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Best Gerontology Graduate Certificate Online Programs

Explore the top 25 schools that offer online gerontology graduate certificate programs. Learn what classes are included, how long these programs take, and some of the many careers that a gerontology certificate can be useful in.

Top Schools for Online Gerontology Graduate Certificates

In order to find the best schools for an online gerontology graduate certificate program, you should consider things like cost, flexibility, program length and admissions requirements. The top schools with online gerontology graduate certificate programs are listed below.

1. University of Utah

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Salt Lake City, UT $8,151

The University of Utah offers an online graduate certificate in gerontology program that consists of 15 credit hours and takes around 3 semesters (full-time) to complete. The program is open to students who have completed a bachelor's degree, regardless of their career background. Students take courses in optimal aging, research in aging, programs for the aging and can choose to participate in a practicum for 3 of the required credit hours. The school's large nursing department has just over 100 faculty members, 37 of whom have a doctoral degree in their field.

2. Kansas State University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Manhattan, KS $11,069

Kansas State University has an online graduate certificate in gerontology program that is offered through the Great Plains IDEA (Interactive Distance Education Alliance). That means that students can complete their 15 credits by taking online courses offered by all participating schools. This provides more course and scheduling options and also enables students to have an affordable tuition rate of $580 per credit hour. The Great Plains IDEA offers a variety of accredited and reputable member schools and has a 96% student satisfaction rate.

3. Indiana University-Bloomington

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Bloomington, IN $10,564

Indiana University at Bloomington has provided educational programs for two centuries and is the flagship school for the Indiana University system. The school's online graduate certificate in gerontology and health program consists of 12 credit hours, which includes a 3-hour practicum and 12 credits of coursework. Students will take courses such as adult development and perspectives in aging and can complete their practicum on campus or online. The program offers affordable tuition rates of $469 (in-state) and $568 (out-of-state).

4. University of Maine

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Orono, MA $9,106

The University of Maine is over 140 years old and offers affordable per-credit tuition rates to students, both in-state ($461) and out-of-state ($576). The school's online Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Gerontology program consists of 9 credit hours (3 classes) and covers challenges, transitions and care of aging populations. The program is open to students with a 2.75 undergraduate GPA (or higher) and does not require a graduate entrance exam for admission. 5 of the program's 13 faculty members have earned a terminal degree in their fields.

5. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Knoxville, TN $13,120

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville offers students flexible scheduling options with asynchronous and synchronous course components. The school offers a graduate gerontology certificate online through a social work approach; this certificate consists of 21 credit hours. During their programs, students will complete a minimum of 6 credit hours through a field placement practicum. The program includes coursework in social and cultural aging considerations, psychological development and evidence-based practice.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 George Mason University Fairfax, VA $15,138
7 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO $10,017
8 Regis University Denver, CO $13,177
9 University of Southern Indiana Evansville, IN $9,820
10 University of Toledo Toledo, OH $15,427
11 Washington State University Pullman, WA $12,802
12 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE $6,592
13 Madonna University Livonia, MI $15,030
14 Webster University Saint Louis, MO $13,500
15 Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN $9,662
16 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh, PA $23,696
17 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI $16,561
18 Misericordia University Dallas, PA $35,230
19 Pacific University Forest Grove, OR $31,515
20 University of Southern Maine Portland, ME $8,192
21 University of North Georgia Dahlonega, GA $5,926
22 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,620
23 University of Massachusetts-Boston Boston, MA $18,231
24 George Washington University Washington, DC $30,834
25 Brenau University Gainesville, GA $12,910

All table data is provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Tuition represents the 2018 to 2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Gerontology Graduate Certificate Programs

Online gerontology graduate certificate programs provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of topics relating to aging populations. Students develop an understanding of the developmental, social and psychological issues affecting older people. These programs provide a way for individuals from various fields and backgrounds to better understand and serve people of older ages. Some of the key characteristics of online gerontology graduate certificate programs are discussed below.

Program Length

The length of online gerontology certificate programs varies by school and depend on the number of credits required as well as how many courses students take each semester. Some online gerontology graduate certificate programs require 9 credit hours of coursework while other programs have 21 credits in the curriculum. Graduate students are considered full-time when taking 9 credits in one semester, so a full-time student could finish their certificate program in one to three semesters. Part-time students should consult with their academic advisor to find out what the time limits are on their programs.

Practical Requirements

Many online gerontology graduate certificate programs can be completed entirely online with no in-person components. However, some programs require students to complete a practicum experience or internship as part of the curriculum. These experiences vary by school, but can include working in community service or healthcare settings that deal specifically with older populations.

Common Courses

To give you an idea of the courses you might take in an online gerontology graduate certificate program, here are a few common ones.

  • Adult Development - Students learn about the developmental stages of adult people as well as typical problems that arise in the later years.
  • Issues in Health and Aging - Students learn about challenges faced by aging populations, such as elder abuse, family needs, community services and social implications.
  • Nutrition, Health and Aging - This course explores health and aging and includes topics such as nutritional needs, health promotion and health education for older people.
  • Aging Population Psychology - Students explore mental health, illness and issues for aging populations as well as topics such as intelligence, memory, emotions and cognition.
  • Research and Application in Gerontology - This course provides an overview of research methods and how to apply research findings in various settings to benefit aging populations.

How Much do Online Gerontology Certificates Cost?

Online gerontology certificate costs vary based on the number of credits included, cost per credit and other fees. Tuition is the primary expense associated with online graduate certificates in gerontology and can range from around $500 to more than $1,000. A certificate program with 9 credit hours could cost anywhere from $4,500 to more than $9,000, and a program with 21 credits could cost $10,500 to $21,000.

In addition to tuition, students will have other fees associated with their academic journey. These can include fees for course registration, books and course materials costs, distance learning fees and more. Because these fees vary so much by school, students should consult with their student accounts offices to get an estimate for the total cost of fees.

Financial Aid for Online Gerontology Graduate Certificates

Certificate programs are not eligible for the same types of financial aid as degree programs, but graduate gerontology graduate certificates may still be eligible for the aid discussed below. Students can find out more about what types of aid their program qualifies for by consulting with their school's financial aid office.

The first step in obtaining financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is free to use and allows students to send their results directly to the schools that they are interested in. They can then discuss school-specific financial aid with their school representatives as well as some other options (such as federal aid).

Student Loans

Student loans are a form of financial aid that generally needs to be paid back. Government loans are the most common and offer flexible repayment options, regulated interest rates and some loan forgiveness programs. Private loans are also available but should only be used as a last resort.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs allow students to earn money for their school and living expenses by working part-time while completing their programs. Work-study programs are backed by the government and offered by participating schools.


Scholarships are a type of financial aid that are awarded to students without any obligation or repayment expectation. Scholarships are offered by countless organizations. Students might even find scholarships through their employers or local organizations. Scholarships are available based on academic performance, associations (such as Greek organization membership), area of study and demographic. Many gerontology scholarships are offered by schools as well as gerontology organizations, both state and private. These include:

  • The Georgia Gerontology Society awards $3,000 to a student who is committed to working in a career that relates to aging.
  • The Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society offers several scholarships to students who are pursuing a program in gerontology.
  • The University of North Carolina-Charlotte offers multiple scholarships to its own gerontology students.
  • The University of Pittsburgh offers a $2,500 scholarship to its employees who enroll in the graduate gerontology certificate program.
  • The Northwest Ohio Gerontological Association - awards up to $2,000 to a student pursuing a career in gerontology.

How to Become a Gerontologist

Since gerontology integrates different disciplines and is focused on studying aging populations, a gerontologist can work in various settings. Gerontology includes studying mental, physical and social transitions of aging people, including how those changes affect society, and applying that knowledge of gerontology to improve programs, policies and services to aging people. Gerontologists can work in several fields, including healthcare, social services and more. One common path to becoming a gerontologist is broken down into the steps below.

1. Decide on Which Area You Want to Work In

First, you'll need to decide how you want to improve the lives and services of aging populations. Do you want to provide healthcare services as a nurse, social services as a social worker or another type of service?

Step 2. Get a Degree

Once you've decided what type of role you want, complete the educational requirements for that career. For specific requirements, see the career section below.

Step 3. Obtain a Certificate in Gerontology

Although you may be able to work directly with aging populations once you enter the workforce, a certificate in gerontology will improve your skillset as well as your employability.

Do I Need to Be Certified in Gerontology?

Most positions that work with the elderly do not require or have certification for gerontology. However, those working as registered nurses can obtain a certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center that shows they have extensive knowledge in the field of gerontology. The RN-BC Gerontological Nursing Certification is valid for 5 years.

Careers for Online Gerontology Certificate Graduates

Graduates of online gerontology graduate certificates can work in a variety of different fields. A certificate in gerontology doesn't lead to a specific career on its own. Gerontology graduates will need to have other experience and education in order to work with aging populations in different roles. Some of the careers that are available to graduates of online gerontology graduate certificate programs are listed below.

  • Dietitians and Nutritionists - Dietitians and nutritionists provide dietary and nutritional guidance to various people. They may manage programs, work in clinical positions or provide community services. Those with an extensive understanding of gerontology can provide better care and recommendations to aging groups and individuals. Most dieticians and nutritionists also need to have a bachelor's degree in nutrition, dietetics, public health nutrition or a closely related area.
  • Nurse Practitioners - Nurse practitioners provide advanced care to various patients, whether primary care or collaborative. Nurse practitioners often specialize in specific populations, such as aging populations. Their duties include evaluating patients, creating healthcare plans and guiding patients through their health plans. Nurse practitioners need to have a master's degree with a focus in advanced practice nursing.
  • Occupational Therapists - Occupational therapists work with patients who are disabled or injured, providing therapies to help them maintain and improve their skills. Their duties can include observation, educating patients and demonstrating and assisting with exercises. Those working with general or elderly populations can improve the quality of care by acquiring a gerontology certificate. Many of these professionals need to have a master's degree in occupational therapy.
  • Registered Nurses - Registered nurses work with patients in a variety of settings, providing direct care, patient education and emotional support. Their duties can include observation, operating equipment, administering medications and creating patient care plans for physicians. Nurses working with elderly patients in long-term care facilities, hospitals and other institutions can utilize their improved gerontology knowledge in daily activities.
  • Social Workers - Social workers provide services to help people cope and solve issues they are dealing with. Their duties can include creating programs, responding to emergencies, evaluating client needs and provide referrals for resources. Social workers who work in healthcare settings can specialize in geriatrics, working specifically with older patients as they transition from healthcare settings back to their normal lifestyles. Socials workers need to have a bachelor's degree in social work.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2019) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Dietitians and Nutritionists $61,270 11%
Nurse Practitioners $109,820 28%
Occupational Therapists $84,950 18%
Registered Nurses $73,300 12%
Social Workers $50,470 11%

All career data is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.