Why a Masters in Gerontology Nursing + Online Option

This article provides an overview of the masters in gerontology nursing degree program, some of the subjects and courses that the degree covers, and why this degree could help you achieve significant career advancement. It also highlights a high-quality masters in gerontology nursing program that is available online and you may want to consider.

What Is a Masters in Gerontology Nursing?

A masters in gerontology nursing is one that focuses specifically on the unique and often chronic conditions that the elderly suffer from. These include bladder and bowel problems, bed sores, and so on. Graduates of the program will usually become certified through organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), which offers various forms of certifications, including the gerontological nurse practitioner (GNP) certification.

Most of the time, a bachelor’s degree and an RN (registered nurse) license are required for admission to these programs, although some universities have different requirements. There are also schools that want applicants to complete a graduate program in nursing first, after which they can focus on a geriatric nursing specialization. It is important, therefore, to properly research the school you are considering.

Gerontology nursing degree programs share many courses with other nursing programs. These includes topics, such as science, medical practice, and anatomy, but in such a way that they apply to how elderly patients should be cared for. Clinical research seminars and advanced anatomy classes are also usually included. Courses focusing specifically on geriatrics and gerontology include:

  • Geriatric Nursing Strategies
  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Health Throughout the Life Span
  • Clinical Geriatric Nursing
  • Chronic Illness In Adults

Why Earn a Masters in Gerontology Nursing?

Strong masters in gerontology nursing programs have been developed thanks to the efforts of the John A. Hartford Foundation in particular, which aim to improve health outcomes for the nation’s aging population. One of the ways in which they have achieved this is by funding scholarships for those interested in researching gerontological nursing, particularly at the doctorate degree level. To partake in these programs, students must first complete a master’s degree.

Furthermore, by completing a master’s degree in this specialization, people may become certified through the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA), which provides the geriatric nurse certification. Mainly, however, the degree prepares students to properly look after the elderly population of this country, something for which there is a high demand. As such, this degree significantly increases career stability as well.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners had a median salary of $107,460 per year as of May 2016. The BLS has also reported that there will be a 31% increase in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the national average and will translate into some 53,400 new jobs.

Online Option for Masters in Gerontology Nursing

University of Southern California

If you are interested in getting a masters in gerontology nursing degree, you may want to consider the Master of Arts in Gerontology program offered by the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC). This degree program has been designed to create experts in the field of human development and life span, in general. Graduates are respected for their professional skills that enable elderly people to remain involved and active in their community, and to stay healthy. The degree is delivered fully online and prepares students to face the challenges of the demographic shift head on. The program is delivered in an accelerated format, which means it can be completed in just 18 months.

The Leonard Davis School of Gerontology was founded in 1957 and it was the first professional gerontology school in the country. They continue to be a global leader today, having produced some 2,000 alumni who now work in some of the biggest aging-related organizations in the world. They also offer high levels of scholarship funds to those who wish to improve the aging process. The school is home to the USC Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, which is a multidisciplinary research institution, where ground-breaking research in public policy, sociology, psychology, demography, neuroscience, and molecular biology and how it relates to aging, are being conducted. The U.S. News & World Report has recognized USC as one of the top 25 universities in the country. It is also accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Graduates of this program aim to empower the aging population so that they can thrive. The aim is for the quality of life to continue to improve, regardless of age. Hence, students learn not just about the aging process, but also how the aging process can be done well. Mainly, graduates are respected for their ability to break the mold and think outside of the box.

It is expected that, by 2055, the number of Americans aged 65 and over will have doubled. By then, the first wave of the baby boom generation will be 70 years old. This demonstrates just how valuable and necessary is the field of gerontology. USC has created a degree without limitations, preparing students to work in a wealth of different areas, including nonprofit organizations, law, advocacy, medicine, administration, and business. The curriculum addresses this by taking a view from multiple angles, including social policy, family structure, psychology, sociology, and biology. It is a holistic degree, therefore, that prepares graduates to take on positions of decision making and leadership. The faculty at USC Davis are respected the world over for their accomplishments, academic leadership, and ground-breaking research.

The core curriculum of the degree includes:

  • The Mind and Body Connection Through the Lifespan
  • Social Policy and Aging
  • Administration and System Management
  • Complementary Medicine for Health and Longevity
  • The Aging Family

Graduates have a wealth of career opportunities available to them. The BLS has reported that there will be a 38% growth in demand for home health aides, for instance, and similar trends are seen in all professionals that affect the aging population. Graduates, therefore, can take on positions of leadership and management in a wealth of different industries. Some career options they can choose include:

  • Nursing home administrator, promoting fulfillment, activity, and health within nursing homes, while ensuring the facility remains profitable
  • Case management supervisor, working with social workers to deliver compassionate and effective care and human services, being an advocate for the elderly
  • Hospice CEO, ensuring that engagement, counseling, and comfort are offered to residents at the end of their life, and to their families, while encouraging financial stability of the hospice as well
  • Director of affordable housing services, ensuring the elderly population can remain safe and comfortable in their own homes
  • LVN/LPN supervisor, working with those who deliver patient care to the elderly, ensuring they are properly supervised to deliver the highest quality care


As you can see, completing a masters in gerontology nursing is a great way to significantly advance your health care career, focusing specifically on ensuring the elderly population can be happy and healthy.