Gerontology

Campus Address: 133 Bellerive Hall
Web Site: http://www.umsl.edu/~socialwk/Gerontology/
Main Number: 314-516-5280
Fax Number: 314-516-6416

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.

Faculty Overview

Gerontology is a multi-disciplinary field of study and professional practice. Our regular and adjunct faculty members have backgrounds in psychology, social work, optometry, health economics, anthropology, nursing, geriatric care management, business, retirement planning, and other relevant fields and professional disciplines.

 

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 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 cross­listed and also have a gerontology designation.

Humanities
GERON/PHIL 2256Bioethics3
Social Sciences
GERON/INTDSC 1220Special Topics In Gerontology3
GERON/PSYCH 2272Developmental Psychology: Adulthood And Aging3
GERON/PSYCH 2280Psychology Of Death And Dying3
GERON/ANTHRO 3215Aging Across Cultures3
GERON/SOC 4361Social Gerontology3
GERON/PSYCH/SOC WK 4376Mental Health And Aging3
GERON 4490Directed Readings1-3
GERON/SOC WK 4680Introduction to Gerontological Practice3
GERON 4700Successful Aging: Individual & Societal Perspectives3

Master of Science in Gerontology

The Master of Science degree in gerontology (MSG) is a multidisciplinary program of study and hands-on/service learning designed to prepare students for program management or direct service positions working with, and on behalf of, older adults and their family members. 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
Select one of the following:3
Health Care Policy
Seminar In Public Policy And Aging
B. Health and Physical Aspects of Aging
Select one of the following:3
Aging And Health Behavior
Epidemiology of Aging
C. Sociocultural Aspects of Aging
Select one of the following:3
Cultural Aspects Of Aging
Advanced Social Gerontology
D. Clinical and Psychosocial Aspects of Aging
Select two of the following:6
Psychopathology And Aging
Theory and Practice with Older Adults
Interviewing Older Adults And Life Review
Gerontological Assessment
E. Practica in Gerontology
Select two of the following:6
Practicum In Gerontology (required)
Advanced Practicum In Gerontology
Practicum in Geronotological Research
F. Gerontology Electives 1
Once a requirement is met, any course from the listing below can serve as an elective.9
G. Graduate-level statistics course
3 credits and graduate level research methods course 26
Total Hours36

1

Program Administration Option (see below)

2

Students should consult Director of Gerontology for approved courses.

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 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 & GERON 6496) must emphasize program administration as part of this plan. 

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 consult with the director of the gerontology program concerning streamlined admission options.

Distribution Requirements

A. Public Policy
Select one of the following:3
Health Care Policy
Seminar In Public Policy And Aging
B. Health and Physical Aspects of Aging
Select one of the following:3
Aging And Health Behavior
Epidemiology of Aging
C. Sociocultural Aspects of Aging
Select one of the following:3
Cultural Aspects Of Aging
Advanced Social Gerontology
D. Clinical and Psychosocial Aspects of Aging
Select two of the following:6
Psychopathology And Aging
Theory and Practice with Older Adults
Interviewing Older Adults And Life Review
Gerontological Assessment
E. Elective
Select one of the following:3
Practicum In Gerontology
Another elective course from the listing below.
Total Hours18

Courses

GERON 1220 Special Topics In Gerontology: 3 semester hours

Same as INTDSC 1220 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 with permission from the Gerontology director.

GERON 2256 Bioethics: 3 semester hours

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 semester hours

Same as PSYCH 2272. Prerequisites: PSYCH 1003. Personality social and physiological development from the onset of early adulthood through maturity and old age.

GERON 2280 Psychology Of Death And Dying: 3 semester hours

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 semester hours

Same as ANTHRO 3215. Prerequisites: ANTHRO 1011 or PSYCH 1003 or SOC 1010, or consent of instructor. This course examines the wideranging 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 semester hours

Same as SOC 4361. Prerequisites: 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 semester hours

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 semester hours

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor Directed reading and research or field work. May be repeated for a maximum of three hours.

GERON 4680 Introduction to Gerontological Practice: 3 semester hours

Same as SOC WK 4680. Prerequisites: 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 interdisciplinary team approaches, and basic standards of professional conduct that apply across professions.

GERON 4700 Successful Aging: Individual & Societal Perspectives: 3 semester hours

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 wit 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 5320 Gender & Aging: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permission of instructor. This course examines advancing age through a gender lens. Men and women experience aging differently based on a host of genetic, biological, psychological, sociocultural and personal identity factors. This course challenges students to consider aging from various perspectives, including cultural expectations and norms, couple and family relationships, health and function, work life and retirement, sexual orientation, gender identity, concerns of LGBT elders, and veteran’s issues.

GERON 5361 Advanced Social Gerontology: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: Graduate Standing. An examination of 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 5376 Psychopathology And Aging: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: 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 5420 Research Methods and Analysis I: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: Admission to the MSG Program or graduate standing. The first of a two-course sequence designed to provide students with the knowledge base and skills for using the scientific method to advance gerontological knowledge, theory and evidence-based practice. Focuses on research methods employed in aging-related studies, with a special emphasis on the critical evaluation of academic studies and the evidentiary basis of key findings. Covers quantitative and qualitative approaches, research design, sampling procedures, measurement, use of results, impact of research, and ethical considerations.

GERON 5440 Cultural Aspects Of Aging: 3 semester hours

Same as ANTHRO 5440. Prerequisites: Graduate status or consent of the instructor. 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 5450 Research Methods and Analysis II: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: GERON 5420 or equivalent. An advanced course focused on the framing and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data to advance gerontological knowledge, theory, and evidence-based practice. Students learn to use and interpret various statistical procedures for analyzing qualitative and quantitative data (including bivariate and multivariate analyses). Students apply various analytic techniques using computer software applications.

GERON 5610 Mechanisms Of Aging I: The Aging Body: 1 semester hour

Same as SOC WK 5610 and PSYCH 5610 Prerequisites: Graduate standing and BIOL 1102 or equivalent. (MSW students normally take all foundtion courses prior to enrolling in this course.) Introduces students with a social science/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 semester hour

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 semester hour

Same as SOC WK 5612 and PSYCH 5612. Prerequisites: GERON 5610 and GERON 5611 or SOC WK 5610 and SOC WK 5611 or PSYCH 5610 and PSYCH 5611 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 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 semester hours

Same as SOC WK 5620. Prerequisite: Six hours of graduate level gerontology, psychology, counseling and/or social work coursework, 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, hospice, 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 and Practice with Older Adults: 3 semester hours

Same as SOC WK 6120. Prerequisites: Graduate Standing. 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 And Life Review: 3 semester hours

Same as SOC WK 6130. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. This course combines training in interviewing techniques with video editing/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 semester hours

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 semester hours

Same as P P ADM 6430, POL SCI 6443, and SOC WK 6443. Prerequisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor. 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 semester hours

Same as P P ADM 6444, and POL SCI 6444. 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 semester hours

Prerequisites: Graduate standing. This course examines macro and micro issues of retirement in the United States--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 semester hours

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 semester hours

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 semester hours

Prerequisites: Graduate Standing. This course reviews the distribution and determinants of health-related conditions and functional concerns in older populations. An emphasis is placed on key concepts and methodological considerations for conducting epidemiological studies. Students learn abut 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 semester hours

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 six credit hours.

GERON 6495 Practicum In Gerontology: 3 semester hours

This course provides 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 semester hours

Prerequisites: GERON 6495 and consent of instructor This course provides advanced practicum experience beyond GERON 6495. Students must complete a minimum of 150 clock hours of supervised field work (service or research) with older adults.

GERON 6497 Interdisciplinary Geriatric Care: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: 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 semester hours

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: 1-3 semester hours

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 Geronotological Research: 3 semester hours

Prerequisites: GERON 6495 and consent of the 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 semester hours

Prerequisites: Consent of the 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.

Thomas M. Meuser
Associate Professor and Director
Ph.D., University of Missouri-St. Louis
Social Work and Gerontology

Margo Lea Hurwicz
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California-Los Angeles
Anthropology and Gerontology

Joseph G. Pickard
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Washington University
Social Work

Shirley L. Porterfield
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Social Work and Gerontology

Ann M. Steffen
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Indiana University
Psychology and Gerontology

Huei-Wern Shen
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Social Work and Gerontology

Richard Yakimo
Assistant Professor and Nursing
Ph.D., Saint Louis University
Faculty affiliated with the Gerontology Program based on teaching and/or research interests in the field of aging

Kathleen Boland
Clinical Assistant Professor and Optometry
O.D., University of Missouri-St. Louis
Faculty affiliated with the Gerontology Program based on teaching and/or research interests in the field of aging

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