Gerontology Programs

To work as a nurse practitioner (NP) specializing in gerontology, you will need to have a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Gerontology. Whether you are looking into online or traditional programs, there are plenty of grant and scholarship opportunities that can help you finance your graduate studies. It should be noted that some colleges and universities combine adult health programs and gerontology programs into one MSN degree program. Adult/gerontology programs tend to focus on a patient population of 12 or 13 years and older, whereas a stand-alone gerontology programs concentrate more so on health issues unique to older adults. This guide is will only be discussing gerontology programs.

What to Expect in an MSN Gerontology Program

In a gerontology degree program, you can learn how to work with an older adult patient population. Your studies can be about helping patients manage their health needs, prescribing medications and therapies (in most states), ordering lab work, and giving your patients the information and tools they need to prevent injuries and other ailments. This program typically takes about two – three years to complete for nurses who already hold their bachelor’s degree, and up to six years for those entering a bachelor’s/master’s bridge program. How long it takes for you to graduate depends on the time you are able to commit to your studies and the structure/requirements of the individual degree program.

With an aging baby boomer population, NPs who specialize in gerontology are and will likely continue to be in demand. A MSN in gerontology can prepare you to work as a primary or acute care provider, and to work in the following settings:

  • Private Practice
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Patients’ Homes

Most gerontological nurse practitioners (GNPs) provide primary care, which allows them to build rapport and work with their patients on a long-term basis. If you’re interested in working as an acute GNP care provider, you will likely work in the fast-paced environment of a hospital. There are graduate nursing schools that offer gerontology programs that give you the opportunity to focus your degree in either primary or acute care.


Once you enroll in a MSN gerontology program, you may see that some of the core classes are similar to ones you may have taken during your undergraduate nursing studies. You likely will be covering many of the same topics like pathophysiology, pharmacology, and disease prevention. However, taking these courses at the graduate level can provide you with a greater, more comprehensive understanding of each subject, and give you the skills to apply what you have studied to your clinical work.

In addition to core classes, you will also take several semesters worth of courses that pertain to gerontology. You may see MSN gerontology programs offer courses on the following topics:

  • Diagnosis and Illness Management
  • Lifespan Human Development
  • Care of Frail Older Adults
  • Theory and Application in Gerontology Nursing

With gerontology, you may also be able to specialize in an area other than primary or acute care like oncology, cardiology, or psychology. Some colleges and universities also give you the option to focus on learning more about how to promote health and enrichment programs for the geriatric population.

If the graduate nursing program that you are enrolled or interested in does not offer a specialized gerontology track, you can always continue your education and receive a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a certification in the area of your choosing. Regardless of whether or not you choose to focus on a specific area of advanced gerontology nursing practice, an MSN degree program will also require that you fulfill a set number of clinical hours at an approved facility that will give you professional experience specific to your degree.

Online Practitioner Degrees in Gerontology

By becoming a gerontological nurse practitioner, you will be able to assist older adults with their health needs and give them the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives. Check out the rest of our website for fantastic family health resources and to learn more about other NP specialties.