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February 27, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Gerontology

By the year 2030, there will be about 72 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States; more than double what there was in 2000. With people living to be older and for longer, elder care is becoming a growing necessity. If you enjoy spending time with older people and care about their needs, consider majoring in gerontology!

That's a lot of candles!


According to the College Board, students who pursue a degree in gerontology should be prepared to take courses on the human aging process and the biological, behavioral and social changes associated with aging. The psychology of aging is also part of the required course work and involves how aging impacts not only our physical well-being but also psychological well-being. Some students continue their work beyond an undergraduate degree and continue their studies through grad school, though it is not required.

What you should know before applying

Make sure you know what kind of program your school offers; whether or not the emphasis is on research, theory or coursework. Also, make sure the school has appropriate resources including proper literature in the library as well as offering internships or other forms of hands-on learning. Students should also be prepared to volunteer at a community agency that serves older people as well as become a student member of the Gerontological Society of America.


Students who graduate with a degree in gerontology often go into the field of social and human service assistants. The median annual wages for this career was $27, 280 as of May 2008. Students can also pursue a career in the social work industry where nursing care facility workers earned a median of $41,080 as of 2008.

Laura the Intern
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