functional Aspects of Gerontology
Winston-Salem State University stands out among other historically black colleges and universities for more than just its gerontology program. This year, U.S. News & World Report listed it as the 27th best HBCU in the nation.
CUNY York College
College Choice Score: 85.38
Average Net Price: $7,528
CUNY York College is the most affordable school on our list, with a net cost of just $7,528 per year. It was formed in 1966 as the first senior college in the CUNY system. Based in Queens, New York City, this school is a strong proponent of liberal arts education.
This program is unique in dividing up the curriculum into three categories: major requirements, skills requirements, and field work. Rather than limiting you to just the classroom, this BS in Gerontological Studies and Services gives you both theory and hands-on application. Some classes that you can look forward to include:
- Wellness and the Elderly
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
- Physical Activity for Special Populations
- Human Aging Cross-Culturally
Affordability isn’t the only thing that CUNY York College has going for it. This year, U.S. News & World Report recognized it for its excellence in the region. It was listed at #33 among other regional colleges in the north.
Bowling Green State University
College Choice Score: 85.35
Average Net Price: $17,313
Bowling Green State University is a public research university that offers over 200 undergraduate programs. BGSU boasts an impressive 18:1 student to faculty ratio and maintains an active student life program, with on-campus housing, student-run clubs, and more.
At Bowling Green State University, you can pursue either general gerontology or a long-term care administration track within gerontology. Aside from the coursework, this program features a lengthy practicum and internship requirement that gets you involved in hands-on learning. The long-term care practicum requires 1,000 hours of experience. Other classes include:
- Aging, the Individual, and Society
- Health and Aging
- Applied Social Gerontology
- Psychology of Adult Development and Aging
The College of Health & Human Services at Bowling Green State University gives students numerous opportunities to go a step further in their education. For example, you can connect with the Gerontology Student Association, where you’ll volunteer at a senior center, participate in an Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, and network with the community.
Youngstown State University
College Choice Score: 84.28
Average Net Price: $11,271
Youngstown State University locates itself as “halfway between ‘Believeland’ and ‘The Burgh,’” meaning halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. This mid-sized research university has an average class size of 21 students. Most of its student body is from Ohio, and it offers some of the lowest tuition rates among other public universities in the state.
Requiring a total of 120 credit hours, the Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology at Youngstown State University gives students the chance to try out classes from numerous departments. Combining sociology, health care, economics, research, and more, this curriculum is as diverse as it is specific. You’ll take classes like:
- Exercise and Aging for Health Professions
- Economics of Aging
- Social Services and the Aged
- Later Life Issues
This degree is housed within the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gerontology. This alone reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the program. The degree is very much community-based, and students enjoy gerontology internships with over 30 local organizations.
Weber State University
College Choice Score: 83.31
Average Net Price: $9,321
Ogden, Utah is home to Weber State University, a public institution that enrolls around 26,500 students each year. Among other things, Webster State University is known for its return on investment. This year, it was listed as a Best Value College in Utah for its high average starting salaries and low tuition rates.
Weber State University is slightly different in its offerings. The Department of Social Work & Gerontology delivers a social work degree with a gerontology minor. In a total of 17 credit hours, you’ll take seven courses that will enhance your understanding of working with aging populations. Some of these classes include:
- Ethnicity and Older Women in the American Society
- Social Welfare & Gerontological Policy Development and Service
- Aging: Adaptation and Behavior
- Retirement: Adjustment and Planning
Weber State University is another one on our list with an amazingly affordable program – $9,321 per year. On top of that, the school offers students over $90 million in financial aid and scholarships each year. If your educational budget is on your mind, this school might be one to consider.
Minnesota State University Moorehead
College Choice Score: 83.22
Average Net Price: $15,294
Minnesota State University Moorhead is situated on the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. This small, public university enrolls around 6,000 students annually. Despite its size, MSUM has an impressive study abroad program, offering trips to China, Australia, England, and beyond.
The BA in Gerontology at Minnesota State University Moorhead consists of 42 credit hours in major-related classes. This curriculum integrates everything from social work to biology when it comes to aging studies. You’ll pick from a wide selection of electives as well as a solid list of core classes like:
- Elder Law
- Social Gerontology
- Gerontology: Policy and Practice
- Adulthood and Aging
Although this program does not feature a practicum or internship, it does include a unique course at the end of the program called Gerontology: Policy and Practice. Students will spend half of the time in a writing-intensive seminar, and the other half working in an elderly care facility.