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Education
Jul 17, 2019

Explore Careers in the Booming Field of Gerontology

Sponsored Content provided by Charles Hardy - Founding Dean and Professor, UNCW College of Health and Human Services

Did you know that by 2035, older people — age 65 and above — will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in American history?
 
Now more than ever, the demand for professionals with expertise in aging is growing rapidly. According to HealthGrad.com, the job outlook for those with a gerontology specialization is very good.
 
The UNC Wilmington College of Health and Human Services offers two graduate-level gerontology programs, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Gerontology and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Gerontology. These programs are flexible for working professionals, offering on campus classes late in the day, as well as online courses.
 
Program graduates can work as advocates, direct service providers, educators/trainers, administrators, marketers and product developers, program planners, evaluators, researchers and more. With our rapidly aging population, gerontology knowledge can be a valuable supplement to those in almost any field. Some students wish to improve their job skills at their current positions, while others are seeking new careers. Employment opportunities include a variety of settings, such as:

  • Community and social services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Recreation/fitness
  • Government and public administration
  • Medical and health services
  • Long-term care and hospice
  • Social work (with social work degree)
  • Business/product development
  • Technology (geared towards older adults)
  • Nonprofit organizations
“We’re all about improving the quality of life of older adults,” UNCW Gerontology Program Coordinator Anne Glass said, “whether your interests are in helping healthy adults stay fit or in helping frail elders at the end-of-life or anywhere in between. The older population is extremely diverse and the opportunities are endless. New aging-related technology and businesses are popping up all the time. Our programs will position you to take advantage of these opportunities. In addition, our students gain knowledge that they can apply in their own lives.” 
 
M.S. in Applied Gerontology
 
The master’s degree option, a 36-credit hour program, prepares professionals to improve the well-being of older adults through coursework and hands-on experience in a work setting with older populations. The program provides a comprehensive understanding of aging issues and processes. Topics include what’s normal and not normal aging, possible cognitive changes and recognizing ageism in our society. Elective courses include health care access, psychosocial adjustment to retirement, the Blue Zones, exercise and aging, caregiving, death and dying, and more. Graduate students also design and complete a master’s project that may involve an opportunity to conduct research on a topic of interest.
 
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Gerontology
 
The 15-credit hour graduate certificate program is ideal for those wishing to earn a gerontology credential to support another degree. It provides an academic foundation for anyone who plans to work with aging adults. Course work addresses the biology, sociology, and psychology of aging, along with a practicum.
 
4 + 1 Combined Programs
 
In addition, UNCW also offers new  4 + 1 combination programs that allow UNCW undergraduates in exercise science, public health and recreation therapy to begin taking graduate courses by their senior year. These courses count towards both their undergraduate degree and the M.S. in Applied Gerontology, which can be completed in just one additional year.
 
“It’s a win-win for all,” Glass said. “Our students come in with their undergraduate training in exercise science, public health or recreation therapy, and then they add the comprehensive knowledge about the aging process that they gain in the gerontology program on top of this training. This combination allows them to specialize in working with older adults and the issues of an aging society.”
 
For more information, contact Dr. Anne Glass at [email protected] or visit our website here.

The College of Health and Human Services consists of three professional schools - School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, School of Nursing and School of Social Work - and employs more than 250 full and part-time staff and faculty and enrolls more than 4,000 students in 16 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Hardy serves as chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the health and human services programs. To learn more about the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, visit www.uncw.edu/chhs. Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected].

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