Curriculum

Graduate Certificate - Graduate Certificate

Core Courses

This course explores the biological, psychological, and social factors that are associated with aging. Although the focus is on the later years, students gain information from a life-span developmental framework. Students review and discuss empirical studies concerning strengths, limitations, and implications for normative and optimal functioning of adults as they age.
This course provides an overview of current aging issues. The course focuses on gerontology theory and research, critical social and political issues in aging, the interdisciplinary focus of gerontology, current career opportunities, and aging in the future.

Elective Courses

This course is a study of theories and research related to personal and family adjustments in later life affecting older persons and their intergenerational relationships. Through the use of current literature, students also examine related issues including demographics.
Cognitive skills form the foundation for functioning in everyday life, and these skills take on added importance in older adulthood. This course focuses on selected theoretical approaches and current research related to cognitive aging. Students review normative and non-normative cognitive changes, assessment techniques, and prevention/intervention efforts. Central to discussions is how students can apply information of this course to professional settings.
What happens to creativity as a person ages? This unique class helps students understand developmental and pathological changes in the brain that can lead to changes in creative output over time. Through hands-on experiences, students grow appreciation for creativity produced and inspired by older people. The course provides theoretical frameworks and historical examples in literature, drama, art, and music.
This course focuses on policy development in the context of the economic status of the elderly populations. Topics include retirement planning and the retirement decision, Social Security and public transfer programs for the elderly, intra-family transfers to/from the elderly, private pensions, financing medical care for the elderly, and prospects and issues for the future.
In this course, student examine attributes of physical environments that support special needs of older people. Student apply this knowledge to the design and management of housing, institutional settings, neighborhoods, and communities.
Advances in medical technology have brought with them questions healthcare givers must now face on a daily basis. Do people have a right to die? Should healthcare providers perform life-saving procedures on all patients? Should the ability to pay influence what types of treatments are offered to patients? This course helps students learn to think critically about ethical issues affecting healthcare workers in a variety of healthcare settings (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, clinical practice, pharmacies). The course content emphasizes issues relating to aging populations. Class discussions, short essays, and case studies encourage students to understand the multi-faceted nature of these ethical issues and need for open discussion between health care providers, patients, and family members. Prerequisite: One course in science.
This course introduces students to the range of issues involved in aging and mental health. From a systems framework, students examine the major emotional and psychiatric problems encountered in old age. This includes examination of mood, anxiety, adjustment and personality disorders, dementia, cognitive problems, substance abuse, and suicide. Students explore barriers to treatment and cohort and cultural issues.
This course identifies the basic physiologic changes during aging and how they impact health and disease. The focus is on successful aging with special emphasis on physical activity and nutrition. The course includes practical application to community settings.
In this course, students gain an overview of program evaluation, research methods, and grant writing in gerontology. Course content includes application of quantitative and qualitative methods in professional settings.
This course provides information to students about leadership in long-term care. Students study administration principles involved in the planning, organizing, and directing of long-term care agencies. The course includes an in-depth exposure to federal and state standards and regulations governing long-term care.
Sexuality is one important component of well-being throughout the life span, and growing older doesn’t eliminate the need for sexual intimacy. This course addresses the infrequently discussed topic of sexuality as it applies to older adulthood. Students learn about the physiological changes that accompany aging and affect sexuality. Student also learn about the psychological and social impact of barriers to sexual expression, including factors such as Alzheimer’s disease, accessibility, and medication. Additional topics of the course are sexual diversity, the role of family, the role of government, and technology.
In this course, students examine spirituality in later life from developmental, ethical, multicultural and applied perspectives.
This course addresses the historical, contemporary, and interdisciplinary basis of aging theory. Students critically assess biological, psychological, sociological, and human developmental conceptualizations. Emphasis of the course is on conceptual models as well as theoretical development and application within gerontological research and the field of aging.
Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2021-2022: $590

Average time to complete:
Master's degree: 30 months
Graduate certificate: 19 months

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. Katie Mott
Ashley Schultz
Melissa Selders-Ortez
Karla Sisco
Ashlee Murden
Vicky Watkins
Janice Clawson
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.

Andrew Carl on duty as a park rangerThe Great Plains IDEA community development program has helped me become a better leader as a park ranger for the National Park Service. The skills I have gained empower me to bring colleagues and community members together toward positive change.

– – Andrew Carl, Community Development Student,
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