Online Gerontology Master's Degree & Graduate Certificate

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2023-2024: $600
2024-2025: $610
Learn more about Tuition and Cost

Average time to complete:
Master's degree: 23 months
Graduate certificate: 15 months

36 Hours

15 Hours

The online master’s degree and graduate certificate in Gerontology & Aging Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides advanced knowledge to professionals working in the field of aging and benefits individuals and companies that do business or are influenced by this growing population.

Taken entirely online, you can balance family and work while pursuing your career goals and earning your master’s degree or graduate certificate.

Why study Gerontology & Aging Studies through Great Plains IDEA?

People are leading longer, healthier lives. By 2034, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber the population under the age of 18 for the first time in American history (see the U.S. Census Bureau projection).  With this demographic shift comes an increase in demand for skilled professionals who are committed to creating age-friendly services and advocating for active aging in this growing population.  

This degree provides a broad range of skills essential for leadership in the field of aging while offering practical learning opportunities, so you are well-equipped to meet the needs of this changing demographic. Our online curriculum prepares you to be a practitioner in integrative aging studies and an advocate for older adults whether you work in a long-term care facility, design spaces to help adults age in place, or own your own business and seek specialized knowledge and skills to engage with this older population.

Reuel Drilon is a gerontology master's degree student."As a non-traditional college student in my early 50s, living and working in the Pacific Island of Guam, choosing the right program for graduate studies was very important to me. The process of selecting the right program was intentional – it had to offer a diverse student population, professors with real-life experiences, a safe space to share cultural perspectives, and a curriculum that offered classes that were aligned with students’ educational and professional goals. The Great Plains IDEA program met and exceeded all my expectations."
Reuel C. Drilon, gerontology master's student and recipient of the 2023 Student Excellence Award

Through this online Gerontology & Aging Studies Graduate Program you will learn to:

  • Identify strengths and challenges within the aging process and understand how those affect individuals and society.
  • Apply aging theory and evidence-based research to create innovative and strengths-based approaches to policy and programs.
  • Advocate for older adults using person-centered approaches to solve problems, promote quality of life, and foster successful aging.
  • Promote age inclusivity, access, and equity through societal policymaking, community-level program development, and one-on-one interactions.
  • Apply course materials to real-world contexts through hands-on and experiential learning.

Hear from Alex Bishop, associate professor at Oklahoma State University, about the importance of our Gerontology program and the need for qualified professionals to meet growing demand.

Designed for working professionals and those with busy schedules, the Gerontology & Aging Studies master’s degree and graduate certificate are offered entirely online, providing flexibility and convenience, as well as affordability through a common price per credit hour through all universities.

It is an ideal program if you enjoy working with and for older adults and are passionate about improving the quality of life for people as they age.

Gerontology & Aging Studies Program Formats

Great Plains IDEA offers both an online master’s degree and a graduate certificate program in Gerontology and Aging Studies, allowing you to select the best-fit academic path to meet your goals and advance your career in this high-demand field. The curriculum is aligned with the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education’s Competencies for Graduate Education.

This program is offered through a collaboration between five reputable universities. You will choose one institution as your home university. Your home university is where you pay tuition, manage your program, receive academic advising, and meet graduation requirements. While you will take courses online at each of the participating universities, your home university will award the diploma at the completion of the program.

There is no GRE requirement for application to this program.

Degree and certificate titles vary by member university. Review the official degree names for each member institution in our Gerontology Student Handbook.

Gerontology Student Handbook

Master's Degree in Gerontology & Aging Studies

The online master’s degree in Gerontology & Aging Studies consists of a 36-credit-hour curriculum that takes about three years to complete when taking one to two courses per semester.

 The 9 core courses (24 credit hours) include:

  • Adult Development
  • Aging in the Family Setting
  • Economics, Public Policy, and Aging
  • Environments and Aging
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging
  • Perspectives in Gerontology
  • Professional Seminar in Gerontology
  • Program Evaluation and Research Methods
  • A special topics course is provided every semester and gives faculty the flexibility to offer modern, relevant courses on pressing trends in aging.

Review the Master's Degree Curriculum

Students in the online master’s degree will also complete 12 credits of elective coursework, allowing them to specialize in areas of interest. Students work closely with their academic advisor to develop the appropriate course selection and sequence.

"One of my greatest takeaways from my education is understanding the process of human development and aging. This knowledge has impacted how I engage with others both personally and professionally and helped me develop compassion for other people's circumstances; an important quality when working in a human services field."

Andrea Lang, Special Projects/Program Coordinator, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota
Alumni, North Dakota State University

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology & Aging Studies

The 15-credit online Gerontology & Aging Studies graduate certificate is a valuable tool for career advancement whether used for continuing education credits or to supplement a master’s degree in another field. Credits from this graduate certificate are designed to transfer fully into the online Gerontology & Aging Studies master’s degree.

The graduate certificate is offered by Iowa State University, North Dakota State University, and Texas Tech University. The certificate includes two core courses and a choice of three electives. Courses include critical topics in gerontology and aging studies, such as a lifespan development framework, current social and political issues, adapting physical environments to support older people, and the application of physical activity and nutrition to community settings.

Review the Gerontology Graduate Certificate Curriculum

Program Information at Participating Universities

The following member universities offer a master’s degree in Gerontology & Aging Studies and hold regional accreditation:

All Great Plains IDEA member universities are accredited by regional agencies, aligning with requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. This ensures that students pursuing their degrees through Great Plains IDEA are met with a high standard of academic excellence, which is essential in sitting for certification exams and pursuing future employment. Learn more about the accreditation of our member universities.

Career Opportunities in Gerontology & Aging Studies

An advanced degree in the field of gerontology and aging studies can benefit a diverse range of professionals. Whether you work with older persons through programs and services in your community, advocate for age-friendly policies and practices, or seek a better understanding of the needs of this growing population to help grow your business, our master’s degree and graduate certificate ensure you’ll find success in this high-demand field.

Some gerontologists work directly with older persons in a wide variety of programs and services in the community. Others work on behalf of older persons in areas such as advocacy and teaching about aging.

Direct Care

  • Retirement communities and senior activity centers
  • Rehabilitation and recreational therapy
  • Health promotion and nutrition sites
  • Retirement and financial advising

Business and Industry

  • Researcher or consultant on aging issues within firms and companies
  • Hospitality and Marketing
  • Architecture and interior design

Research and Teaching

  • Adult education
  • Training programs
  • Think tanks that specialize in long-term care


  • Clinical and social services
  • Program planning and administration

Government Agencies

  • Analyst or administrator for federal agencies
  • Departments of aging at state and local levels
  • Aging policy development

Listen to Sonya Carney, a graduate of the Gerontology program, explain how interacting with students from other areas in the field of aging studies has been a significant benefit to her learning.

For more information on career opportunities and options in the field of gerontology, visit Careers in Aging.

Collaborate with Expert Faculty

Coming from different home universities, Great Pains IDEA’s Gerontology faculty blend perspectives and expertise with one another to create a uniquely engaging online academic experience that you won’t find at just one institution. Faculty are nationally and internationally recognized experts in areas such as human longevity, aging in place, marital and family relations, long-term care, and cognitive and nutritional health.

Learn more about the faculty teaching in this program at the bottom of this page.

Join this high-demand field with a degree in Gerontology & Aging Studies

Great Plains IDEA’s online Gerontology & Aging Studies Graduate Program provides flexibility and convenience so you can create an educational path that supports your career goals while balancing school with work and family.

Ready to share your passion for working with older adults? Apply now!

A master's degree in the field of gerontology will equip you with skills to improve the lives of older adults and their families.

Course List for Master's Degree

A graduate certificate is perfect for continuing education credits or to advance in your career.

Course List for Graduate Certificate

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Iowa State Online
Stacy Duffield
Rae Ann Montgomery
Ashlee Murden
Cathy Hamilton
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Macy Burgess is a graduate of the family and community services degree.I made the decision to switch specializations in my master’s program mid-way through my degree. This change took me from the traditional on-campus experience to the Great Plains IDEA online experience. The switch seemed intimidating to me but it ended up being an incredible experience that I would not have gotten if I'd taken all classes at one university. Getting to dive into courses offered at schools all over the country was beneficial as it opened pathways for communication and sharing of knowledge with students and faculty I would not normally have interacted with. 

– – Macy Burgess, Family and Community Services Graduate Student,
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