Mason Establishes Nation’s First Degree in Senior Housing Administration

Posted: April 19, 2010 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: April 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

By Marjorie Musick

The United States has nearly 50,000 active adult, assisted living, continuing care retirement and related senior housing communities.

Building on its reputation as a pioneer in the senior housing field, Mason has launched the nation’s first degree for executives seeking to manage the country’s nearly 50,000 active adult, assisted living, continuing care retirement and related senior housing communities.

The new Master of Science in Senior Housing Administration (MSHA) Program is now accepting applications for the fall 2010 semester.

“The first of the 78 million baby boomers will turn 65 next year, and their interest and expectations for retirement housing will be high,” says Andrew Carle, a former senior housing executive and director of Mason’s Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration.

“We want to set the standard for senior housing as it moves forward.”

Administered through the College of Health and Human Services, the degree will offer course work in senior housing and health care administration, as well as an interdisciplinary range of topics, including business administration, aging, ethics, health policy, assistive technology, therapeutic recreation and Alzheimer’s disease.

The degree expands the university’s existing assisted living/senior housing administration curricula which, when launched in 2001, was the first in the nation to offer both undergraduate and graduate course work dedicated exclusively to the field.

More than 300 students have completed course work within the program to date, including internships within more than 60 senior housing communities.

A cottage industry through the 1980s, senior housing today is represented by a host of national and regional providers, with up to 400 communities each.

Assisted living communities typically combine housing, hospitality and basic health care under one roof.

Continuing care retirement communities, which include independent as well as assisted living and skilled nursing services, may house more than 2,000 seniors, employ more than 1,000 staff members and manage real estate valued at more than $500 million.

In addition to community administrators, large companies require regional, divisional and corporate executives.

Administrator positions in current communities are typically filled by individuals with degrees in business, health care or nursing, but with the National Institute on Aging estimating that one of every five people in the United States will be over the age of 65 by 2030, demand for executives trained in the unique aspects of senior housing will grow.

“The industry is projected to double to more than 100,000 communities housing five million seniors in the next two decades,” says P.J. Maddox, chair of Mason’s Department of Health Administration and Policy.

“We expect executive positions in the field to be among the fastest growing career paths in the U.S.”

The deadline to apply for the fall program is July 1, 2010. Additional information, including degree requirements, is available at assistedliving.gmu.edu, or by calling the Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration at 703-993-9131.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu