The study of adult development concerns the stages of aging that occur from between late adolescence to old age. Aging is a complex process that affects not only an adult's physiology and mental abilities, but also their relationships, career and emotional health. Students in this field receive fundamental training on cognitive, physical and emotional decline that occurs as adults age. Students also gain knowledge on how to support the health and well-being of their future clients.
Undergraduates who study adult development will receive some training in adult development theory, but the program is designed to prepare students to work closely with aging adults, providing services such as counseling, abuse and neglect intervention and nutrition. Students may take courses outside of the department as a means of augmenting their bachelor's degree in, say, nutrition. Others may elect to double major in adult development and psychology, social work or biology.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
Undergraduates do not enroll in adult development programs to achieve a professional title. Their education prepares them to work in a number of sectors such as social services, hospitals and medical offices, public assistance agencies — any workplace where their knowledge of adults and aging can be of service. If graduates are interested in exploring other service-oriented fields, they may find work in public health, human resources, and so on.
It is possible to find employment in adult services such as senior care without a bachelor’s degree. An online associate or certificate in adult development may, in these instances, be helpful. The motivation for getting the bachelor’s, then, may be a matter of making oneself more marketable, better prepared to work in the field, and more likely to secure a more advanced position.
Inside a Bachelors in Adult Development Degree Program
Bachelor’s programs generally last 4 years, for both offline and online degrees in adult development. However, some programs offer an accelerated track that takes only 3 years. Class offerings run the gamut from development of human sexuality, genetics and society, to the history of a social policy in aging.
Some universities, like The University of Massachusetts Boston, offer both online and bachelors in gerontology, a degree that prepares students for work in geriatrics. The curriculum is essentially the same for both programs; each track requires that students hold gerontology internships, and complete a final project in applied research. The appeal of the online program is largely one of convenience.
What's Next for Bachelors in Adult Development Degree Holders?
The bachelors in adult development prepares students for a slew of occupations. Depending on any specializations they attained through taking electives and research, students may qualify for occupations in social work, couple and family relationships, public service management, and organizations serving older adults.
Salaries depend on experience and type service industry. The median annual wage for social and community service managers in 2014 was $62,740, as indicated by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Bachelor’s degree graduates in adult development may decide to continue their studies in social work, mental health counseling, occupational therapy, and so on, either by earning certificates or master’s degrees. Still other degrees include the master’s and doctorate in adult development. Graduates of these programs find work in teaching, research, public human services administration and policy analysis.