Sarah Lamontagne had a busy job at a Rhode Island nonprofit that helps adults age in place, remaining in their homes and communities as they grow older. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing a master’s degree from the USC Leonard Davis School in Gerontology.
The school’s online gerontology program, the largest of its kind, allowed Lamontagne to earn her Master of Aging Services Management degree while continuing to serve the people she cares about. Even though another program was closer to home, USC’s flexibility, wide array of courses and exceptional faculty offered convenience without sacrificing quality.
“I ultimately chose USC because it was a bigger program and a bigger school that could support me,” says Lamontagne, who graduated in May 2019. “[It] offers the latest cutting-edge trends, studies and information within a huge program.”
Convenience and community
She quickly found other reasons to love the gerontology online program, thanks to its seamless technology and sophisticated organization. All of the online courses are designed and taught by faculty members, and coursework can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lamontagne says she could watch and participate in real-time classes or view recordings that worked with her schedule. Even from a distance, she felt connected to faculty and peers.
“You’re not just using online software and going through the motions. You are a part of the school and earning a real degree,” she says. “Even though you’re online, you aren’t forgotten. You’re still part of the USC family.”
Diverse topics, experienced instructors
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology explores all aspects of human development and aging and is a pioneer in online education. Classes consist of weekly lectures, interactive exercises, and assignments that are sent via email to the instructor.
“It was a great program. There were a wide variety of topics that I found relatable to what I was doing in the field,” Lamontagne says. “I also found that having access to this information from the other side of the country was pretty much seamless.”
Lamontagne says she loved her instructors in the gerontology online program and appreciated their expertise and accessibility.
“A good portion of my professors also worked in the field, so they brought to class a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience,” she says. “I found that my professors were more accessible than when I took classes in person [as an] undergraduate student.”
Preparing for a thriving career in gerontology
Lamontagne, who is seeking work in the nonprofit world, knows her USC gerontology degree promises a bright career in a growing and versatile field.
Over the next few decades, the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to more than double. Opportunities in the aging services industry include residential care facilities, assisted living, retirement communities, home care and home services, creative therapy initiatives, home modification programs, and hospice care.
Lamontagne says jobs related to aging services will start popping up in other areas, too, such as financial management, insurance and technology. And with her degree, she’ll be ready.
“I think the field is really on the cusp of a surge in growth,” she says.
Top: photo by Sara Zarrella.