Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science: Gerontology

| Requirements | Course Description | Tentative Course Rotation | Creative Component Information

Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of the aging processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through later life. Students will study the physical, mental and social changes in people as they age.

The Gerontology Program offers a Master of Science degree in Human Development and Family Science with a concentration in Gerontology. A typical student will take three years to complete the master's program, taking one or two courses a semester.

While engaging in the Gerontology program, you will:

  • Develop competencies that may lead to professional certification
  • Have flexible schedules to meet your busy lifestyle

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science
Specialization/Option: Gerontology Requirements

The Gerontology program consists of 36 credit hours. Currently, all courses are taught at least once each year, and each course is three credit hours.

  • HDFS 5400 – Professional Seminar in Gerontology
  • HDFS 5403 – Perspectives in Gerontology
  • HDFS 5413 – Adult Development and Aging
  • HDFS 5493 – Aging and Families
  • HDFS 5110 – Directed Study in HDFS (or other designated elective)
  • HDFS 5203 - Family Systems
  • HS 5533 – Economics of Aging and Public Policy
  • HS 5543 – Environments and Aging
  • HS 5633 – Program Evaluation and Research Methods in Gerontology
  • NSCI 5323 – Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging
  • REMS 5953 - Statistical Methods in Education
  • HS 5240 - Master's Creative Component (Practicum)

Course Descriptions:


HDFS 5400 – Professional Seminar in Gerontology
An integrative experience for gerontology students designed to be taken near the end of the degree program. By applying knowledge gained in earlier coursework, students strengthen skills in ethical decision-making and behavior, applying these skills in gerontology-related areas such as advocacy, professionalism, family and workplace issues. Students from a variety of professions bring their unique perspectives to bear on topics of common interest.

HDFS 5403 – Perspectives in Gerontology
An overview of current aging issues including current focus of gerontology theory and research critical social and political issues in aging, the interdisciplinary focus of gerontology, current career opportunities and aging in the future.

HDFS 5413 – Adult Development and Aging
The biological, psychological and social factors associate with aging.

HDFS 5493 – Aging and Families
Theories and research related to personal and family adjustment in later life affecting older persons and their intergenerational relationships. Critical issues include marriage, divorce and remarriage, adult children and their parents, grandparenting and alternative family forms.

HDFS 5110 – Directed Study in HDFS
Directive Study in HDFS.  Topics include Biological Aspects of Aging, Cognitive Care, Creativity and Aging, Mental Health and Aging, Sexuality and Aging, Spirituality and Aging, and Theories of Aging.

HS 5533 – Economics of Aging and Public Policy
Policy development in the context of the economic status of the elderly populations. Retirement planning and the retirement decision; Social Security and public transfer programs for the elderly; intrafamily transfers to or from the elderly; private pensions; financing medical care for the elderly; prospects and issues for the future.

HS 5543 – Environments and Aging
Special needs of older people and attributes of physical environments that support these needs including attention to the "meaning of and attachment to home." Application of knowledge to design and management of housing, institutional setting, neighborhoods and communities. Environment- person fit; aging-in-place, assisted living and long-term care; and therapeutic environments.

HS 5633 – Program Evaluation and Research.
Overview of program evaluation, research methods and grant writing in gerontology. Application of professional settings.

REMS 5953 - Statistical Methods in Education
Statistical methods needed by conductors and consumers of research in education and the behavioral sciences. Introduction to interpretation and application of descriptive and inferential statistics.

NSCI 5323 – Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging
Basic physiological changes during aging and their impact in health and disease. Successful aging with emphasis on physical activity and nutrition. Practical application to community settings.

HS 5240 - Master's Creative Component (Practicum)
Prerequisite: consent of associate dean. An in-depth application of theoretical models and philosophies related to area of specialization.

Tentative Course Rotation: Click here

After completing the Gerontology program, the student will be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of specific issues regarding adult development, health and nutrition, public policy, the environment and research as related to older adults and their family. Careers in the field will include employment in the public and private sector in the areas of education, policy and program planning, administration and housing, health care and mental health.
To find out more about careers in gerontology please visit the following web sites: www.geron.org (The Gerontological Association of America) and www.aarp.org (The American Association of Retired Persons).

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