College of Health and Human Services
Dean: Don Taylor

Gerontology Program
HSS 242
Fax: 415-338-3556

Graduate Program Emphases
Coordinator, Geriatric/Home Care Management: Anabel Pelham
Coordinator, Health, Wellness and Aging: Brian de Vries
Coordinator, Long Term Care Administration: Darlene Yee


Professors—de Vries, Pelham, Yee
Lecturers—Cress, De Lange, Fecondo, Flores, Hahklotubbe, Ramey


Minor in Gerontology: Healthy Aging
M.A. in Gerontology

Program Scope

Purpose: The Gerontology Program is administratively housed in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), and enjoys close collaborative relationships with other units throughout the college, university and with the communities it serves. The Master of Arts in Gerontology is an interdisciplinary, professional program in applied gerontology designed for students preparing for a career in the field of aging, or a related human service field, who wish to improve their knowledge and skills. Course work leading to the M.A. is designed to:

History and Philosophy: The Master of Arts in Gerontology at SFSU was established in 1986 and is the first, and thus the oldest, graduate program in Gerontology in the California State University and the University of California systems. The Gerontology Program is dedicated to the higher education of professionals using an interdisciplinary approach to serve the present and future needs of society in meeting the multiple challenges of an aging population; the conduct of applied research to increase the body of knowledge about issues and processes of aging; and the application of the discipline of gerontology in the community to advocate for improving the quality of care and quality of life for the aged.

The academic program adheres to the standards and guidelines established by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) for professional master's level programs. In addition, the program faculty advises active student organization such as student chapters of the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA), Gerontological Society of America (GSA), and Sixty Plus (lifelong learning for students age 60 and over). The program provides a gerontology library and shared meeting place for student activities.

Interdisciplinary, Skill-Based Professional Education: The Gerontology Program emphasizes an interdisciplinary, skill-based approach to professional education. To do this, it draws upon the strengths of the university and community as well as the expertise of the faculty.

The program resides in a richly diverse, multicultural environment which provides a natural laboratory for understanding and developing competencies around the aging experiences of different ethnic groups.

Students obtain knowledge of the discipline and its theoretical foundations. Students are prepared with tools which allow them to use quantitative and qualitative methods in applied research for solving a variety of practical problems in the community.

Gerontology at SFSU includes advocacy for the aged in the continuum of care and actively engages in activities which promote geriatric care management; health, wellness and aging; and long-term care through links with other professionals to provide a comprehensive model of consumer-driven health and human services. Students can participate in learning and service where skills of needs assessment, program development, implementation and evaluation directly contribute to the community's well-being.

In addition to the above strengths, the Gerontology Program offers academic emphases in geriatric/home care management, health, wellness and aging, and long-term care administration.

Geriatric/Home Care Management coursework prepares students to work with elders and families to assess the needs of older persons and their caregivers, develop and monitor comprehensive care plans and maintain frail persons at the lowest level of care. Students are placed in carefully selected internship settings where they may practice skills and learn about community-based health and human services. Students gain skills in comprehensive assessments, care planning and monitoring, psycho-social issues, family dynamics, conservatorships, spirituality and ethical practice. Completion of the emphasis as part of the graduate program allows students to be placed upon a fast tract for certification by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers:

The emphasis in Health, Wellness and Aging, focuses upon the dynamic areas of health promotion, disease prevention and assumes a social gerontological and holistic approach to the experience of aging. Health and wellness studies broadly include issues of physical and mental well-being as well as family and friendship relations, community networks and the social and cultural context in which elders and their caregivers reside. Students will learn about the most current research of aging and recreation/leisure, physical well-being, and social relations and have the opportunity to participate in community-based internships involving wellness program development and advocacy and social justice. Students will be prepared with skills in applied research, humanistic gerontology perspectives, cultural competence, intergenerational programs and services, elements of universal design and ADA compliance and uses of technology in support of aging with independence and dignity.

Long-Term Care Administration prepares students to manage facilities for older adults along the continuum of care (home-based, community-based, and institutionally-based). In addition to two graduate seminars of course work focusing upon regulatory policy and facility management; students are placed in a supervised 480-hour Administrator-in-Training internship in preparation for the state certification examination in RCFE administration and the state licensure examination in nursing home administration. During their course of study, students have the opportunity to work and learn in multidisciplinary teams. Students may take elective courses to develop skills in budgeting, staffing, and resident care as they become working professionals with an appreciation of communication, ethics, and mediation.

Academic Auxiliaries: The Institute on Gerontology is a freestanding academic auxiliary unit associated with the program which houses development, research, and training projects. The Institute enjoys joint ventures with regional providers; and students are encouraged to take full advantage of the clinical, direct service and research opportunities offered by these projects. The Health, Mobility, and Safety Lab is an academic auxiliary unit which provides on-going clinical research in the areas of driver assessment, driver education, driver simulation, fall prevention, home safety, and pedestrian safety for older adults.

Career Outlook: Gerontology is one of the fastest growing disciplines within the field of Health and Human Services. Current demographic projections indicate that California will experience a doubling of the population over the age of 65 by the year 2020; furthermore, of all age groups, the group over age 85, the oldest old, is increasing at the greatest rate. Not only will there be greater numbers of older persons by 2020, they will be increasingly single, female, and ethnically diverse. A Master of Arts in Gerontology prepares the student for effective performance in a career of service to older Americans. It also lays a firm academic foundation in applied gerontology for students who choose to work toward a doctoral degree. Students have the opportunity to choose a number of career paths in the field of aging within the public and private sectors.

Private and public Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) are among the most highly sought gerontological professionals in the United States . GCMs are hired by a variety of community-based agencies, private care management organizations and many GCMs are starting their own businesses. A GCM practice particularly lends itself to the entrepreneur who wishes to begin a small business to serve the community need. GCMs are certified and supported by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. This professional association provides an interactive web site that links family members with certified care managers and offers high quality continuing education.

Health, wellness and aging programs and services are examples of the frontiers of applied research and recent federal funding via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Programs of health promotion are currently being created and funded in both the private and public sectors and accumulating research describes a direct link between health and wellness and life style choices. Senior centers, retirement communities, long-term institutions and professional organizations serving older persons now recognize the need for making wellness a priority in planning, programs and services. Health and wellness are also new priorities for school children and adults and students may explore career opportunities for intergenerational practice. Students choosing a Gerontology emphasis in health, wellness and aging are prepared for professional practice in local, state and federal government, the for-profit and not-for profit sectors and organizations from AARP to the YMCA.

Long-term care administration is in a period of expansion and diversification. Professional requirements vary widely depending on state and federal regulations for the specific area of administration. Long-term care administrators manage and direct the daily operations of long-term care facilities. Employment opportunities for long-term care administrators are available and may be found in assisted living facilities, geriatric care centers, home health care agencies, hospice facilities, hospital systems, rehabilitation facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, retirement communities, senior centers, skilled nursing facilities, and special population programs (AIDS and mental health).


Consult program office for the status of this minor.


Graduate Advisers—de Vries, Pelham, Yee

The Master of Arts in Gerontology consists of 36 units which includes eight required core courses (24 units) and one of three academic emphases (12 units) in Geriatric/Home Care Management; Health, Wellness and Aging; and Long-Term Care Administration. The required internship, included in the core (6 units) consists of student placement in an off-campus facility or organization. Numerous facilities and organizations collaborate with the graduate program in offering internships in clinical, community and institutional settings. The required culminating experience, also included in the core (3 units) consists of a capstone course integrating bodies of knowledge from within the core and across the emphases. This usually translates into a two-year academic program.

Admission to Program

A prospective student must fulfill the general university requirements as stated in the section of the Graduate and Post-baccalaureate Admissions of this Bulletin. To be considered for unconditional admission to the MA in Gerontology, a student must have completed an undergraduate major in an appropriate field with a minimum of grade point average of 3.0. Students whose undergraduate major did not include Gerontology courses should consult the graduate coordinator about making up course deficiencies in Gerontology. If the student’s undergraduate record meets the basic requirements and gives promise of a successful pursuit of graduate work, the program will recommend that the student be admitted to graduate classified status or graduate conditionally classified status specifying the conditions and time limit within which they must be met.

Students will be expected to meet the following criteria:

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: indicate the ability to write in a proficient manner by satisfactorily completing the GET or GRE with a passing score of at least 4.0. Level Two: indicate the ability to write in a scholarly manner in the discipline by satisfactorily completing GRN 890.

Requirements for Graduation

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
COUN 820 Counseling the Older Adult 3
GRN 725 Ethnogerontology 3
GRN 735 Ethical/legal Issues and the Aged 3
GRN 760 Research Methods in Gerontology 3
KIN 437 Physical Dimensions of Aging 3
GRN 838 Internship Seminar 3
GRN 839 Internship Fieldwork 3
GRN 890 Integrative Seminar 3
Geriatric/Home Care Management 12
GRN 715 Aging and Social Policy 3
SW 842 / GRN 730 Social Work with the Aged 3
GRN 750 Home Care Management 3
Select one of the following electives:  
CFS 453 Nutrition in the Life Cycle 3
GRN 610 Age and Life Stories 3
PA 725 Managing Human Resources 3
PA 730 Managing Budgets in the Public Sector 3
PA 745 Administration of Non-Profit Organizations 3
REC 740 Leisure and Aging 3
Health, Wellness and Aging 12
GRN 820 Age and Social Relationships 3
HED 415 Health Aspects of Aging 3
REC 740 Leisure and Aging 3
Select one of the following electives:  
CFS 453 Nutrition in the Life Cycle 3
GRN 610 Age and Life Stories 3
PA 740 Public Sector Management 3
PA 745 Administration of Non-Profit Organizations 3
Long-Term Care Administration 12
GRN 740 Nursing Home Administration 3
GRN 745 Assisted Living Administration 3
Select one of the following electives:  
MGMT 405 Introduction to Management and Organizational Behavior 3
PA 725 Managing Human Resources 3
PA 730 Managing Budgets in the Public Sector 3
PA 747 Developing Non-Profit Resources 3
Select one of the following electives:  
CFS 453 Nutrition in the Life Cycle 3
GRN 600 Age and Long-term Care 3
HED 850 Health Administration and Management 3
REC 740 Leisure and Aging 3
SW 760 Social Work and the Law 3
Minimum Total 36

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