Online Bachelor's in Senior Living Management

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Is a Senior Living Management Degree Right for You?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of senior citizens in the United States will grow faster than the rest of the population for most of the 21st century. In turn, there will be a greater need for facilities and communities that can house and care for the country’s older residents.

Nursing home manager meets with a staff member.

Senior living managers work in assisted living centers, retirement communities, and nursing homes. They oversee staff, coordinate services and activities, and ensure the quality of care and day-to-day operations of facilities. Senior living management duties depend on the exact role and location. For example, a manager for a smaller facility may have wide-ranging responsibilities, from human resources to marketing, finance, and legal compliance. In contrast, larger facilities might staff individual activities managers, HR managers, finance managers, and other leadership positions.

Three different undergraduate degrees can lead to a career in senior living management: a general studies degree with a healthcare concentration, a healthcare management degree, and a senior living management degree. Each degree program focuses on senior living and healthcare management but has enough specificity to help graduates pursue different careers. Is a senior living management degree right for you,? Read on to discover the specific program paths and how your interests and skills suit each curriculum and professional possibilities.

Senior Living Management Degree Overview

Senior living management degrees include foundational study in general healthcare, as well as numerous courses that consider seniors and their specific social and health needs. Focused senior living management degree programs, such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Senior Living Management, begin with courses in healthcare operations, public health, and HR in healthcare. The curriculum then examines Alzheimer’s and dementia care, senior housing management, gerontology and aging in a multicultural society. In addition to learning how to manage senior facilities, students gain an understanding of the difficulties seniors face, including limited mobility, illness, and mental health issues.

What Do Senior Living Management Degree Graduates Do?

A senior living management degree is a targeted program for students who have a passion for senior care, most often in retirement communities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other living situations that house people 55 and older. Residents in these facilities can range from active 60-somethings who spend their days golfing, biking, and attending social events to those in their 90s and beyond who need dedicated care for daily activities.

Types of Careers:

  • Senior Home Manager: These professionals are responsible for the day-to-day operations of facilities for seniors. They hire staff, oversee training, order new equipment, and help develop organizational policy.
  • Nursing Home Manager: Working with doctors, hospital administrators, and staff, a nursing home manager oversees care and quality, offering medical care and assisted services with daily activities for the aging.
  • Home Healthcare Provider: These professionals coordinate in-home care for the elderly. They work with nurses, doctors, and private companies to arrange the delivery of medical equipment and services.

Healthcare Management Degree Overview

The healthcare management degree provides students with a well-rounded education in the healthcare business. Students take courses in HR management, financial management, compliance, and risk management, all with a focus on healthcare-specific jobs and work environments. A program such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management includes courses in healthcare terminology and professionalism, ensuring students can integrate seamlessly into the workplace after graduation and understand public health policy and its impact on local healthcare management.

What Do Healthcare Management Degree Graduates Do?

Healthcare management graduates can take on a variety of management roles in different healthcare facilities. In a major institution, such as a large city hospital, lower-level managers might be responsible for one department or even just the finances or marketing for a particular aspect of the hospital. For example, they may oversee the marketing for a hospital’s cardiovascular health wing. With work experience, graduates can rise through the ranks to reach a position such as hospital president or CEO. Healthcare management graduates can also bolster their education with a master’s degree, which could help them land C-suite positions sooner.

Types of Careers:

  • Hospital Manager: Working with administrators and staff, hospital managers coordinate all services of the hospital and the people who deliver them.
  • Government Advisor: Government advisors work with local, state, or national agencies to improve healthcare. For example, they may provide advice on policy, outreach campaigns, or state licensing requirements.
  • Assisted Living Manager: These managers oversee the schedule and staff responsibilities of an assisted living facility, with an emphasis on maintaining and improving day-to-day operations.
  • Outpatient Facility Manager: Outpatient facility managers ensure that clinics and urgent care centers run smoothly. For example, they oversee training, budgets, and hiring.

General Studies Degree with a Healthcare Concentration Overview

Students who want a broader healthcare education could consider a general studies degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a concentration in healthcare. Students in this program take fundamental health courses in anatomy, physiology, genetics, and nutrition, as well as courses in healthcare policy, public health, and healthcare professionalism. They can also add a degree specialization such as gerontology, which features courses on dementia care and rehabilitation for the elderly that prepare students to work with aging populations.

What Do General Studies Degree with a Healthcare Concentration Graduates Do?

With a general studies degree that includes a healthcare concentration, graduates can pursue several professions in the healthcare industry. Higher-level roles may need additional degrees or certificates. Those who choose to enter the job market after graduation could become medical coders or community health representatives, or they could utilize a gerontology specialization to work in the senior care segment. With the skills and knowledge learned in healthcare policy, ethics, and public health, graduates may be equipped to fill management positions.

Types of Careers:

  • Medical Coder: These health claims specialists analyze clinical statements and assign standard codes using a classification system for hospitals or other healthcare facilities. They review medical records to ensure that the health care providers they support are properly reimbursed for services.
  • Healthcare Administrator: Responsible for the oversight of healthcare organizations, healthcare administrators manage staff, enforce safety and quality standards, and control costs associated with daily operations.
  • Community Health Representative: Community health representatives educate communities on topics that impact them, such as smoking, air quality, and where to access affordable, healthy food. They analyze community needs and work with local government and healthcare providers to make sure those needs are met.

Similarities Among Senior Living Management, Healthcare Management, and General Studies with a Healthcare Concentration

When considering if a senior living management degree is right for you, or if you might thrive in a different course of study, it is important to identify similarities and differences in curricula and professional outcomes. All three programs focus on healthcare, and there is some overlap in coursework, including courses on healthcare terminology, healthcare informatics, healthcare policy, and medical ethics. Graduates of all three programs have a baseline education in healthcare system operations, as well as an understanding of the policies that shape healthcare decisions. They can perform different duties inside healthcare facilities, making each degree path versatile. Finally, all three options are appropriate for current healthcare professionals who want to advance in the industry.

Differences Among Senior Living Management, Healthcare Management, and General Studies with a Healthcare Concentration

Even with some course crossover and a shared emphasis on healthcare, there are several degrees of separation among senior living management, healthcare management, and general studies with a healthcare concentration.

Focus on Senior Living

The senior living management degree dedicates the most program time to senior care and quality of life. The curriculum includes a senior living-specific practicum and management capstone, while the other two degrees have a more general healthcare capstone. A healthcare management program also includes a healthcare management practicum, though this major has considerably less focus on senior living, with no coursework specific to this aspect of healthcare.

Flexibility After College

When considering if a senior living management degree is right for you, or if you might want to pursue a different aspect of healthcare, it is vital to outline your post-graduation aspirations. A senior living management degree is the most targeted option, since it offers specific job opportunities in one subset of the healthcare industry. The healthcare management degree is the most flexible, with more than a dozen healthcare-specific courses that prepare candidates for any number of jobs in the industry.

Find Out If a Senior Living Management Degree Is Right for You

A degree in senior living management and healthcare can allow you to enter a growing field with the ability to help the aging enjoy their golden years to the fullest. Work in this sphere, whether it entails coordinating activities in a retirement community or managing the delivery of medical care, can be rewarding and offer room for professional mobility. Check out Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Senior Living Management to learn more about senior living and how your talents might fit into the industry.


Argentum, “Making Senior Living the Career of a Lifetime”

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in General Studies with a Concentration in Healthcare

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management

Maryville University, Bachelor of Science in Senior Living Management

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers

U.S. Census Bureau, “Older People Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time in U.S. History”