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College of Human Environmental Sciences

Gerontology (MA & Online Only)

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The master's program (MA only) is designed to prepare professionals who are either working directly with older people or are involved in education and research related to the elderly. Professionals offering direct services often are involved in health promotion programs; directing intergenerational activities; managing senior centers or retirement communities; counseling older people and their families; and helping people plan for retirement.

younger hand holding older hand

Professionals involved in education and research may evaluate community-based services; teach others about the aging process; develop policies and programs to serve the needs of the elderly; work with business and industry on issues related to an aging work force; and consumer education.

The gerontology field offers challenging and rewarding careers in an area that is growing rapidly, that needs people with a broad range of skills, and that will improve people's lives. We live in an aging society, one in which the older population is growing both in absolute numbers and in proportion to all other age groups. Businesses, government agencies, service organizations, educational institutions, and self-employed professionals from every economic sector are recognizing the need for specialized knowledge and skills to meet the needs of this changing demographic.

The 36 credit master's degree program (MA) consists of 8 required core courses (24 credits), a Project or Internship experience totaling 3-6 credits, and 6-9 credits of electives.


HDFS 7252: Adult Development (3)
HDFS 7255: Economics, Public Policy, & Aging (3)
HDFS 7256: Environments and Aging (3)
HDFS 7257: Aging in the Family (3)
HDFS 8251: Perspectives in Gerontology (3)
HDFS 8253: Physical Health in Aging (3)
HDFS 8254: Gerontology Research Methods and Program Evaluation (3)
HDFS 8258: Professional Seminar in Gerontology (3)
HDFS 8090: Research Project (3-6)
HDFS 8972: Internship (3-6)

Suggested Electives*:

HDFS 7259: Mental Health & Aging (3)
HDFS 7260: Women and Aging (3)
HDFS 7261: Biological Principles of Aging (3)

*Or Any Adviser-Approved Course

NOTE: Up to 6 credits can be transferred from other graduate programs if the courses are deemed relevant by your adviser.

Independent Effort:

HDFS 8972: Internship (variable)
HDFS 8999: Exam*

*No course credit is assigned to the exam option.

The student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of specific issues regarding adult development, family systems, health and nutrition, public policy, the environment, and research as related to older adults and their families.
  • Apply research findings and skills to solve problems related to older adults and their families.
  • Synthesize critical issues related to aging from a multidisciplinary perspective.

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