What can I do with a doctoral degree in gerontology? Expanding your options

Gerontol Geriatr Educ. 2014;35(3):277-84. doi: 10.1080/02701960.2013.870901. Epub 2014 Jan 23.


An endless number of career trajectories are possible for gerontologists. With a growing aging population, our skills and areas of expertise are of high value to numerous industries. The purpose of this study is to describe the professional development and career trajectories of alumni of U.S. doctoral gerontology programs obtained through the Gerontology Education Longitudinal Study (GELS). Specifically, the authors examine how professional identification, doctoral program career preparation, and perception of job prospects affect alumni decisions to pursue "traditional" (i.e., academic) versus "nontraditional" (i.e., non-academic) careers. Results from the GELS revealed a fairly even split in the alumni sample of careers in traditional and nontraditional settings. The decision to pursue a traditional versus nontraditional career was not significantly associated with personal identification, doctoral program career preparation, or perception of employment options. These results suggest that the skill set obtained in doctoral gerontology programs is useful and is in demand in a variety of careers; therefore, doctoral programs may want to consider tailoring training to meet students' future career goals in both academic and non-academic settings.

Keywords: academic gerontology; career advancement; postgraduate training; survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice*
  • Career Mobility*
  • Education, Graduate*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States