MA in Gerontology


Program Description

From 2025 to 2050, the global aging population will double in number and reach 1.6 billion (An Aging World: 2015 report by the U.S. Census Bureau (2016)). There will be a need for well-trained professionals to address the needs of this growing segment of the population on a local, national, and/or global level. Northeastern’s Gerontology program offers master’s degree training addressing both current and projected occupational knowledge and skill requirements within the field of gerontology. The M.A. in Gerontology program is an award-winning academic program, recognized as a program of excellence by both the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and the American Psychological Association professional societies in 2014.


The faculty of the M.A. in Gerontology program represents diverse academic backgrounds and interests related to lifespan developmental psychology and other areas of expertise (e.g., clinical-related topics in later life). To do the broad diversity of the available faculty who teach for the program, both in the psychology department and other graduate programs across campus, the focus of the training in the gerontology program at the master's degree level is interdisciplinary in nature. This breadth of training reflects the goal of the M.A. in Gerontology program to graduate "well-rounded" and well-trained professionals in the field of aging.

Program Benefits

The M.A. in Gerontology program, in comparison to other gerontology master’s degree programs in the Chicago area, offers the most extensive training while still being the most cost-effective tuition option for students. The M.A. in Gerontology program produces a well-trained graduate who is prepared to effectively address the needs of an aging population. This is accomplished in the following ways:

  • Part of this intensive training process relates to students having two opportunities for career-related on-site training through both a practicum and internship within a well-established, age-related site experiences.
  • Coursework reinforces a strong research model for students, from a solid grounding in human developmental theories to the extension of their own research interests in writing papers and eventual thesis proposal.
  • In addition to learning course content, students are taught important skills of good academic writing and critical analysis in reading and writing.
  • The program has flexible course offerings. Both core and elective courses are offered during the evening and on Saturdays, and many of the elective courses are now fully online.
  • Program faculty engages in ongoing mentoring of students from their entry into the gerontology program to even after they graduate, assisting them with career opportunities and further professional development such as conference presentations and publications.

Knowledge and Skills

Upon completion of the training, students gain a knowledge of:

  • both classic theories of human development (foundational) and "state-of-the-art" research content and processes within specialty areas of aging,
  • "real world" aging-related legislation, policies, and service related issues affecting the lives of older adults within communities;
  • available library resources to conduct scholarly research,
  • how to conduct a research study in a theoretically-based, valid, and ethical manner;
  • ethical issues in working with an aging population (e.g., care ethics), and
  • multidisciplinary perspectives on what it means to "age" in many different contexts and cultures across the world.

By the end of the program, students learn skills in how to:

  • conduct effective scholarly article searches using research search databases (e.g., PsycInfo research database),
  • accurately read and interpret research within the field,
  • synthesize research to summarize in a literature review,
  • write a research paper based on scholarly articles and incorporating both proper grammar and sixth edition APA style formatting,
  • critically analyze concepts and theories presented in coursework and related research activities,
  • accomplish professional activities through on-site training experiences with aging organizations, and
  • present topics and research in various presentation formats in the classroom or at a conference (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation).

...among other learning outcomes.

Career Options

The gerontology faculty members fully support our students in training for careers in the aging field. The following are example careers in gerontology from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education’s “Exploring Careers in Aging” website (some additional professional training may be needed):

  • Aging Services Administrator
  • Human Resources
  • Information & Referral Specialist
  • Volunteer Management
  • Financial and Legal Services
  • Career Planning
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Conservator
  • Elder Law
  • Fiduciary Gerontologist
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Senior Real Estate Specialist
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Physical/Recreational Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Adult Day Care
  • Adult Foster Home/RCF
  • Assisted Living
  • Housing and Home Modification (to support Independent Living)
  • Aging-in-Place-Specialist
  • Home Safety Auditor
  • Intergenerational Activities
  • Intergenerational Childcare
  • Advocacy
  • Corporate Gerontologist
  • Personal Care and Services
  • Communal Living Coordinator
  • Elder Dating Service
  • Pet Therapy
  • Employee Assistance Program-EAP
  • Ergonomics Assessment
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Degree Requirements

For students admitted to Master’s programs prior to the Fall 1997 semester, the majority of courses applied to the Master’s degree must be 400-level; a limited number of appropriate 300-level courses are applicable.

Required Courses
PSYC-401 Gerontology: An Overview 3
PSYC-402 Developmental Processes In Later Life 3
PSYC-403 Developmental Processes In Aging: Physiological Aspects 3
PSYC-408 Research Methods 3
PSYC-418 Public Policy And Aging 3
PSYC-426 Values, Decision Making And The Elderly 3
PSYC-420 Seminar In Proposal Writing 3
Total Hours 21
Required Field Experience
For those without previous experience in the field 3-6
PSYC-415 Practicum In Gerontology
PSYC-416 Internship In Gerontology
For those with demonstrated experience
PSYC-416 Internship In Gerontology
Total Hours 3-6
Required Capstone Experience
Thesis Hours - PSYC 5901, 5902, 5903
Elective Courses 6-9
These electives may be courses from within the PSYC curriculum or other departments such as Counseling, Political Science, Human Resource Development or Business and Management. See faculty advisor for listing of approved electives.
Total Hours 36

New Non-Thesis Graduation Option

Beginning Spring 2010, the M.A. in Gerontology program will offer the choice of a two-part comprehensive exam (i.e., (1) written a multiple-essay comprehensive exam and (2) fully-developed research proposal) in lieu of completing a full thesis. Students will be required to do an oral presentation (“defense”) of their research proposal. This non-Thesis option achieves the goals of the program and the gerontology field in training knowledgeable and competent researchers and practitioners.

Last updated Oct 2018

About the School

Northeastern’s diverse academic offerings, student population and learning opportunities are just a few of the reasons NEIU is a unique and vibrant place to earn a degree. Our mission, vision, values ... Read More

Northeastern’s diverse academic offerings, student population and learning opportunities are just a few of the reasons NEIU is a unique and vibrant place to earn a degree. Our mission, vision, values and support services are all here to help you reach your full potential. We invite you to take a closer look at our programs. We look forward to discussing your options with you. Read less