Online Gerontology Master's Degree and Graduate Certificate

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2021-2022: $590
2022-2023: $600

Average time to complete:
Master's degree: 30 months
Graduate certificate: 19 months

36 Hours

15 Hours

Leadership in an Aging World:
Creating Futures through Innovation, Integration, and Impact

What is gerontology?

Gerontology is a multidisciplinary field made up of social scientists, biologists, healthcare professionals, economists, and others who focus on aging. Students in gerontology are typically those pursuing skills and credentials to advance in their careers and businesses, although some students pursue a more academic approach to this exciting field of study. Gerontology includes:

  • The study of physical, mental, and social changes in people as they age.
  • The investigation of the changes in society resulting from our aging population.
  • The application of this knowledge to policies and programs.

Our society is aging rapidly. This demographic trend contributes to the importance of our work as gerontologists, as well as opportunities for students with graduate degrees in gerontology.

What can I do with a degree in gerontology?

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. Some professionals find that their advanced understanding of aging allows them to tap into broader market segments with more success and provide better services to an older clientele. 

"I am not exaggerating when I say that while my undergraduate degree in recreation therapy gave me a solid yet narrow base in the field of aging, my graduate degree in gerontology allowed me to truly start a productive and engaging career."

Jenna Kilawee, Manager of the Terrace, Episcopal Homes, St. Paul, MN
Alumni, Kansas State University


An advanced degree in the field of gerontology can benefit newcomers as well as advanced professionals in a wide variety of programs and services:

  • Social work
  • Human Services
  • Business and marketing
  • Nursing
  • Counseling
  • Recreation
  • Public policy
  • Long-term care administration
  • Medicine
  • Architecture
  • Interior design
  • Product design
  • Business
  • Hospitality
  • Psychology
  • Adult education
  • Rehabilitation therapy

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

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

Will the skills I learn help me advance in my career?

The Great Plains IDEA Gerontology program is 100% online and endeavors to graduate leaders in gerontology. In fact, our mission statement is “Leadership in an Aging World: Creating Futures Through Innovation, Integration, and Impact.” Our degree will give you a broad range of skills essential for leadership in gerontology.  No matter what field you are currently in, our curriculum will teach you to:

  • Identify the needs associated with aging through all levels from the micro (individual) to the macro (society).
  • Advocate for elders by working globally at the policy level or working one-on-one with older adults.
  • Demonstrate how to relate course materials to real-world experiences.
  • Navigate the complicated world of money management, retirement options, the cost of health care, and more.
  • Understand design principles that allow older adults to continue living in their own homes.
  • Identify and utilize health systems to afford elders the highest level of quality of life.
  • Motivate older adults to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellness.

Explore the interactive Course Planner to learn more about our courses.

Am I right for this program?

This program is perfect for those who:

  • Enjoy working with and for older adults.
  • Recognize the needs of a population that is more heavily balanced toward the aging side.
  • Are currently working in an aging service field but would like to enhance skills, knowledge, and credentials.
  • Are passionate about improving the quality of life for people as they age.

How do I choose a home university?

Through Great Plains IDEA, seven universities work together to offer a master's degree and a graduate certificate in the field of gerontology.  The university you choose to be your home university is where you will enroll, pay tuition, and receive your diploma.  Each university has slightly different requirements. 

As you consider which university to call home, consult each university about these potential differences:

  • The number of required courses varies by institution, which may result in fewer electives.
  • Degree and certificate titles vary by university.  
  • Admissions timelines and requirements may vary.

Great Plains IDEA Student Handbook

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. Katie Mott
Melissa Selders-Ortez
Karla Sisco
Ashlee Murden
Vicky Watkins
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.

Jenna Kilawee smiling at the camera as a female resident in her assisted living facility sits next to her kissing her cheek.I needed something flexible that would allow me to "attend" classes in the middle of the night, on the weekends, while at home with my newborn son, or whenever I could spare a minute.  The Great Plains IDEA program allowed me to do just that.  I was able to continue my life while advancing my career.  Even before I graduated I had job offers lined up that I had only dreamed about before pursuing my master's degree in gerontology.

– – Jenna Kilawee, Gerontology Graduate,
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