School of Social Work: Gerontology

UMSL Home

Gerontology Programs Home Page

Faculty

Meuser, Thomas M., Associate Professor, Social Work and Gerontology and Director
Ph.D., University of Missouri-St. Louis
Hurwicz, Margo­Lea, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Gerontology
Ph.D., University of California­Los Angeles
Isaac-Savage, Paulette, Associate Professor, Education*
Ph.D., University of Georgia
Pickard, Joseph G., Associate Professor, Social Work *
Ph.D., Washington University
Porterfield, Shirley L., Associate Professor, Social Work
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Steffen, Ann M., Associate Professor, Psychology and Gerontology*
Ph.D., Indiana University
Usui, Chikako, Associate Professor of Sociology*
Ph.D., Stanford University
Shen, Huei-Wern, Assistant Professor, Social Work
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Yakimo, Richard, Assistant Professor, Nursing*
Ph.D., Saint Louis University Boland, Kathleen, Clinical Assistant Professor, Optometry *
O.D., University of Missouri-St. Louis

Tolea, Magda, Postdoctoral Fellow, Gerontology
Ph.D., University of Maryland at Baltimore

*Faculty affiliated with the Gerontology Program based on teaching and/or research interests in the field of aging.

Faculty from 11 departments, colleges and schools are involved in the undergraduate and graduate programs in gerontology.

Master of Science in Gerontology

The master of science degree in gerontology program is a multidisciplinary program designed to prepare students for program management or direct service positions working with the aged. The program of study includes courses from a variety of departments including Anthropology, nursing,  psychology, sociology, social work, public policy administration, and optometry. Courses are offered primarily in the evening to accommodate part‑time as well as full‑time students.

Learning Outcomes

  • A detailed appreciation for the aging process with respect to successful aging, health status, physical functioning, cognition and capacity, psychosocial involvement, diversity, cultural influences and competence, and public policy;
  • An ability to integrate theoretical perspectives on aging with the practical needs and concerns of individuals in various living environments;
  • An ability to interpret and appropriately utilize research findings to inform daily practice, especially with respect to screening, assessment, intervention, and referral activities;
  • Professional competence in the areas of ethical practice, participation in multidisciplinary teams, communication with clients and families, assessment and intervention.

Admission Requirements

Program applicants must have the following:

  • Baccalaureate degree.
  • 3.0 or B average (students with exceptions should contact the director of the gerontology program).
  • Official transcripts of all previous undergraduate/graduate work.
  • Three letters of recommendation (from former instructors preferred; from professional associates acceptable).

In addition, students must meet the other general requirements for admission to the Graduate School as explained in the Graduate Study section of the Bulletin.

Degree Requirements
The students are required to complete 36 credit hours, including 30 hours in gerontology and related courses, and 6-hours of statistics/research courses. The required courses and electives are listed below. Once a requirement is met, courses from this list may also serve as electives.

Gerontology Distribution Requirements

A. Public Policy and Aging-3 credits from the following:
GERON (P P ADM, POL SCI) 6443, Health Care Policy
GERON (SOCWK/PPADM/POL SCI/SOC) 6444, Seminar in Public Policy and Aging

B. Health and Physical Aspects of Aging - 3 credits from the following:
GERON 6441, Aging and Health Behavior
GERON 6470,Epidemiology of Aging

C. Sociocultural Aspects of Aging-3 credits from the following:
GERON (ANTHRO) 5440, Cultural Aspects of Aging
GERON (SOC) 5361, Advanced Social Gerontology

D. Clinical and Psychosocial Aspects of Aging- 6 credits from the following:
GERON (PSYCH) 5376, Psychopathology and Aging
GERON (SOC WK) 6120, Theory & Practice with Older Adults
GERON (SOC WK) 6130, Interviewing Older Adults & Life Review
GERON (SOC WK) 6450, Gerontological Assessment

E. Practica in Gerontology, 6 credits from the following:
GERON 6495, Practicum in Gerontology (required)
GERON 6496, Advanced Practicum in Gerontology or
GERON 6500, Practicum in Gerontological Research

F. Gerontology Electives - 9 credits (once a requirement is met, any course from the listing below can serve as an elective)

Program Administration Option: Students interested in emphasizing program administration qualifications as part of the MSG may request to apply their 9 elective credits towards earning a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership offered through Public Policy Administration. Students interested in this option must meet with the Certificate Director and request admission by the end of their second semester in the MSG Program. If admitted, the Director of Gerontology and the Certificate Director will work cooperatively to arrange a joint plan of study to meet objectives of both degrees within the 36 credits required for the MSG. Both practicum courses (GERON 6495 & 6496) must emphasize program administration as part of this plan.

G. Graduate-level statistics course - 3 credits and graduate level research methods course 3 credits.
Students should consult Director of Gerontology for approved courses.

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

The graduate certificate in gerontology is designed for students who wish to receive post-baccalaureate training in gerontology. The certificate can be taken by itself or in conjunction with pursuit of a graduate degree in another field.  Eighteen credit hours are required.

Admission Requirements
Program applicants must have the following:

  • Baccalaureate degree.
  • 3.0 grade point average (students with exceptions should contact the director of the gerontology program).
  • Official transcripts of all previous undergraduate/ graduate work.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • Students already enrolled and in good standing in another masters or doctoral degree program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis should conslt with the director of the gerontology program concerning streamlined admission options.

Distribution Requirements

A.  Public Policy-3 credits from the following:
GERON (P P ADM, POL SCI ) 6443,  Health Care Policy
GERON(SOCWK/PPADM/POL SCI/SOC) 6444, Seminar in Public Policy and Aging

B. Health and Physical Aspects of Aging-3 credits selected from the following:
GERON 6441, Aging and Health Behavior
GERON 6470, Epidemiology of Aging

C. Sociocultural Aspects of Aging-3 credits from the following:
GERON (ANTHRO) 5440, Cultural Aspects of Aging
GERON (SOC) 5361, Advanced Social Gerontology

D. Clinical and Psychosocial Aspects of Aging - 6 credits from the following:
GERON (PSYCH) 5376, Psychopathology and Aging
GERON (SOC WK) 6120, Theory & Practice with Older Adults
GERON (SOC WK) 6130, Interviewing Older Adults & Life Review
GERON (SOC WK) 6450, Gerontological Assessment

E. Elective, 3 credits
GERON 6495, Practicum in Gerontology
or another elective course from the listing below.

Undergraduate Certificate in Gerontological Studies
A certificate in gerontological studies, a multidisciplinary course of study, is available at the University of Missouri‑St. Louis. This program provides an opportunity for students to obtain a focused specialty in gerontology in addition to their majors. It utilizes offerings in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, the College of Business, and the College of Education. It is appropriate for students in any of the colleges of the University.

Certificate Requirements
A student may earn the certificate in gerontological studies by completing a total of 15 hours. The student must meet with the Director of Gerontology to develop a balanced plan of study. No more than 3 credit hours from Research/ Practicum Experience courses will be allowed. The student must have the approval of the director of the gerontology program before enrolling in the course. Courses taken to fulfill the requirements may not be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. New courses continually are added, so it is advisable to check with the director each term. Many courses are cross‑listed and also have a gerontology designation.

Humanities
GERON (PHIL) 2256, Bioethics

Social Sciences
GERON (INTDSC) 1220, Special Topics in Gerontology
GERON (INTDSC) 2170, Aging in America Concepts and Controversies
GERON (PSYCH) 2272, Developmental Psychology: Adulthood and Aging
GERON (PSYCH) 2280, Psychology of Death and Dying
GERON (ANTHRO) 3215, Growing Old in Other Cultures
GERON (SOC) 4361, Social Gerontology
GERON (PSYCH/SOC WK) 4376, Mental Health and Aging
GERON 4490, Directed Readings
GERON (SOC WK) 4680, Introduction to Gerontological Practice
GERON 4700, Successful Aging: Individual & Societal Perspectives

Career Outlook

With our growing aging population, the career outlook for gerontology is strong and will continue to be for decades to come. Professionals with specialized training in gerontology find meaningful work in a variety of settings, including management and marketing positions in the senior housing and long-term care industries, program coordination and direct service positions in nonprofit, government and for-profit senior service organizations, in the growing field of Geriatric Care Management, as counselors and support group leaders, and as members of multidisciplinary teams in hospice organizations and other healthcare organizations.   

Course Descriptions

GERON 1220 Special Topics in Gerontology (1-3)
Selected topics dealing with various aspects of gerontology. The specific contents of this course will vary from semester to semester. The course may be repeated for credit with permission of the Gerontology director.

GERON 2170 Aging in America : Concepts and Controversies (3)
Same as SOC 2170, SOC WK 2670, and INTDSC 2170. This course  examines the major theoretical and service issues connected to the study of older adults and their families, using multidisciplinary perspectives. Students are provided with an introduction to the field of aging through an examination of current social issues and controversies. This course emphasizes student involvement through class discussion , and is appropriate for students in the arts and sciences, business, communication, education, and nursing.

GERON 2256 Bioethics (3)
Same as PHIL 2256. An examination of ethical issues in health care practice and clinical research and in public policies affecting health care. Topics include abortion, euthanasia, health care, experimentation, informed consent, and the right to health care.

GERON 2272 Developmental Psychology: Adulthood and Aging (3)
Same as PSYCH 2272. Personality, social, and physiological development from the onset of early adulthood through maturity and old age.

GERON 2280 Psychology of Death and Dying (3) [V,SS]
Same as PSYCH 2280. Prerequisite: PSYCH 1003. A beginning exploration of end-of-life issues integrating the scholarly, social, and individual dimensions of death and dying. This course provides a solid grounding in theory and research, as well as practical application to students’ lives.

GERON 3215 Aging Across Cultures (3)
Same as ANTHRO 3215. Prerequisites: ANTHRO 1011 or PSYCH 1003 or SOC 1010 or consent of instructor. This course examines the wide-ranging variability in the roles of older people across different cultures and the effects these have on older people, their families, and their societies.

GERON 4361 Social Gerontology (3)
Same as SOC 4361. Prerequisite: SOC 1010 and junior standing or consent of instructor.  Topics include sociological theories of aging, technological and social change and its effects on the environment of older people, and prejudice and discrimination against the elderly.

GERON 4376 Mental Health and Aging (3)
Same as PSYCH 4376 and SOC WK 4376. Prerequisites: 9 hours of psychology, graduate standing or consent of instructor. (MSW students normally take all foundation courses prior to enrolling in this course.) This course provides a survey of theory and research in mental health issues for older populations, focusing on psychological and social aspects of mental health and impairment. The course details approaches to understanding prevalence, etiology, assessment, and treatment of the psychological disorders most commonly experienced by older adults, including anxiety, depression, delirium, and dementia, among others.  

GERON 4490 Directed Readings (1-3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Directed readings and research or field work. May be repeated for a maximum of three hours.

GERON 4680 Introduction to Gerontological Practice (3)
Same as SOC WK 4680. Prerequisite: Advanced undergraduate or graduate standing. This course introduces key concepts and practices in the evaluation and care of older adults. It is intended for students considering aging-focused careers in the social service or healthcare fields. Topics include developmental and health related theories of aging, functional and psychosocial aspects of aging, working with older adults in various service settings, multi and inter-disciplinary team approaches, and basic standards of professional conduct that apply across professions.

GERON 4700 Successful Aging: Individual & Societal Perspectives (3)
This course addresses key components of successful aging including avoidance of disease, maintenance of good mental and physical function, and sustained engagement in life. Students become familiar with the different intra- and extra-personal determinants of successful aging and learn to distinguish between the concepts of successful and productive aging. Also discussed is the impact of societal, economic and political context on success in aging (e.g., health care delivery, entitlement programs, technology, globalization, volunteerism, and culture).

GERON 5361 Advanced Social Gerontology (3)
Same as SOC 5361. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. An advanced examination of sociological theories of aging, technological and social change and its effects on the environment of older adults. It includes the study of prejudice and discrimination against the elderly.

GERON 5376 Psychopathology and Aging (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.  Recent theory and research in mental health issues for older populations. The primary focus is on major psychological disorders prevalent among older adults and in assessment and treatment approaches for aging populations.

GERON 5440 Cultural Aspects of Aging (3)
Same as ANTHRO 5440. Focuses on the variety of solutions encountered in different sociocultural contexts for dealing with the problems, challenges, and opportunities of growing old. It is organized around topics that are of concern to both anthropology and social gerontology: the status of the aged, intergenerational relations, aging in modernizing societies, ethnic dimensions of aging in complex societies, health in later life, death and dying. Both in‑depth case studies and cross‑ cultural comparisons are examined in an effort to arrive at a culturally informed assessment of factors affecting aging and the aged in the United States.

GERON 5610 Mechanisms of Aging I: The Aging Body (1)
Same as SOC WK 5610 and PSYCH 5610. Prerequisites: Graduate standing and BIOL 1102 or equivalent. (MSW students normally take all foundation courses prior to enrolling in this course). Introduces students with a social sciences/ humanities background to the normal changes in the biology and chemistry of the aging human body and how these changes affect behavior.

GERON 5611 Mechanisms of Aging II: The Aging Brain (1)
Same as SOC WK 5611 and PSYCH 5611.  Prerequisites: GERON 5610 or SOC WK 5610 or PSYCH 5610 or equivalent or consent of instructor.  (MSW students normally take all foundation courses prior to enrolling in this course.)  Provides students with a social sciences/humanities background a basic introduction to the biology and chemistry of the aging human brain and nervous system and how these systems impact behavior.

GERON 5612 Mechanisms of Aging III: Diseases of Aging (1)
Same as  SOC WK 5612 and PSYCH 5612. Prerequisites: GERON 5610 and GERON 5611 or SOC WK 5610 and 5611 or PSYCH 5610 and PSYCH 5611 or equivalents or consent of instructor.  (MSW students normally take all foundation courses prior to enrolling in this course)  Provides students with a social sciences/humanities background with information on how diseases associated with aging exacerbate the effects of aging on the human body, mind, and behavior.

GERON 5620 Dying, Grief & Death in Older Adulthood (3)
Same as SOC WK 5620. Prerequisites: Six hours of graduate level gerontology, psychology, counseling and/or social work, or special approval from the instructor. Undergraduates in their senior year may also request approval for entry from the Director of Gerontology.  For those planning to work with older adults in counseling, healthcare, hospices, and/or community support settings. Will examine trajectories to death in older age, the dying process, influences of medical and aging-related conditions, euthanasia and suicide, life extension and longevity, personal beliefs and existential responses, how individuals and families cope, ethical concerns, and strategies for supportive intervention. Topics are addressed from clinical, supportive care, and interdisciplinary perspectives.

GERON 6120 Theory & Practice with Older Adults (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. Same as SOC WK 6120. Examines theory and empirically-based assessment and intervention models for work with the elderly. It includes the life circumstances of older adults and how that differs from younger adult populations; how ethnicity, gender, social class, and sexual orientation interact with age and create special intervention issues; discussion of ethical and value issues (e.g., client autonomy, rationing of health care); examination of family and community resources in providing care, and interventions with physically or mentally disabled elders and elders in residential settings.

GERON 6130 Interviewing Older Adults & Life Review (3)
Same as SOC WK 6130. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. This course combines training in interviewing techniques with video production. Students will learn how to conduct life review interviews with older adults, and then take these skills into the community by interviewing older adults living in various settings. Students will learn how to use a digital video camera and edit video clips on the computer. Student-conducted interviews will be viewed by the instructor and classmates, issues associated with aging will be discussed, and constructive feedback provided. Some of the video clips developed in the course will become part of an educational video clip library.

GERON 6441 Aging and Health Behavior (3)
Same as PSYCH 6441. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.  This course examines sociocultural influences on health care practices of older adults. The role of social support and other social resources in the health behavior of older adults is emphasized. Topics include self‑care decisions, formal service utilization, family caregiving, and planned interventions for older adults.

GERON 6443 Health Care Policy (3)
Same as POL SCI 6443, P P ADM 6430, SOC 6443, and SOC WK 6443. Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.  (MSW students will normally take the social policy foundation course prior to enrolling in this course).  Survey course examining current issues in health policy that face the nation. Policies are placed in a historical context to show how issues have been influenced by different political and economic conditions. Secondary consequences and limitations of current trends in health policy are explored.

GERON 6444 Seminar in Public Policy and Aging (3)
Same as PP ADM 6444, POL SCI 6444 and SOC 6444.  Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.  The study of specialized issues and methods related to federal, state, and local policies that affect the elderly. Potential policy areas to be covered include housing, taxation, mental health, transportation, etc. May be repeated for credit, provided the subject matter is different.

GERON 6449 Issues in Retirement (3)
Same as SOC 5449. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. This course examines macro and micro issues of retirement in the United States. It considers experiences of older persons in retirement: its processes, causes, and consequences-in relation to economic market conditions, demographic changes, and programs and policies that are targeted to support the elderly (e.g., Social Security). It also examines issues relating to older women and retirement.

GERON 6450 Gerontological Assessment (3)
Same as SOC WK 6450. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. This course provides an overview of psychosocial assessment with older adults and their family caregivers.  Major areas of gerontological assessment practice are considered, including dementia, mood disorders, suicide, grief, alcoholism, elder abuse/neglect, family caregiving, and interdisciplinary team issues.

GERON 6460 Long Term Care Administration (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. This course provides an overview of long term care programs and services for older adults.  Administrative issues are reviewed, including patient services, state licensure requirements, human resource management, and reimbursement practices.  Characteristics of well-functioning facilities are addressed, as well as consultation with families during the placement decision process.

GERON 6470 Epidemiology of Aging (3)
Prerequiste: Graduate Standing. This course reviews the distribution and determinants of health-related conditions and functional concerns in older populations. An emphaisis is placed on key concepts and methodological considerations for conducting epidemiologic studies. Students learn about the epidemiology of selected diseases, syndromes and conditions common to older age, including various trajectories of physical and cognitive decline. Also discussed are the roles that epidemiological data play in the development of interventions to control and prevent age-related disease and inform public health decision-making and evidence-based geriatric practice.

GERON 6490 Directed Study (1-3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Designed to give the student an opportunity to pursue a more in‑depth study of a problem area in gerontology than is normally covered in more formal courses. May be repeated for a total of 6 credit hours.

GERON 6495 Practicum in Gerontology (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Supervised work experience in an agency that serves older adults. Students are required to complete a minimum of 150 clock hours at the practicum site.

GERON 6496 Advanced Practicum in Gerontology (3)
Prerequisites: GERON 6495 and consent of instructor. Advanced practicum experience beyond Gerontology 6495. Students must complete a minimum of 150 clock hours of supervised fieldwork (service or research) with older adults.

GERON 6497 Interdisciplinary Geriatric Care (2)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Same as VIS SCI 6497. Interdisciplinary approaches that address the medical, social, instrumental and functional needs of older adults will be examined. Information about geriatric care management and social issues affecting the well-being of older adults will be provided. Clinical, theoretical, and educational perspectives will be presented.

GERON 6498 Advanced Seminar in Gerontology (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate standing. This course will provide in-depth analysis of specialized topics in gerontology, which are not covered in required courses. (Course may be repeated for a maximum of nine credits, assuming topics are different.)

GERON 6499 Topics in Gerontology (1-2)
Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Analysis of a current problem in gerontology. (Course may be repeated for maximum of five credits, assuming topics are different.)

GERON 6500 Practicum in Gerontological Research (3)
Prerequisites: GERON 6495 and Consent of instructor. A supervised social science research experience involving a combination of two or more of the following activities: literature review, hypothesis generation, study design and proposal, IRB application, participant recruitment, data collection, data management, data analysis, and report/article generation.

GERON 6510 Directed Research in Aging (1-3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Designed to give the student an opportunity to explore a question of interest from a qualitative and/or quantitative research perspective. This supervised experience may include one or more of the following activities (depending on enrolled hours): literature review, hypothesis generation, study design and proposal, IRB application, participant recruitment, data collection, data management, data analysis, and report/article generation.