In universities and colleges across the country, courses and degree programs in gerontology, the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging, are on the rise. By 2030, the Administration in Aging predicts there will be more than 72 million senior citizens in the United States–up from 39 million in 2009. Demand for senior care professionals is already strong, and as baby boomers grow older, the need for qualified caregivers, policy makers, researchers and providers of elder care services will only grow.
Opportunities for new and returning students to study gerontology are abounding. Interdisciplinary in nature, courses range from nutrition to psychology, administration and policy to financial longevity. Listed in no particular order, here are college classes in gerontology, social work, or public health majors, Master’s and Ph.D. programs.
1. Gerontology 101 — San Diego State University
The San Diego State University’s School of Social Work offers an array of courses for the Major in Gerontology, but all students must begin with Gerontology 101. Overall, the school’s goal is to provide comprehensive coursework to educate students on the impact of society’s changing demographics on every aspect of their social and work lives.
2. Fieldwork in Gerontology — Ithaca College
The aging studies program at Ithaca College’s Gerontology Institute enjoys both a national and international reputation of excellence. Partnering with a nearby adult residential facility, the program provides students a unique learning experience. Courses ranging from Fieldwork in Gerontology to The Long-Term Care system give students a well-rounded look at the hot topics in the field of gerontology and senior care today.
3. Functional Performance Assessment & Programming for Older Adults — California State University, Fullerton
Students enrolled in the Gerokinesiology advising track at California State University – Fullerton learn both background knowledge and skills necessary to develop and teach fitness, mobility and mobility enhancement classes, as well as personal training and rehabilitation programs for older adults. Students at California State have a unique opportunity to practice their skills through internships with the school’s Center for Successful Aging.
4. Physical and Psychosocial Aspects of Disability — University of North Texas
Rehabilitation Studies within the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of North Texas prepares students for a range of possible careers, including aging programs, independent living facilities, community living centers and other human service agencies. For the 17th straight year, the University of North Texas was named one of America’s Best 100 College Buys by Institutional Research & Evaluation, Inc., designating the school as an affordable place to earn a top-notch education.
5. Fundamentals of Epidemiology — University of Georgia
The University of Georgia’s Institute of Gerontology is the school’s hub for coordinating and conducting education, research and outreach services associated with the study of aging and older adults. Long life is a direct result of public health, says the department, and Fundamentals of Epidemiology is the cornerstone class of public health studies.
6. Physiology of Aging — University of California
A requirement for any Gerontology major at the University of California, Physiology of Aging is essential for students wanting to study, manage and learn how to heal the body across the lifespan. The UC Davis School is the oldest and largest school of Gerontology in the world, offering the most comprehensive selection of Gerontology degree programs, from undergraduate to specialized Master and Ph.D. programs.
7. Social Services for the Aging — Brigham Young University
Social Services for the Aging is an elective course in the Masters of Social Work curriculum at Brigham Young University. The BYU Master of Social Work is one of the strongest Clinical Social Work programs in the nation, especially preparing students for research and Ph.D. programs.
8. Lifespan Development — Loyola University of Maryland/Johns Hopkins
Lifespan Development is one course included in the Loyola/Johns Hopkins 5-Year Dual Degree Nursing program. A unique program, the dual degree allows students at Loyola to pursue a career in nursing within the context of a liberal arts education, merging clinical skills earned at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing with an education in sociology from Loyola University Maryland.
9. Psychology of Aging — Virginia Commonwealth University
The Virginia Commonwealth University‘s psychogeriatrics track within their Department of Gerontology is unique in the field of geriatrics. Psychology of Aging teaches research methods related to optimal aging, psychological adjustment in late life, development of personality, cognitive function and emotional aspects of the aging process.
10. Ethics — Wayne State University
Ranked number one by the Gourman Report since 1995, the Bachelor of Social Work degree program at Michigan’s Wayne State University within the school’s Institute of Gerontology prepares students both with a strong curriculum and field work. Ethics is one required course for the degree, which can lead students on a specialized Gerontology Certificate.
11. Aging Policy & Services — Georgia State University
Within the Gerontology Institute at the Georgia State University are a host of classes for undergraduates, Master’s and certificate programs. Aging Policy & Services focuses on an important aspect of gerontology study, which is policy making. Over the past 30 years, more than 500 students have graduated from the Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute, making differences in this changing society.
12. Family Practice, Community-based Geriatrics — University of Kansas
The University of Kansas’ Graduate Program in Gerontology emphasizes social and behavioral gerontology. Interdisciplinary in nature, faculty include members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Architecture and Urban Design, Allied Health, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Welfare. Community-based geriatric courses are affiliated with KU’s Landon Center of Aging.
13. Adult Development in Aging — University of Nevada – Las Vegas
The Gerontology Minor program at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas is about as diverse as any, ranked by the 2013 U.S. News and World Report as the eighth most diverse campus in the nation. Their coursework for a minor in gerontology ranges from counseling to nutrition to Adult Development in Aging, which explores the physical and psychophysiologic developmental patterns in adulthood and normal aging.
14. Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling — Boston College
The Boston College University Institute on Aging takes a holistic approach to the challenges and opportunities of aging in the 21st Century. Their theology and ministry coursework addresses issues like family counseling, violence, crisis ministry, depression, substance abuse and boundaries in ministry.
15. Death, Loss and Grief — St. Francis College
An often uncomfortable and difficult topic, death and all it brings is a necessary component of an education in gerontology. The Health Promotion and Sciences major at St. Francis College in New York City prepares students for either graduate work or careers in local, state and national community health agencies, city and state government agencies, hospitals, schools and assisted living facilities.
16. Family Caregiving and Dementias — Barton College
Barton College in Wilson, NC, offers a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology that affords students both in-classroom learning and hands-on fieldwork. In the gerontology program, students play a significant role in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk and in the Caregiver Education Conference conducted by the Alzheimer’s North Carolina Inc., the Upper Coastal Plain Area Agency on Aging and Barton College.
17. Gender and Aging — Miami University
The Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford,OH, emphasizes research and multidisciplinary education in gerontology. Researchers and educators provide technical assistance, service to the community, planners, providers, policy makers and other professionals, enabling the next generation of students to do the same.
18. Financing Longevity: Topics in Insurance — University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Offered at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a gerontology degree with concentration in Aging and Business requires that students learn about the financial issues of growing old, a topical issue in today’s world. Students explore personal, governmental and private-sector roles in financing longevity in the United States, discussing insurance, people’s choices and policy options within the Gerontology Masters Program.
19. Nutrition and the Elderly — Cedar Crest College
Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, offers a gerontology certificate program that partners up with a variety of majors, including nursing, psychology, pastoral care, social work, nutrition or business. Nutrition and the Elderly is one of six required courses for the certification.
20. Long-Term Care Administration — University of Nebraska, Omaha
Calling it an “education for the 21st century,” the Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Omaha offers a wide range of options for students looking to specialize in the field. A graduate course, Long-Term Care Administration especially prepares students for the issue facing administrators today and in the future.
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