What is gerontology?

Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of the aging processes and individuals as they are affected by lifespan changes. It includes:

  • The study of physical, mental and social changes in people as they age.
  • The investigation of the changes in society resulting from our aging population.
  • The application of this knowledge to policies and programs.

Why study gerontology?

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 demography.

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Who is this program for?

Persons graduating from this program are engaged in a wide range of professional field; some specific to aging, others that serve a wide range of consumers.

Some gerontologists work directly with older persons in a wide variety of programs and services in the community. Others work on behalf of older persons in areas such as advocacy and teaching about aging. Some professionals find that their advanced understanding of aging allows them to tap into broader market segments with more success and provide better services to an older clientele.  For more information on career opportunities and options in the field of gerontology, visit Careers in Aging.

A degree in the field of gerontology equips the student with a broad range of skills, essential for improving the lives of older adults and their families. People who are interested in gerontology come from many disciplines, professions, and clinical areas.

An advanced degree in the field of gerontology can benefit newcomers as well as advanced professionals in:
  • Social work
  • Human Services
  • Business and marketing
  • Nursing
  • Counseling
  • Recreation
  • Public policy
  • Long-term care administration
  • Medicine
  • Architecture
  • Interior design
  • Product design
  • Business
  • Hospitality
  • Psychology
  • Adult education
  • Rehabilitation therapy

Am I right for this program?

This program is perfect for those who:

  • Enjoy working with and for older adults.
  • Recognize the needs of a population that is more heavily balanced toward the aging side.
  • Are currently working in an aging service field but would like to enhance skills, knowledge and credentials.
  • Are passionate about improving the quality of life for people as they age.

How do I choose a home university?

Through Great Plains IDEA, seven universities work together to offer a master's degree and graduate certificate in the field of gerontology.  The university you choose to be your home university is where you will enroll, pay tuition and receive your diploma.  Each university has slightly different requirements. 

As you consider which university to call home, consult each university about these potential differences:

  • The number of required courses varies by institution, which may result in fewer electives.
  • Degree and certificate titles vary by university.  
  • Admissions timelines and requirements may vary.

Great Plains IDEA Student Handbook

A master's degree in the field of gerontology will equip you with skills to improve the lives of older adults and their families.

Course List for Master's Degree

A graduate certificate is perfect for continuing education credits or to advance in your career.

Course List for Graduate Certificate

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2018-2019: $580

36 Hours


15 Hours

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Karen Smidt
Rachel Ohmes
Karen Murie
Susan Malec
Leslie McClure Myatt
Kristin Seals
University of Missouri
Hannah Portwood
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

– – April-Dawn Knudsen, Community Development Graduate