Graduate Admissions

Program director Mary Carter tells us why it matters now - Gerontology promises constant new approaches

Mary Carter

Gerontology is about more than just taking care of the elderly in a medical capacity. How is the aging baby boomer generation contributing to the field of gerontology?

People are living longer, and that means the people caring for those older individuals are likely to be older, too—no longer in their 40s with young kids at home, but in their 60s and trying to nail down their own retirements. Our program focuses on understanding the policies and social structures that are in place, how those are evolving over time and how best to make services let people live as well as possible, for as long as possible, where they want to be.


What makes Towson’s graduate program in gerontology unique and more effective than any other institution’s program?

At Towson, you select your focus area by choosing six courses for yourself. You get to tailor your degree or post-baccalaureate certificate to your interest, whether it’s family studies, business administration, health care finance or counseling, to name a few.

You also get to work in the field with long-term care communities, government offices and other groups. And our students are working professionals, so their experiences are shared in the classroom and provide a networking opportunity.

What is the difference between the M.S. and the post-baccalaureate certificate in applied gerontology?

The PBC is designed for individuals who are already career focused and would benefit from concentrated study in gerontology to meet their professional goals. PBC students take the same courses that master’s candidates take, but it’s a shorter, tighter program of three requirements and three electives. And all of those courses are transferrable to a master’s degree in case a student decides he or she wants more. The master’s lets a student learn to switch gears completely and is best for changing professional fields and coming into gerontology.

I would sit down with students who aren’t sure and talk through it. If you’re reluctant to jump into a master’s program because of the time and financial commitment, start with the certificate. Then let’s talk later and see whether you want to move to the master’s.

What does it take to complete the program?

If students take two classes per term most of the year, they complete the 36-unit master’s degree in 18-24 months. Most of the students who take the 18-unit certificate program take one class per term.

You gain a level of expertise from an intensive capstone experience in a professional setting. Or you can complete an in-depth study working with a committee of experts who provide feedback and answer questions to help you develop your knowledge in the field.

What’s your favorite thing to teach?

Health policy. It brings in history, philosophy, economics, sociology—it’s an experiment with a lot of different ideas. When my students see the complexity and challenges of how they can really advocate within the system, how much policy really does succeed in bettering people’s lives and how much they can be a part of that, they change their view.

This is a field where almost everybody comes to the field because they’ve had a personal experience. We hear story after story of my grandfather, my neighbor, a beloved somebody who touched them and an awareness that there has to be a better way to care for people. The students are unique from the get-go because they are passionate, focused on others, and they want to see things get better not just for their families, but for all families.







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